The role of relationships in photography success

Regrets, Advertising Assignments, and Relationships

I don’t have a lot of regrets at this point, but I do have a few. And one of those regrets is not keeping up friendships. Due to a variety of factors, divorces (eeks…plural), being a workaholic and so forth, I have lost touch with many of my friends both in business and in my personal life. If I had it to do over again, I would have retained more friendships. One piece of advice I was given as a young photographer, just entering the world of advertising assignments, was not to look a job as a $3,000 dollar day (back then day rates were in…I chose $3,000.00 because that was what I was asking at that time), but rather as a $100,000.00 relationship.

Relationships and People You Genuinely Like

Obviously it is important to keep relationships healthy and alive for one’s personal life, but it could be useful to take a look at the role relationships play in our photography business and careers. These relationships range from bankers and accountants to models and fellow photographers to art directors, designers and, yes, even your non-photographer friends. It is important to realize that in a good, healthy relationship you will not be taking advantage of people. I think it is important to cultivate relationships with people you genuinely like and respect…there are plenty of them out there!

Art Directors, Communication Friends and Fun

Of course, it is obvious why you would want to cultivate relationships with Art directors and other clients. It is more fun to work with friends, it fosters better communication and teamwork with a trusted friend can result in better work. But good things can come from unexpected places, and the chances of those good things coming increase with the number of close and positive relationships you have.

Exotic Video Cameras, Helicopters and Blend Images

A close relationship with my primary computer vendor has resulted in the opportunity to shoot with exotic video cameras, and to play with cutting-edge storage systems. A relationship with my knee surgeon resulted in one of my best paying stock shoots ever, using his facilities as a location basically for free. A relationship with a helicopter pilot led to countless opportunities for aerial shooting…and a heck of a lot of fun! And relationships with a couple of my peers resulted in my becoming one of the founders of the stock agency Blend Images (that was a big one…). I have many such stories, but have let many more get away by failing to nurture and maintain relationships that had the potential, but that I neglected to death.

Who You Know, and Things We Can’t Imagine

It is sometimes said that it isn’t what you know, but whom you know. I think what you know is vitally important, but it often is whom you know that allows you to put what you know into practice. The people you know can provide you with opportunities from locations, to models, to inspiration to guidance to things we can’t even imagine.

Nurturing Relationships

How do you nurture those relationships? You give of yourself. You give your time, your enthusiasm and your heart. You do your best to see the world through their eyes. You give them honesty, an ear, and respect. If you do that with no expectation of getting something in return… you will be amazed at what does come back.About the author

John Lund  has been shooting professionally for over 30 years.  John was an early adopter of Photoshop, first using version 1.0 in 1990.  He began using digital capture in 1994.  John has been active in the stock photography world as a founding member of BLEND IMAGES, and long time contributor to Getty Images, Corbis, and, more recently SuperStock.

John has lectured on digital imaging and stock photography, has been a columnist for PICTURE and DIGITAL IMAGING magazines, and written ADOBE MASTER CLASS, PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING WITH JOHN LUND.  John has been a frequent speaker at Photo Plus and other venues and has taught workshops at Palm Beach Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops.  His work can be seen at

john lund

Shooting professionally for thirty+ years, using Photoshop to create stock photos for 20 years.

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