things they don’t teach you in art school

jenni & chiv's wedding

Or maybe they do; I don’t know, I didn’t go to art school.

But it surprised me today, when I stopped and thought about the most important thing I’ve learned building a photo business from the ground. The most important thing I’ve learned over the last four years is how important it is to say thank you. I spend a good quarter of my business time sending thank you notes. I thank everybody. Often more than once. I don’t take any help for granted; any help I get is worth credit.

And I wouldn’t have guessed that, so maybe someone else is missing it, too. Always remember to say thank you; thank publicists who put you on lists or pull strings to get you an interview or a shoot. Thank the bands you see play, or the models or friends or family members who give up their time for you to take their photos. Thank people even when they’re paying you. Thank your significant other for stopping on the side of the highway so you could get that shot. Thank the people who introduce you to other people. Thank your bartenders (and tip them, too). Thank the door guys. If you forget to thank someone in person, send a note when you get home. Thank people who say no to you; especially thank people who say no to you.

If you thank people who turn you down for their time, what they remember the next time you ask them for something is that you were polite about rejection. That lesson came really, really hard for me, and it’s been the most important one I’ve learned. Polite counts for a lot in the photo business. Sure, eventually you could get famous and you can be an asshole to whoever you want. But “thank you” will get you a hell of a lot further than “fuck you”, I’m just saying.

My mother would be so proud of this revelation. She’s only been trying to get me to send thank you notes since I was 6.

[The Whitlams — “Thank You”] thank you thank you/for loving me at my worst

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