FIRST: Most importantly…Shoot what you love to shoot. Work that’s from the heart will always be your strongest work. NEVER FORGET TO HAVE FUN!
SECOND: The next most important thing you can learn is how to relate to people. Even if you are a still life, architectural or landscape photographer who never shoots people you still must relate to people like clients, architects, designers and of course accounts payable. So go out and find 50 strangers, introduce yourself to them and shoot a portrait that says something about who they are – not just what they do.
THIRD: If you are trying to move on to better clients, treat every assignment you get as though you are shooting for your dream client. If you are at a small weekly newspaper and your dream is to shoot for a large metro, approach every assignment as though it was your first week at that dream job. The same is true if you are at a large metro newspaper and dream of shooting for Rolling Stone. Start shooting every job that way. Too many photographers just slide by with the idea that they can raise their quality when they get the ‘right’ clients and then wonder why they never get where they want to be. The truth is that as you advance up the ladder, the assignments don’t necessarily get any better but expectations certainly get higher. Raise your game … now!
FOURTH: INVEST! Stock, bonds, mutual funds, real estate … Even if you are one of those lucky bastards with a staff job and a retirement plan, let a portion of your earnings start working for you. Most photographers starting out don’t feel they can afford to put money away. The truth is you can’t afford NOT to!
For more suggestions like this, take a look at advice that I collected from my fellow members of Editorial Photographers in piece called “Starting Out.”