Inspirational Working Habits from Successful Portrait and Wedding Photographers

Inspirational Working Habits from Successful Portrait and Wedding Photographers

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What does it take to be a Successful Photographer? Patience, Dedication, Creativity, Technical Knowledge, Market Presence or is there something more? Read on, from the Inspirational Working Habits the featured Portrait and Wedding Photographers has to share with the world.

I think senior portraits should be carefree, funky and real, and this portrait captures exactly that. This senior is being shown at her best, both inside and out. Photo © Tomayia Colvin

Meet Tomaayia Colvin – One of the 50 Most Inspiring Photographers of United States – @Tomayiacolvin

What is Success?
Success is loving yourself unconditionally despite where you are in your practice.

How I Grow?
I have a yearly mantra. This year, my mantra is “Becoming more,” which means a lot of things. It means eating less Chick-Fil-A, and spending time at the gym. It means being more intentional about meeting people in person, rather than only interacting on social media. When I speak at a conference, I plan on hosting meet-and-greets. And I just started a monthly meet-up in Houston for women photographers.

Good Habits:
I try to meditate every day or just have a moment of quiet time. I have a daily nap as well. I try to reset my own batteries so that I can be everything everyone wants me to be.


About ten years ago, I realized how to previsualize a scene and then use light to paint that scene I had just visualized. Photography is not just about taking photos; it’s also about having a vision and then making photos. Photo © Trevor Dayley

TREVOR DAYLEY – Happens to be one of Top 100 Wedding Photographers in United States
Check his work at trevordayley.com
@trevordayley

What is Success?
I am a father of six kids. Success to me is being able to have a schedule that’s flexible enough to allow me to spend as much time as possible with them. I love being able to coach sports, volunteer at church, take long summer vacations, pick them up from school and be there for all the important moments in their lives. Success is not about how much money I have in my bank account; it’s about how my kids remember me as their dad and the time we are able to spend together as a family.

How I Grow?
As one of many photographers out there that have graduated from the school of the self taught, I take personal growth seriously. I commit myself to read one book per week, whether it be books about photography like Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Posing or books on other topics like Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, or one of my favorites, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. The other thing I love doing is using YouTube playlists to save videos on topics that interest me. Then while driving, rather than listening to music, I often just listen to the videos and pick up all kinds of tidbits on topics that interest me.

Good Habits:
Before reading Why We Sleep, I thought that sleep was for the lazy. I believed that in order to get ahead, I had to learn to cope with less and use the time at night while everyone was sleeping to get things done. After reading that book, I have made sleep a much higher priority in my life and have felt all the better because of it. Another thing that always makes me feel like I am on my A-game is cutting sugar from my diet. When I go weeks without sugar and refined carbs, I always feel better, have more energy to spare and feel like I’m more creative while out on shoots.


This image was one of the first shots where I was able to blend my creativity with a bit more of a commercial appeal. As a commercial photographer, you must also be able to show clients what you can offer for their brand. Photo © Lindsay Adler

LINDSAY ADLER – She is a Fashion Photographer based out of Manhattan and work has been published in many esteemed Publications.
lindsayadlerphotography.com
@lindsayadler_photo

What is Success?
The fundamental question behind that is, what makes you happy and how can you spend more time doing it? The things that make me happy are shooting, working with other creatives, traveling and spending time with my dog and my lovely boyfriend. It seems pretty obvious, but of course I should aim to do more of these things! I need to work out a roadmap to put these things front and center in my life.

How I Grow?
Every month I set up at least one (but usually two) creative shoot days. No matter how busy I am, I find a way to fit them into my schedule. I consider these mandatory. They keep me inspired, invigorated and passionate. From a business perspective, I use these days to shoot images that fuel my Instagram feed. I use these days as networking days to work with makeup artists or individuals that work with my dream clients. Even more importantly, I use them as days to create imagery that I think will appeal to my dream clients, and then later use this imagery for marketing. I don’t get paid a dime for these shooting days, but they are just as important as any other part of my business.

Good Habits:
I am at the happiest, most stable and successful point of my life. I think there are a few key elements that have helped me to get here: I cut out draining people, I set attainable goals, but also maintain big goals that help me orient my life. I take time to create. And I’m honest with myself. If some- one or something is no longer fulfilling you, move on.


We don’t have to have long-standing connections with everyone that we photograph because there are really so many ways to establish rapport. When that rapport is there, magic ensues. Photo © Kesha Lambert

KESHA LAMBERT – Kesha Lambert is a NY based Lawyer cum Wedding, Portrait and Event Photographer and is known for Creativity, Passion and Professionalism.
keshalambert.com
@keshalambert

What is Success?
Success is peace of mind. Success is a pipe dream realized; when aspiration, idea and execution combine. Success is a reputation that matches or surpasses the copy of a beautifully crafted brand message. Success is having the tools, resources and ability to provide impactful opportunities to others.

How I Grow?
I aim to be intentional in meeting new people and having offline conversations with peers, industry friends and new acquaintances. I set small monthly, sometimes weekly goals that culminate in a large annual goal. I read at least one new book a month. I also set one monthly learning objective. One of the things that I love most about photography is that there is always something new to learn a level up.

Good Habits:
Prayer is a part of my daily life. I drink water and eat breakfast. Creating and using a daily task list is a major key for me. That overwhelming feeling that I had so much to do and not enough hours in the day to get them done…task lists help me to see otherwise.


This Norway-based couple booked me after the Mt. Everest wedding I shot in 2017. We were supposed to hike 22 miles in one day, but it snowed so much that the trail wasn’t visible. We decided to fly somewhere sunny, where I had already done some research. In a race against time, we ended up finding the location just before sunset. We photographed many of the prime Norway images on my website and social media. Photo © Charleton Churchill

CHARLETON CHURCHILL – Charleton Churchill is an award-winning destination wedding and adventure elopement photographer based in northern California who is the photographer behind the internationally viral Mt. Everest Wedding.
charletonchurchill.com
@charletonchurchill

What is Success?
Balance is the key to success for me. It’s easy to be famous if you work hard and give your all, with blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice. However, the keyword in success for many is sacrifice. If I gain the world but lose my soul, what have I really gained? If I can love my wife and my daughters, give to my community, volunteer for teens and kids to make a difference, stay active, love people and God, while working hard in my business booking weddings and taking care of my couples, that is success.

How I Grow?
I’m always looking to plan a few big projects each year out of my league and comfort zone—something different, daring and difficult. I want to be challenged. I want to feel fear. I don’t want to feel like I’m totally in control. I even climb mountains that I’ve never climbed outside of my adventure weddings. But more important is that I tackle my business and my life each day with something new.

Good Habits:
I have to always reduce the clutter and noise and focus on what’s most important. Many times, that means saying no to the good things. Too many things on your plate dilute your focus and energy. I say minimize to maximize your talent and presence in this world.


During this shoot with model Yen in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, it began to rain. While we waited for the rain to recede, I was inspired by the old-world look of the neighborhood in front of me. I posed her as if she was taking a stroll around. Photo © Roberto Valenzuela

ROBERTO VALENZUELA – Roberto Valenzuela is a photographer sponsored by Canon USA and thus a member of the Canon Explorer of Light program. He has been an International first place winner three times and has been recognized by his peers as one of the ten most influential photographers and educators in the world.
robertovalenzuela.com
@roberto_photo

What is Success?
Success in the photography industry is a balance of being able to satisfy your artistic tooth but also being able to make a good living doing it. It’s when you have a creative balance between working, editing and having enough juice left in the battery for personal projects.

How I Grow?
I’m a person who loves to not have technical issues when I’m shooting, but I also have to try the latest and greatest gear and software on the market. I try to learn a new technique until it becomes second nature so that it flows out of me, rather than having to think about that technique while I’m with a client. On the business side, I love to think of cool new ways to generate new business. This year, I think it would be fun to convert all of the chapters of all of the books I’ve written—I’m on my sixth book—into a video format. I also want to use my new studio in Los Angeles to do more fashion portraiture and get an agent to represent the work.

Good Habits:
I believe a photographer has to stay in good health. The job isn’t easy from a physical point of view. No one is going to trust a photographer who doesn’t look like he or she can handle half of a mile of walking. I spend a good part of the week planning meals, and I work out three or four times a week for about an hour. I think a healthy body allows your brain to think better and create more ideas.


My aha-moment was creating a minimalist portrait of a bride that utilizes geometry and forced perspective. Photo © Kanayo Adibe

KANAYO ADIBE – A Washington DC area (Maryland, Virginia) and destination wedding and lifestyle photographer. His work is extremely artistic, photo journalistic and arguably cinematic.
kanayoadibe.com
@kanayo_adibe

What is Success?
In my 20s, I would have defined success as one’s ability to make a lot of money or achieve material goals. Today, I define success as one’s ability to attain maximum happiness—being able to spend as much quality time as possible with my family, travel the world, in good health, while sharing my creative gifts with as many people as possible.

How I Grow?
I say yes to as many uncomfortable situations as I can. The idea behind this was to make fear my friend, by opening myself up to it and learning to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity of many uncomfortable situations, hence learning and growing from it by allowing myself to fail and most times succeed in situations I was not sure I would. The best rewards tend to be on the other side of fear.

Good Habits:
I see with my mind’s eye and visualize myself in various situations: getting things done, achieving goals, executing photo sessions, speaking on stage, whatever it is I may be doing in the near future. I visualize how I want it to go, and then it tends to work out well for me. I also love spending time with my daughter. She is the ultimate reminder of why all of what I do is worth it, and that definitely keeps me focused.


I shot this on film near a window just before dusk. The blur is due to a 1/15th handheld exposure. Some may see the blur as a mistake, but it is my favorite part of the image. Photo © Elizabeth Messina

ELIZABETH MESSINA – Is an Artist and Photographer based out of Brooklyn, NY City.
elizabethmessina.com
@elizabethmessina

What is Success?
Success is when I feel like I am enough. So often I am striving to make better images, be a better mother, be healthier, kinder. Sometimes, I need to sit still and breathe and acknowledge that I am doing the best that I can, that I am not perfect, that I am enough just as I am.

How I Grow?
As a wife, a mother of three and photographer, I find it’s best to be flexible. No two days are alike. I value deep human connections and try to nurture those I love. My biggest challenge is to take time for myself. I find if I can focus on my wellbeing from time to time, I have more to give to those around me.

Good Habits:
With business, I am very organized. I consult timelines and check my gear. The more organized I am, the calmer I feel. I find writing things down helps clear my mind, so that I can relax more in the evenings. Personally, I take a bath almost every day. That helps me relax and feel more at ease. Sleeping is important, too. If I worry too much, I do not sleep well.


I was on a typical street photo walk in Lagos, Nigeria, in one of its slums, and came across these two kids as my guide was having a conversation with their mother. I started taking photos, then we started playing a game of “peek-a-boo” and they both got so excited at the same time. Photo © Jide Alakija

JIDE ALAKIJA – Alakija Studios is a New York City Photography Boutique specializing mainly in Wedding documentary.
alakijastudios.com
@alakijastudios

What is Success?
Success is being able to achieve long-term goals. My goal is to create a legacy, one that will inspire others to look up to me. I’m followed by quite a lot of Africans, and many of them haven’t had the opportunity to learn from people who look like themselves. Having the platform for them to set themselves against is one hallmark of success. The other is creating my own language in photography. I’ve developed my craft, and now I can transfer it to those around me.

How I Grow?
I use my dad, who is a retired medical doctor in Nigeria, as a benchmark. One of the things he made sure he did while he was working was to do everything he could for his children. He sent us to the best schools, and he always made sure we had a place to rest. I want to be in the same position for my own family if I have one.

Good Habits:
I find that having the best people around me is really important. I have created a really solid network of strong professionals, both within the industry and outside the industry. I also try to keep myself in shape. Particularly as a wedding photographer, the demands on my body are becoming more apparent.

This was created for clients I met in 2015. I photographed their very first baby girl, who they had waited nine years to meet after many heartbreaking losses. They contacted me recently to say they were welcoming another baby into their family via surrogacy. After researching the symbol for surrogacy, I decided to make a sculpture that represented it. Creating this image to tell their story really pushed me to think outside the box, and knowing how invaluable it is to them means more to me as an artist than I could ever express. Photo © Little Pieces Photography

KELLY BROWN – Little Pieces Photography is a family portrait studio located in Sumner, Brisbane, Queensland. Owned and operated by world renowned award winning photographer Kelly Brown, who specialises in capturing newborn and baby photographs.
littlepiecesphotography.com.au
@littlepiecesphotography

What is Success?
Defining success for me is all about making change. It’s about self-development and self-awareness. I’m constantly focused on my purpose and the “why” I do what I do. And when I achieve my desired vision and goals based on my greatest values, that’s when I believe you can define success.

How I Grow?
At the end of every year, I set aside time to analyze my strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, I can identify were I need to improve in both my personal life and business. I then set new goals and create a plan to achieving them in the New Year.

Good Habits:
I start every day with a one-hour walk. I find this time allows me the space to get mentally organized for the day and prioritize without any distractions.


I fought to photograph this couple before sunset, but the sun went down anyway, and it turned out fine. This was the day I realized I’m good at my job and that everything is really going to be okay. Photo © Charmi Peña

CHARMI PENA – A Nikon Ambassador in United States, and having a
double major in economics and IT at Rutgers University, is a splendid Wedding and Portrait Photographer.
charmipena.com
@charmipena

What is Success?
For me, success is going to bed knowing that everything that needed to be handled was handled that day. So, instead of going to bed feeling like I have a weight, I’m going to bed feeling like, “Good, I’m ready to recharge so that I can do it again tomorrow.”

How I Grow?
At the beginning of each year, I try to do a review of what went well and what didn’t go well the year before. I don’t separate the personal from work; I try to look at everything as a whole. Then I set goals. This year, I’m limiting the number of weddings I take to 20. I want to take my kids—who are 6 and 9 years old—out of the country, hopefully to London. I also want to grow a more well-rounded business to include more commercial work. By cutting back on one thing (weddings), hopefully other things will grow.

Good Habits:
I track my food on MyFitnessPal. I can be such a workaholic or a mom-aholic that I forget to eat. The app allows me to plan my meals the day before. I also recently hired a virtual assistant through Well Curated + Co. They take care of the details so that I can focus on things that are more personal.

Credit: RangeFinderOnline