10 nuggets of business wisdom from photographer Tim Wallace

Tim Wallace has 43 cameras, including his first, a Ricoh KR-10 that he bought as a teenager, as well as his father’s and grandfather’s cameras. He still uses them all. Specializing in commercial photography of prestige transportation—particularly high-end automobiles—Wallace has a 12x14-foot room crammed with equipment, he says. “Because of the type of work I do, there’s loads of stands, bungies, straps, and clips,” plus lighting rigs. By his calculation, all of this production accounts for just 10 percent of his business’s success.

© Tim Wallace

“Ninety percent of your business is how you conduct yourself,” he says.

Here are 10 quotes from Wallace on how to think about your photography business:

  1. “People say you only live once. That isn’t true. You only die once. You live every day. Make every single day count.”
  2. “Definition of ‘tomorrow’: a mystical land where 99 percent of all human productivity, motivation, and achievement are stored. Most businesses don’t grasp ‘today.’”
  3. “To get good at something, it takes 10,000 times of doing it to become unconsciously confident.”
  4. “People say, ‘If I shoot everything, I’ll get more work.’ That’s a mistake. You need to specialize from the very start.”
  5. “Your brand is you and what you shoot. Your professionalism is your business card. How you make your clients feel is your trademark.”
  6. “If you don’t have a clear vision of what you’re going to do, what you’re going to shoot, and how you’re going to shoot it, then you don’t know what your market is. If you don’t know what your market is, you don’t know who your clients are. If you don’t know who your clients are, you’re shooting in the dark.”
  7. “One of the hardest things: When you start a business, you don’t anticipate the fact that you lie, and the one person you lie to most is yourself. You’ve got to get that under control and be honest with yourself.”
  8. “If you’re losing customers based on price, you’re on the freeway with everybody else doing the same thing in a whirlpool charging less and less. That’s not going to end up good. If your customer is going to base purely on price, that’s the wrong customer.”
  9. “You will never experience success and never truly understand success until you’ve been through failure. Failure is education. It shows you not just how to do something, it shows you what doesn’t work. Plan to succeed but expect to fail. I’ve built failure into my business schedule.”
  10. “Don’t be the next me. Be the first you.

RELATED: Learn more about Tim Wallace's career journey

Eric Minton is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C.