A Photographers Roadmap in 10 Steps

For anyone who has ever embarked on the road toward their dreams, the biggest question that comes to mind is, “How?”. How will I learn what I need to be good? How will I manage to make money? How will I get started? How will I get financing? How will I tell my boss I quit? How will my family take it?


The road to success is easy and there are innumerable number of books, videos, articles, classes, coaches, retreats etc. that can give you a proven system that will get you to achieve your goals. The system is not the mystery. The actions are not the mystery. The information you need is not a mystery. What confounds people most is figuring what works best for them given some of the bad habits we all have. Procrastination, fear of failure and success, negative self-talk, doubt, and loneliness rear their ugly heads when we really want to move ahead. It’s not the lack of any one thing or cluelessness to the system or the steps to success that impede us but rather our own self-believing limitations. Much can be written about our self-serving beliefs but you can rather read that on all the other pop-psychology and motivational sites.

Almas imageHere I thought I’d introduce you to Eric Almas, Photographer. Eric, originally from Norway came to the US to study photography where he received accolades in his graduating year and onward. He is prolific in his imagery and shares his knowledge as any great teacher can.

I discovered Eric and his work in my own Photoshop class. In this video he gives us a short list of 10 steps to becoming a photographer. Now, as top 10 lists go, this one has some serious punch.


You should really watch the 5 minute video. Take a page out and draw a line down the center. Take notes from the video on one side and then outline your plan, ideas and actions to achieve these steps. Like I said the system is not a mystery, the information is not a mystery. Do it and you will at least move ahead a little bit.

Here are the headings of the 10 steps but you get more out of it if you watch.

1. Define your visual identity

2. See and understand light

3. Seek a mentor

4. Create images, don’t take images

5. Make an emotional and visual connection

6. Set goals and pursue them with tenacity

7. Shoot to exercise your creative muscle

8. Use Photoshop to infuse personality

9. Market to your audience

10. Don’t give up your dream.

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Introducing Yourself as an Artist

By Alyson Stanfield on January 15, 2014

I’ve been surprised at how difficult it can be for artists to introduce themselves as artists.

“I’m an artist” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue easily for some people. And yet it’s critical to be able to say it with confidence.

Stephanie Hartshorn and Holly Wilson get to know each other at Art Biz Makeover this past fall. Photo by Regina-Marie Photography.

Stephanie Hartshorn and Holly Wilson get to know each other at Art Biz Makeover this past fall. Photo by Regina-Marie Photography.

Why It’s a Struggle

It seems to be easier for people with art degrees to pronounce their profession to the world. This might be because there is a piece of paper that says you completed a curriculum to the satisfaction of an institution.

There isn’t a governing body that confers the title of artist. You don’t have to pass any state licensing boards or get certified.

For most people, there is no turnkey moment when they say, “NOW I know I’m an artist.” It’s more of a slow, steady slog on the way to the title.

This is why it can be difficult to introduce yourself when you are in the process of becoming.

Why You Should Care

But this shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Introducing yourself as an artist is the beginning of your professional relationships. Not introducing yourself as an artist results in missed opportunities.

When you stop apologizing for your art . . . when you stop waffling on your purpose . . . others begin to view you as an artist. And even though you may not be perfectly comfortable with the title, this buy-in from others will help build your confidence.

So stop introducing yourself with a label from your day job. Lead with, “I’m an artist.”

What You Should Say

It’s all about how you respond when someone asks, “So, what do you do?”

This isn’t an opportunity for a commercial about your work. It’s a chance for real connection.

When someone asks what you do, let’s face it, they are mostly being polite. They are exploring how far they want to carry the conversation. They’re looking for something to relate to.

You just have to say, “I’m an artist.”

You’re looking to engage the other person, not to control the conversation. If there is interest, the other person will ask questions.

You should be prepared to follow up with a brief (!) sentence or two about your work. Again, you’re looking for conversation, so make sure your language is inviting and intriguing.

Don’t inflate your position. Don’t be that person.

Make it natural, but own it. Say it with confidence.

Those with whom you were meant to connect will respond positively. Don’t worry about the rest. You have higher things to concern yourself with. You’re an artist.

“Your Compelling Introduction” is part of module 4 in Art Biz Bootcamp, which starts today (January 15, 2014). Join us if this is something you’d like to practice with us. Click here to read about it.

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Gather your marbles before you play

Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the...

Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the Grotto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Susanna Oreskovic

If you are here, reading this blog, you are probably interested in figuring out how take your creative ideas, talents and work and bring it to the world. Many of us create because we enjoy the process. We think if the work is good enough people will find us, will like us and we’ll be on our way. Unfortunately this is not the case.

This leads to another thought; that not only do we have to be creative and keep the wellspring flowing but now we have to work on the business too! This one fact or the lackluster effort of attending to the business side of your work leaves many a creative unknown and doomed to working their day job pretending to get satisfaction in their off hours.

These thoughts turn to feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty on what to do next.

A Mentor?

Searching for help, perhaps you consider if you should find yourself a mentor? What does a mentor do that differs from other forms of guidance such as counseling, coaching or advising? Ask yourself, what is it that you really seek when you consider what a mentor may do for you?

Somehow at the root of this questioning is the feeling that we each want to have someone in our corner, someone who has our interests at heart and someone who can help us navigate the bumps along the way within our chosen field. Essentially, this is what a mentor relationship is– it is a relationship before anything else.

Traditionally mentoring relationships have served their part in socializing new protégés by offering crucial insider information. Just the very interaction itself, the relationship, allows for subtle learning to occur. It allows, for them, to internalize behavioral norms and standards and form a sense of identity and commitment to the field (Weidman, Twale, & Stein, 2001, p. 6).

More like a Team

Perhaps the word ‘mentor’ is throwing you off, feeling a bit too formal, too academic. The terminology has been around since Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. It’s popularity has grown in the last few decades as can be seen by the proliferation of various programs in education, business, community and social work.

Let’s forget the word mentor, use instead Creative Cohort penned by Jennifer Lee  (Right Brain Business Plan). Your Creative Cohorts are people who fill a range of roles; those that will nurture you, those that will mentor or advise you, as well as those to whom you can outsource needed tasks or form strategic allliances with.

Looking at it this way effectively broadens the scope beyond just a need of a mentor but a supporting cast of key mentors and advisors and each one with a specific role.


In your Corner we have…

First look at the people around you that you may know or may want to get to know and choose your team.

1.  Inner Circle – Choose those that you trust and feel secure in knowing your hopes and dreams, successes and failures. Pay close attention to this relationship. You may believe your nearest and dearest have your best interests at heart but innocuous remarks that bring up guilt can be enough to derail you. Especially if you are embarking in new directions make sure your inner circle truly nurtures you. Pay attention to suggestions that you’ve changed or are spending too much time on your project or that you are being selfish. Ignore this. To be truly creative and succeed in making a business you need a sense of safety when you look toward your inner circle.

2.  Advisors Select people who are interested in your project and who you think can help given their experience, expertise or connections. Ideally they are not your competition. If you are just beginning in your field, whether you realize it or not, you already have people around you that are guiding you, giving you feedback and encouraging you. It may not be formally called a mentor or advisor relationship but nevertheless it may be. It’s important to get out and meet people. You can volunteer, go to a Meet-up or join a professional network group. Not only will advisors help you in giving their feedback to your ideas and plans, they can be an invaluable source of future referrals and even clients. You just need to be open, approach them and ask.

3.  Business Advisors this is a select group of people you may need to consult occasionally. Typically this may include a lawyer, an accountant, a banker, a graphic designer, an agent. You cannot know nor have time to learn everything in running your business. You will have to consult and pay professional advisors at some point. It is far better to pay out a few hundred dollars now to get it right than to pay much more later to clean up any mess that may inadvertently arise.

4.  Collaborators Here is where your competitors can help you. You can greatly enhance your business by working with others on special projects. The added benefit of pooling resources and talents creates synergy, i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With collaborators you can form strategic alliances to get your product out to different markets, to new clients that would otherwise not have known about you. It also adds credibility to you and what you offer.

You are not alone

Where ever you may be on your career path, understanding that you are not alone can help you reach your goals. Especially when starting out in a new field we may feel alone. Friends and family may not provide the guidance and insights we need. Looking for a mentor is just one player on your team of many. Call it what you will, your management team, your personnel plan, creative cohorts, supports, collaborators, you already have a team and by consciously calling upon them will get you to where you want to go.

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You are a Pie….wholly delicious

By Susanna Oreskovic

Welcome to Creative Collisions MTL and welcome to 2014. In this first post, I wanted to give you a backgrounder on how this blog came about and what you can expect to find here. You can find more about me on the What’s this all about page.

How this blog came to be:

Over time I have come to realize that many people are either creative, or want to be more creative. The ones we call talented are those that can successfully balance their creative expressions and channel it into a means to make some money, that is, make a business of it.

Just as much as I believe that every single person is creative (more on this later) I also believe that pegging ourselves as Right Brain or Left Brain types is a dumbing-down simplification that fills headlines pages on the internet.

Creative Collisions MTL came to me at a time when I was looking to find ways to share my business knowledge and develop my creative expression, primarily through photography. From others I sensed there was some mystique about knowing the sides of a ledger just as much as there was, for me, a sense of mystique about knowing how the creative and art world worked.

A taste of what can you expect to find here:

PieI love analogies and baked goods, so today I will start with Pie. You are a Pie! You are not a piece of pie but a whole pie, wholly delicious.

With all this talk about Left brain and Right brain we might think we are doomed to always be flawed. Never feeling good enough on the left brain side to think we can handle the analytical, pragmatic and sometimes routine side of business or never feeling good enough on the right brain side to think we can be the expressive artist or creative genius that we feel deep inside.

My mission is to debunk this myth, to prove that we all operate from a whole brain perspective, that you can learn ways to become more creative or imaginative or decisive or logical or any number of things. There is no flaw in you or the type of brain you think you operate by because like a pie, you are wholly delicious, talented, organized….etc.

The way to pie-dom

In showing you the way to being creative and business minded Creative Collisions MTL will bring to you the inside workings of business minded artists in a series of interviews. This takes some footwork so we are actively seeking people who would like to contribute some time and energy. You will reap benefits far greater than what you contribute. Make sure you go to the Contact us page to let us know your interest regardless of where you live.

We will also bring you teachable tidbits that you can use to become more creative, more business minded, more innovative….just more great information that you can use to move you toward your own goals and success. This may look like ways to get unstuck, or how to manage your workflow, or the dreaded interruptions we incessantly face every day. Living life is a challenge but living your best life doesn’t have to be. Stick with us and you may just be having your cake and eating it to!

Here’s to a delicious 2014.