Larry’s recent post about moving from real estate to architectural work really caught my attention. I totally agree with Larry’s comments in that article, where he talked about the value of workshops and it got me thinking about all the other ways shooters can go about getting professional development to help them get to the next level. This can include formal methods like workshops, but improving one’s skills can happen other ways too, including coaching and going through the books and video tutorials that are out there now--many of which are featured right here on PFRE.
For me personally, the thing that really kick-started my growth was finding a coach. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if it weren’t for my own experience with one-on-one coaching, I never would have progressed as far as I have with my photography, and my business in general. Working with Tony Colangelo as my coach/mentor has been, by far, the single most important thing that I've done for myself and my business! I decided to go the coaching route because I’d already watched and read pretty much everything I could find online at the time and I knew I wanted more. I needed that personal interaction from someone who could not only share their knowledge and experience about the work but also about the challenges that we tend to shy away from discussing, like fear and lack of confidence on the inside, or the lack of knowledge about how to approach a new client group/market on the outside, etc., etc., etc. Tony helped me through these challenges one at a time, recognizing things in me and my work that I didn’t even see in myself--and he encouraged me to take chances to find it. Working with a coach like Tony not only helped me from a photography standpoint but he helped me re-wire my approach to almost every aspect of life and business. If you find yourself on a creative or professional plateau, I would strongly encourage you to reach out to a coach on the PFRE roster. If a PFRE coach isn't right for you, don't be shy to reach out to someone who inspires you; you might be suprised at how willing and able some people are to help, I know I was!
I've learned that taking chances and putting yourself out there is a big part of the process of trying to get to that next level. This might mean forcing yourself to try one new photography technique at every photoshoot, or reaching out to that potential client you've had your sights set on. For me, it was building up the nerve to post some images on the PFRE Flickr group; and once I got over my anxiety about putting my work out there, Tony talked me into entering the Photographer of the Month contests here on PFRE. I can't describe how important doing these two things were to my development. When I knew I was going to be posting an image for my peers to review/critique, it forced me to become more thoughtful behind the camera which led to a more calculated approach to my photography. Instead of walking into a room and just feeling my way through a shot, I started combining my own gut feelings with the advice and feedback I had received on past images which ultimately created a nice balance of creativity and critical thinking. As many of you know, our monthly contest has some of the most respected names in the business as jurors, and almost every entry gets comments from one or more of them each month. It is such a rich learning opportunity--one that is totally focused on getting you quick, intense bursts of knowledge that can help expedite your development. So, I’d encourage you all to take a chance, post images to the Flickr group, and enter the monthly contest.
So following up on Larry’s post--yes, workshops are a great way to learn and network but for those of you who can’t get out to a workshop for whatever reason, don't let it become an excuse for slowing your progress. There are many other ways to improve your skills and grow your real estate photography business. There are also practical ways to make the leap from real estate to interior design/architectural, if that’s what you want to do. I’m so thankful that we have such a great community of like-minded people willing to help one another and I’m proud that we have so many resources available to help folks get to that next level--from our kick-ass roster of 14 PFRE coaches, as well as links to books, videos, and upcoming workshops.
I hope you’ll take advantage of them!
If anyone has had a great experience with a workshop, tutorial, book, video series, etc., please feel free to post about them in the comments below.