Jul 21, 2009

Hiring a consultant

Photoshelter is featuring "working with a photographer consultant" and I'd highly recommend a quick read for both photographers and non-photogs alike. A quick excerpt to get started...

"Working with a consultant has changed the way I approach my work, the perspective of how others see me and how I see myself. Others may think it extravagant, but to me it is necessary. It's more than a masters, it's going for your Ph.D in photography and business with a private tutor: learning the nuance of portfolio development, marketing, follow up, and most importantly, a lesson taken right out of advertising agencies, creating a strong brand and image. Without it I'm just another photographer on the bottom shelf of the supermarket aisle hoping someone will notice me."

This extremely insightful and well written piece on hiring a consultant was exactly what I needed today. Among others, one huge take-away for me, was to find the core of why I do what I do and start photographing it, even at the expense of throwing an entire portfolio or website away. D.A. Wagner, who's work, while quite different than mine, is extremely inspiring and even more so was his resolve after a few decades of professional photography to reinvent himself. The application of reinventing ourselves spans the world of photography of course and applies to people in any career or station in life. Are you doing what you are passionate about, what your purpose is, what you dream about at night and during the day? If so, good for you. If not, why not? Gather your so-called consultants around (people that know and understand who you are: parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, spouse) and ask for direction and advice about your skillset, values and passions in life and most importantly, as D.A. notes, hold you accountable to sticking to your plan, once you've taken the plunge.

Things to consider before hiring a consultant:
  • Can you emotionally and financially commit to paying an expert to criticize your work? This is the biggest consideration, as there are no refunds...
  • Conversely, can you afford to continue doing what you've always done, especially if that means struggling to make a living?
  • Are you ready to accept a dialog of criticism and be challenged with every new contribution you make to your new vision (every photographer's project of building a portfolio and marketing it will be different)?
  • Can you let go of old habits and behaviors in order to get to your vision?
  • Will you be able to go outside your comfort zone and address the issues that have kept you from doing this on your own? There are no good excuses when it comes to getting the work you need to do, done.
  • Are you willing to be successful in spite of all odds? It is possible, but you must be willing to listen, follow instructions and complete assignments and be consistant. Remember, be careful what you wish for.
  • Finally, if a consultant is out of your financial reach, and you are ready to commit to your own success, look into becoming a member the APA and signing on with Success Teams™, which has the following mission statement, "... to help each member of the team identify and clarify his or her own professional goals for success and accomplish them through encouragement, feedback, support and mutual accountability."

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