The 14 Big Mistakes Being Made In The Industry By Photographers Every Day!

by:  Charles J. Lewis

In my opinion, here is a quick overview of the 14 biggest mistakes being made in the photography industry today:

1. "The better my photography is, the better my success" - This is the single biggest "wrong belief" that almost every photographer has.  We honestly, sincerely believe this until something happens to prove to us that it is completely wrong. 

 But this is "normal" thinking.  (But remember, Success Is Not Normal!)  We think we are "photographers" so we think that if we make our product really, really great, we will automatically be successful financially.

 Yes, you want to do everything you humanly can to make your product the very best it can be.  (That's the subject of this month's audio tape!)  Yes, you want to be proud of your product and service.  Yes, you want your clients to love your work.

 But that, by itself, will not assure you of success.  But I know you already know this!  (But sometimes, it's good to have me remind you of this from time to time, so you don't get off track!)


2.  "If my photography is good enough, it will sell itself." - This is almost a part of #1 above, but slightly different.  This is were you honestly think that if you can make this most incredible photograph ever seen, that it will not be necessary for you or your staff to "sell" it. 

 You probably already know what I'm going to say here.  But let's make sure.  Selling is not pressure.  Selling is not bad.  It's not trickery.  You're never going to trick someone into buying something they don't want. 

 Selling, is "Finding Out What People Want, And Helping Them To Get It."  It's NOT a bad thing.  It's a good thing!   It's vital to your success and happiness.  Who cares how good a photographer you are, if no one buys (invests in ) what you do?!


3.  "I'm an artist, and refuse to learn how to market and sell.  That's pressure and trickery, and I'll have no part of it." - It's understandable to feel this way - for a minute or two.  Yes, you are an artist.  But who cares how good you are if no one knows you exist?  Marketing and selling are two of the most critical requirements for your success.


4.  "If I'm good enough, they will tell all their friends, and I'll have all the business I need." - This is another very common wrong belief.  We honestly believe that all our clients will be so thrilled with what we do, that they will tell everyone, and we'll be swamped with business, and never have to do any real marketing.

 But you and I realize that an important part of your success is to create a huge demand for your limited supply, then control the volume of work you do with your price.  Most photographers have no idea about this.  They've never heard this, and certainly don't want to do any real marketing.

 And that's terrific!  They'll continue to complain about how bad business is, while you continue to get those exhibits and create that HUGE DEMAND!


5.  "The more photography I do, the more successful I will be." - This is the classic "More Syndrome."  We all are trapped in this one!  (Unless someone helps us to become aware of it!)  Since we were little, we automatically think and believe that the more photos we do, the more successful we will be.  This is so incorrect, it's scary!  The "secret" to success is to do less - much less - and carefully pick those clients you WANT to work with, and earn maximum profits from each one of them!


6.  "If I just keep my prices a little lower than my competition, I'll have plenty of business.  I'll make my profits with the large volume of business I'll do." - This is another one of those horrible mistakes most photographers make!  We just don't have the training in business to realize how wrong this is!  The "secret" is to charge more for your work than most all of your competitors, and discover how to sell it (without pressure or trickery!)  This way, you can spend more time with each client, and make sure the work you do is the very finest that money can buy!  You'll have more profit with each client, and you'll be more proud of the work you are delivering.


7.  "All I want to do is take photos!" - This was one of the sayings I used to cry out all the time in the "old days" when I was working myself to death, and not making any real money!  I didn't want to have to deal with marketing, selling, pricing, merchandising, management, record keeping, etc.  So I starved!


8.  "The one with the most equipment and toys wins.  Anyway, a craftsman is only as good as his or her tools." - We are naturally interested in the equipment end of this business.  We like cameras and all the other gadgets!  But the honest fact is that we need to put way more time and money into discovering how to be more profitable, and run our studio so it doesn't run us, than we need to put more money into equipment.  In our deepest, depths of our souls, we know this is true!


9.  "The ideas and techniques Chuck teaches won't work in my area.  He doesn't understand my market area and my clients!" - It's "normal" to feel this way.  But let me honestly tell you that the principles of "HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY" that my methods use, are true for almost everyone, and almost every place on the planet!  No kidding.  This stuff really works.


10.  "The ideas and techniques Chuck teaches may work for others, but they won't work for me.  I could never do that." - This is a simple self confidence problem.  You can do this stuff.  I used to be so afraid and insecure, and I learned how to market, sell, and price my work, so I absolutely KNOW you can, too!  You simply have to FORCE yourself to learn the things that the failures don't want to learn!  (I know you've heard this from me before, but it's SO IMPORTANT, that I wanted to sneak it in again!)


11.  "I want everything to be easier.  This seems like too much work." - All "average" photographers think like this!  They're always looking for the simple way.  Plus, if something requires even a little work, they will tend to shy away from it!  This is a HUGE killer of studios!  Yes, we want the easiest way, but those who are successful realize that it does require some effort!


12.  "If I let my clients take their "proofs" home, they'll show them to all their friends, and I'll get lots more business.  It's free advertising!" - This is a classic example of "cross thinking."  The photographer who suffers from "cross thinking" confuses the sales aspects of the business with the marketing aspects!  Once you have photographed someone, your responsibility is to do a wonderful presentation, on an emotional level (because people invest in photography for emotional reasons!)  Be careful not to "cross think" and try to make your originals or "proofs" do your marketing for you.  Marketing is marketing!  Selling is selling!  Don't mix them up!


13.  "I don't have the time to use the "System" that Charles discovered.  I don't have time to meet with my clients ahead of time.  And I certainly don't have time to project!  No way!" - I hear this one all the time!  "Average" photographers think like this constantly!  They're trapped in the "More Syndrome" and they can't even SEE a way out of it!  You know, on the other hand, that the way to growth and prosperity is to "take a step at a time, with a goal in mind!"  So you are constantly making small improvements in your "operating system" of your studio, to get you to the place you want to be!  The "average" photographer simply complains about how bad business is, and does nothing intelligent to change it!


14.  The "Average" photographer tends to take advice from people who are NOT where he or she wants to be! - The great Donald Jack taught me to NEVER TAKE ADVICE FROM ANYONE WHO IS NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE!  Before I learned that, I was allowing all sorts of people, who definitely were NOT where I wanted to be, to influence me!  You must be extremely careful of this yourself!  Never, ever, allow someone who is not where you want to be to influence your decisions!


 So there you have 'em.  The 14  Giant Mistakes and Wrong Thoughts that the "Average" photographer makes every day of his or her life!  Now what you want to do is NOT THINK LIKE THAT!

ALSO - - So many of you have asked me about the words to the Harry Chapin Song, "Flowers Are Red" that I thought I'd include them here for you.  This really drives home the point of all of this.

 This is one of my three all time favorite writings.  The other two being "Cat's In The Cradle" also by Harry Chapin," and "Dangerous People."

"Flowers Are Red," by Harry Chapin


The little boy went first day of school.

He got some crayons and he started to draw.

He put colors all over the paper,

 For colors were what he saw.


The teacher said, "What you doing young man?"

 "I'm painting flowers!" he said.

She said, "It's not the time for art young man,

 And anyway, flowers are green and red."


"There's a time for everything young man,

 And a way things must be done.

You've got to show concern for everyone else,

 For you're not the only one."


And she said, "Flowers are red young man,

 And green leaves are green.

There's no reason to see flowers any other way

 Than the way they always have been seen."


But the little boy said,

"There are so many colors in a rainbow,

 And so many colors in the setting sun,

And so many colors in a flower,

 And I see every one!"


Well the teacher said, "You're sassy! 

 There's ways that things should be.

And you'll paint flowers the way they are,

 So repeat after me.


And she said, "Flowers are red young man,

 And green leaves are green.

There's no reason to see flowers any other way

 Than the way they always have been seen."


But the little boy said,

"There are so many colors in a rainbow,

 And so many colors in the setting sun,

And so many colors in a flower,

 and I see every one!"


Well, the teacher put him in a corner.

 She said, "It's for your own good.

And you won't come out until you' get it right,

 And are responding like you should."


Well, pretty soon, he got lonely,

 Frightened words filled his head.

So he went up to the teacher,

 And this is what he said...


He said, "Flowers are red ,

 Green leaves are green.

There's no reason to see flowers any other way

 Than the way they always have been seen."


Well, time went on, like it always does,

 and they moved to another town.

And the little boy went to another school,

 And this is what he found.


The teacher there was smiling.

 She said, "Painting should be fun!"

And there are so many colors in a flower,

 So let's use every one!"


But that little boy painted flowers,

 In neat rows of green and red.

And when the teacher asked him "Why?"

 This is what he said:


"Flowers are red,  Green leaves are green.

 There's no reason to see flowers,

Any other way,

 Than the way they always have been seen."

 This is the way you and I have been raised!  To follow the road everyone else takes.  To be like everybody else.  To not stand out.  To not be different.  To not be creative.

  But now you find yourself in a creative profession.  One that requires you to be creative on command, and to build a successful business in a world full of followers and closed minded "non-thinkers!"

 So to achieve the success and happiness you dream of;  to build the studio of your dreams;  to build the life-style you want so badly, you MUST TAKE THE "ROAD LESS TRAVELED!"  Look around, see what everyone else is doing, and then DON'T DO THAT!

Go For It!
Chuck Lewis


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