The unreasonable photographer understands that decisions of conformity enslave us to others and rob photographers of the benefits of having a unique photographic style.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ~ George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
The Herd Mentality of Photographers
Our world has a herd mentality. A herd of animals in the wild survives by staying in a herd. Most of us have conformed to the way of the herd. It’s easier.
The confidence of most people comes from others. Conformity is the way of the herd:
- What others think of them they are.
- What others agree with they accept.
- What others believe they can accomplish they believe also.
When you are unreasonable and listen to your convictions without relying on confidence derived from the herd, you will be criticized by the herd and feel uncomfortable for stepping outside the comfort zone of the herd. The herd thrives on conformity but you won’t thrive as a photographer by conforming.
The unreasonable photographer breaks away from the normality of the herd to stand out. Breaking away from the herd provides:
- Positive change in your personal life.
- Positive change in your business.
- Positive change in the photography industry.
- Positive change in the world around you.
Do Not Conform But Transform
Look at the average photographer. Are they thriving? Are they happy and successful? Are they overworked and underpaid? Are they even getting paid work? Many aren’t!
Who wants to hire the photographer who’s work looks like everyone else’s? Who are the photographers that stand out to you? Are they not the innovators? The ones who are doing something different? Do they say something different through their work, actions, and/or words? Think about Jeremy Cowart, Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, Jay Maisel, and other influential photographers. They do not conform but transform the world through their own unique vision and talent. People are drawn to them and their unique talents. These photographers do not conform to the herd mentality and neither should you.
Proactive Not Reactive
Learn how to say, “No”. Saying no to the demands of others is the first step to being an unreasonable photographer. The word “no” is the key to living your life proactively and not reactively. It frees you from the slavery to those around you.
Most of us live our lives, make decisions, and plan our schedules in a very reactive way. Email, social media, phone calls, or meetings take control of your day. Virtually 99% of email, social media, phone calls, and meetings are time wasters and should not become your todo list. These activities have you reacting and responding to requests and demands enslaving you to others as they dictate your decisions. These activities take us away from the things that truly matter in our photography business and personal lives. If you react to the demands and requests of those around you, other people’s requests will easily take over and become your schedule.
If all you’re doing is responding to the requests and demands of others, your schedule is full, you are frustrated and exhausted, you’re missing out on experiences, and you feel guilt for missing out on these experiences and time with those you care about.
Choose to be proactive and not reactive. Make decisions and plan your schedule. Stick to it. Don’t veer from your unique path to join the herd and its schedule.
Be like Tim Farris as he describes in the 4-Hour Workweek, leave phone calls to voicemail and learn to check in on the time wasters of email, social media, and voicemail less often. There is little to no need for checking these more than once a day and never check these first thing in the morning. Make it the last thing you do. If you check them before following through with your plan for the day, you’re likely to veer from your plan to accomplish whatever others have planned for you.
By checking email, social media, and voicemail at the end of the day you’ll find…
- Most people have already solved their problems.
- You’re faster in your replies, after all, you’re ready to end your day.
- Waiting until the end of the day allows for fewer back and forth messages and shorter phone calls. These people will already be out of the office or ready to be done for the day.
- They may have left for the day. A returned voicemail may answer the caller’s needs without having to get into a longer conversation.
“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live.
The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
Freeing up your time is unreasonable herd mentality. We have little time! Use it wisely!
Unique Photographic Style Equates Value Not Busyness
The culture of the herd equates busyness to value. This is not the case. You can stay busy with email and phone calls all day and not make a dime.
When you start living your life proactively and not reactively you free up time. Time is something that the overwhelming majority of photographers do not currently have. The unreasonable photographer frees up time leaving room for creative thoughts and processes. Without free time, photographers fail to learn the art of expressing themselves uniquely.
You may worry that business will be lost if you don’t check email and phone calls. You won’t lose business when your work stands out from other photographers. Uniqueness creates value and demand. When you look like the rest of the herd, other photographers can easily replace or underbid you. Client loyalty is also low.
Yes, it takes time to find your unique style and approach to photography, but without it, you won’t stay in business. Most photographers make a very poor living. It’s a hard business. A very competitive business. Invest in yourself by being the unreasonable photographer. Take the time to find your unique photographic style and let the world beat a path to your door. You’re with it!
If you liked this post, Applying the 80/20 Principle to Your Photography Business is another great read for improving productivity and gaining freedom in your life and photography business.