Art can be an enjoyable pastime and a creative outlet that many business leaders can learn from. Even though creative art degrees, such as photography, may seem like they don’t prepare students for the realities of modern business, there are many valuable lessons that leaders can implement on a daily basis. In collaboration with Canon, we’ve gathered insights from four professional photographers who specialise in different areas of photography – family, fashion, food and travel. Read on to learn how photography professionals approach their business function, and how this can make you a betterleader.

  • It’s all business

In order to get those killer shots, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Travel photographer, Richard Bernabe attests to this, “the vast majority of my time is spent writing, planning, doing promotions, and marketing. It’s a business.”

This is not too dissimilar to most business leaders, in particular the work that HR leaders have to face, taking on regular planning for the future of the workplace and its employees. Whether you are searching for exciting opportunities to attract and retain top talent or developing a fantastic work culture within the company, there are a lot of things to factor in. And, none of this happens overnight; blood, sweat and tears go into achieving business goals.

  • Build up your own style

As the go-to person for all company and employee situations, HR professionalsmust develop their own unique yet impartialway of dealing with anything that may be thrown their way. There will, of course, be factors like personality clashes, background differences of those you work with and company values that you’ll have to consider to reach success. But once you find a method that works, your company and culture will benefit no end.

Fashion photographer, Saurabh Dua agrees that by building, “a unique style of your own, eventually, you’ll have a strong identity that people will recognise instantly as your own.

  • Communication

Working with people can be incredibly rewarding but also hard to navigate at times, so developing strong communication skills is key for a photographer to get the perfect photo. Hannah Harding, a family photographer, couldn’t agree more. “Friendliness and being able to communicate is key. You could be an incredible photographer, but if they don’t warm to you, then it’ll be a struggle to get them to participate.”

Teamwork makes the dream work, but communication channels need to be open and clear to get the best results. This clarity solidifies relationships and helps people feel respected, which in turn can make for a more enthusiastic employee or willing model.

  • Understanding your equipment

In photography, it is important to turn your client’s vision into reality, which means that you’ll need to learn everything you can about the equipment you work with in order to create the best work. Fashion photographer, Sid Ali, concurs, “you need to understand the limitations of your equipment, you need to be able to tell a story with your photo and you need to be able to set the mood with your lighting.” Understanding this will help work around any pitfalls and still create a creative piece of work.

In the world of HR, the company you work for is your client and the employees areyour equipment, so gaining a deep knowledge of both will put you in good stead for managing the idiosyncrasies that each department and person have and to align them with the company values.

  • Be approachable

People gravitate towards those who are friendly and positive, which can help you in getting the money shot. Family photographer, Harding states, “get down to their level. It’s a great way to get a fantastic shot and it makes them feel less intimidated, rather than towering over them making demands.” Being approachable means people are more likely to open up to you and you’ll be able to understand their needs and abilities more. This way you can accurately respond to them in a more tailored way, assigning them an outcome, solution or advice that is suitable for their need.

  • Resilience

Opinions. Everyone’s got them and they can differ from one person to another. As photography is an artform, photographers can face subjective criticism all day long so developing a thick skin is important in the creative world. Dua agrees: “You need to learn from your mistakes as well as critically analyse your work on a regular basis.

The same can be said for the HR industry. It’s natural for people to have a difference of opinion but being a professional mediator can be hard work. Being able to bounce back from issues that arise in the workplace and learn from them can only benefit you as a leader and your company too.

It turns out that photography and HR straddle very similar lines. It takes a lot to be a great photographer and there is a great deal that leaders can learn from them to improve efficiency in the workplace and create a great work culture.