Do you even know who you are talking to? I am the most powerful person in the industry. I will do anything to destroy your career and make sure you never get a job after what you did.
OK. I got you with that, didn’t I? It sounds scary, and I know it. But relax, I’m not going to destroy your career. Instead, I’ll talk about situations where you’ll hear that said, and what you should do when someone tells you they’re absolutely going to ruin you as a creative. Sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it’s a baseless claim that you can ignore.
The first time I heard this was said to me, I was very scared. You will be too, so accept it and keep reading this article. There is nothing wrong with being afraid of someone who said they would stop you from working.
To your relief, no one can ruin your career. But some people can do certain things to slow you down or prevent you from getting work from your old clients. This includes agents, especially agents. You will need to have a set of skills that will allow you and you to get work despite all the circumstances. There are two types of people who will say they will destroy your career: people who have the power to affect it and people who have absolutely no power.
When they have no power to affect your career in any way
Without going into too much detail about my career as a photographer, I’ve heard the phrase “I’m going to destroy your career and your reputation” from people who frankly don’t have the power to do so. Sometimes it will be crew members or just individuals who think too much of themselves. The most they can do is call in your crew and throw shade at you. If you know the crew, which I suggest you do, you’ll hear about it from them. 99% of the time, someone who doesn’t have the power to do anything for your career (good or bad), will do nothing but make stupid assertions.
To attract so many people to this group, you have to personally talk to the crew, customers, etc. Never let anyone speak for you. No matter how good they are, no one should ever speak for you without you knowing. Meet the client, go for a coffee, and never let anyone represent you without your authority over that representation. This applies to agents who say they will “handle the communication”. What will happen is that your network will depend on one person. It’s not sure.
When they have the power to affect your career
So if you’ve made the mistake of letting someone represent you to the point that you can pass off their lies as your claims, listen to them. I was also there.
This person has the real power to negatively affect your career. And, if they’re dumb enough to do it, they will. If they’re already stopping you from getting work, you need to understand that they won’t stop. Completely blocking that person from seeing what you’re doing or even where you are is the best way to go. You should not call the same person you think they called and explain the situation to them. Let it be for now. Read on to find out what you need to do.
What should you do?
Immediately when it happens, nothing. Let it go and focus on working with the people who know you as a person and trust you. Over time, here are some steps to follow:
Find new markets
There are many clients who like your work. Losing one for any reason, even something as stupid as a misrepresentation, doesn’t mean you don’t have any more customers in the future. If you’re based in Europe, it’s as simple as looking at the cities and countries around you. I have customer bases in Germany, Austria and Hungary. These three clienteles do not mix on a personal level (especially). Even if there is a storm in one of these ports, I have two others to rely on. The beauty of being a photographer is that you can break into a new market and grow there quickly if you’re good at it. So don’t be afraid to write marketing emails to new people in new markets. The more diverse your customer base, the better.
Find different income streams
Not only does this apply to situations where someone is trying to ruin your career (remember, they can’t), but it’s generally good crisis management and avoidance technique. Because the creative industry is very unstable, you should have income from other activities. It can be a part-time job, teaching, writing, YouTube, or anything else you can do. A good idea is to rent a property if you have it. Ask yourself: if photography disappeared tomorrow, how much can I continue without selling off my assets? If the answer is anything other than “months, with strict overhead cuts,” you should seriously consider adding other revenue streams. A good plan would be to add as many things as possible and make them about 30% of what you do per year. This is useful for quiet months, as well as times when someone is trying to ruin your career.
The problem of destroying someone’s career (why it makes them stupid)
The problem is that either way, when someone tries to destroy your career, they’re making it worse for themselves. Imagine you receive a call from someone and you hear “don’t work with this person”. What may follow is a 40 minute walk on their gravity. This ride will likely be full of twisted quotes, inaccuracies, and outright lies. If anyone has the time to do this, they’re probably known to be a person who twists quotes, says inaccurate information, and outright lies. You can probably think of a few people like that too.
All of this only ruins that person’s reputation and puts them in a bad light. No one wants to be part of a dramatic scandal, especially a client or an agency. All they care about is getting pictures. So far, no client I know was interested in gossip. Someone who talks makes the situation worse by destroying trust. Don’t gossip, children.
So here is. No one can ever destroy your career. Sure, they can hurt him, but nothing beyond that. If anything, you are your worst enemy. A good mantra to follow is that you create everything that happens to you. So please create your own career and stop complaining that someone is trying to destroy it. They can not.