Photography Is a Numbers Game at Heart


I’ve always hated making cold calls. It’s hard not to take each rejection personally.

A friend tried to make me feel better about it by offering some advice. He said that if every 100 calls resulted in a sale, each of the rejections had gotten me one step closer to my goal — a “yes.”

To be honest, I’ve never lost my distaste for cold calls. But I do apply his advice in how I approach my work.

A Numbers Game

For example, sometimes I spend a day shooting and nothing seems to be working. I go from place to place looking for something of interest, only to draw a blank.

This is when I remind myself that photography, like cold calling, is a numbers game. You have to keep shooting whether you like what you’re getting or not.

On those occasions when I’m not having any luck, I’ve often captured a photograph at the end of the day that makes the whole shoot worthwhile.

Other times, I’ve gone home dissatisfied. But when I do, I remind myself that when I start shooting again the next day, I’ll be closer to finding what I’m after.

The key is staying ready and not giving up. The longer you’re in the game, the better your chances of hitting a home run.

Staying Ready

When I was in Paris with my wife Sharon last month, I wasn’t having much success taking pictures. I kept coming up empty, and I began to feel disappointed. I reminded myself that we would be there for several more days and I had plenty of time; I just had to stay at it.

Sooner or later, I told myself, there would be something in front of my camera that I liked.

After a day of walking, Sharon and I decided to rest our feet and eat ice cream cones at a park. Children were playing near us, and one of the boys was being particularly obnoxious and noisy. We wished he would go away, but that wasn’t happening.

Then, as we prepared to leave, this boy ran in front of us, stopped and looked up. I raised my camera, focused quickly and snapped one frame before he ran off.

As it turns out, that’s all I needed. That one image made my day.

The numbers game had paid off again.

Photo © David Saxe


6 Responses to “Photography Is a Numbers Game at Heart”

  1. Nice shot David... looks strangely old fashioned...

  2. Yes it is a numbers game and my numbers are way to low.

  3. I could not agree with you more. It seems I'm not the only one who hates making cold calls too. If I can just keep your friends advice forefront in my mind it might make it bearable.

    Recently I was hired by a local band to shoot some promotional pictures for them and I had several locations scouted out and sure enough the shot everyone loved the best was one of the last shots we took at the final location after a long day. It always seems to work that way with me as well.

  4. Thanks a lot for your thoughts.

    I believe bringing the camera everywhere, even when you aren't planning specifically to take pictures, is a very good idea.

    A photographer is like a fish, he lays thousands of eggs hoping that one will grow to maturity. ~Author Unknown

  5. Why don't you play the lotto instead ?

  6. a lovely image...

    well seen, well captured, and well done!

    I enjoy your blog. Keep it coming.

    May the good light be with you!

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