Stephen Covey wrote “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” a couple of decades ago…maybe even longer. I’ve read this book several times and have studied the wisdom that is in it. I’ve even incorporated the concepts into the way I live. If I ever felt like I was drifting away from the concepts, I’d pull the book out, or in recent years, look it up on the internet. Stephen died unexpectedly this Summer from the results of head injuries sustained when he crashed on his Mountain Bike. I wanted to try and take the concepts and relate them to being successful with photography.
The first habit: Be Proactive. Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. It’s about not blaming other people or things for your own behavior. Like when Covey says, “Life doesn’t just happen”, I’d add that “successful photography doesn’t just happen”. In both cases it is in the choices you make. Do you take the time before a shoot to make sure your gear is ready to go? Do you put in time researching your location and subject before shooting? Do you read through your camera’s owners manual to understand all the functions? Or at least certain ones? Do you study the work of other photographers whose work you enjoy? These are all decisions that you can make or not make. The decisions that you make every moment give you the opportunity to do the things that you need to do to create better images.
Do you find yourself talking yourself out of doing what it takes? “I don’t have a very good camera”, “The weather isn’t very good”, “my pictures aren’t that good”, “no one will want to see the pictures I took”, “I don’t have nice equipment like that”….you get the picture. Instead, change your language, so you are using proactive phrases like “I Can”, and “I Will”.
Being proactive means focusing on the things you can control, not on those things that you can’t control. Yes, the wedding you are shooting is in the darkest building this side of the Mississippi; Yes, your afternoon portrait session is getting rained out….do you give up? Do you get all bent out of shape? No! You focus on what you can do about it and move forward in creating successful images.