If I Can Do It, Anybody Can... | Headshot Crew
Tony Taafe's picture
Mentor

If I Can Do It, Anybody Can...

I was clearing out some stuff from my house yesterday and found this. It’s the first check I was ever paid with for a headshot session. $99, and that was on location! At the time I had just made the decision to fully commit to headshot photography. I’d been in the crew a few months and was in the background hoping I’d magically become an associate and successful headshot photographer without ever actually having to get involved and have my work critiqued by anybody on here, especially Peter. But around this time I’d made the commitment to change that and get involved.
The check is a little over 2 years old. In the first few months of those two years, I’d been critiqued, built up, and felt down, more times than I can remember. I swear every single person who goes through this process has that moment where they think “what have I got to do to
Impress this man?” As Peter’s high standards make you feel like maybe you just haven’t got it in you. But if you can brush yourself off and push through, it’s an invaluable learning curve. And I’m eternally grateful to him for demanding the best from us.
I made associate late 2017, and mentor at Mania early 2018, and also opened my own studio mid 2017. I have the best job in the world, but we all know the life of a freelancer/self employed can be tough. The past two years, certainly the past year, has not been without its sacrifices while trying to build my business. But I wouldn’t change anything. That first $99 check 2 years ago was the first step on the road to me taking in $200k in 2018. That’s in headshot photography alone. It felt good, and I immediately set another goal for 2019. I went back and forth on whether I was going to write this post, because initially it was a post about money, and although the intention is to let people know this can be done by anybody, (read the post title) I didn’t want to be that guy talking about money. But as I write it, I keep wanting to talk about the community we have here. There’s absolutely no doubt that I wouldn’t be a headshot photographer if it wasn’t for this community. I’ve made a lot of friends on here the past couple of years, and it’s no exaggeration to say that there is people in the crew that are like family to me. Getting paid is great, developing as photographers is great. But none of that happens for any of us without the community that has been created in here. If you’re concerned that there isn’t money to be made in shooting headshots, get involved, get your ass kicked in Headshot Of The Week, help anybody you think you can help, contact me if you think I can help you, but don’t give up until you’ve done everything you can do to make this work. If it’s something you really and truly want to make happen, there’s almost always a way. If I can do it, anybody can.

42 Comments

Alaina Lutkitz's picture
Mentor

The power of hard work & the Crew... thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration!

Richard Barron's picture
Protégé

As it says in “The Winners Image” You have to have the fantasy and commit to making it happen. Great inspirational post thanks.

Carolin Thiersch's picture
Protégé

Hey Tony, thanks for sharing - the ups and downs! I am glad it worked out so well for you! And I can fully agree with you! The crew is not only about photography - it is about the people that are part of it!!!

Jon Meadows's picture
Associate

Thanks, Anthony. ;)

There are a lot of parallels between your and my story and the timeline. My first headshot was $100 too, on location. The need to be critiqued and use that constructively is huge!

John Yeatman Jr's picture
Protégé

Great stuff Tony! Needed to hear that... Cheers!

Mathieu Deslandes's picture
Associate

Awesome story about what goals and staying power can achieve. Very inspiring Tony, thanks.

Peter Hurley's picture
The Man

You just popped out of the woodwork at that LA intensive showing up with some strobe/led concocted setup that I didn’t quite understand. Took the notes and the hammering and getting your work on track with some one little tweaks was the easy part. You put your nose to the grindstone to get those people in front of your lens after moving to a brand new town. I’m so impressed with what you’ve built and proud to have you as a mentor on this crew. Can’t wait to have your HSC Studio Series episode come out!

Tony Taafe's picture
Mentor

Loving every minute of it mate!

Lisa Marie Pane's picture
Associate

It's amazing to hear about your journey! Thank you for providing such an inspiring story!

Andy Luten's picture
Protégé

Fantastic work Tony, thanks for sharing it all with us.

Jose Garcia's picture
Protégé

Thanks for sharing Tony! True testament that hard work and challenging yourself pays off! Very inspiring to read as I start on my headshot journey

Amy E Osborne's picture
Associate

Love love love this.

Doug Sturgeon's picture
Protégé

Thanks for sharing your story Tony, very inspirational!

Eric Campbell's picture

Thanks for this Tony! This is exactly what I needed

Ryan Parker's picture
Mentor

You're a beast and a role model.

Stéphane Audran's picture
Associate

Thank you so much Tony for this testimonial .

It's maybe even harder in Europe where headshot is not a standard at the moment, but I can see many fellows photographers near France who have made headshot their main photography income, so why couldn't I ? It's my goal for this year, and I have no excuse now I'm associate ;-)
I'm working on my new website, then I'll contact the professionals in my area that might need headshots.
I pay each month for my studio place, It's time to bring people in !

Dietmar Hendricks's picture
Associate

Stéphane, let's work on it to make it a much sought-after standard here in Europe as well! :-) All the best

Dawn Kirkpatrick's picture
Protégé

Thanks for posting this, Tony!

Patrick Infante's picture
Protégé

It's these types of posts, Tony, that keep all of us pushing for success even when we do get beat up and come back swingin'! I, like you, believe that staying the course when you believe in something, and knowing that others have done it, takes 'some' of the scariness out of it - which can certainly stifle one's journey. Thanks for sharing.

Zack Allen's picture
Protégé

Super Inspiring! Thanks for sharing Tony!

Terry McCranie's picture
Associate

After a very slow Q4, I got into a real funk over my business. Made me seriously reconsider staying focused on the headshot game. Stories like yours are an inspiration. I pushed through it and so far this year I have seen a pretty big uptake in bookings. Seeing success of people like you and Tommy(whos success has exploded since I met him) makes me understand that I just need to dig in, push through the slow difficult times and establish my name as a leader in my market. You are an inspiration and definitely someone that I try and emulate when it comes to building a successful business centered around headshots and personal branding.

Kim Dalton's picture
Associate

That's incredible, Tony! If that doesn't light a fire under someone, nothing will.

Bradley Lau's picture
Protégé

200K-Awesome! Congrats.

Aida Jones's picture
Protégé

Thank you for sharing.

Charlie Abrahams's picture
Protégé

Love this T! THANK YOU for posting! Seriously man!

Art M Altman's picture
Protégé

Congratulations on your success and thank you for letting us know the scale of your success! Knowing that this is possible makes the goal real.

Matthew Hamilton's picture
Protégé

Amazing post, Anthony ;)

Brenda Boyd's picture
Protégé

Now this story is encouraging. Thank you for being brave to post.

Alynn Parde's picture
Protégé

Thanks for posting this, Tony! I needed to read it—and I think you can help me since you're in the neighborhood. I could use a local mentor. Congrats on making it happen!

Irene Bello's picture
Protégé

Just reading this and so inspiring. One of my struggles is doubt. It's one of my biggest problems that I need to overcome. Reading stuff like this helps so much. It's one of the reasons why i love the Crew. It's not just about headshots.....it's a community.

Dietmar Hendricks's picture
Associate

Great post Tony and I fully agree wirth what you say about the crew and the learning curve that is necessary to get up to Peters standard. Very inspirational to hear how others have grown and made it a success!!!

Pete Coco's picture
Protégé

Awesome story Tony! This Crew is amazing and I am so thankful to be a part of it.

John Glover's picture
Mentor

Incredible story. So awesome, man!

Dana walsh's picture
Protégé

Very cool stuff, thank you for sharing.

Walter Larsen's picture
Protégé

Incredible post. Tony, you have been a huge supporter of mine and a true inspiration. Since I'm local to Tony, I have reached out on several occasions and we've met for coffee or at his studio. I was never treated as a competitor or a burden. "what can I do to help?" he'd ask. I would share my work and he would beat me to death, lift me up, and send me on my way. I can't thank Tony, Peter, and the crew enough for the support from this team. I keep pushing and trying. This month one job was three headshots for $1200 and THEN they purchased $1000 worth of acrylics for the office and more promised work. I'm not trying to boast or brag, just proud. Coming from my first headshot on the HSC where Peter said on a live Tuesday "what the hell is that?" to where I am today is from Posts like this one. Thank you!

Emily McClure's picture
Protégé

And this is why we are fans of you...humble and hard working! Thanks for the encouragement!!

Jerry Camarillo's picture
Associate

Wow ! Standing "O" from me. thank you

Noel Marcantel's picture
Protégé

It's my first night in the crew and this was exactly what I needed to read. Thanks so much, Tony!

Gary Newlen's picture
Protégé

Thanks for the inspiration, Tony! I can totally relate to nearly everything you said as it relates to this point in my headshot journey, including taking the tough honest critiques. However, I just had my first paid headshot session last week. So you're sayin' I got a chance? Awesome, Tony, just awesome!

Todd Langille's picture
Protégé

Seems no one wants to talk about the money or we think it sounds like we’re bragging. But I think it’s inspiring. Good work. The timing on this is excellent. Thank you!

Josh Line's picture
Associate

So awesome Tony. You're a powerhouse dude! It may not be about the money but it's a way of measuring how healthy your business is. Thank you for always sharing and helping.

Tony Taafe's picture
Mentor

Thanks for the kind comments, guys. Non of this happens without the crew and everybody in here. Looking forward to seeing us all kick ass in 2019