What Not To Do / Business  / What not to do: Don’t Do It Alone
Meabh Fitzpatrick - Dont do it alone

What not to do: Don’t Do It Alone


My aim in business is to run a profitable, quality and creative photography business.

Being self-employed, I, like I am sure a lot of people reading this, have to do everything myself in relation to the business.  This goes from doing the accounts, marketing, social media, admin along with arranging and conducting the shoots, editing, viewings; the list is endless.

But what I have learnt is, you don’t have to do it alone!!!

What Not To Do

I was in business a few years and photographed a client for their studio corporate headshot.  The shoot went well and we had some fun.  However, later on viewing the images, she said she didn’t like any of them!!!!.  I was horrified.

This had never happened to me before.  It knocked my confidence to the core.  After days of stewing in my own doubt, I reached out to a fellow photographer and asked his opinion.  The relief I felt after our meeting was life-changing.  He said there was technically nothing wrong with the shots, they were all correctly exposed, in focus and well taken.

He asked me “what was it she was actually unhappy about?”  Now that surprised me, as I never thought to ask that question! I went back to the client and asked the simple question. Her answer was that she was unhappy with how her hair looked.

After all that self-doubt in myself and my ability, I failed to ask the right question.  I took it personally!!!   I was proud of my work!!

Take the emotion out

We take it personally when we put all our effort and energy into our work and believe we’ve done a good job but then get offended when the client has a different view. Take the emotion out of it, step back and take a more logical approach to understanding the clients’ issue. Also, surround yourself with people who aren’t as emotionally engaged and can look at it with impartial eyes.

I learnt two very valuable lessons from this experience, firstly to communicate correctly to your clients, you have to ask the right questions.  Secondly, ask for help.  I am sure (and hope) that there are a lot of us who will gladly offer help to others coming up the ladder behind us who can to learn from our experience, which can include positive and negatives.

Don’t do it alone

But do we find it hard to ask for help?  Do we perceive this as a sign of weakness or a sign of vulnerability?

We can’t do this alone, we need to surround ourselves with like-minded people, people within our own and other industries.  We learn from each other and help others too along the way.

My advice

I couldn’t do what I do, to the best of my ability, without the help and support of my network. These are the people whose input and experience I value and who have my back (as I do theirs). It’s important to know your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses, as we can’t be great at everything. So sometimes, you may need to engage the services of another expert, if it’s something you’re not good at or spend too much time procrastinating over or trying to work out. Value your time.

As an example, if you charge €250 per hour for a photoshoot but spend most of your revenue-generating time doing admin and other work which, if you were to pay someone else qualified in that work, would cost a fraction of that. Time is money and so before doing a task, ask yourself; am I working in my business or ON my business? Surround yourself with others you can learn from and be challenged by. Ensure learning is a central part of your business growth.

Top Tip

Get involved in the right networks that will support you and you them in return. Meet fellow professionals for a coffee and chat (all be it virtual at the moment).  It is amazing what you pick up.

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