Author: Tony Colangelo
Jackson in Fort Wayne, IN writes:
“I keep reading pieces on how to improve my real estate photography both here on PFRE and also on the various FB groups I’ve joined but is there a focused approach that I can take to make me a better photographer, sooner? I’m really motivated to get better!”
Thanks Jackson, what a great question! I recently wrote an article in which I described some tips/techniques for coming back from a dip in quality in our images caused by complacency. Essentially, those tips were aimed at getting us back to where we were, prior to our episode of complacency. Today's question speaks to the other side of the coin--e.g., getting to where we'd like to be. So, I'd like to begin my answer your question, Jackson, by highlighting your use of a very important word: “motivation”. It's important to us because motivation is what prompts us to stay on course in our goal to improve.
To leverage our motivation, it's important to understand that motivation is an internal mechanism--e.g., others cannot motivate us. Indeed, for almost 35-years, research has been done in an area of study within the field of social psychology called Self-Determination Theory (original research done by Drs. Deci & Ryan) which has found, over and over again, that motivation is an internally generated dynamic for all people, regardless of culture. Yes, there are external forces that can feel "motivational" for example, external factors can scare us to get better (i.e., fear of losing a top client who’s expressed dissatisfaction with our recent work) or even inspire us to get better (i.e., spending time reviewing the website of photographer who is several levels above us) but if we don't have the desire to improve, within ourselves, these types of external forces will only yield short-term gains in the quality of our work.
To achieve *sustainable* improvement, it's important that we take our internal desire to get better and combine it with self-discipline, which should then be applied to a plan that incorporates three key tasks:
Regardless of your improvement goals, the old adage that defines progress as coming from regularly taking "two steps up, one-step back" is extremely important to keep in mind. Such a mindset helps us to "reframe" failure as not only normal but, also, a valuable form of input to help us in our goal to improve. This type of self-discipline to stay focused on a plan is a hallmark of great achievement in all areas of endeavor whether it be in scholastic work, in the corporate world, sports photography, or real estate photography!
Tony Colangelo is a residential and commercial photographer, as well as a photography coach, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is a long-time contributor to PFRE and is the creator of The Art & Science of Great Composition tutorial series.