8 Things Unhappy Photographers Never Ask


What forms your opinions? What creates the way you approach your business?

Yes, it can be the successes. We all love to celebrate when we hit milestones and major achievements.

But it can also be the negatives as well. Anxiety, fear, failure, worry – they all play an equally important role in our business lives.

The problem isn’t the negatives – it’s the way we approach the negatives. When the unhappiness and stresses start weighing you down, how do approach each new day? Are you asking yourselves the right questions – and approaching the answers in the most successful way?

“Should I look for another path?”

Imagine you’re on a freeway. As you travel down the road mile after mile, you’ll be faced with all kinds of choices. An exit for this place. An exit for that. What if you go too far? What if you get off too early?

Life is filled with choices. Sometimes you take the right path, and sometimes you don’t. If you get off the path at the wrong turn, you may need to take a u-turn and get back on the main trail. You might have to move forward to a new exit. Or evaluate paths you’ve passed up in the past.

An unhappy photographer looks at their current position as a sign of the times. They don’t realize they have an entire map at their disposal. They don’t realize that a simple turn could lead them to better times.

“What makes me happy?”

Does the concept of being happy even cross your mind? Or do you take things as they happen?

Happiness makes you feel alive. It allows you to follow your dreams, be happy with whom you are, and find new ways to share your happiness with others. Your standard of happiness doesn’t have to live up to societies definition. It just has to work for you.

An unhappy photographer focuses on the negative. Why can’t I get ahead? Why is this happening to me? They ask all kinds of questions in the negative tense, without realizing the only thing holding them back is their view of the world.

“Is it time to discover the next chapter?”

I’ve always looked at life like a storybook. Each section of your life is a chapter. You can’t change the chapters from your past. But your future is unwritten. If you live to be 100, how would you like to define the chapters ahead in your life?

If you see them early enough, you can begin to plan for them now. If you want to travel in your retirement, maybe you can phase out of portrait photography and into travel photography a few years before you retire. Or maybe photography takes on a whole new aspect of your life; its no longer a business, yet something you do for fun.

An unhappy photographer never looks towards the future. They simply wallow in today. In order to experience it, you have to “see” it first.

“What am I doing wrong?”

Guess what? We’re all human. Which means there will be times where you will fail … BIG TIME in some cases. But that’s okay. We become the person we are by living through the good times as well as the bad. Without the bad, the good wouldn’t seem so sweet.

Doing something wrong isn’t a sign of your weakness. Yet not learning from your errors may be. Sometimes you have to stop, realize you made a mistake, swallow your pride, and accept you did it the wrong way.

An unhappy photographer has trouble understanding that. Its never his fault – its always the other guy. The only way you grow up and learn how to move forward is by realizing its okay to do something wrong … and grow from there.

“How can I motivate myself?”

Let me ask you a question. How do you treat each day? Do you act on things as they happen, doing only the things that need to be done? Or do you dream of new ideas that you can implement in the future? Do you make plans for new things? Do you believe that other things are possible?

To stay motivated, you have to move above acting. Acting will only accomplish what absolutely needs to be done. If you’re a dreamer, a planner and a believer, you can look towards what hasn’t occurred yet and make it possible.

An unhappy photographer will only act on what is presented each day. They look back at what they’ve had in the past, but never forward at what could be.

“What excuses am I using to not move ahead?”

When you make something a priority, it gets done. Whether you enjoy the task or not, if it’s a priority, it makes it to the to-do list, and gets checked off in an appropriate timeframe.

Some things we enjoy; some things we don’t. Maybe you’re a production person and you love the editing and designing side of photography. Sales; that’s another story. You hate making phone calls, hate networking, and hate bringing clients in for the “hard sale”. If you don’t do them, who will? What kind of excuses are you making to not accomplish the important things in your business?

An unhappy photographer will always find a way to avoid the things they hate. To turn it around, you have to realize where your weaknesses are and find a way to put them into action.

“What questions am I missing?”

Have you ever had a friend come to you with a list of complaints? Something isn’t going right, but they don’t know how to fix it. After they leave, you think of a laundry list of things they could do differently that would make all the difference. But of course you can’t tell them that – its your opinion and its not your life.

Its always easier to look at someone else’s situation and evaluate what’s wrong. Its much harder when we’re in the muck of the problem. Yet that’s the time to look at things from all the angles. Go back to your friend’s problems – do you see yourself in any way? Have you asked all of the who-what-where-when-why questions you can?

An unhappy photographer never questions what they can change – only how everyone else is impacting their situation. If you’re stuck, it may be because you haven’t asked the right questions of yourself quite yet.

“If not photography, what else?”

Sometimes photography just doesn’t do it for you anymore. It’s not the niche. It’s not the business. Its photography.

We all get stuck in a rut and need a drastic change once in awhile. And sometimes you have to ask whether photography is still your chosen path. Is there something else you can do? Can you use your skills in another way?

An unhappy photographer will never consider other options – until they are forced to. If they are about to lose their home to foreclosure, they head out to get the first retail job they can. And at that point its too late. Sometimes the question is “If not photography, what else?” But the time to do it is when you still have a variety of options left to play.

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