It takes serious guts to follow your dreams. If you didn’t know from a super young age what you wanted to be when you grew up, chances are you tried a few different occupations on for size by the time you really figured out what you wanted to do with your life. It’s all too common that kids go off to college or university because that was the “next step”, but really they were just killing time trying to be productive while secretly trying to ‘figure it out’. That was me. I perused 2 different programs before realizing that my true calling was in photography. So in a big way, I started my own program. The program most self-taught photographers start…the program is called: FOLLOW YOUR BIG SCARY DREAMS.
Let us be clear that this “program” we speak of is not for the hobby photographer. This real-life school is bigger than just taking photos. It’s the all-encompassing balance of art and business….It is a lot of trial and error to learn how to use this piece of equipment as an extension of your creative self. If you want to start living your life as photographer and entrepreneur, it takes an insane amount of courage and determination, but through this study…
A PHOTOGRAPHER’S MANIFESTO begins to take shape.
ITS ALL IN THE EYES.
They’re in your head for a reason. They say that your eyes are the window to the soul. How you perceive the world, what your experience is, gives form to your personality, and your character. And because there are no two people with the same experiences or perceptions, all photographers are one-of-a-kind. A photographer’s eyes are their biggest assets. Without vision, a photo has no focal point; no inspiration. It’s the photographer’s eyes that lock down the target; the experience they want the world to see.
DEVELOP YOUR STYLE.
Your style, no matter what, will appeal to someone out there, but it’s important that you are able adapt and make the little adjustments necessary to meet your clients’ needs, especially if that is where your next paycheck is coming from. You’ll develop a consistent style through your workflow in post-production. You may even become known for a certain style and that may be great for you! Personally, we try to as versatile as possible. We’d like to think that a good photographer can shoot anything, but the truth is, a good photographer knows what he or she is good at, and pursues it.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE.
Other photographers! Yes! People who share your love and passion for camera gear and epic photos. Photographers everywhere are rarely disconnected from the larger community. Not only does it provide you with a constant influx of inspiration and encourages new talent, but it also provides a support system, where you can reach out and ask a question or share information. At the very least, you can do a little networking with other great artists. You never know who you’ll meet and what projects may come of it.
DON’T SECOND GUESS YOURSELF.
There are too many photographers out there to be worrying about where you stand in the master list of brilliant artists. It’s important to understand the value that you offer. After all, no one can do YOU like YOU can. There’s enough business to go around for everyone, and you will attract the clients that are right for you, as long as you stay true to your authentic self.
Mistakes are the easiest and fastest ways to learn and get good at something FAST. Especially when you’re under pressure. If you’re lucky enough to make a mistake that is easily fixed, your brain absorbs this lesson to be sure that you implement the necessary adjustments so that it doesn’t happen again, or you develop a process that eliminates the problem entirely. Failure is necessary for success.
LET YOUR WORK SPEAK FOR ITSELF.
You’re always putting your best work out there, right? Then let your best efforts be enough. When people see your work, they’ll either love it or hate it, and both are really okay. There’s this famous quote that goes something along the lines of, “What other people think of me, is none of my business.” Meditate on this one, because it’s kinda true. You don’t want to have to convince clients to hire you, do you? There’s a time and a place to use your people skills to ‘seal the deal’, but if they’re not a fan of your work, there won’t be much more you can say or do for them. Best to let these ones go.
BE YOUR BIGGEST FAN.
Truth be told, its a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if you’re not telling the world that you’ve got something great to offer, no one is going to do it for you! It’s a great thing to share your work on social media, or share when you’ve reached a milestone or when your work has been published somewhere. You never know who’s following you or where your next lead is coming from, so showing that you are actively working on your craft is a smart thing to do. Of course, your delivery does matter, and modesty is usually the best policy.
This one is easier said than done. It is super important to keep learning. Take workshops, tutorials, courses that keep you current with trends in the industry. WORK ON YOUR CRAFT. They say it takes 10,000 hours to be a master at something, so depending on how many hours you put in a day or week, this field of photography is a work in progress. Travel is another way we personally stay inspired. Getting out in the world; having new experiences; seeing different landscapes; meeting different people; gaining perspective.
FIND THE BALANCE
As amazing as it would be to quit your job and play with a camera all day, the truth is that photography (as a business) is a lot of work. Taking photos is the fun part. But what about post production, balancing the books, managing clients, updating equipment, meeting deadlines, and prepping your taxes? The moment you decide to make this your main source of income is the day you learn really quickly to manage your time and your money. Decide if you need a bookkeeper because you don’t want months of receipts piling on on you! Ahh…the joys of entrepreneurship. It comes with just as many challenges as it does rewards. Finding the balance between work and play can be tricky as well. It’s easy to work overtime when you work from home…so don’t forget to do the things that make you happy!