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Taking photos is easy, but being a photographer is an entirely different proposition. Whether photography is a hobby or a full time profession, there comes a time in every photographer’s journey where you encounter a few pitfalls that no one tells you about when you are starting out. Here are five photography pitfalls to look out for, and overcome on your journey.
Becoming a professional photographer is surely one of the highlights of any photographer’s journey. Getting paid to do what you love is what we all dream about. But whatever genre of photography you specialize in, there will inevitably come a time when you will view it as a job. You understand what photos your editor likes and will use, you understand what type of photos sell well, and you begin to become like a machine in producing these types of photos.
One of the great things about photography is that it allows you to be creative, so when you do become a machine your photos will start to all look very similar. It’s no surprise that you may, like many photographers, start to lose your passion for something that you used to love. To overcome this, set yourself some personal projects, doing something you enjoy with no pressure about making images that will sell. This is all about you exploring and experimenting with your photography, to reignite your passion. Or you could even try a completely different genre of photography, because you never know, you may find a new passion.
Remember when you first started photography? What an exciting time it was, suddenly seeing the world differently, and being able to capture it beautifully. You would get up early in the morning; head out for hours in search of that one photo that you could be proud of, but sometimes, you may lose that spark. Whether it’s everyday life getting in the way, or just the fact that your interests have moved on, there comes a time for most photographers that they lose the spark they had when they started photography.
Nevertheless, you can get the spark back. After all, there was something about photography that pulled you in, and you need to go back to discover what that was. Often as a photographer, and as you become more advanced, you forget what it was that you loved at the beginning, so one of the ways to get your spark back is going back to doing what you enjoyed in the first place. If your passion was landscape photography, but you find that you are photographing weddings, go back to landscapes for a while. Not only will it get your spark back but it will also re-energize you for what you are doing now.
Like any job, sometimes you have days where you just don’t have the energy to get out there, and really do everything you can to capture the photo that will do a scene justice. It’s okay to have days like, that and sometimes you do need to just take the day off. But there’s a difference between having an off day, and becoming lazy. Great photographs require great effort, and if you are lazy, then it is usually reflected in your work.
For example, pulling up to a viewpoint in the car, taking the photo and leaving, when you know that there’s actually a better viewpoint which requires effort to get to, or settling for your first photo at a location just because you are tired and don’t want to wait around, when usually you would wait all day to capture the perfect photo. These are signs that you are getting lazy about your work. So ask yourself, what’s changed?
It could be that you just need a break from photography, and the pressure that comes with it. This doesn’t have to be a long time, sometimes just a few days is enough to re-energize, and re-focus you to go again.
Whether photography is your profession at the moment, or you want it to become so, there will be a time when money becomes an issue. This is a hugely competitive industry, with falling prices and fees for photographers. If you are a freelance photographer, not only do have to fund the photographic equipment you need, but also the marketing and promotion of your business. Often this can lead to a situation where you need money to market and promote your work so that you can get business, to in turn, then market and promote your work more. Without getting one, the other becomes harder.
The most important thing is to ensure that you are fully aware of the business side of things. Like any business, you need to make sure you always have a long term strategy, and to also make the most of every dollar you spend on your business. You should have a clear vision of how to grow your business, and how to cope at times when things do get quieter.
Any photographer will tell you that they are usually inseparable from their camera. It almost becomes an extension of your body, which in some ways is great, as you are always ready to capture the moments that present themselves. There’s nothing worse than missing a great picture because you don’t have your camera with you. But this also means that you often end up not fully enjoying, or experiencing something or somewhere, because your mind is always working and looking for photo opportunities.
As a travel photographer, I discovered a long time ago that family holidays and photography don’t really work together. Separating the two means I can enjoy my holiday, while being able to fully focus on work when I’m away by myself. So if you find yourself attached to your camera, set aside some days to simply leave it at home, and accept that you may miss out on a picture, but in the long run it will keep you fresh and able to focus when you do have your camera with you.
There’s no doubt that photography is an exciting hobby or profession to get into, but after a while, like anything else that you may follow, you need to find ways to motivate and inspire yourself. Being able to spot some of the negative traits is a good way to continue to enjoy what you do, while also continuing to produce great work.
Can you think of any other photography pitfalls that you have come across? Please share your experiences below.