Magic Monday: Be a Happy Photographer

Some great experiences this past week reminded me of this post I wrote last year.  I think its worth a re-post at least once a year 🙂

Originally posted March, 2009

In response to a recent conversation I had, I’ve re-discovered an old soap box of mine, and have spent some time in my house standing on it and preaching.  Ben is good enough to smile and nod, and even chime in with agreeing comments at all the right places, but I felt strongly enough about this topic that I wanted to expand my audience from my kitchen to the virtual world!

Perhaps you’ve heard a few comments like these (or maybe you’ve even felt them or said them yourself).

“I hate how anyone with a camera calls themselves a photographer!”

“Having a digital SLR doesn’t mean you’re a photographer, but so many people think they are!”

“All these people who get a camera and start a business are stealing all MY business!”

“What makes this person think they can have a business in photography!  They don’t even know what they’re doing and MY images are better!”

“That person copied my ideas!  She stole my location!  She stole my pose!  She stole my blog theme!”

and the most recent one I heard last week,

“I hate all these stay at home mom’s who’s husbands buy them a camera and they suddenly start a business in photography.  They don’t need the money.  I do!  They shouldn’t be shooting!”

Unfortunately, these comments exist.  These comments are said.  Sometimes even to each other, which can be hurtful and biting.  With the advance of digital photography, and the ever increasing affordability of an dSLR, more and more people are entering into the world of photography (business wise as well as not).  With the strikingly fast growing industry, there has arisen what I see as a clear division of two kinds of people.  For the sake of a good classification, I’ve taken one label from Dane Sanders bookFast Track Photographer. We have what Dane calls the “Grumpys”, and what I call the “Happys”.

Dane describes the Grumpy Photographer this way (p. 28):

-self centered

-knows everything, sees themself as an expert

-feels entitled to business

-always asks first, “What’s in it for me?”


I might add:

feels threatened/competitive/and upset by other photographers

Dane describes what I call the “Happy” Photographer, this way (p.28)


-always learning; a perennial “amateur”


-humble, not driven by ego


-adaptable, willing to change with a changing world


-open to new technology

-able to delegate and outsource

I might add:

welcomes the idea of networking and making friends with others in the industry.  Can work together with other photographers, rejoice in their work, and come off inspired to improve themselves.

I like to hope that I fall into the “Happy” photographer category, but would be dishonest to not admit that I have had my moments as a “Grumpy”.  It really is a choice you have to make.   I firmly believe that if we have the “grumpy” attitude, we will find this industry even more increasingly difficult to deal with and to survive in.  We can’t control what others are doing.  We can’t control what consumers want.  We can’t control advances in technology.  We can’t control the economy.  But there are some things that we DO have a choice in.

We Can Choose

We can choose to be open and share what we know (this is a great secret–btw–and you’ll find that building friends in this industry can save your life more than once).  We can choose to be adaptable.  We can choose to help others and be happy and have fun.  Or we can choose to isolate ourselves, find fault in others work, be upset and competitive when we see what others are doing.

The attitude we choose to take–despite one’s consciousness about it–totally spills into our personality and business dealings with our clients and our friends (both attitudes–for good and bad).

How do I feel about all the new-comers to the photography industry?

Fabulous!  (To feel otherwise would be hypocritical!! …I am a new comer myself, and am grateful for the opportunity to learn and progress…) But aside from that, I think its wonderful that so many people are discovering how photography can be a source of joy in their life.

The Effects

I’ve heard countless stories of women who feel they have found themselves through photography, they’ve discovered a hobby they love and enjoy, that also involves their family.

I’ve heard from those who have suffered difficult trials in their life, who now find they are able to “see beauty” in the world around them when they pick up a camera.  It changes their perspective.  It helps them heal. It has helped them to find the positive.  To find the beautiful.  And to record it and remember that forever.

It has changed pessimists into optimists.

It has opened the curtains of our trial laden lives to reveal blessings and gratitude.

It has helped people to capture priceless moments.  To document miracles and relationships.  To remind people what is most important in their life.


Photography can be powerful.  How could we deny that to someone else–even through our attitude or through our words?  It just isn’t right.

I think one of the biggest threats that a Grumpy photographer feels is towards business.  “They’re going to steal my work!  Steal my clients!  Steal my opportunities!  Steal my money!” 


Yes.  Even in a saturated industry.  Everyone needs pictures.  I hate to break it to the Grumpy photographer, but likely, its not the “other photographers” that are stealing the work, but a bad attitude and perspective that is driving others away.

What goes around comes around. Many times, I find that the most successful photographers, are not always the technical “best” photographers.  But they love other people, they love their clients, they love their job, they serve with a happy attitude-great customer service–and the experiences that people have with them are so positive that it spreads.

Attitude is everything.

Choose to be a Happy Photographer.

avatarBrooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She is a proud new mother to a perfect baby boy. During the day she uses her BM and MM in Music Composition to write silly songs to make small people smile and laugh. During the nights and select mornings Brooke teaches private photography lessons as well as monthly photography classes in Logan, Utah. During the weekend she dreams up crazy and fun photo shoots for her fabulous subjects. Brooke welcomes comments, questions, new friendships, new clients, and new coats and hats for her growing collection.

8 Responses

  1. Thank you for reposting this, I’m new. I’m one of those stay at home moms using my husband’s camera to take photos. I’m still in my learning curve (if you have time you can come to my blog and see my most recent…and critique away!(see I’m so new I’m asking for free advice from the photographer shamelesly)) I have felt a bit guilty about jumping into a feild that is full of ‘professionals’, but then I have been taking pictures since high school journalism class (long long ago when we roled our own film and I could spent hours in the dark room developing it). So I also don’t feel too wet behind the ears, it’s just a convinient time foro me to try and get ‘into it’.

  2. You are the best, Brooke! I love how encouraging you are. We “non-photographers” are hard enough on ourselves, so added negativity is never welcome. I appreciate this post so much!

    I also welcome your critique on my photos posted.

  3. What a fabulous and inspiring post! As a SAHM, with a lifelong passion for photography (without the resources for good equipment until recently), I have been LOVING the opportunity to find my creative side and learn all I can about photography. I have a photo blog where I share photos I’ve taken for others, but am not in business as I don’t feel I have the skills yet to be charging.

    Just this morning I saw another photographer’s blog and was surprised she was charging with what I considered to be poor-quality snapshots, I’ll admit I was starting to be a “Grumpy” a bit, but this post reminded me once again not to get caught up in competing with others but only to improve myself as much as possible and enjoy the inspiration and unique perspective I can glean from other photographers. Sorry for the long comment – thank you for your blog!

  4. Great post! As a beginner, I’ve run into a few grumpy’s who have the “soccer moms get a camera and think their photographers” attitude. But happily, I’ve been lucky to link up with many photographers who are happy to share and educate.
    I think you right on when you say whichever attitude you choose, it will spill over into your work and relationship with clients.

  5. Thank you for that post! I am so glad you re-posted it. I am one of those that have recently discovered photography. It has rocked me to the core and made me see life differently…as more beautiful, cherished, miraculous. I can NEVER imagine not being a photographer. I love it. I am just a hobbyist but will one day make it a business. I will carry this advice with me along the way. Thank you.

  6. Great post Brooke!
    Isn’t it cool to learn new things every day! Meet fellow photogs who can teach you new things! Even the “Grumpy Photographer” learns new things everyday from other people and other photogs! How did they become a pro? They learnt, watched and copied what other photogs do and interpreted it to create their own style.

    I love browsing through other creative minds and think WOW how did they do that? I want to learn and challenge myself to become a better photog everyday.

    Thanks again Brooke x

  7. Thank you Brooke so much for you insight on the grumblers versus the happy photographer.
    I recently found myself trying to find myself after having cancer surgery in which the end result was I was have been limited to very little voice. My vocal cord nerves were severed during the procedure. Any way I found my voice through my photography, which I am still learning. I have been trying to network, learn and share via networking with others via the internet. I have just recently in counted some of these so called grumblers and they have really caused me to second guess why I even thought about photography.
    I find that these types of photographers can really take the wind out of someones sail by the holy than thou attitude that the portray. No one, in my opinion does everything perfectly as we live in a imperfect world. I have witness some very harsh criticism going towards others on some very well know and followed photography forums. Why can’t we just all learn to have respect for one another. Learn compassion as we can’t walk in someone else’s shoes. We will never know or understand or feel the feelings that someone else is feeling.
    Enough written. Just needed to post and tell you thank you for all you do, teach and share.
    Barb Phillips

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