Photography is a fantastic craft to which now, with the introduction of digital photography, many more people have access. Great photography relies on an ecosystem of factors (technical: shutter-speed, exposure, aperture, depth of field, ISO, etc. and non-technical) to turn a simple scene into a compelling vision. Just like in business.
The similarities between photography and business are remarkable:
1/ The Art of Seeing
Great photography starts with an ability to see in the same way great innovation starts with a capacity to imagine. Spotting a scene and finding extraordinary simplicity in detail is what lays the foundation for a great photograph and business. More so than the ability to master the camera, time is of the essence. Shoot it – now – with whatever camera, as that scene may never come back. So do the vast opportunities in business. Carpe diem.
2/ Establish Focus
Every photograph needs a clear focal point, just like a business. One, and not more than one. But the focus is not always evident and in the middle of the viewfinder. Focus in photography and business is achieved through the experience of knowing what that focus yields. In business that defines how your customers perceive you. As a photographer, you determine where the focus is and set the right angle. As a CEO, you establish the focus and direction.
3/ Set a Composition
Composition determines what you see beyond the focal point. Other objects in the viewfinder compete for attention with your focal point, but a great composition takes your eye on a journey to the focal point and strengthens its attraction. Lines, shapes, curves, and contrast establish focal point supremacy.
In the same way competition in business strengthens (not weakens) the unique appeal of your business.
4/ Evaluate Exposure
Exposure determines how much light you let in. Too much or too little light washes out great detail. Too much or too little exposure undervalues or overvalues the company, either one turns off customers. Use exposure to enhance great value, not to displace it. Use public relations and marketing wisely. So, locate the real business value before you expose it. Exposures can usually be fixed afterwards.
5/ Measure Depth-of-Field
Depth-of-field establishes what is in the foreground and what is not. What is important and what is less important. In business, the razor-sharp focus is required to establish a solid bottom-line. But a business without “depth-of-field” is a one trick pony. A great bokeh (a photography term for the background pattern established by an f-stop) determines its longevity and – ultimately – a proxy of sustainability.
6/ Know Technology
Technology is becoming more relevant in photography and similar is the impact in the business world. Technology determines how the end product can be shared and organically find its massive appeal. Now, through the internet, great photographs and great businesses will find a new audience that was previously unreachable. New, more free marketplaces open up and new opportunities arise.
For me personally, photography is a way to relax, but in actuality, it is an extension of what I do in business every day. I am always looking for unique moments in time, taking great pictures and building great businesses, that perhaps – others don’t see.