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A few weeks ago I wrote 15 Tips About Turning Pro. I thought it would be a good time to expand on some of those tips and add a few more. Today’s article is the third in that series. Hope you find these new suggestions useful. If you missed the previous two articles in the series, you can read them here: Portfolio and Persistence and People Skills and Generosity.
Remember the day you fell in love with photography, that ‘aha moment’ when you knew this was going to be a life-long passion? Did you wonder if it was possible to turn that passion for photography into a full time job? Well, if you are good enough, experienced enough and have a solid portfolio to present to prospective clients, that dream can come true. There are risks, however, such as the obvious ones of leaving a secure 9 to 5 job to launch into the unknown career of freelance photography, but I want you to be aware of another consideration when making the jump to becoming pro, the one of possibly losing that passion for the craft once it becomes your every-day job. Sooner or later, it could happen.
It happened to me and to many other photographers I know. Once your fun hobby becomes your job, dealing with all those daily, nitty-gritty tasks such as marketing and accounting can become chores that most creative people don’t enjoy. You may feel your initial vision is now compromised to meet the needs of your clients. In a way, it is. You are shooting what they want, when they want it and even how they want it. After all, that’s why they hired you! You’ll need to use your creativity to comply with their demands, all with a smile. I nearly lost that passion a few years ago until I realized the problem. I was shooting for clients during the week and leaving my camera in the closet on the weekend. I knew I couldn’t be choosy about the jobs I took and was accepting work I didn’t particularly enjoy. Plus I was also spending a lot of time processing my clients’ images and not mine. So, when the weekend rolled around, I wasn’t shooting for fun anymore. The good part of accepting all those jobs during the early years is that I eventually discovered what I liked and disliked. It’s all part of the process.
What changed and how did my passion for photography become stronger than ever?
I challenged myself to shoot self assignments on a regular basis. I made a priority to make the time for this, no matter what. This allowed me to freely develop and express my vision without worrying about anybody else’s. I got out of my comfort zone and shot unfamiliar genres. I learned so much this way, and soon became better prepared for the unexpected during commercial shoots. The result was almost immediate – I fell in love with being a story teller all over again! My renewed passion and confidence gave me the edge I needed to better sell myself as a pro photographer, to acquire new clients with whom I could specialize in genres that I truly enjoy to shoot. And my business grew because a more satisfied photographer makes for more satisfied clients!
Personal assignments can vary, so you decide what works best given your schedule. A few ideas would be regular photo walks with a predetermined theme, a one-day photojournalistic assignment, or a bigger 365-day or 52-week project. If you are currently a pro photographer and experiencing the same loss of passion because photography has become just another job, I urge you to give yourself some personal projects to find your muse again. It’s there – just buried! If you are about to make the jump to turn pro, remember to keep self-assignments part of your routine to keep your passion fresh and alive. A bientôt!