We all have our blocks in life and in our photography business. I don't think any one out there starts a business and has ZERO hurdles to overcome. So its not a matter of if, its more of when. At some point in your business you will have a bump in the road. So then what? If you have tips to overcome them it won't be nearly as difficult to deal with. So here are 5 VERY common hurdles and what you can do to overcome them.
1. Mental Block
I think this is one of the most common and the toughest sometimes to over come. Inspiration hits and you feel incredible, energized even. It's a great feeling, right? But what do you do when you aren't feeling inspired? It's hard. It's not as if you can turn it on and off right? So the next time you are in a rut and need inspiration, my suggestion is to try something new. Not just in photography. Sometimes the most inspiration comes from "The New" in life. So yes, go try new settings or a new genre to shoot, but don't just leave it at that. Try something new in life. Go paint something, read a new book, have an adventure, something you've never tired before.
Definition of Insanity - Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
If your work isn't where you want it to be don't just keep doing the same things, try something different. I recently went rock climbing for the first time. I use the term rock climbing loosely, because I only got about 5 feet before I freaked. I was climbing down a mountain and when I looked down and realized how far up I was I completely freaked. I had to have my husband climb down and help me back up. Not exactly a success, but I was in a very different place for weeks for even attempting it. There is something about shifting your energy and getting it flowing in a different direction that really makes a difference. So think outside the box. I'm not telling any one to go rock climbing (I'm not sure I could do it again) but don't limit yourself to just trying things with photography. My attempt inspired a shoot that I will soon be executing and CAN NOT WAIT, see I'm totally energized again with inspiration. Every time I am energized in this way I create something new. That's usually my most interesting pieces.
2. Emotional Blocks
Creating can be intense. Putting your work out there (very often your heart too) for the world to see, it can feel overwhelming. I was so nervous the first time I did a shoot with my "vision" in mind, but that's when I really started to see my images take on their own style. It's constantly a work in progress, but having a vision and allowing yourself permission to create is what it's all about, right? It's often one of the biggest challenges too. I actually took a friend out and practiced on them to see what I wanted to do. Maybe that's a little lame, but when it came time for that shoot I felt much more confident in how I wanted to execute. I understand there many shoots you can't "practice" but take solace in this, not everyone is going to like it. What?!? Takes solace in what?! I know it's awful to think not every one is going to like your work, but isn't that what we're often going for? If everyone liked it then it's not evoking anything. It's okay if people don't like it because the flip side is that SOME WILL. There are going to be some people that will like and relate to you and your work. The more you come out of your comfort zone the more you will notice reactions, good and bad.
(Above Photo by Suzanne DuBose)
3. Personal Block
Life happens. It's pretty much inevitable that at some point there will be a life event that is not planned. If everything works as planned for you, then this is not the section for you. I just don't know anyone whose life or plans ALWAYS work out exactly how they wanted it. Do you?How do you deal with that as a business owner? Well it's actually pretty easy, just be honest. Last year I had some difficult things happen and knew it was effecting my business. I forgot to send some welcome packages, forgot postage, responded late to emails, so I just decided to come clean and share a bit with them. You don't need to give your clients any emotional baggage to carry for you, that's not what I mean. I kept it VERY simple. I emailed the few people it effected and just let them know, "Hey, I'm off my game a bit and here why" I didn't have to elaborate too much, but I'm sure they read between the lines. I just let them know that I had been slacking in the business aspect of things. Of course they were all so sweet and understanding. One person even sent me a card, I was very touched. So sometimes just being honest and saying "I'm not on my A game because..." is all you have to do. People usually get it. I don't recommend giving them tons of details, just be factual and simple with your explanation. I think this can actual be a very professional thing to do, if done right. Your clients are people too, after all.
4. Overwhelmed Block
It's so easy to get overwhelmed. Once you start a photography business you realize quickly it's not just taking photos; you 're the photographer, editor, marketer, student, scheduler, book keeper, and the list just goes on. You can get overwhelmed very quickly if you're not careful. I know I did. There are so many things you can do here (I feel like I have become the pro to overcoming this particular block.) if you told me 5 years ago that I would have a planner, To-Do lists and schedules I would have rolled my eyes and scoffed at the idea. But I promise it helps. I always start with To-Do lists. In my opinion it's one of the best things to do when you feel overwhelmed. Get it all out of your head, and there is such an accomplished feeling every time I check things off. It really can help you realize how far you're coming. You can take it a step further is you want by organizing, schedule and organize your month or days. You can get an organizer or even outsource, either way it really helps to get organized. Getting an organizer can help maximize your time. Outsourcing your scheduling or editing will definitely alleviate your time. I know several photographers who outsource their editing, you'll get several hours of time back with that one. So just start organizing, even if it's just a simple To-Do list. It's tangible evidence of what you've done and still need to do in order to succeed.
5. Fear of What Others Think
Sometimes we worry about what others think. I think that is somewhat normal, but not when you let it hinder you. I've seen many amazing photographers quit or let things sizzle when anything negative happens. At some point you will have a naysayer, you will have someone who laughs or thinks you can't do it. THAT'S OKAY! I promise you if you keep at it that will change. IT will, this one just takes time. Often time allow you to simply prove yourself. Give up and prove those people right. We all make mistakes, just keep trying and creating.
Suzanne DuBose has been a professional photographer for several years now which has allowed her to understand photographers' needs. After realizing she couldn't find a lot of what she was looking for, she decided to start a new endeavor. She wanted to mix photography, design, and instruction the way she always desired into a community and shop for photographers. You can find her online at http://www.photographersartistry.com.