I discovered a great new blog written by Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai via The Online Photographer that you may want to follow called PhotoDino. Not just because she’s an excellent photographer but because she has excellent advice for everyone. These are real gems:

I get asked all the time, during workshops, in e-mails, in private messages, what words of wisdom I would give to a new and aspiring photographer. Here’s my answer.

– Style is a voice, not a prop or an action. If you can buy it, borrow it, download it, or steal it, it is not a style. Don’t look outward for your style; look inward.

– Know your stuff. Luck is a nice thing, but a terrifying thing to rely on. It’s like money; you only have it when you don’t need it.

– Say no. Say it often. It may be difficult, but you owe it to yourself and your clients. Turn down jobs that don’t fit you, say no to overbooking yourself. You are no good to anyone when you’re stressed and anxious.

– Know your style before you hang out your shingle. If you don’t, your clients will dictate your style to you. That makes you nothing more than a picture taker. Changing your style later will force you to start all over again, and that’s tough.

– Remember that if your work looks like everyone else’s, there’s no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else. Unless you’re cheaper. And nobody wants to be known as “the cheaper photographer”.

Read them all (here).


Recommended Posts


  1. Thanks, that looks interesting.

    Oh, it’s “advice” (noun) not “advise” (verb).

    • @Tom,
      crap, thanks. thought that looked weird.

  2. One thing I don’t quite get:

    “Know your style before you hang out your shingle.”

    Artistic style isn’t really a static thing. It changes over time and experience influences your style. It seems to me you would never hang out your single if you followed this advice. Sooner or later you just have to declare yourself “good enough” to work professionally and hope someone else agrees with you.

    I wonder if she really suggesting you examine the types of photography you want to do. If you hate weddings, or still life, be clear from the beginning that you don’t do that type of work.

    • @Tom,
      It seems to me that’s the difference between photography as an artist and photography as a business. What are you selling? What’s your sales pitch? When a potential customer visits can they see what is unique about your product?

      I may be reading too many business books lately but that makes sense to me as a reason to define your style before starting the business.

      • @A Photo Editor,

        Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I see so many people, particularly in the portrait world, who jump straight into paid work before they have any idea of their identity as a photographer. If you don’t have a consistent look to your work, how will a potential client know what to expect? Why book you over someone else?

        It’s not that your style won’t change and evolve over time; it almost certainly will, and that’s healthy. It’s not a matter of being “good enough”, it’s a matter of being identifiable enough.

      • @A Photo Editor,
        what business books are you reading? anything good you want to let us know about?

  3. KUDOS to Cheryl. Ive been preaching vision for years and now its the front end value assignment buyers look for, its what they ultimately buy.
    Style is organic and does shift ,it will , IF the photographer is present to it and works it. Thats what I believe she is referring
    to. Paying attention developing and continually working your visual approach to your subject. Showing up as the creative.

  4. M m m m m m m m m . . . . . . . .

  5. One quote really jumped out at me, since I did that in the past, and I have seen many other photographers do the same thing:

    “- It’s easier to focus on buying that next piece of equipment than it is to accept that you should be able to create great work with what you’ve got. Buying stuff is a convenient and expensive distraction. You need a decent camera, a decent lens, and a light meter. Until you can use those tools consistently and masterfully, don’t spend another dime. Spend money on equipment ONLY when you’ve outgrown your current equipment and you’re being limited by it. There are no magic bullets.”

    Several years ago ASMP had an evening with Dana Neibert. Talk prior to the event from several photographers speculated on what high end gear he was using. Then part way through the event he states that he used a Crown Graphic for most of his images. That was my epiphany of gear, because I had better cameras and lenses than he did. It was good to hear that, because I stopped chasing gear, and my images improved as a result.

  6. Great post, and great advice. It is also confirmation to a conversation that my wife and I had this moring over coffee about being clear on style and direction.

    I think a commonality in the list of advice given by Cheryl is simplicity. We often tend to make things more complicated than they need to be.

    Thanks for your work in providing great content and sourcing it Rob.

  7. “- Remember that if your work looks like everyone else’s, there’s no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else. Unless you’re cheaper. And nobody wants to be known as “the cheaper photographer”.”

    I agree 100% with that statement.

  8. Thanks Rob for bring this to our attention.

    Thanks Cheryl for bringing me back to earth.

  9. Thanks for this Rob. What a nice find on a Monday morning!

Comments are closed for this article!