It amazes me how many learning opportunities are out there in the world.  blogs and video services, websites and social networking. It amazes me how the more things change, the more they seem the same.

I work in a photo-lab (12 years and running). I see 150 to 300 orders per day that I inspect the color on. Most of the orders are portraits. If you figure an average of 2.5 people per order, and a 250 working days/year (5 days/week at 50 weeks/yr) and an average of 225 orders/day. I figure that I’ve seen around half a million different photo shoots (675,000 rounding down) and 1.5 million people (1,687,500 rounded down). I assume some of the people are repeat customers and most of the photo shoots that I see are from professional photographers.

Most of the blogs that I read often refer to each other on occaision  and most of the “famous” pros seem to run in the same circles.  I don’t have a problem with that, I really don’t. I just appreciate it when something new comes along.  We all know about David Ziser, Scott Kelby, David Hobby “Strobist” and Joe McNally, but what about the lesser known photographers like Syl Arena (of PixSylAted.com, Zack Arias or Udi Tirosh (of DIYPhography.net). I wanted to compliment Scott Kelby’s wednesday guest blog for allowing other photographers the opportunity to shine and David  Hobby for his boot camp and on assignment section of his blog. Look for new sources of inspiration but don’t forget about the “big dogs” – they will usually be the first with breaking news.

Don’t be afraid to mimic what other people do: it’s a great way to learn. But if you want to be an amazing photographer, It isn’t about what gear you have but in how you think that makes or breaks you.  If somebody is concerned about price then let them go to wal-mart for pictures. Those customers will always complain about your price no matter how low it is and pricing low will flood you with more work than you need.  Focus on your style, your art and make sure that your customers know that you are special. Out of the thousands of customers that I see, I can recognise a handful just by their style (lighting, composition and background or location). Coincidentally, many of these customers are also some of the larger accounts and more successful studios in their respective cities.

Don’t focus on gear. Zack Arias has a training video and website (onelightworkshop.com) dedicated to using just one light to make great photographs.

Be unique, learn your craft, focus on the art rather than the price. If you are great, your customers will notice you and you won’t need to spend all of your time shooting weddings for $300 a pop.

Learn, go to workshops, take classes, read magazines and books and blogs.  All of your gear is just tools, it takes creativity and technique to make art.

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