Mistakes can be your friend

I recently got asked a series of questions from start up photog, Nick Murway.  Here is the first blog featuring his Q and my A.

  • What's one mistake, starting out, you made/would tell others to avoid?

The only true mistake you can make when starting your business is being afraid of failure. Although the goal with every business decision/marketing move/photo shoot is success; the decisions that didn’t pan out the way you thought they would are much more educational and are the only way to improve both your business strategy and your photography.

When a client wants to hire an ‘experienced’ photographer, its probably because they want someone who can adapt to changes. A lot of people can make nice pictures when nothing goes wrong, but an experienced photographer will have thought of all the pitfalls and make sure the shoot is completed successfully no matter what happens, 100% of the time.  One of my favorite clients often calls me before or after a shoot saying, “Well, there is a little wrinkle….”.  He knows by now that no matter what he throws at me I can take care of it from the estimate (considering all issues in advance, staying on budget) to the delivery (file formats, retouching needs, computer glitches, power outages, travel schedules, deadline changes) and everything in between.

My advice?  Jump in and get your feet wet – make as many mistakes as possible so you know how to solve them later:




Take risks that lead to mediocre pictures.

Pursue bad ideas.

Work with crazy clients.

Spend too much or too little on equipment/advertising/studio space.

Cut a corner.

Burn a bridge.

Get taken advantage of.

Experience equipment failure.

What should you never do?  Wait until the perfect idea hits you; wait until your portfolio is ‘perfect’.  Don’t waste one more second waiting for your career to take off for you – mistakes are your friend in the long run. They will teach you what works and what you NEVER want to do again.  When you are shooting with your dream clients you wont have that luxury, and hopefully by then you won’t need it.