This all started when the immensely talented Katy Tuttle of Katy Tuttle Photography posted on her personal page an article from The Huffington Post entitled “23 Sign’s You’re Secretly An Introvert.” (For the full article click here.) Well, since I already knew I was an introvert, I thought I’d go give it a read and see how accurate it was. Man…it was dead on! I’d like to share some insights to being an introverted photographer though. People assume photographers are all extroverts, but you may be surprised! I wont go over all 23 things but here is a nice summary of the important ones. Since I’m not into the small talk…(tee-hee-hee) Lets dive in!
1. Small talk. Not our thing. <—- Very true! I try so hard to small talk and end up sounding like a bumbling fool. I have no clue what to talk about so I ramble. I really prefer to have deep conversations and will often revert to tech talk about what I’m doing when doing a session. Yup…and clients get that glazed look on their face. On Facebook, you’ll see me give paragraphs as replies or essays for posts. When its a subject I’m into, I tend to over do the responding.
- Try finding a few subjects you know your client will enjoy. Its easy with photographers …. chat about photography! With clients ask questions and let the client talk. I’ve always found that by letting them do most of the talking, I can better interact with them and they enjoy having someone actually listen.
2. Social events ( & Workshops!). Yes, we go but not to meet people. <—- Seriously, do they have tiny cyborg gnats hiding in my house? This is hard for an introverted photographer. The second a friend introduces me to a potential client as a photographer I always say.. “I just dabble.” Its hard for me to initiate those first meetings because its something I like to do from a distance. Meet online….then in person. Let me send out my feelers before we meet. This is also why I avoid workshops…attending or hosting. I prefer to just do it on my own or online.
- If you encounter an introvert at a workshop, give them some space. Say hi when they are away from the crowd. We really enjoy one on one interactions. For the introverts: Keep your business cards at the ready and leave them in businesses that cater to your ideal client. That way you can get your name out without having to encounter strangers.
3. Networking (to further our careers). Makes us feel fake. <—— Again, stop with the mind reading! I’m all for the mingling, but really trying to “promote” myself and network makes me feel like I’m trying to fool people. I want a direct connect. I rarely post on my page any accomplishments. When I do, I feel like its bragging, it doesn’t make me feel good. I always feel very happy for others when they post their accomplishments so it may be hard to understand this unless you experience it. I’d like to be more out there and forward about features or magazine publications, but its just not my personality.
- This is really a personal preference. If you recognize your difficulty, you might try having someone else network for you. Be it a relative or assistant. Many introverted photographers have someone do all the “dirty” work for them so its not so personal.
4. Combo punch: Intense, easily distracted.<—– ERMERGERD! If you get to read the article you’ll see an image of a man with all these words around his head. That’s me! Except I’m not a dude. I have so many thoughts going on at once that I jump around a lot when I’m over stimulated. I call the distraction issue my “Squirrel!” syndrome. If too much is going on I’ll get distracted. I often have to wear headphones and play music to work on the computer or even clean my house! Example: When shooting multiple people, I get distracted and forget what I’m doing or forget poses. This is why I stopped shooting families. Its too much and too many people so my work suffers. The intensity comes when we are talking about a subject we really enjoy. We like to dive right into the deep end. This again is where the conversations with clients can turn sour because that involves small talk.
- I can only really say that by finding people who have the same interest as you, you’ll find yourself able to have those meaningful discussions you crave. Start a blog. This can help get all of those thoughts out in the air. For distractions, just try to take a deep breath. I find myself over stimulated when too many people are talking. Take a step back and re-group, then come back in.
5. This is huge: “Shutting down” if we are too active.<—– Has nothing to do with working out. Say I do a newborn session. Its 5 hours. I get home and I feel like crawling into bed and turning off everything and just being alone for a week, ok not a week more like the rest of the day. So, I make excuses. I say I no longer do newborn sessions because “I’m no good at them,” truth is I don’t want to sound like a weirdo by saying its too much “people” time. I have a hard time thinking straight and feel as though I’ve ran a marathon after shooting for so many hours. Its literal “people” exhaustion.
- Take breaks. Change locations. Take that time in your car to unwind, especially if its a long shoot. You can even bring along some tunes and just tell your client you need a “creative” moment. Arrive at your location early. This gives you time to soak in your surroundings and mentally prepare yourself.
6. We like to have a focus. <—– I felt 100% times better when I decided on a focus or in the photography world a specialty. We like to be really good at one thing rather than everything at once. My ambitions get in the way here. I have a lot of interests. So I try to be an expert in them all but I lose focus. When I focus on one thing I can stick to it for lengthy periods of time. That is why I can knock out a brand new logo within 2 hours or if I have a prop idea, I like to do it RIGHT now!
- Get a specialty. If you don’t like shooting groups or families then DONT! STOP letting yourself get talked into it. If you don’t feel good doing certain sessions then stop it! Focus on the ones you like. Isn’t there a saying? “Jack of all trades is a master at none?” For introverts this could not be more true. Instead of trying to do everything, get a specialty and you’ll shock yourself at how fantastic you’ll be at it!
7. We notice the “little things. <—- This gets me in trouble! I notice a lot of little things and I remember peoples faces very well. So if I see someone in person I saw on Facebook, I’ll smile or wave like some sort of stalker. Now I just get this look of shocked recognition on my face and then I run because last thing I need is a cop at my door for being “weird.”
- Take notice and use it to your advantage. Instead of going to someones page (like I have) and saying “oh I saw you at the gym!!!!”, let it be. lol Notice the details in your photography (you probably already do…each and every little thing too huh? and that of others as well!) This can be hard. We might immediately notice the multiplied leaves on a tree, a pimple, cloned parts and missed hairs. Yeah, it can be that bad. We have to learn to let it go and just focus on those things for ourselves. The bright side is we end up with nearly flawless work because we put so much focus in those little details, or we recognize our own faults and aren’t afraid to point them out.
8. We are writers. <—- Anyone who has sparked my interest in a subject can tell you, I’ll write a book in reply. I prefer to write to people than to actually talk such as on the phone. I sound like a jumbled mess in person, but get me in front of a keyboard and my thoughts flow in a far more structured manner.
- Get a blog, I promise you’ll feel better.
9. We have social periods and downtime. <—- Yeppers! I can go to a social function, but I may stay away from my friends for a week or more afterwards. In photography this translates into space between sessions. If I have multiple sessions in a week I will need to spend a week or more away from doing any sessions because I need to recharge. I’ve learned to space out my sessions and I typically will only book them once a week. The idea of a “mini-session marathon” makes my skin crawl.
- Again, setting your limits is important. Instead of avoiding people, just say hey, I need a little time to myself. With clients who may be hounding you day and night, having your turn around time posted on your page or in your contract etc.. will help here. Take advantage of your social periods to get your networking or mingling done. It will be time well spent.
10. We screen our calls….all of them. <—- Sad but true. I really don’t like talking on the phone. This is not good when dealing with clients. I usually have them text me, email me or message me. Its just the way I prefer to do things though. I already know that if I get on the phone I’ll start messing up the small talk and scare them away. I can focus better when I’m writing it out.
- If you list a phone number, ask that you are texted first or let clients know to message you for inquiries. That way you can call them back if necessary on your terms. Consider writing out a dialog. Yes, I mean typing out a client dialog to keep you focused on what you need to discuss with your client. Keep this handy for when you do need to call or when you receive a call.
Growing up I always thought I was a freak. I felt out of place. Even now at 33 years old, I can stand in a crowd and feel completely alone and out of place. In the photography world where many of the groups are like social clubs, it can be very difficult for me to “fit in.” People don’t understand it so I get called names like “stalker,” ” snob,” “judgmental” and “crazy.” The thing is I’m none of these. I’m actually very “observant,” “opinionated,” “outspoken,” and “sarcastic.” Yes, introverts are probably some of the most opinionated people you’ll meet and because we spend so much time in our own heads, we know ourselves very well. This doesn’t apply to all introverts. We are all individuals.
Speaking from the point of view of an introverted photographer, it can be a very difficult road if we do not understand ourselves and realize that we are not weird, we are just a different kind of personality trait.