Scott Robert Lim’s Tips on Breaking into Photography Education

If you’re successful in your photo business, you might like to spice up your career by getting into photography education. Scott Robert Lim, who just taught at TPM and will be at WPPI this March, went through just this experience. In the most recent episode of The Portrait System Podcast, host Nikki Closer asked him to reveal how he did it, and he shared some invaluable advice for others who would like to make the same journey.

When Lim shot his first wedding in 2000, he was around 38 and had been looking for a career to really get into. When he discovered wedding photography, he was hooked. For the next five years, he went in full-time, shooting 20 – 40 weddings a year, and then felt called to teach. Lim had created a photography education blog in 2003 and was amazed that it had readers from around the world. He branched into speaking and teaching in person as well as online, and eventually, he felt ready to switch to teaching full-time. Now, Lim teaches full-time, and still shoots four to six weddings a year because he thinks it’s good to stay active in the thing that you’re teaching.

Becoming a sought after educator doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen without laying a good foundation and putting in the work to get there. Here are Scott Robert Lim’s tips on how to do it.

  • Establish yourself first. Before you teach, you need to be accomplished in your career and have a following. Making half $1 million is a good marker that you’ve made it.
  • Teach, teach, teach. You can apply every year to teach at the major conventions, and you should, but also start small with associations, stores, and online. Do it all. Develop your own online workshops based on questions people regularly ask you and refer people to those workshops. Become so good at teaching that when you get a big break to be on a big stage, you are fully prepared for it.
  • Work with brands. Become an ambassador. Lim had the good fortune to become a Sony ambassador, but before he did that, he was active in developing partnerships with other brands in the business. All these companies need images to use in their marketing. Offer yours. Get your name and images out there.
  • Network. Lim never misses a major conference. The trade show floor is an excellent way to create partnerships with all those brands. People can easily miss emails, but they love making connections face to face.
  • Get a mentor. Working with someone who has done what you want to do can save you time and money. You get to learn from their experience, avoiding the mistakes they made and learning best business practices. They also have connections and can open doors for you.
  • Keep teaching. Lim turns his shooting gigs into teaching opportunities, too. He takes one or two paying photographers with him on his shoots, so they can learn by observing and shooting alongside him.

If you feel passionate about teaching, you can build a career in the field the same way you built your business, one step at a time. Lim says, “I just can’t believe how far you can go just putting one foot in front of the other and staying with it. You’ll be amazed at how far you know you can go with your photography and the industry.”

© The Portrait System

To learn more about Lim, his photography, and the education he provides, visit his LinkedIn page.

The Portrait System Podcasthelps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closer, the podcast is powered by The Portrait Systema comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio. If you’d like to be a guest on The Portrait System Podcast, send them a voice message.

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