Success as Independent Photographer—Requires People Skllls

According to the Portland Business Journal, people skills are described as:
Understanding ourselves and moderating our responses
Talking effectively and empathizing accurately
Building relationships of trust, respect and productive interactions.

Running a successful business requires good people skills. I think the Portland Business Journal has it right when they describe what it is.

Earlier I wrote here about where my time goes as a photographer.  The majority of my time is spent using people skills to engage with: 1) potential clients; 2) clients or 3) subjects.

If you are insecure then you are going to have to take some risks and get out of your shell or find another career, because your success will be directly connected to your people skills.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm with 1.4 converter, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/5000

Understanding ourselves and moderating our responses

Understanding ourselves is really about knowing our elevator speech. Why do I want to talk to you and what is my objective. You have to know what you want to accomplish or you will be unintelligible to people.

It isn’t all about you either. You have to learn to moderate your responses so that you are connecting to people and what is important to them.

Centenary assistant coach Adam Walsh talks to Justin Glenn (33) during timeout against Georgia Tech during the first half at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/200, 4 Alienbees B1600 with sports reflectors, Pocket Wizards used to trigger them]

Talking effectively and empathizing accurately

The first time I talked about anything with people, I made mistakes. I analyzed what I did and why it failed. I started reading books and going to seminars to learn how to be more effective on whatever I was trying to do.

I went through premarital counseling and discovered this alone didn’t prevent mistakes. It was through mistakes I became more effective and developed more empathy.  You see others made mistakes with me and hurt me.

When I did my first few jobs I discovered people abused me if I didn’t have a good contract in place. I learned to communicate expectations I understood from the client and my expectations and have them written for both of us to sign.

When I first contacted people I was asking do you have any jobs for me. Today I research clients more and come to them with ideas of how I could do something for them. I learned over time to learn what was important to others more than what was only important to me. I was learning to empathize.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-125mm, ISO ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/350

Building relationships of trust, respect and productive interactions

I have learned that the more people get to know me the more they trusted me. The more transparent the better my business became. I also learned over time that too transparent and letting people hear your thoughts all the time can backfire.  It took years of mistakes to learn how to have more productive interactions.

I learned the more I was helping the client get what they needed or wanted helped me to pay my bills.

I learned that you can share your expertise carefully and they client will appreciate your thoughts. The balance was learning to live with their choice when I didn’t agree with their choices. I was learning to respect their thoughts and opinions.

Even when clients told me they thought I was the expert didn’t mean they would always do what I suggested. What I learned was they were listening and sometimes the timing wasn’t good for reasons I didn’t know.

I started to watch years later my ideas being done by clients. I also learned to not have to get the credit all the time. When they would come back to me later with an idea that I had given to them, I was learning over time to smile and tell them what a great idea.

I also learned to share a little of my personal life when appropriate with clients. I found that they wanted to know about my family, just not all the time.

If you want to be a successful photographer, then develop your people skills.