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The Best Business Advice I Can Offer You

By Kishore Sawh on April 21st 2014


One of the joys of youth, in hindsight, is innocence born of ignorance. It’s something you only really think about as the calendar pages flip, and you begin to enjoy naps. You realize that when you’re young, you can’t help but be yourself. I find I have been less myself in recent years, and since becoming part of SLR Lounge, it’s become more clear as to why. As such, I believe I have something to say, or more precisely, something to say I believe in.

So, in the vein of my Grandfather’s favorite joke [What did the Leaning Tower Of Pisa say to Big Ben?], if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the inclination.

The source of my concern is value in communication and networking in our business. We may shoot products, or landscapes, but this is a people business above all.

My time in this vocation has afforded me the privilege of having a reach as vast as it is diverse. It’s reached you. I’ve also spent time speaking with, and met people highly regarded in our artisan field, and those who aim to be – which is most of us, I’d wager. The sheer breadth of interest in my, and everyone’s work, is nothing short of astonishing, but sometimes the interest is a guise. There’s a heavy smog of selfish insincerity that sits in the air of the aware.

[REWIND: 3 Qualities To Make Sure You’re Always Improving As a Photographer]

We’re all hustling to make it, and every one of us is looking for validation somehow. The field is more saturated than ever it was, and we’re all developing with learning curves that look like rocket trajectories. Growth in photography requires a certain level of resilience, fortitude, and boundary breaking, and it usually can’t be done on your own and we all know that. Whether someone name drops you to the right magazine, or gives you a job, or highlights your work, or connects you to a client, the path to success is hardly ever a solitary one.

Networking then, is essential, and being good isn’t enough. You’ve got to have heart, and you’ve gotta have help too. I wish for us that in this time of trolls and anonymous haters, we approach the help with more heart.

In our capitalistic, celebritized society, there are pressures to be the cream that rises, and the demands to rise aren’t meager. Photography certainly isn’t exempt. So in the quest for the top, we realize quickly that networking is one of, if not the best aid in getting there. But more often than not, I’m finding, it’s become selfish. Not mean or malicious, but insincere, without a real desire to better someone else’s situation, or to give something back, for a greater good.


The major issue is that this culture of using all energy to look out for ourselves and produce, does little for real sincere communication; We chat, trade opinions, promises, and services. Faux smiles and cheap flattery are the currency. This is something I see all the time, and really hits me at events. What I see are ‘contacts’ being made, to be lost. To the observant and perceptive, the conversations were thin veneers of sincerity, masking the desire to use. But you’re never gonna get anywhere in our business like that, especially now.

I want real connections with people and I bet you do too. We cross paths with others all day, and we spend time on them often in order to get things – that contact at Canon, the reporter, the gear rep, etcetera. But how many of us actually cherish that connection, and forge lasting relationships out of it? Not many. But wouldn’t it be great if when you used those contacts, the person on the other end felt good about it too because you both had an interest in each other – a caring for?

I care tremendously about the fact that I have learned to care less.

We are so busy trying to get ahead of our kin and focus solely on if we could, and don’t stop to think if we should. We seem to believe we should not be interrupted by anything that might tamper with the unremitting quest of “moving forward” – of making it. Maybe we need to redefine what “making it” should mean.

Thank You

I’ve been the fortunate recipient of much time from many of you. I look at you and others around me, and their sacrifices for me. The sacrifice is time, and that’s personal. When you give someone your time, that’s time away from your family, friends, kids, that you’ll never get back – it doesn’t get more personal than that. So through their, and your countenances, lay my responsibilities.

One of which, is to tell you that if you want to build a network in this business, get the right kind of apprenticeship, or get advice, or some other type of assistance to grow with opportunity, sincerity is necessary, and so is patience. Believe me, those who get approached a lot, can spot insincerity a mile away. I’m not particularly special and I get approached a lot, and I can tell in a blink when someone wants something more than the effort they’re willing to put in and reciprocate.

There’s a bit of truth applicable here, that those who don’t look hungry, get fed. Offer something. Share what you know. Showing humility never hurt. Come from a place of ‘take,’ and you’ll get nothing. Approach instead from a place of ‘give.’

I would also suggest (and this is the hard one), to have fewer contacts. Really. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s imperative. Learn to say no, and to know where your loyalties lay. This allows you cull or pass the relationships that are worth-less, and more time to nurture the ones you’ve got, and build them into something worthwhile. You can’t do that if you’re always spreading your time thinly. It’s probably what I find the most important.

And if you’d like to add something – tell me. I’ll be open to talk about it with you, because it’s something worth talking about.

We may be in a digital age now with little use for film, but there’s still room to develop.


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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Great article

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  2. Nick Auskeur

    I think you guys are great and even though I don’t comment, this being my first, I still appreciate everything you do. Hell, I’m over here everyday to pick up advice, ideas, inspiration and news. With the multitude of photography sites already out there vying for my attention I’ve chose you guys, and only one other site, to spend my time on for my daily fix, so I hope you take that as the compliment I mean it to be. Keep it up!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Nick, hi. You know, we are very aware of all the good content that’s out there, so that you do find yourself coming back to us is just about the best compliment we can receive. We are growing, and really like that a lot of our audience, grows with us. As I mentioned above and before, whatever it is you would like to see, or learn, let us know and we’ll try to bring that to you. Thanks for posting, and take care. Cheers

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  3. Lina

    This is why I love SLR Lounge! Your articles have me coming back to the site. Truly a great article, and very refreshing to read. I wish more people had this view on things.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Lina. Great to hear you love SLR Lounge haha, and we’re glad you keep coming back. I’m glad you found the material in this article useful. It’s an opinion, but it is one formed over keen observation. I do too wish more people approached business from a sincere point of view, and I think the way the market is, it’ll get there, if for no other reason than those who simply want to take, really won’t get far. All the best!

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  4. Vanessa

    Thank you guys for all the wonderful work and great and informative articles.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Vanessa, hi! you’re more than welcome, and thank you for your patronage. I always tell people, if there are things you want to learn, things you want to see, just let us know. We do keep track of these things and a lot of what we put out comes from what we know our readers want. All the best.

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  5. andrew sible

    Thank you, that was a well written article. It made me think a bit about the way I have been conducting business with like-minded people as well as clients. It also made me think twice about a recent business offering that honestly sounded much more “get” than give.

    I’m sure I’ll tread in the wrong areas sometimes but it’s nice to know that I can try hard with good connections and it will pay off.

    Case in point – being kind to friends in theatre gained me a connection to a web designer and through that…regular jobs with high paying clients that need website photography, and a real-estate connection.

    You never know where a great connection can come from, so it really pays to give all you can to those that matter most.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      It’s a funny thing how altruism tends to come back around. By no means was I speaking about getting walked on, as you know, but just that some humility in help just seems to rub people the right way, and as in your case, good things come of it. That was great to hear Andrew. Best of luck going forward. Cheers

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  6. John

    Have to say thanks to the SLRLoungers for taking time to share their knowledge and experience with others. I’ve learned much from these writings and sometimes we forget to just say thanks… Thanks a bunch.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi John, well while we are grateful for your thanks, we offer ours. Be well mate.

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