Don’t Be Satisfied with Just Showing Up


Many in today’s iGeneration have had a childhood of T-ball, soccer, and dance classes where if they just participated, they were given a trophy. I assume most people know there is more to life than showing up on time — but you’d be surprised how often meeting minimum standards will put you way ahead of the competition.

I just handed in the grades for a class I taught in photojournalism at Reinhardt College. Every project I assigned was designed to give the students a real-world experience. They had three assignments: an environmental portrait, covering an event and a photo story.

The students were asked to turn in their assignments as if they were submitting them to an editor. They needed a cover letter to tell me about what they were submitting. They needed a folder with their selects and another folder with all the images they shot. Each of the photos in the selects needed to have a caption embedded in the IPTC fields. Most editors enjoy being able to send a photo to the designer which already has the caption in the photo.

Some students forgot the captions, some forgot the cover letter and, yes, some were late handing them in. While most had everything done properly, we still had some where the captions were lacking the essential five Ws.

I continue to hear horror stories from clients about photographers who didn’t meet their minimum expectations. I even know of photographers who did the work and never handed in an invoice! It is amazing how just being sure all the elements are done for a project and turning them on time (or early!) will be received with excitement.

One of my favorite creative directors is Tony Messano. He gives sage advice. I can understand why he is asked to judge advertising work all over the world.

Tony expects a photographer to shoot the assignment the way Tony conceives it — but his favorite photographers not only give him what he wants; they go beyond his concept and shoot it their way, too. Often, they will shoot it just as he says and then will push the idea a bit further with lighting composition or another element. They bring something extra to the table.

If you are meeting the expectations of your clients, you are doing better than most others in the industry. To rise to the top, go a little beyond the expectations.

Don’t be satisfied with the trophy everyone gets for just showing up. Be the person singled out for going beyond the call of duty. Never stop looking for a unique approach or something different. The stretching will keep you youthful and nimble in today’s ever-changing marketplace.

[tags]Stanley Leary, photography tips[/tags]


One Response to “Don’t Be Satisfied with Just Showing Up”

  1. It's scary how true this is. So many people are satisfied doing just the bare minimum instead of going the extra yard and doing something extraordinary.

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