10 Things Successful Photographers Do Before They Press the Shutter

Are you an aspiring pro photographer? Have you ever wondered how to shoot like a pro? Don’t worry; you are in the right place.

Anyone today can qualify as a photographer, provided they have a smartphone or any other device with a good camera. However, it takes more than owning a camera to become a real photographer. There are a lot of factors that come into play for a person to be transformed from a hobbyist photographer to a successful photographer (getting the right equipment, training/education, etc.).

smartphone photography

“Second Opinion” captured by Bob MacCallum / uncoolbob

This article will not focus on the practical aspect of becoming a successful photographer. Instead, we will attempt to get into the heads of successful photographers and try to find out how they think.

If you are interested in discovering what goes through the minds of successful photographers before they press the shutter, you are in the right place. Below are ten thought processes that have been proven to be the essence of successful professional photography.

1. Have No Fear

This is undoubtedly one of the most common thought processes that goes through the minds of all successful photographers before a professional shoot. Unlike novice photographers, successful professional photographers are fearless when it comes to executing their duties. For instance, instead of worrying about a big job at hand, seasoned photographers get rid of the fear and embrace the opportunity as a chance to showcase their prowess. It is important to note that even the best photographers in the world are afraid of some jobs; however, they have programmed their minds to tone down the fear to levels where it doesn’t interfere with their work.

fearless photography

“Elephant family passing through” captured by Mark Birchall

2. Keep an Open Mind

Successful photographers go into photo shoots with an open mind. This is simply because they understand that photography is a very dynamic field that can’t be approached with a closed mind. Successful photographers are open to trying things that are out of the norm. They may follow basic principles of photography during every professional shoot; however, they are willing to go where their subject goes, take random shots, try different settings that were not planned, etc. This open nature is one of the main reasons why they get ahead faster.

unique perspective

“Untitled” captured by Francisco Javier Camacho

3. Be Confident

Professional photographers are in a state of extreme confidence before any shoot. They have done many photo shoots over time, gaining invaluable experience. They trust their photography abilities beyond doubt. They know they are good at their trade, so they don’t worry about messing up the shoot. This self belief is what makes them open-minded and fearless before any photo shoot.

4. Get in a Positive Mood

Good photographers become successful because they are able to check their mood. They understand the negative effects of a bad mood during a photo shoot. Mood plays a very important role in photography. For instance, you must smile and talk to the people you are photographing to make them feel relaxed. Even in photo shoots that don’t involve people, a bad mood can ruin everything, because you won’t be at your best, making it difficult to do your best.

happy photographer

“Smiling Photographer” captured by Sea Turtle

5. Have the Right Attitude

Successful photographers understand that attitude plays a crucial role in overall success. It’s one thing to have a bad mood and another completely different thing to have a bad attitude. In fact, a bad attitude is worse than a bad mood, since it’s more difficult to change a person’s attitude toward something. Successful photographers have conditioned themselves to stay away from negative thoughts about tasks at hand however difficult or challenging they may seem.

6. Be Original

Successful photographers go into all photo shoots with originality in mind. The mind of a pro photographer is focused on capturing the most unique aspects of the subject. This is precisely why the best photographers let their subjects relax and be themselves. They also avoid copying the styles of other photographers, focusing instead on what they are comfortable with and what makes them unique. They understand their uniqueness and don’t compromise it for anything.

7. Prepare

Being open-minded shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning being unprepared. Successful photographers have photo shoots carefully planned step by step. They know the type of cameras, lenses, and lights to use and the best subject angles to capture. They understand the importance of going into anything when you are 100 percent prepared, which is why they are successful. Their mind is ready for all aspects and steps of the photo shoot even before it starts.

photo shoot equipment

“Shooting for ‘Doii Paris'” captured by Fábio Nascimento

8. Focus on Perfection

Successful photographers aim to get it right regardless of factors such as time, cost, and effort. They go into photo shoots having prepared their minds for the fact that they won’t stop until they get everything right. A perfectionist mindset is a very powerful mindset even outside photography, since it gets rid of mental barriers that get in the way of success.

9. Set Goals

Successful photographers usually have goals in mind before they start shooting. For instance, they have a set target of the number of photos they want to take and the time they want to spend in a photo shoot. They may also have angle and lighting goals, among others, to increase their chances of success.

10. Understand the Subject

Before pressing their shutters, successful photographers make sure they have a thorough understanding of their subjects and their surroundings. They don’t rush to capture meaningless photos. Instead, they take time and understand everything first.

professional photo shoot

“Baiduizi Photo Shoot” captured by Jens Schott Knudsen

This list summarizes some of the most important aspects of the psychology of a successful photographer before they press their shutter. After going through the above information, you shouldn’t have a problem knowing how to shoot like a pro. It is, however, important to note that there is more to professional photography success than what is discussed above. Use this article as a basis for further research on how to shoot like a pro.

About the Author:
Swee Shiong Chong writes for SG East Photo, a photography blog on techniques and equipment that is used in creating all types of photography from around the world.

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3 Comments

  1. Mr. Giese says:

    Good article. Now all we need is an article on how to best prepare for a photo shoot and how does one gain their originality. I feel that this article is somewhat general. Maybe an article on focusing on a well known photographer and specifically and how they get there incredible photos; what steps they take.

  2. Franz Jukel says:

    I enjoyed this article and like all the images shown, With respect to the image offered under bullet point 10. it is clearly the best of the bunch. the blown out highlights on the left draw your eye along the perspective line to the vanishing point and from there to the main subject! The composition is wonderful, the placement of the subject and the angle from which the image was captured makes this photograph! I only wish the photographer had taken time to remove the bright, white piece of her skirt that hangs down between her legs, once the eye finds this it is pulled forever back to this distracting item.

  3. @Mr. Geise – Learning about how some photographer gained his originality is not going to help you gain yours. Originality is linked to your point of views and life experience. It’s personal, there is no recipe for it, because if there was any it would have defeated the concept.

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