Tips and Tricks

If I Was Giving a Commencement Speech This Year

Intro by Skip Cohen

I’ve run this guest post by my good buddy, Scott Bourne, numerous times over the years, First because it’s so relevant, and second, we’re right on the edge of graduation season.

While his original target was the new artist entering the workforce and starting out in the business of imaging – everything he wrote is even more relevant to the seasoned professional today. His advice is the perfect reminder of what we need to focus on, like marketing, business, technology, and social media…not just to survive but thrive!

And, to Scott’s point about relationships – Relationship building is your most valuable marketing tool!

But there’s one more thing I want to add, and Scott’s the perfect example – he’s never slowed down on raising the bar on his skill set. From wildlife to toy photography to images on his iPhone and everything in between, he never compromises on quality. Often his photographs leave the viewer in awe, wondering how he got the shot.

by Scott Bourne

Commencements are coming up all over the country in the next couple months. As someone with gray hair, I can’t help but have a very different perspective on photography than someone of college age. I am often asked what advice I’d give someone just breaking into professional photography. The usual response goes something like this…

“Be prepared for lots of hard work – sales and marketing should dominate your day – show the work every chance you get – network like crazy – shoot what you love – repeat.”

But while that’s all good advice, there’s more I would say if I were speaking at a commencement.

I’d talk about understanding the high degree of importance graduates should place in each and every relationship they engage in during their career. Whether it’s the mailman or the recent client, these relationships are really all that matters. I didn’t know this when I was young and it hurt me…both personally and professionally.

So obsess over gear and f/stops if you must, but if you really want to succeed, pay attention to the people in your professional life. Build solid, long-term relationships with them. Care about them. Help them. Put them and their interests ahead of your own. You never know where that will lead. You might be dealing with that person 30 years later. They’ll remember how you valued (or didn’t) the relationship when you were young. And so will you.

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