Sign Posts For The Shortest Route To Success

The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Career

What aspect of your career is the most challenging for you? What knowledge gap do you have that is holding you back? What is your “weak link”? Find that weak link and turn it into a strength. Then find the next weak link, and make that into a strength. Anyone who actually does that cannot help but move up the ranks of success! Look at those problem areas in your career (and your life) as sign posts showing you the most direct route to success.

Assignment Photography, Negotiating and a “Bridged Gap”

When I was doing a lot of assignment photography my biggest “gap” was in my negotiating ability. We are not talking a small gap here…more like the Grand Canyon! Many times I actually had art directors, after hearing my estimate, suggest that perhaps we could go a little higher.  It was obvious to me that I had a problem that I had to deal with. Through a lot of personal work I was able to get marginally better at negotiating, but being a tough negotiator is not pleasurable for me and doesn’t come naturally. I solved my problem by going outside of myself. I “bridged that gap”, by getting a rep.

A Photo Assignment Negotiation In Progress

Shortly after agreeing to work with my new rep I turned a negotiation in progress over to her. I had almost agreed to a job for $12,000.00, which was the total budget this particular client had for the job (or at least what they told me). My rep came back from the negotiations having secured $29,000.00 for two years of usage. That was ten years ago. By January of this year, after yet again re-negotiating the use, we have brought in somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000.00.  Sure, my (now former) rep has kept 30% of that as her share of the fees, but without her I would have settled for that original $12,000.00!

Stock Photography and The Image Glut

My negotiating skills, though having improved over the last twenty years, are still abysmal. Another way that I have compensated is by turning to stock photography where all I have to worry about is making the images. The negotiating is all handled by agencies.  Over the years that has worked very well for me…that is until the onslaught of the image glut and the fall of the barriers to entry (microstock) into stock photography. With this development comes an “opportunity” for me to work on another set of skills, skills that will help me compensate for the changes in this new world of stock photography.

Stock Photos and SEO

Now the knowledge gap facing me is the challenge of getting my work, my stock photos, in front of more people. So I am now “bridging” that gap by using my website to gain more visibility for my work…and to expand the ways in which I can monetize it.  I have to master SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or at least get up to speed with it. Once I gain sufficient proficiency in that task I am quite confident that a new “opportunity” will present itself. And so it goes.

What Challenge Faces You?

What challenge faces you? That challenge just may be a sign pointing directly to success. Knuckle down and turn your weaknesses into strengths. If you can do that there will be no stopping you.

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

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

One thought on “Sign Posts For The Shortest Route To Success

  • April 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Interesting. This is maybe the reason im stuck at stock photography… i know i know.. i have to go out and start selling myself… thanks for the post… will help me with my biggest challenge… go out and sell myself.

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