Advice – Excerpts and Link to a great post.

A good friend of mine referred me to some beautiful B&W film photography, so of course I peaked around a bit. I always love to learn more about the artist when I am drawn to their work. The photographer is Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai. Her B&W portraiture (especially the Short People Gallery) is so beautiful yet so simple. She really nails connections and gets natural emotion. I love it! She also has a blog. While browsing her blog I came across a post called “Advice” and enjoyed it very much. I gave a Tweet about it on Twitter but wanted to elaborate beyond my 140 character limit and direct you to Cheryl’s work and blog. I love how she describes herself :

I’m a dinosaur. I work entirely with B&W film and older (sometimes vintage) cameras. A film addicted photographer that doesn’t hate digital folk.

Wait, what? You don’t have the latest and greatest equipment? How do your images make such an impact? As Cheryl states below, “Learn that people photography is about people, not about photography. Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection”.

Here is the link to her post on Advice. These are a few of my favorites from the post:

  • You cannot specialize in everything.
  • Know your style before you hang out your shingle. If you don’t, your clients will dictate your style to you. That makes you nothing more than a picture taker. Changing your style later will force you to start all over again, and that’s tough
  • Leave room for yourself to grow and evolve. It may seem like a good idea to call your business “Precious Chubby Tootsies”….but what happens when you decide you love to photograph seniors? Or boudoir?
  • Remember that if your work looks like everyone else’s, there’s no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else. Unless you’re cheaper. And nobody wants to be known as “the cheaper photographer”.
  • <--AMEN.

  • Learn that people photography is about people, not about photography. Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection.
  • Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons, and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacency.

That last point especially. I am not ashamed to tell you all that I learn and grow most through mistakes I have made and will continue to make. No matter if it is photography related, being a husband, father, friend, businessman, etc… Not proud of all the mistakes, but certainly better for making them. I have been frustrated to the point where I want to hang up the cameras and go back to being a computer geek (still a geek, just not making a living talking to them all day long…). Sometimes I look at other photographers work and think… “Who am I kidding? Why would anyone hire me?” Then I remember how selfish that is and to focus on THEIR needs not mine. They hire me for me to do a great service for them. When the focus is there you cannot go wrong. Does it get frustrating at times… You bet it does, but you can use the frustration as fuel to grow and succeed.

Thank you Cheryl Jacobs Nikolai for your words of wisdom and inspiration. Yes, when I look at your images I want to throw my cameras away again…. LOL.. Beautiful!

Comments 2

  1. Great advice and lovely photographs (from both the above photographers) ! I think zack arias said something similar in one of his critiques too, about deciding your own style and marketing as such, rather than trying to cover all the genres. Now, on to developing that “style”….

  2. LOVE the one about embracing frustration…….boy is that me! And not letting other people dictate your style…..that’s a hard one too for someone that is just starting out! Thanks for all the great advice! Now off to look at some beautiful black & whites!

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