Psychology of photography

healthcare professional portrait

All professions use some form of psychology in doing business. Here I’m using ‘psychology’ in a very broad definition.

Be yourself, everyone else is taken

Oscar Wilde

I’m not going to psychoanalyse myself because I’d have a fool for a psychologist. After years as a chameleon, emulating successful photographers didn’t feel right. Eventually I discovered being authentic was the key.

customer service


Unlike many colleagues I have a bit of training in sales. During holidays I worked in retail and wholesale as a trainee manager for several companies. Back then “trainee” was corporate speak for no overtime. The upside was we were trained and I found it invaluable at an early age. The key outcome for me, believe it or not, was to be honest. Listen to the customer, be empathetic, identify and solve their problem by demonstrating the benefits of a product or service.

political portrait photo

Portrait photography

It probably goes without saying that photographing portraits requires good people skills. Putting people at ease, getting their best, natural expression and confidently directing them takes skill, practice and compassion. Everyone is self-conscious about their appearance even professional models.

technology building photography

Product Photography

There’s joke in professional photography that those lacking people skills make good product photographers. Some even go so far as to say the product doesn’t talk back! Products, whether that’s a wine bottle or a building, require an understanding of the potential customer. The role of the photo is to sell the product. Setting the right mood requires a high degree of technical skills in lighting and composition to achieve a professional result.

Sydney conference photography

Learning photography

Having studied and taught photography there is definite mindset needed to succeed in photography or any creative field. I thinks it’s pigheaded determination, a colleague called it, “a fire in the belly”. Whatever it is you need to be self-driven to succeed as there are many obstacles along the journey. At the beginning of a course some students stand out while others quietly progress. Both have that fire in their belly.

I’m sure there are other areas we use psychology in photography as well as business. Bottom line for me is to be honest, be yourself and be kind.