Preparing for success / by Andrew Dacey

There's the old saying that success happens when preparation meets opportunity (quick Google search attributes this to Henry Hartman). I've been thinking a lot about that lately and both in the ways that I feel I'm doing well and where I'm falling flat. In terms of what I do well is on the technical side. I can be ready to shoot at the drop of a hat. Give me 5 minutes and my gear is ready to go. A lot of this is to do with how I operate after a shoot.

  1. I never really unpack my photo backpack. At most, I'll pull the body out of the bag but that's it. This means most of my gear is ready to go in seconds.
  2. After downloading all my pictures and ensuring that they're backed up to a 2nd location (crucial) I format all my memory cards, this means they're all ready to go again.
  3. I reset the camera to my standard settings if I've adjusted anything for a specific shoot (like using a high ISO)
  4. I recharge the batteries, even if they're not run down

Okay, all of this means that if someone were to call me right now with a shooting opportunity I could be good to go, great.

Now, in the interests of disclosure, let's look at where I fall down. This would mainly be on the business side of things. I've gotten better at preparing model releases before a shoot but there's a lot of other things I still let slide. Right off the bat, I don't have any business cards or a portfolio ready. This means if someone is interested in my photography I really have nothing ready to promote myself, not good.

Earlier this week I did have someone ask me if I had any cards on me and I had to tell them no. Fortunately, this was more for getting in touch with me relating to some shooting I've been doing for them for free so it's not the end of the world but it's not great either.

Tonight, there was an industry event going on at Aperture Studios. I ended up having a schedule conflict and couldn't go but I started realizing that I didn't have anything to bring to that event. Given that I haven't been very active in the local photo community this would have been a great opportunity to network but not having any materials to show doesn't exactly send a good first impression.

I'm not posting this to beat myself up but more to point out that there really is more to the photo business than just taking pictures. It is a business and needs to be run as such. More and more I'm feeling that taking good photos and being good on the technical side just gets you in the door, but it's how you operate as a businessperson that really determines how successful you are, and a lot of that can just come down to how much you prepare.