How Thankfulness can Improve Your Photography

How Cultivating Thankfulness Can Help You Become a Better Photographer

How Thankfulness can Improve Your PhotographyWhat are you thankful for?

While photographing a children’s session this week, the child’s mom mentioned that the kids in his kindergarten class did a little art project to help them visualize what they are thankful for.

This brought me back to similar projects that I did in school all those years ago. It’s funny how some things never change, and the things I was most thankful for then are the same that I’m most thankful for now.

I’m blessed to still have my parents and sister in my life, but now I also have my wife and my own family (my two wonderful daughters) to be thankful for.

The most important Items on the list

My list could go on and on. There are other important things to be thankful for, like health and love, our pets that are part of the family, a career in photography that I love and a safe place to live.

It can even go on from there to less vital things like “toys” we enjoy for our hobbies and other material things. I’m not knocking any of that, however when you pause for a minute to reflect on what really matters, it’s always people that we love that are at the top of the list.

An attitude of gratitude

You most likely have heard the phrase “have an attitude of gratitude.” Maybe you already subscribe to, it or perhaps it just sounds like more new age gibberish to you.

The reality is, taking time to reflect on what you are thankful for can do wonders for cultivating a positive attitude and helping you find the courage to reach your goals.

Some people keep a daily gratitude journal where they will jot down 3 things they are grateful for each day. Many days, it will probably be small things that would go unnoticed if you weren’t writing them down… maybe a great sunset you experienced or an exceptional cup of coffee.

For those that think it’s total BS just give it a try- you may be surprised at how the simple exercise opens your eyes. At the very worst, it certainly does no harm other than forcing you to pause for a couple minutes out of your day.

There’s an app for that!

Yup, there are actually apps for your smartphone to help you keep up a daily gratitude list. You can even include photos of something that made your day. Perfect for us photographers… another excuse to take pictures, even if it is just with your phone! Here’s a couple good ones:

Ok, so what does all this stuff have to do with photography or business?

Just so you don’t think I’ve gone off the rails completely, I have a link here to a short article from Entrepreneur. In a nutshell, it says that being grateful opens us up to more possibilities and solutions and very importantly, a positive mindset is contagious and will draw similar people to you.

I do attribute a great part of my business success to always trying to stay positive. Believe me, it is not always easy and there are times that I’ll complain and feel sorry for myself. But my wife usually puts a quick end to that!

It can be really tough when you first start a business to believe in yourself, so it is vital that you do not hang out with people that want to drag you down. They may have good intentions (they don’t won’t to see you hurt or disappointed) or they may simply be jealous that you will be successful and leave them behind. Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t matter; just get away from the negativity as quickly as you can and get back to remembering what you have to be grateful for.

It all comes back to people

If you are a nature photographer, you really only need people to purchase your images; you don’t have to worry about how to relate to clients in front of your lens.

As portrait photographers however, it’s our job to capture and preserve memories for the client and the people who they are most thankful for.

We have to pay attention in order to capture that exact moment when they reveal that special little glint in their eyes, or that fleeting laugh that they share together. It can be very touching to create an extended family portrait with the grandparents, their children and grandchildren so that future generations can have a glimpse of where they came from.

Our job is always about people…that’s what makes it fun, interesting, and sometimes challenging and exhausting- kind of like Thanksgiving with family. When working with children (and teenagers) there are always going to be breakdowns and tantrums or maybe even a dad that is not all that happy about having to be there to get his pictures taken.

Being a good photographer is only part of the equation. Learning to cultivate a sense of gratefulness can help us grow into a good leader, director and even therapist so that you can bring out the best in your clients in front of the camera.

Your Challenge:

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, so I would love to hear in the comments the top 3 things you are thankful for. How can remembering what you are grateful for help you become a better photographer?