The love connection girl

Four Key Skills Of A Successful Photographer

As stated above, hard skills are easy to teach and learn. Our numerous workshops cover the many aspects of the technical side. On the technical side, there is camera, composition, and exposure control. This is all Photography 101 course content. Then there’s mastery of lighting and light modification from our Lighting 101201 and soon-to-be released 301 courses. You’ll need post production skills and for this we’ve created three entire courses on Lightroom editing in the Lightroom Workshop Collection. And then there’s posing, which is one part hard skill, one part soft skill, both of which is taught in the Natural Light Couples Photography Workshop. Posing and directing is also covered with Caroline Tran in the Light & Love Workshop.


2. Hard Skill: Artistic

The artistic side covers artistic camera, composition, and exposure control which is, again, discussed in all of the courses listed above. Technical and artistic are two very different hard skills. Think about some of the photographers that you know, or even yourself. Would you classify yourself as a technical photographer or as an artistic photographer? There are so many incredible photographers who are absolutely amazing artistically; they can create images that are breathtaking, yet they don’t really know much about the technical components of what they’re doing.

On the flip side, do you know photographers that are incredibly technical? They know their lighting ratios, everything there is to know about aperture, maximum dynamic range, about optimal shutter speeds, etcetera, yet there’s always seems to be something missing from their photographs? These are technical photographers. Generally, most of us are going to have a balance between these two but it might be weighted on one side.

A  photographer strives to have a good balance of the technical and the artistic and this makes up what we call the skilled photographer. It is only a small fraction of what it takes to be a successful photographer. The bulk of comes from the soft skills side.

75% Soft Skills

The soft skills are labeled, “external skills” because these need to be practiced with people. These soft skills are a greater part of the process therefore these soft skills are more important and weighted more in the balance of being a successful photographer.



Communication is key to building a relationship. Being able to communicate with people and discuss their interests, backgrounds, and anything other than photography is an extremely important soft skill. It involves smiling, being genuine, and being interested in what others have to say. You’d be surprised how much this could do for you. It’s the ability to use positive and reinforcing words as well as provide positive solutions to your client’s sometimes random requests.

When it comes to posing, as we mentioned above, there’s a technical side but much of posing comes down to communication and how you guide and direct your clients. You can have the know-how of what makes a good pose, but you need to have the ability to communicate and guide your clients through it.

4. Soft Skill: Understanding

Being able to ask targeted questions is part of communication, but a major component for the soft skill of understanding. While communication is about your words, how you speak them and how you communicate your vision to your clients is critical. And understanding involves talking less, listening more and asking targeted questions so you know what their vision is.

When you seek to understand your clients’ wants, needs, and concerns, as well as having the ability to address and resolve those concerns, it will show that you are present in the moment.

Having the ability to communicate clearly and understand people makes you an empathetic communicator, able to understand their vision and share your own vision effectively.

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External Soft Skills vs. Internal Hard Skills

The combination of skilled photographer and the empathic communicator is what makes a successful photographer.


Throughout the entire process, almost every touchpoint will draw on your external soft skills. From understanding the vision, tailoring expectations, proper planning, and exceeding expectations, communication and understanding are required. Only when you get to the shoot execution do you use those external hard skills, but even then on shoot day, both soft and hard skills are incorporated.

In the process of creating consistently incredible images with every single client, the vast majority of your interaction and the process itself relies on your soft skills and your ability to communicate and understand, versus your technical and artistic ability. You need both sides, and all four skill sets to succeed.

You can learn more on developing and using these skills in part 1 of the Wedding Workshop. Gain access to the workshop and so much more by becoming an SLR Lounge Premium Member here.

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