The Five Myths of Photography Success


How to Measure Photography Success

We all want to be successful in our photography, its only natural. We strive to take the best images that we can. We strive to learn as much as we can. The problem is that it's difficult to measure photography success, especially if you are doing it for a hobby rather than a profession.

measure photography success
Image by Foundry Co.

Today rather than looking at how to gauge your success, we are going to take a slightly wry look at some of the myths of photography success.

1. Are You Using Social Media as a Measure?

Likes, follows, +1s, loves. These are all things that we crave on social media.

As photographers we like to see people liking our images, we love to have a big following – it's a sense of accomplishment almost or validity. But does that mean we have become a successful photographer? No, it means you have become a successful marketer.

The problem with social media is that it is a platform for niceties. People like, follow and comment nice things because they want you to like them. There's a fair chance that you did the same in order to build a good following.

However, that does not mean you are a bad photographer but by the same measure, you cannot claim to be a successful photographer because of it.

If you want to use social media as a tool for measuring your success, look at whether people are engaging with you and your work, asking you questions on how you achieved things. This means they truly respect what you are doing rather than vying for your attention.

Photo by Sean MacEntee

Lots of likes does not equal success.

2. Owning a Good Camera…

We all know this one right? Having a good camera does not make you a successful photographer.

It might make you look like a successful photographer but equally, it could make you look like someone able to splash some cash on some shiny new gear.

It's kinda true that any reasonable photographer will pick you out from a mile away if you don’t know how to handle your new toy but non- photographers will likely not have a clue. To them, you must be successful because you have the latest Canon or Nikon pro camera hanging around your neck.

A successful photographer will take good pictures on almost any decent camera but showboating with the latest and greatest is no way to define success – a pinch of subtlty here will go a lot further than you think.

Photo by Iwan Wolkow

Having the latest and greatest does not mean you are a success.

3. I Just Graduated From Photography School

You left school, college or university with a piece of paper saying you are proficient in the photographic arts. You must be successful, surely? Sadly, no.

What you are, is educated in photography. You may well be well educated and a very talented photographer but until you get out there and really impress your peers with some practical skills, you are not a successful photographer.

Being able to quote what degrees kelvin is relative to photography is not success. Being able to visually estimate the color of light in degrees kelvin without referring to a camera or light meter would be a much better measure of your success and experience.

Photo by Alan Levine

Formal education does not guarantee success.

4. The Many Years of Experience

Conversely, many years of experience does not make you a successful photographer either. You can spend a lifetime taking photographs but if you did not learn much through those years you cannot be called successful.

A successful, experienced photographer will be one who has diversified, adapted and learned many new things during the years that he or she has been taking images.

5. Being Prolific in Photography

Being a prolific photographer no more makes you successful than being an unproductive one. Shooting a thousand images a day in the hope that one or two might be good does not make you a good photographer. It makes you a quick photographer.

There is nothing wrong with being prolific in itself, but if your images do not show significant improvement over the months and years you are not being successful at photography – to me, that's just a simple equation you can apply to any hobby.

Because you can take lots of images, does not mean they are all successful.
Because you can take lots of images, does not mean they are all successful.


Being successful is a difficult thing to gauge. If you shoot professionally then the ability to put food on the table and a roof over your head is probably a good measure of success. If however, photography is not a source of income, then how do you measure your success?

I would venture into saying that there are two subjective questions you should ask yourself.

  1. Have I continued to learn through my photographic journey?
  2. Have my pictures significantly improved during that journey?

If the answer is yes to both, you have been successful. I rest my case. All comments gratefully received.

Measure Photography Success – Top Takeaways

  • Ask other photographers for real life opinions of your work and get advice from them.
  • Just buy the gear you need, if 6 months has passed and it's still in its case, consider selling it.
  • Have you been learning from your mistakes and feedback you've requested from others?

Further Resources

Further Learning

Using Lightroom? Photoshop? Elements?
Learn a ton of highly valuable pro post processing tips to make your time at the computer more enjoyable.
This amazing eBook guide will help you discover what you can do to make your photos shine!
“Learn The Fundamental Editing Steps From A Pro, That Will Change Your Photography Forever!”

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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