The Many Hats of a Pro Photographer

Once upon a time, I had romantic ideas of what it meant to be professional photographer. In my mind it was chic, sexy, and exciting. I was always working on some big project, with awesome people, making beautiful images. 

What I didn’t realize was that there is a lot (and I mean A LOT) more to being a professional photographer than meets the eye. It’s not just about the fun photo shoots, it’s also about running a business. It never occurred to me that I would have to learn how to be good at so many different things to succeed.

The way I see it, there are 4 main “hats” that the professional photographer must wear to be successful. They are: 

  • The Entrepreneur – With this hat on, we see the bigger picture of what our dream job entails. We’re inspired by the vision and have the drive to make it happen!
  • The Manager – This hat covers all the details involved in making our vision come to life. It includes scheduling, bookkeeping, invoicing, workflow managements, on and on! Think of this as, all the day-to-day tasks that keep things running.
  • The Employee – As the employee, we’re responsible for getting sh*t DONE! We’re the editors, the retouchers, the order fulfillment, the packagers, and the marketers. We do it all… I’m tired just thinking about this hat!
  • The Photographer – This is the creative hat we wear. With this hat, we’re the art makers! We stay inspired and bring new visions, ideas, and techniques. This is the hat people come to us for in the first place.

When you stack them all up, thats a LOT of hats for one person to wear!

According to Dane Sanders in his book Fast Track Photographer: In the 1st year, 60% of photographers give up their business. Of that remaining 40%, another 25% will fail within the 2nd year. The ones that make it are the remaining 15% who endure through the 3rd year.

Those aren’t very good statistics, people! It’s VERY hard to wear all the hats, but we have to wear them all… and wear them well!

I’d like to share with you a few of the “fashion accessory” hats I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me get where I am today. This hats aren’t essential like the hats above are, but they sure make life easier when you try making them part of your wardrobe. 

  • The Adventurer – Mindset plays a big role with this hat on. It’s all about having a “no problem!” attitude. No job seems out of reach when you have so many resources at your fingertips, and it’s all about believing you can do it and then making it happen. Remember the secret formula: Talent + Mindset + Tools = Success!
  • The Delegator – Knowing when to outsource and easing the burden of the other hats is ESSENTIAL to making it in this business. I know it can be hard to let go… but that’s exactly what we have to do to take it to the next level.
  • The Gamer – This is my FAVORITE hat! To be successful, we have to take our business seriously… but what fun is being serious all the time? Why not be… seriously playful? In other words, play the game, but have fun along the way.

I hope these hats come in handy – I think they look GREAT on you!


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