People in general and Photographers specifically often find the biggest obstacles to our success doesn`t come from competition or outside influences but from within ourselves.  From the day most of us pick up a camera we have to deal with our super sized egos that insist we are as good or better that all the other photographers in our area.  We have people in this profession that call themselves “artists” that can`t consistently produce a session that has professional quality images of a client without an overhaul in Photoshop.  The “Beast Within” most of us are our egos that keep us from being truthful with ourselves.  When we listen to our egos, instead of our paying clients we set sail on the river of Denial, which most of the time leads to the destination called Poverty… which is located right near the homeless shelter.

The greatest words ever spoken were, “to thy own self be true”.   If you lie to yourself…you will never be successful at anything.  We set ourselves up for failure by trying to avoid the truth, so we don’t suffer from “super size ego deflation”.  Who do most young photographers show their work to as they entertain the notion of going into business?  Their spouse, parents,  family and friends, right?  How are people who love you going to be honest with you and say,  “your works sucks and if you want to be a photographer you should get some training!”  Of course not…they are going to say you are a photographic genius!  You are so much better than any photographer in your area and if you open a studio, clients will be beating down your doors!  Look around….how is that logic working out for all those that have followed it before you?

The Beast Within also affects the elders in our profession, that think that have gotten to a point they know all there is to know about our profession.  My father had a saying when I was growing up, “as long as a man thinks of himself as green….he is growing….it’s only when he considers himself grown that he begins to die”.  Old Calhoon was quite a philosopher…but it made me aware of how important learning was to keep from becoming obsolete.  Just because I am successful at what I do now is no guarantee I will continue to be successful in the future without constant learning and growing.  Ignorance never quits creeping up on us and to be successful you must stay ahead of it.

The Beast Within also comes in the form of focusing on the wrong carrot.  We have all seen the donkey and the carrot dangling in front on him to keep him pulling forward.  We aren’t donkeys, which is sometimes a problem, because with choices of different carrots to chase and we often choose the wrong carrot.  As we become better at our craft, many of us chase notoriety and praise from our peers, which isn’t always a bad thing, unless it becomes more important than your clients.  Any successful business person chases the carrot that brings him or her the most money.  I am human…it cool when photographers comment positively on my portraits, classes, books and/or DVDs, but the carrot I chase is my clients and I never lose site of that.

I see photographers that constantly enter prints for competition and will spend a good portion of their time shooting samples in exotic locations or creating huge sample shoots in their studios, but run through client’s sessions like a pez-dispenser.  I am sorry but until merit and awards come with a cash prize of $50,000 to $100,000, I know where my primary focus is.  Photographers often ask me why I don’t speak often and that is the answer.  I can spend 6 hours photographing in my studio and make twice as much as speaking at a convention.  As a business person, Profit is  more important than notoriety because notoriety won’t buy me a New Viper when I get tired of the old one!

We all have to deal with the beast within and the easiest way to beat it is to always be true to yourself, even if causes some ego deflation!


~ by jeffsmithbooks on January 10, 2011.


  1. really true..we do better look ahead and see the real meaning of the situation ..first we are a business men than a photographer

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