I am a big fan of Marcus Lemonis, otherwise known as “The Prophet” or “The Fixer”. He is always saying that the most important things in business are “people, process, and product”. Let’s think about the ‘people’ part of the photography business a little.
Photo editors are bombarded by talented photographers trying to promote themselves and get work. While a lot of the time photographers are hired based on personal recommendations made by the editor’s colleagues, it’s not always the case. Editors do notice portfolios that demonstrate a unique (but not too unique) style with proof that the photographer has some experience with the subject matter needed.
But however the photographer gets the attention of the editor, the real test comes from working with them. Was the photographer pleasant, easy to get along with? Were they organized and did they get the shoot done on time? Did they respect budget constraints? Most professional photographers are more or less equally skilled and talented at creating images, the odds of an editor wanting to work with someone again are based on the human elements, the personal interactions. Sometimes you hear stories of mythical photographers in the industry that are in such high demand that they can afford to be disorganized or unpleasant to be around…I have trouble believing that such people are truly successful.
Don’t think that the personal part only applies to photographers who work with editors and clients. You are mistaken if you think for a second that if you’re a fine art photographer or just want to sell your prints at art fairs, you won’t need too many social skills. The fact is that you are your brand, and you are your own sales and marketing staff. Building relationships—with your customers online, on the street, or in the gallery—will be a cornerstone of your success.