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Tips for New Photographers: Staying Humble in the Face of Success

Like most things in life, I explain them best when I reference The Simpsons.  With a little help from a cat, a mouse and their new friend named Poochie, you’ll understand the importance of staying humble in the face of success.

If you’re one of the many frequent visitors to my website and blog, you’ll know that I offer various levels of wedding photography mentorship; everything from a simple portfolio review to a long-term live-shooting mentorship.  I’ve had the chance to work with many different photographers within the GTA as well as Canada-wide, and I’ve noticed that the majority of photographers have no idea how to either accept praise and speak of their accomplishment.  Some photographers are very, very quiet and rarely spread good news about their accomplishments (be it publications or new and upcoming ventures) while other photographers are so in-your-face you that you find yourself wanting to “unlike” and “unfollow” them simply to clear your social media dashboards from all of their attention seeking posts.  While I’ll touch on the quiet photographers in a later post, I’m focusing this post on the concept of remaining humble… or, as I like to explain it to my mentor students… Dont. Be. Poochie.

poochie the rockin

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Before you lose your mind trying to figure out what I’m talking about, let me give you some background:  So, Itchy & Scratchy… we all know and love them, right?  The classic cat & mouse team that terrorizese each other every week on The Simpsons.  (If you’re not familiar with it, sorry… I’ll probably lose you work a paragraph or two…)  Back in Season 8 of The Simpsons, there was an episode where Itchy and Scratchy got a new friend; a dog named Poochie.  Poochie was “one outrageous dude” and he was “totally in your face”; things seemed to be looking up for Poochie.  And then his first episode premiered… boy that was bad news bears.  Poochie was too ‘in your face’, too much of a good thing, too, well, annoying.  Sure, Poochie had a lot to offer and, had he not been so ‘hardcore’, maybe could have stuck around and changed the duo to a permanent trio – but his in your face attitude was his fatal flaw.  Poochie ended up being killed off at the end of the episode and was never to be heard of again.

Staying humble in the face of the success is one of the hardest things any person can do; especially when your work is a reflection of your creativity and inner self.  Even though you may want to get in everyone’s face and show them all of your recent accomplishments, you must remember that your in-your-face attitude (a.k.a. intensity blended with arrogance) may end up being your fatal flaw, too.  Do you really want your artwork and business to suffer because you did not put any focus into your personal growth?

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Remaining humble while facing tremendous success is part of what makes a true poised professional.  There are many ways in which to remain humble including:

  • Recognizing your areas for improvement
  • Knowing your limitations
  • Self-reflection
  • Critical self-analysis
  • Respecting your social media audience; limiting your posts and not repeating information needlessly
  • Helping others
  • Appreciating others
  • Establishing your own identity; not mimicking and comparing to others
  • Make mistakes
  • Challenge yourself
  • Apply for a mentorship
  • Take continuing education seminars and classes
  • Never assume you know everything
  • Count your blessings

The wedding industry has a very quick turnaround in vendors; new vendors enter every year, last for a few years, and then for a variety of reasons, go out of business.  With hundreds of other vendors to choose from, you don’t want your friends, fans and colleagues to start thinking of you as Poochie.  Being courteous, humble and respectful are a key component to running a successful business and will help you beat the odds and make it in the wedding industry.

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