What I Learned From Taking 150,777 Photos | 3 Lessons
Yes, this image is of me photographing my wife with penguins. We were in South Africa and if you're interested in the South African adventure, check it out here.
People constantly ask me, "How many photos do you usually take?" and I don't really know how to answer the question.
Sometimes I answer, "We take a few thousand photos on a wedding day..." Other times I answer, "I take only as many as I need to..."
I took a total of 150,777 photos for our clients (and ourselves) in 2017.
That averages out to: 413 photos a day (every day), 17 photos an hour (every hour, all year) or 1 photo every 3.48 minutes.
Folks think photography is an extremely creative occupation (and it is). However, it's also a craft that must be improved and mastered.
Just like anyone who has learned how to become great at their craft (engineer, electrician, teacher, etc), that person has spent time doing what they do and getting better over time.
That is how photography has worked in my life as well.
When you meet someone who is a great photographer, they have spent years studying, learning and improving their skill set.
Imagine you're interested in taking better photos, regardless of what you do in life.
What would happen if you took 400+ photos a day, every day, for a year straight?
Even if the first half of the year (the first 182 days) you took ZERO great photos, you will still be learning. Your photos would get better as you continued to work.
But then something magical would happen. The next 75,579 photos would get better and better and eventually become something you would be proud to share with the world.
Very few (if any) people like having their photograph taken.
For some reason the standard response I get when I meet someone who I'm supposed to photograph is, "I hope you can make me look good. I take terrible photos..." or "I hate having my photograph taken..."
I've come up with some funny responses to ease the tension and their fears.
Things like "Don't worry, I brought only my pretty lenses today..." or "Have no fear, the skinny lens is here..."
Before I photograph people who say that to me, I like to ask where the fear comes from. Most of the time they don't have a good response.
The fact of the matter is they haven't had someone coach them through the process.
It's just like someone who wants to get in shape but they never go to the gym because they're scared of using the machines wrong or "looking bad."
That's why you have someone help you through the learning process. Someone who knows the equipment and what will work best for your specific goals.
With photography, I do the same thing.
I help people understand why they should pose a certain way, what they should do with their hands, why they should lean or twist a certain way and all the other little tips and tricks that help someone look their best on camera.
Every person is beautiful, no matter who you are or where you come from.
Perhaps this is a belief that comes from our faith that every one is created in God's image, but with our work this year, we wanted people to know they are beautiful.
Because they are.
You don't need to be self conscious about how you look, what you wear, etc.
You are beautiful.
And if someone tells you you're not, you should not be spending any more time with that person (even if they are someone close to you).
Embrace the fact you are beautiful. Stop trying to be someone you are not. God made you exactly the way He wants you -- own that idea and learn to love who you are.
The photo you post online is the new handshake, ignore it at your own peril.
In the 1980s people had to be taught "how to shake hands..."
Wait, what am I talking about! Colleges are still teaching this at the today it's called soft skills.
In today's digital world the first impression you have of someone you're meeting for the first time is no longer their handshake, it's their online profile and photos.
Not thinking about this is a recipe for disaster.
Let's dive into your own behavior. You meet someone new, take a business card and if it's someone you want to network with, the first two things you're going to do are:
1) Search for them on Google
2) Search for them on your favorite social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc)
Hearing this should not come as a shock. Everyone does business this way.
We seek connection online in hopes that it brings success in the real world.
If you're someone looking for a new job, know the recruiter is looking at what you posted over the weekend (aka photos of you playing flippy cup are probably not the best idea).
If you're looking to expand your network consider the fact professionals want to do business with other professionals. If your online images don't communicate that, don't be surprised why you can't seem to gain momentum building your network.
This happened to us twice in 2017.
I was working through project proposals and needed additional resources for photo and video. I was referred to a photographer and videographer in the Grand Rapids area. I connected with them online (Instagram to be specific) and our initial conversations took place on DM. Eventually we ended up working on several projects together.
We looked at their profile, images and behavior online, they did the same for us.
This will continue to be the story for 2018 and beyond.
Downtown Drone Image by Mitch Pater Video
Christmas Photo by Nick Irwin