I recently had the fantastic opportunity to interview Courtney Dailey. She is an amazing fashion photographer based out of LA and had some great things to share about being a peak performer. Thanks Courtney for your words of wisdom!
Share your story. How did you find photography, what got you started, why did you start specializing in the beauty industry with photography? What exactly do you do now as a photographer?
I’ve always loved taking photos, as we always had a 35mm around our house growing up. My neighbors had a really awesome Canon AE-1 with a 50mm lens, which I often borrowed when I was a teenager. The glass of that lens is so beautiful. I still haven’t returned that camera to this day! I guess I’m still borrowing it. When recently asked if they wanted it back, my neighbors told me that they felt it was mine years ago. I really didn’t know how it worked until I checked out a “Basics in Photography” book in High School. After that my subjects were ranged from portraits of my friends, my neighborhood and my cat. So I've always been a photographer at heart, I just started shooting professionally in 2007. I have also been a makeup artist for years and I think that really opened my eyes to the visual side of things. However, I didn’t just pick up a camera one day and BOOM, a career was born. I just brought two of my clear loves together, and started shooting beauty. I currently run a successful commercial beauty business. I shoot commercial campaigns, magazine editorials and I do maintain a number of private clients.
Becoming a success takes having successful habits, what habits have you developed over the years that have helped you become what you are today?
So this is the thing, we all have bad habits. No matter who you are and what you do in your business, bad habits exist! I have a tendency to procrastinate. I learned years ago from a photo coach that I should make a list of 5 business based things to accomplish a day, so I try and stick to that. I like to wrap up 5 business tasks a day. That way I feel like I’m reaching goals and not overworking.
What do you do to make sure you have a winning mindset with your business?
I’m a total fighter. I’ve learned over the years and I coach my mentoring/coaching clients that as creatives we have times that we question everything we do. We dislike the direction we're headed and we feel like we're not making it. This is the best time to sit down and figure out a map for success and happiness. Every time I think “I could have a normal job that pays me every week” I think about how in one day I often bring home what my husband does in 2-3 weeks. BOOYAH!
Who are your role models and how have they helped you in your journey?
To be honest, I’ve never had a role model in my life. Even with role models I see people saying “well so and so did this in 5 years, why didn’t I.” I don’t like comparing myself to others. Everyone's business is unique and their market is different. I think its dangerous for mentors to give their clients unreasonable expectations.
How would you coach a beginning photographer to become their best?
Well it depends on how “beginning based they are! A strong business requires a strong sense of visual voice. I tell them to find a style of photography that draws them in and figure out what stands out to your eye. Is it the toning? The subject? The atmosphere? Something is drawing the eye in. By really sitting down and looking at the images they like you’ll see a trend.
So many of my mentoring clients can’t find their visual voice until we sit down and narrow down their “style”. It seems that the first few years of shooting, we are all emulating others work we enjoy. But sometimes being inspired by so many others gives a portfolio a very strong feeling of disconnect. You want your work to be a strong representation of your brand. Can someone look at your work and know just by looking at it, that it’s yours? Once that's determined, we sit down and build a brand around that voice.
Also, check out Courtney's mentoring program she has for photographers like you.