I think everyone is feeling the same thing about 2012, “time to go kick some ass” and I wanted to point out a couple posts that I saw from the end of last year that I know you will find helpful. Before I do that I want to emphasize my own commitment to finding and reporting on success in media and photography. Being unsuccessful is easy. Lets look at and talk to people who are having a career in the middle of the information revolution. And lets not get hung up on the path they took to get there.

I have two pieces of advice for you to begin 2012. Go to this wonderful list of business books and pick one out (http://personalmba.com/best-business-books) to read. Don’t worry about reading it cover to cover or memorizing everything or taking notes. This is not college. You’re in a unique position of owning your own business. You can discover an idea or principle and put it into action immediately and move on. It’s an awesome position to be in, so take advantage of it. One of the books I read last year was “Blue Ocean Strategy” and learned that all things being equal between two competing companies the only thing left is to do is lower your price. To avoid this Red Ocean scenario, get rid of something others find valuable and use that time/energy/money to create something nobody else has.

The first post I found comes from Luke Copping and is titled Lessons For 2012:

Stop hanging around people who have given up

I see it all the time on blogs, on forums, at industry events, and any other place that photographers and creatives might gather en masse – an overwhelming sense of negativity that pervades this industry like a virus. What the finger of accusation is pointing at seems to change weekly, and complaints about clients, rates, technology, MWACs, pro-sumers, students, the internet, micro-stock, and the economy all start to sound the same after a while – a jumble of depressing but comforting noise that can suck you in and have you spouting the same rhetoric back at others. But, if you listen to that noise long enough, one crystal clear idea starts to creep through – that this is ultimately about blame. The underlying mantra behind so many of these complaints can often be reduced and simplified to one statement; “This is not my fault, this is caused by something beyond my control, so I do not have to act to fix it.” This kind of thinking may bring some small amount of cathartic relief, especially when joining in with the masses collectively laying blame on something else, but it will do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.

I am so over it, and I don’t want to be part of that culture of excuses.

That is why I am so grateful to have made a conscious decision over the last year to surround myself with people so against this type of hive negativity that the idea of giving up and giving in is completely alien to them – either because of their unrelenting positivity, or their indefatigable passion pushing them to take actions that they believe in to find answers to their problems.

Read the whole thing here.

And, this gem from Leslie Burns titled “10 Things to do for Your Biz in 2012 (the gloves come off).”

Forget about old selling tools like “elevator speeches.” Look, no one gives a shit who you are or what you do when you shill.

Fuck SEO. Seriously, unless you are shooting weddings/portraits and/or your work is specifically related to your geography, fuck it (and even for those of you who do weddings, etc., don’t spend too much time at it).

Get out of your office/out from behind your computer and interact with people. Social media is a form of connection but it’s a weak one. You want to get work, you need to meet people in real life.

Go check it out (here). It’s plenty incendiary and a great way to get in a kick-ass mood. I wish everyone “success or die trying” in 2012.


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  1. Leslie Burns said: “5.a. The answer to the question But what if someone doesn’t like it? is always Fuck ‘em.”

    Great advice for both photography and life. If I please everybody all the time I must be doing something wrong!

    • Really? That’s okay advice in some situations, but terrible advice in others unless you aspire to the stereotype of prima-donna. The answer is not always Fuck ’em—especially when that someone is a valued client. We may be artists, but we are almost always serving a larger goal and need to be able to work with other people who will sometimes be critical of our work.

      • I’m definitely not a prima donna , but if you aren’t having fun you need to find another business. If a client wants you to abandon you style for the Flavor-of-the-Day, fire your client. Life is to short to deal with unproductive BS.

  2. It’s hard to get past Leslie Burns’ first paragraph. Seriously? all that old shit, like ROI is dead? I get (and agree) with what I think is her broader point that there is always a slick biz consultant out to sell you snake oil, but you can’t toss it all. She is after all a consultant that sells services to photographers. How else am I supposed to judge whether money paid to her is well spent without calculating some form of the Return On that Investment I can expect? The number of people who have announced the death or irrelevance of basic business concepts are legion and in the end are usually proved wrong. Didn’t we learn anything in the dot com bubble when old shit like profit margin was dead? A lot of this old shit is very much alive and we would do well to stay on top of it.

    • I didn’t mean to say, Mark, that ROI, etc. was dead. I said not to trust people who spout off those terms and to look beyond them. Sorry I wasn’t clear about that. Please note that I say you should get the best bang for your buck.

      I read websites all the time where the marketingese is so think you could walk on it across the Mississippi, but people who use that lingo are generally baffling you with BS to sound like they are super professionals. Instead, go with your gut.

  3. Thank you, thank you for posting this. Great reminders of staying positive, throw out things that hasn’t worked, make changes, take action and turn things around – be your own master and make it happen!!

  4. Stop saying and writing ROI first and foremost..

  5. “This is not my fault, this is caused by something beyond my control, so I do not have to act to fix it.”

    Unfortunately – modern photographers can’t blame the clients, the rates, the technology, the MWACs, the pro-sumers, the students, the internet, micro-stock or the economy because it’s older established photographers (like myself) who are at fault. We’re to blame.

    We’re the “so called” professionals that didn’t/don’t charge for our increased digital expenses, for increased CODB, we’ve underbid each other, we “accepted” lower budgets, we’ve set bad standards and now – we’ve allowed these bad practices to be passed along to our clients (the young art buyer), the pro-sumers, the students and the result is micro-stock, work for hire contacts, lower budgets (there not coming back) and worst of all – an overall lower appreciation of our talent, our skill and our experience.

    I may sound like the bitter old man, but I used to hold my head high when someone asked what I did for a living. Now people often ask me – “no, what do you do … to make money?”

    • Don i have to agree totally unfortunately .

  6. Leslie, you’ve gone all street on us!

    In your, “Tell the world you don’t suck” e-book, you basically say you should have an elevator speech. Now you don’t.

    I do like the new “grittier” you though :)

  7. If a photographer is creative enough they will get the picture, there are some who don’t read well and that is why they need lawyers to get them out of trouble and get them their money when mugged on the internet. Interesting, most successful people I know, know how to be themselves, real.

    Great read Leslie, and Rob this is the cherry on top for starting out the year. I am looking forward to the digest email .

  8. This should go for everyone out there in this economy as well as photographers.

  9. When there’s a battle I can chose to fight or give up, when I hear advice I can take it or leave it. I like to stay positive, with a clear mind and go for it. Thanks for this great post. I’ll remind myself to read a good business book, keep away from the “given ups” and meet people in real life.
    Cheers for a great 2012

  10. […] Via A Photo Editor comes a blog post by photographer Luke Copping about his “lessons for 2012.” I particularly like the excerpt below because I think too many people blame, blame, blame, especially the internet and amateur photographers. Stop hanging around people who have given up […]

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