Stop Trying To Get Everyone To Like Your Work

When I talk to photographers and survey the industry landscape, I see a zillion photographers trying to have all their work liked by all the people. This comes from our social animal DNA, but it’s the completely wrong approach to success – whether that be measured by your work being licensed, sold, etc, or by getting hired, shown, talked about, displayed, whatever.

Simply said, by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, especially not yourself.

But fear not (or fear less, perhaps). The answer is simple.

1. Shoot what you love.
2. Pimp that work.
3. Repeat.

People can smell whether you love what you’re shooting or not, love what you’re pimping or not, love what you’re doing or not. So you might as well effing love it for real. It’s all you’ve got.

So quit with your shifty eyes, looking at what everybody else is doing. And do your own shiznit. Yes this means you. If you’re work is priced…… appropriately, be it fine art, commercial, editorial, wedding, whatever, all you need is 10-50 people each year to dig what you make. That’ll come from doing what you love, and that will make for a great year. Of all the damn people you have access to with the innernets, there are 50 people with money who like what you do. Of the 1000 or 10,000,000 who look at your site, your book, your whatever, those “likers” can be a pretty low percentage. Bet on it.

anthea delmotte says:

Is

Diogo says:

This tip should be posted every single day for every single creative pro!

Shweet reminder Chase!

D

Jimmy says:

It’s easily said. As most people love your work Chase. Mere mortal like us have to struggle. But have to agree in some ways.

Anonymous says:

Agree in some way. Anyhow its also easy for you to say Chase as most people love your work. As for mere mortal like most of us have to struggle.

Brian says:

Excellent advice. In the vast sea of social media it’s easy to forget that you can’t please everyone all the time. Focus on that niche and grow.

I smell what your steppin’ in, Brotha. Amen…

Chase is My Yoda ! I love all the wise words, Do what ya Love and People will notice.

Nassim says:

I totally agree. when we try to please everyone, peoples feels it and the we totally get the opposite results.
Thanks for the post, I love it.

Anne-Marie says:

Spot on! Like that…thanks for reminding us!

Jenn says:

“Hard work is not the path to Well- Being. Feeling good is the path to Well-Being. You don’t create through action; you create through vibration. And then, your vibration calls action from you.” Abraham Hicks

Good advice! I’d like to add the caveat that the trick is finding what you love to do that is also marketable. Shooting pictures of cool looking dirt might be A passion but is not marketable. Shooting people having fun is very marketable. Try and find a passion that is marketable.

People like to hire me for (video) shooting real people. That’s something I love to do that is marketable. Creating that connection and getting their story out is awesome. Doing it well is marketable.

Great post, Chase! I needed this today and plan to print this post and read it every morning until it sinks in!

Brian says:

10 – 50 people a year to like my work?! I wish that would happen! LOL

bwfotos says:

now i’m going to go outside and take a picture!

Nassim says:

this is so true !!! Excellent post Chase :)

Pallab says:

Hey Chase

Thank you for sharing.it is brilliantly expressed. I will always remember this. Thanks again.

Robert Michael says:

Hey Chase,

So the question I have is “What if you just love to shoot everything?” Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to shoot weddings, portraits, beauty/fashion, commercial, lifestyle and architectural. I also create commercials and corporate pieces for my clients. I additions, I love to light paint, shoot macros, and experiment with unconventional processes. How can I roll that into a career? I understand if I had one type of work, suck as Brooke Shaden or Joel Grimes. I’m having a hard time coming to terms with not shooting all the other stuff I love. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

RM

Girish says:

I needed that hit on the head this week, thanks :)

DaCosta says:

My sentiments exactly! If I spent all my time worrying about people liking/not liking my work, I’d never shoot a picture!

Gavin says:

It’s like you are a mind reader. Really needed to hear that.

Michael says:

Great message, thanks.

I heard an interviewed band member once say that they would rather perform for 10 fans than 1000 people who don’t know why they are there.

Wonderfully expressed…nice work !

shra1 says:

:D :D
i agree… ;)

:D :D

LusterNYC says:

1. Shoot what you love.
2. Pimp that work.
3. Repeat.
4.Agreed

Nap Beltran says:

I got to this website by accident, and it sure is a good find. Photographers sometimes measure their success with the number of “likes” they get for their images and missing the bigger picture which is as the author said, “shoot what you love”. Definitely something to share on our community for photographers.
http://www.facebook.com/Photoworldmanila

arie says:

you really cannot expect people to favor your style

Dave Wilson says:

Chase, you express part of the problem right in your post here. “Priced….appropiately” I have no idea what’s appropriate. I lost shooting for a restaurant I think because I didn’t price appropriately. How do I know if $140 an hour is a good rate? Maybe I should have gone with a flat rate of $5000 for the whole job? How do I know what to charge? If only someone out there would talk about this aspect of things, but people rarely do, and when they do, they’re so vague about details.

Tonx says:

It was great to read this! I have to say since I started trying to sell my work my interest in photography has waned. I`m very new to photography and the deeper emotional side related to creativity is fascinating, and is vital to success for those who want to love what they do.

Thanks Chase!

Tonx says:

Check this blog for similar discussions:

http://www.into-the-light.com/blog

Pradeep says:

Always always shoot for yourself!

Concrete says:

Like in politics- not all cases can resolve in “Win-Win” situations. Our clients are mostly satisfied but there are few who spoil…
Better take care of your business and do what you do with joy, satisfaction and sincere care. The rest should come along.

Danie Nel says:

OH, and it is hellavu ironic that more than 2000 people have already like this, Chase.

Chase Jarvis says:

brilliant and noted ;)

Danie Nel says:

What I’m realising is that it’s more important for people to like YOU than your work. It actually does well in business too.

Chase Jarvis says:

gotta like the work to get hired. that’s the get in the door fee. liking YOU helps separate you from the rest AFTER they like your work

Joann says:

Wow- pimp yourself?? I always called it whore ‘in.
But, I am a Texas girl.
You know, I believe, if you keep it in your soul,
and your true to it, than anyday you
can make your art.
Peace

I agree 100%!! When I stopped shooting like” I was supposed too” and started shooting like I wanted too, my images improved ten fold. Great article keep it up!!!

WillieDash says:

GOD bless you all!!!

Nisur Beton says:

I cannot say how much I agree about it. The fact is that in real life sometimes people tend to back your side and some times they don’t. You cannot expect that everyone will love you.

franc zalez says:

I am a self taught photographer and love it with a passion. I find myself at times thinking, should I go to art school and learn photography? is it to convince others that I can actually create art? who makes that call? My passion for capturing simple life has made me a n art junky. Thank you chase!!!

Mindy says:

thanks chase, I needed that. You say it like it is! I do love what I photograph (dogs), and that’s all that matters!
I’m subscribing to you!

Edward says:

Well said Chase!

may lemon says:

Exactly! Most of photographers just want the social glam and somehow self deluding themselves.

Alex says:

I think doing the type of work you like to do, in the long run, is the only real viable option. Otherwise, you’ll go insane.

Joris Kalma says:

I totally agree with this.

Mark French says:

This isn’t to say that there isn’t a universally agreed upon standard of work. If you absolutely love indistinguishable images covered in fuchsia papyrus lettering then there’s a problem and you need to improve your taste. Excellent photography comes out of a pursuit of personal standard. If you are completely satisfied with your end product then you’ve reached creative stagnation.
For me the love is in the growth of my ability to closer produce what is in my head. That creative gap between what I want to produce and what I do produce, though, is the driving force for my own creativity. I’m trying to get ME to like my work. That’s my pursuit; that’s my bar.

Dave P says:

I think it was first Bill Cosby, some 40odd years ago who said: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” It still rings true today.

Simple as that…

Nice one Jarvis!

DA

Christian Held says:

Yeah I made the mistake when I started and virtually was shattered if someone didn’t like my picture. And after some time I realised that taking pictures (as many as I can) is the best way to improve.

and as I’m not a pro I shoot for myself and try my luck with microstock. I need a lot more photos and I take critique on board but that won’t stop me from being passionate about photography! So I think this post could be a wake up call if someone is in this phase where he/she thinks it sucks to take pictures!

Luis says:

lov it!!!!!

Gabriel Lavalle says:

This sage advice goes far beyond one medium. It goes to the core of everything. Very zen.

David Lunt says:

Chase, I have been saying this for a while. I KNOW that it is one of the keys to success. I have yet to devlop my own distint style. I am still somewhat new at this and busy trying out different styles/techniques to see what I like best. But I find that some of my most talked about shots are the ones I did for myself and pretty much said “screw it, I don’t care if everyone hates this” and then did some off the wall technique. You are right. It is in our DNA to try an please everyone all the time. It’s learning how to let go of that which is the tricky part!

Rachel Owens says:

So needed to hear that today. Thanks. I’ve really been struggling with this! Just have to find a way to stop caring about what everyone thinks and start shooing what I know will work – for me. Thanks again.

Mark Ivkovic says:

Ha, so very true. I wrote a blog post “Lacking Originality” a week or so ago after reading a DuChemin rant on a similar topic. The post went kinda crazy and a good debate ensued on artistic originality and such. Some people are out there creating truly original and interesting stuff, plus they don’t give much of a crap who likes it. I’d agree though that a lot of people need to stop trying to photograph what they think people want to see (ie. the crap that seems to make Flickr explore etc etc. puppy dogs, cats and rainbows) and start making photographs which actually express something personal to themselves.
I think a lot of folk are starting to speak out in this manner, probably a backlash against the tech driven photography community at the moment. We need to get back to the craft and the image, screw the equipment.

c.d.embrey says:

About thirty years ago I worked on a VW Rabbit commercial. The spokesman was Reggie Jackson. After hitting the ball out of the park, he turns to the camera and says: “I drive a VW Rabbit because the only person I have to impress is me”

Words to live by then, and still true today.

JAY says:

Hi Chase,

Off topic, but I hope you can answer a question: do you use “protective” filters on your lenses? I have heard so many different opinions on this one… I personally am scared to scratch my lenses so I put on UV filters, just for protection. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Thanks!

Sean H Choe says:

Spot on Chase, really respect your opinion. Keep up the awesome work and keep the jewels of wisdom coming!

bimal nair says:

Super like!!! What a saying Chase! You still are the best motivator i know….simply superb! thanks for sharing the thoughts! I totally dig your comment “all you need is 10-50 people each year to dig what you make. That’ll come from doing what you love, and that will make for a great year.” I will hang on to this….this entire year! :) Thankyou Chase!
tons of love!

I agree. Take pictures you love to see and show off. Why photograph what everyone else is doing or the current trend to make a buck. If your doing that your always late on the trend and never photographing what truly inspires you. Look at your work… Like what you see? Or do you have lots of half arsed shots of crap? Why the hell not? It’s your work. We are creative first and for-most to feed our soul, F everything else and do it.

The sentiment that feels pimpin’ your work is the same as getting people to like it is totally off. Pimpin’ your work is to get it in front of other people, Essentially asking them to spend some time to look. The more “pimpin'” the more people see your work the more chance of both haters and lovers of your vision. The lover’s are those that will pay to do what you love to do as they can’t hire someone else to have your vision. Your vision is unique to you.

Ryan Watkins says:

Great post! Thanks:)!

Derek Comer says:

i have been taking photos since i was 11 “Zenith E Camera”, not even the EM,couldnt afford that one. Im 47 now and People have always ask me “what do you shoot?” and i always ans the same PHOTOS, i dont have a Genrie “thinks thats spelt wrong” but you know what i mean, i just love taking photos, weather its a football match, babys, flowers, the wife anything, and if i like it,, GREAT its my camera lol. great Blog and webight by theway

Words from the wise. A true artist doesn’t care what “everybody” thinks! :)

Will Austin says:

Love it, so true!

CallumW says:

While I agree that 10-50 people with wallets are all you need, where do you find them … or them you?

I think that’s where the network of 1,000-10,000,000 other people liking and referring/recommending your work can come in handy :)

I don’t disagree with what you’re saying tho – do what you love and you’ll get hired to do it. That’s why it’s worth having a section for personal work in a portfolio :)

http://www.callumw.com/?attachment_id=2643

CW

Mike Kalibabky says:

Also, I’m always surprised what others enjoy in photos I’ve taken; stuff I’d consider “throwaways.” And that’s why we love taking photos.

TimR says:

Amen to that.

Nate Geslin says:

it’s so simple, yet so difficult.

The greats were never that great when they were making great things. It isn’t until everybody catches up that they see the greatness that was there all along.

fas says:

and one day they will like what they see.!

EM says:

What a great article – and so timely – at least for me. I am just beginning to realize that I have been doing exactly what you’re talking about, and as a result, my love and passion for photography has suffered from it. I don’t make my living with photography – I started doing it on the side because I enjoyed it so much. But before I knew it, I was accepting every kind of job that came my way, including weddings! I recently decided to stop pursuing photography jobs that I don’t enjoy because, quite frankly, it shows in my work. When I enjoy what I’m photographing I can come up with some pretty good stuff, but when I don’t, its pretty mediocre and it eats away at my self-confidence. Go figure, eh?

Anyway, thank you for vocalizing something that I have been struggling with and providing me with some validation that the changes that I am making with my approach to photography are exactly the right thing to do.

Luke says:

Love it, Chase.

i need to start liking my work myself before i can expect anybody else to like it.

rix weber says:

I undersign here in agreement, Case!

Andy says:

Boom! True. Also, helps to be as good at shooting what you love as you are. But I know, that’s not your point.

Katrin says:

That is so true! :)

Jaycup says:

message from GOD..!!!

Ted Vieira says:

Well said, Chase! I prescribe this way of thinking to all of my web development clients. Focus on what you love; what you’re awesome at. Spread that message. Don’t try to be all things to all people.

Norman says:

Well said Chase..totally agree

MinivanDan says:

Guilty as charged. I’ve become so sensitive to my pages “likes” and insights. BUT, I can also say that I have started to realize what I want to do, and am pursuing just that. I have done a few weddings and kinda liked the stress and hustle to make the amazing images that make ‘em go “ooh and aah” but found my main veins fix. It’s often hard for me to display the “I’m loving what I’m doing” vibe when the perfectionist in me seems frustrated when I’m making adjustments to what I’m doing. OCD’s a bitch. Thank you for this reality check that has gone straight to the bank. Sorry, but I “liked” your post. It’s a disease…

Me says:

No more truer words have been spoken!

Rob Hanson says:

Instant Like/Fave. Well done! Keep ‘em coming!

;^))

Gary says:

Truth spoken. Thanks Chase.

gordon says:

I completely agree. If people don’t like your work they won’t hire you or show you so focus on people who get you and then run with it.

Jen says:

So true! Not only for photographers – but for anyone working in a creative medium in my opinion.

Rusty says:

So true man!!! I’m kinda guilty on this one.

fourlegsgood says:

True, true, true, true. And for those who are confused between the difference between “pimping” your work and not caring about what people think, I believe he’s saying don’t second guess yourself on what you love to do based on what other people think you ought to be doing.

Do what you love, be proud of it, tell people about it.

Rachel Tatem says:

Thanks for the encouragement! So often I’ll cave for money but you are right: focus on your love!

NWX says:

Ahhh. Yes.

DanielKphoto says:

Not bad Chase! Thanks :)

Brian says:

well said Chase! very inspiring post! thanks

so true, so true, so true. Thanks for the reminder… it’s hard when it’s not a whole lot of people buying your stuff yet… Thanks for helping me stick to the right course ! :c)

Thanks for confirming what I truly believe. That’s why I stay away from wedding photography etc. that I have no passion for.

Denise says:

Thanks Chase!!! Exactly what I needed today!

Alma says:

Hi! I just want to say that i agree with you. I think that you shall shot what you like, and not care what people think about it. BUT, it feels very good (at least for me) to here positive words about my work, it makes me wanna take more pictures. I don’t change my way of my photography, but i think it is good to launch yourself, not just sit and wait to someone say something good. Have a nice day! (sorry for my english)

I had a big problem with numbers and stats… I was counting every single view on Flickr, like on my Facebook fan page and follower on Twitter. After some time I’ve asked myself “Why are you doing that?”. Then I focused on creating, doing photography, making art. Now I’m feeling much better doing what I love. You are damn right, just do your own shiznit.

YOUR POST REMINDED ME ABOUT SOME THINGS, THANK YOU CHASE!

Thanks Chase, the words I needed to hear.

Just the right advice at just the right time… Thanks for all you do, CJ & crew.

thank you so much for this post Chase! this is the kind of encouragement i needed.

A-Frickin’-Men… I appreciate these words of yours today, most especially for having the balls to say it!! Thank you

Sid Ceaser says:

Inspiration in three minutes or less.

(p.s. – please tell this to the hundreds of shooters in my area that will shoot everything and anything, but in reality are shooting *nothing*)

Cheers,
Sid

Jeff Colburn says:

Amen. I was out of the commercial photography business for a few years because all of my Nikon bodies and lenses were destroyed by heat during a move to Arizona in a heatwave.

When I replaced my gear I decided to do the kind of photography I wanted. I now shoot Fine Art and stock images instead of the commercial work I had been doing. This allowed me to do the kind of shooting I loved, and not have the stresses of commercial assignments.

I like nothing more than taking my gear into the desert or forest and capturing the beauty and power of nature. Besides shooting the pretty things, I’m one of those crazy photographers who shoots forest fires, lightning, tornadoes and other forces of nature. I love it.

Have Fun,
Jeff

JT says:

Surely pimping your work is the same thing as getting people to Like it???!

Massive contradiction surely?

Dan says:

This definitely hit a spot with me and came at just the right time for me…thanks Chase :)

Edward (m) says:

Totally agree with the above statement.One added note to many of those “newer” photographers who post their work and ask for opinions on the work,but can’t handle the constructive criticism or the holes being poked in their ego.Quit being a” facebook attention whore”.Like the author of this post brings up, your work should stand on its own, not just influenced by the 1000’s of “friends” who would not know good composition even if it slapped them in the face.

SimonGman says:

Excellent post Chase, so true!!!

Amanda says:

Well said, however, people “liking” my fb gets me the majority of my jobs. So I happily ask, and seal with a kiss, the request for people to “like”, and pimp me there. Other places,…twitter, flickr, my blog, and even my website, I just show off what makes me happy and expect nothing in return (although an occasional “ego boost” is always nice). Never would have thought that FB would be where most of my work comes from, but, I won’t argue as it’s paying my bills. ;)

Shannon Daly says:

Chase,

This is a great article! I 100% agree. I follow other photographers to show support for them. And 9 times out of 10. We have totally different styles, different levels of experience, and all that good stuff. But I hope with my support for them, they will become more successful, and in turn, I will as well…. In some Cosmic way.

I think the Facebook “Like” pages were a great Idea in the beginning. But I probably have more photographers and other artists on my page than actual non-photographers. And I am OK with that. We network, and if someone can’t work with someone, we refer them to one of the other photographers.. And some might not be OK with that.. But I am. I get a lot of people asking me to photograph their baby.. And I am just so uncomfortable with that. So I hand them over to some of my friends who do wonderful work with babies.. Everyone is happy.

And if people love my work or not.. I do not care.. Because I love my work!

Thank you for the inspiring article!

Shannon Daly

Ben says:

Thank u Chase, u made my day !

Greetings from Hannover/Germany,
Ben

Shannon says:

100% agree. Keep on keepin’ on!

Heather says:

Wow, Chase, I was just rethinking the whole Facebook thing, wondering about all these photographers that like my business page, etc. I was just thinking before facebook, other photographers wouldn’t be sticking their heads into my studio to see what I was doing every day… why we all looking at what others are doing, why the need for people to “like” our work? HUmmmm?

I was actually hoping to attract clients with my Facebook page, not other photographers checking out what I am doing next or what I have done…. just trying to do what I love and make a bit of cash doing it. Thanks for the advice. Can I photograph with you some day :o)

Sincerely
Heather

Bluestill says:

I once read an article by a well known fashion photographer that if you are going to shoot fashion, only concentrate on shoot fashion. I thought to myself “does that make me a photographer or a fashionographer”. I want to be a photographer. I look at others work for inspiration. Not to copy anyone else style, but to never stop learning. Don’t worry Heather, if I can’t figure out how you did it, I’ll send you a message to meet me at Starbucks so I can learn from you :-)

Heather says:

lol, I love Starbucks :o)

Steve says:

Dang… Jarvis be snappin on some peeps. For good reason though. Do what you love. The rest will follow…. but it may take a while so have some patience.

Trudy says:

Yes. That’s all I have to say. LOL. YES.

Exactly. Very well said. If you love what you’re doing people will notice it rather than convincing them that they’re worth looking. Hence, let your pictures do the talking! \m/

Bo Boswell says:

While I agree with this to an extent, part of “pimping” your work is putting it out there and hoping people like it. It’s part of taking pride in your work and hopefully using that feedback to continually improve your work.

I hope I’m not misunderstanding your meaning.

Nate Perkes says:

Good freakin’ night, AMEN! This is awesome.

Yes Sir!! Thank you for sharing. Great advise. Love it

nikky says:

.

but ::

“Trying To Get Everyone To Like Your Work” = “Pimp Your Work”
n’est pas?

if not, how not?

.

Chase says:

key is be proud of what you make, pimp or share that, just don’t get hung up on the “everybody” part. that’s the crucial difference. YOU gotta like it, and then the other “right” people will like it too.

SirSherwoood says:

Thanks Chase. Really good advice.

Bluestill says:

Chase dude you are a maniac. I knew somebody was going to eventually say it. And I knew that someone would be you LOL. Quote me on this. “I might not ever get rich, but I know ALL my work will be in attendance at my funeral because it is my love-child,. I love it, and it love me, and nothing else matter”. Excellent pointers you made in this short post sir.

Bluestill says:

By the way, I don’t have a FAN PAGE yet, so to like my style you will have to meet me up close and personal where we can exchange ideas, talk about what’s on the burners and where I am trying to go with my photography or why I did something a particular way. One day I’ll have a FAN PAGE… or maybe not.

Manoftheworld says:

i dont make pictures.. and i like it. Thanks for the advice

Fran Efless says:

Are you trying to write the photographers how to live?
Great post, again.

Roy Rivera says:

Word up. So true man.

Stephanie says:

Thanks for keeping it real. And “shiznit” – okay have to “borrow” that one…

Theon says:

Love the “pimping” analogy.

Totally!
But damn, I am doing it over and over again! :|
This post is like a nice reminder !
Thanks Chase!

Well said, Chase. Im partially guilty for this, thanks for the slap back into reality and truth. :)

yeah, same with me … thanks for the true words, Chase.

:)

All the best from Leipzig/Germany,
Sebastian

Scott Webb says:

BOOMSHAKALAKA! Loving it!

Kbbmarch says:

I’m glad we can ‘Like’ this :D

Shawn says:

I actually meditated on that roughly a year ago, no wait, it has to be shortly after you posted the 100 picture challenge, that was a long time ago.

That’s when I didn’t care anymore what people thought. I was more into finding the coolest angle or the neat reflections. Dude you’ve taught me so much. Thanks!

WAO says:

In art, like in fields alike, you really cannot expect people to favor your style. Some prefer Modern Art and others- Classic. It’s just like in other aspect of life. Even politicians who have more than sixty percent votes are considered popular!

Marco Denzer says:

It’s greatly rewarding to hear others comment on my work and say something like “your work is very honest… it seems to come from gut instinct”. I try to stick with that. My challenge is to find a way to monetize that.

Highslide for Wordpress Plugin