Jun 12, 2023

How Barista Skills Can Make You a Better Photographer - Photo Authentic Podcast #5

1 min read

Show Notes

Introduction: Lincoln reflects on their time as a barista at Higher Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and how it influenced their journey into the world of photography.

Lessons from the Coffee Shop: Lincoln shares their experiences working as a barista and the valuable skills they learned along the way, including attention to detail, customer service, creativity, tidiness, time management, and working in a team.

Applying Barista Skills to Photography: Drawing intriguing parallels, the host delves into how these barista skills directly translate to the field of photography. Lincoln discusses the importance of consistency in preparation and execution, thinking creatively beyond the basics, maintaining a clean and organized workspace, delivering exceptional customer service, managing time effectively, and leading a collaborative team.

Punctuality and Leadership: Lincoln emphasizes the significance of being punctual and reliable, both in starting shoots on time and as a reflection of professionalism. He also explores the role of a photographer as a team leader, responsible for orchestrating a successful photoshoot and motivating team members to achieve the desired results.

Personal Reflections: Lincoln shares his personal connection to the coffee shop environment, its sense of flow and accomplishment, and how those elements drove their transition into photography.

Key Takeaways: The episode concludes with a recap of the main points, highlighting the six key skills that can help aspiring photographers thrive: attention to detail, creativity, customer service, tidiness, time management, and teamwork.

Call to Action: Lincoln encourages listeners to observe their surroundings in coffee shops, recognizing the systems and customer-centric approaches, and consider how those lessons can be applied to their photography business. Lincoln recommends Photo Authentic as a resource for photographers seeking guidance.

Wrapping Up: Lincoln expresses gratitude for the support of the audience, encourages leaving reviews, sharing the episode with friends, and reiterates their commitment to helping photographers succeed.

Outro: The episode concludes with a warm farewell and a reminder to keep shooting and embracing the shared spirit of the coffee shop and photography worlds.


Do the things more than just taking pictures, more than just delivering the work. More than just sending an invoice. You wanna be personable and friendly and treat your clients like you would treat customers at a coffee shop.

Welcome to the Photo Authentic podcast. I'm your host, Lincoln Barbour, and this podcast is dedicated to helping emerging photographers like you become successful and have a long lasting career.

Welcome to episode five. I was getting coffee the other day and I was remembering back to when I had worked as a barista at a coffee shop called Higher Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It was such a cool experience. I started working there when I was 17 and worked there for like four years leading all the way up into my early web design and then later photography career. When I worked at Higher Grounds, I really learned how to be not only a good barista, but how to be a good customer service person.

And a lot of the things that I learned working as a barista, I've actually carried into my photography business now, and in this episode I'm gonna of share some of the commonalities between how being a good barista can make you a good photographer.

So being a good photographer, it's very much like being a good barista. You have attention to detail, there's some creativity. There's customer service, tidiness, time management, working with the team, you know, all these things, all these skills that you learn working in a coffee shop I've used in my photography business. So I'm gonna go deep dive into each of these similarities and talk about how they relate to one another.

When you're working as a barista, you have to have a lot of attention to detail. You have to make sure that you're putting the right amount of measurements and syrups into the coffee drinks, and you have to be making sure you're doing orders in the right way and you're making the milk not too hot.

You know, there's all these like sort of steps that go into making like a really good cup of coffee. And, being a photographer, it's very much about the same thing. It's about being really consistent in your preparation and execution. You know, so when you're on set that, that people who hire you can know that they're gonna get the same person that they saw a portfolio of.

So the consistency that comes from being really attentive to like the details into the minutiae of being a photographer, those things that you get, by working in a coffee shop can also translate into working in the field of photography. Also being a barista involves a lot of creativity. You know, a lot of times you're, you know, making drinks on the fly and you're kind of coming up with new flavor combinations. And this creative process is much like learning the basics of a lighting technique, but then using it to do something different, to break the rules, to make something that's more custom tailored to somebody's needs. You know, I can think of many times when, I've worked with a client who had a vision for a certain look in their photos, and I was able to execute that for them.

So the creativity that comes from being able to think outside the box, that when you're making coffee can be easily applied to, when you're taking pictures.

Working in a coffee shop you have to be clean. You know, you ever been into a coffee shop or any restaurant for that matter, and it's just a mess.

Like, it's just like dirty counters and rags on the floor and mop bucket in the corner. And, you know, tables aren't clean. Like, it just feels gross. Like you don't like going there. You know, I, I never really like going there When I worked at Higher Grounds, we were really, really tidy. Not only were we clean during the shift, but we had a big cleanup at the end of the shift, and so that just kind of awareness of your space and your surroundings and how it feels to be in there is really important on set. You know, if you bring in your lights and you just throw cords everywhere and water bottles are half empty on the floor and it just kind of starts to pile up and it makes people feel un uncomfortable. It's like they're gonna worry, they're gonna trip on something and they're, they're seas just is just like the slack of consideration for your stuff. And if you're not considered with your stuff, like how are you gonna considerate about their needs and the stuff they're paying you to do. So tidiness is really important in being a good barista, and it's also important being a good photographer.

Customer service. This is an obvious one. When you have good customer service, you have customers that come back. And the same is true with being a photographer. If you go the extra mile for your clients, if you treat them like you would treat a friend, you're gonna have a much longer and better career. You're gonna have repeat clients.

For example, I used to know the customers that came every day to our shop. I would know their drinks. So I would see them walking up and I would already start making their drink for them. So that they didn't have to wait in line or they didn't have to wait as long.

You know, it's the same thing when you have your repeat clients, you want to remember things about them. You wanna remember their kids' names, you wanna remember where they went on vacation. You wanna remember their birthdays. Do the things more than just taking pictures, more than just delivering the work. More than just sending an invoice. You wanna be personable and friendly and treat your clients like you would treat customers at a coffee shop.

Working at a coffee shop, especially when it was busy and it's hectic and you know, got like a line of 20 people and you're making 30 coffees and it's just really, really, really busy. You have to worry about your time management.

You have to like do things in a certain order so that things happen as fast as possible and you don't want to waste time being distracted. If you have a line of 20 people, you're not gonna be looking at your phone checking on Instagram.

It's the same thing when you're on set. You know, if you're on a shoot and you've got a shot list and you've got a timeline and you're trying to get through A, B, C, D shots before lunch, like you don't want to be messing around looking at something that's not important to the shoot. So, having a sense of urgency and a sense of like, this is the schedule and we're gonna stick to it and we're gonna make it happen. And not only do you have to do that for yourself, but you gotta do that for your team. And sometimes even for the client. You know, I've been on sets where the client is distracted because their boss is calling them or they have a phone call to catch or a meeting or a Zoom call while they're supposed to be helping produce the shoot or be signing off on shots. And so you gotta have those talks with them. Be like, look, I need you at this certain time so that we can stay on schedule so that we can get the work done. We don't go into OT or we don't, you know, miss a day.

So time management, like making coffee and, you know, working in a coffee shop was also important.

One more thing about time management. Is being punctual to the shoot. So, if the shoot starts at nine, you want to get there at 8 55. Like you , if you're on time, you're late. It's kind of like the old saying in the industry. Sometimes shoots run long and that's sometimes it's outta your hands, but it's more important that you show up on time and if not early so that the shoot can start and get going in a punctual way. That'll go a long way for you and for the client's trust in you.

Being a good photographer, especially a commercial photographer, you're often working in a the team and you are the team leader. The photo shoots all come to you. So this is like being a manager at a coffee shop.

Like when you're the manager of a coffee shop, you wanna make sure that you have the beans, you've got milk, you've got coffee, you've got employees. They know what they're supposed to be doing. The cash register's working, there's money in the till. The trash is taken out regularly. The tables are getting clean. There's kind of all this management that goes on, and sometimes the manager doesn't even really do all that work.

They're actually just delegating tasks. So when you're the photographer, you're kind of like that lead director. You're the manager of the shoot, and you need to make sure that your assistants and stylists and the producer, and the client, and everybody's all kind of working nicely together and things are happening at the way they're supposed to be happening. The shot list is getting checked off and things aren't getting held up. And if there are problems, instead of just skirking away and hoping somebody else takes care of them, you're going in and making things happen. That's why you get paid more than anybody else on a photo shoot is because you are the one that's in charge and you're the one that tells people what to do, how to do it, and motivates people. And if you can motivate people in a nice way, all the better. So, working in a team, just like working in a coffee shop with other employees and, you know, you gotta be that person, that's the manager.

It's kind of a funny analogy for me, you know, cuz I love coffee and, I remember fondly my time at working at Higher Grounds and making coffee and getting there at 6:00 AM and working till three o'clock in the afternoon and just having it fly by and getting in that flow state. I think that's kind of why I've moved into photography is cause a lot of the same things that I loved about that job are in photography. You know, there's a start and an end. There's a project, there's a goal and you have customers that are usually invested with you as much as you are with them. And all those things are really great.

So, just to recap the main points of this episode, how being a good barista can make you a good photographer.

Number one, attention to detail.

Number two, creativity.

Number three, customer service.

Number four, tidiness.

Number five, time manage.

Number six, working with a team.

You do these six things and you will have a great career as a photographer.

If you need a refresher on how to do some of these things, maybe pick up a part-time shift at a Starbucks and really kind of pay attention to the systems.

You know, if you've been to a Starbucks lately. They have it nailed down. I've been to so many coffee shops where the coffee may be great and the place may be "cool." But the, the attitude of the people that work there sucks. And I don't go back. But I know if I go to a Starbucks, I know what to expect. Yeah. It may not be the best coffee, but it's dependable. You know what you're gonna get when you walk into a Starbucks and you usually get it with a smile. And that that dependability is so key into having repeat customers and making a good photography career out of every shoot that you do.

So next time you're in a coffee shop, take a moment, look around, see what you can learn, and, then see how you can apply that to your business.

If you need help with any of these things that I've discussed in your photography business, I'd love to help you. At Photo Authentic, my goal is to be a resource for photographers and teach you how to have a successful photography career. You can learn more about me and what I do by going to photoauthentic.com.

Check out our services page and sign up on our mailing list. That way when the community opens up and the coaching courses become available, you'll be the first one to know.

In addition, please leave a review and share this with a friend that might like to know more about commercial photography.

I'm trying to help everybody that I can and I can't do it without your support.

Thank you so much for listening and hope to see you around.

Happy shooting.

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