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The Importance of Personal Projects

Can turning pro kill your passion for photography? The importance of personal projects.

Living the dream of turning your passion into a profitable business sounds like the ideal job and, in many ways, it is the best job in the world. But it doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

Of course, the financial security of leaving a 9 to 5 job to be your own boss is the first drawback that would come to mind. Most pros did not quit their day jobs overnight to open a studio. For most it is a very gradual switch and they go from shooting as a weekend and evening gig to a full time job when the client base is large enough to support them. There is one aspect that most photographers do not consider when making the jump to becoming a pro (as in making a living from your photography), it is the simple  fact that at some point, sooner or later, the passion for the craft may diminish or even die.

It happened to me and to a lot of other photographers I know personally or read interviews about. The consequence of turning pro can be the feeling that photography has become a job, and therefore a chore. It took me a while to realize what the problem was and it was gradual. As I was spending each week shooting for work, photography was slowly becoming mundane and I started to leave my camera behind on my days off… Part of it was that I was not always shooting what I loved for work. As a new pro, you tend to want to take all the work you can get, whether you find satisfaction in it or not. Another problem was that, since I was spending a lot of time in the digital darkroom processing client images, I did not feel like processing personal work on my time off. As a result I wasn’t shooting for fun anymore.

What changed my outlook and made my passion for photography stronger than ever?

I challenged myself to work on special projects such as a 52 week project, I gave myself some self assignments on weekends such as doing more street photography, limiting myself to one lens, trying new techniques, challenging myself to experimenting in genres that were outside my comfort zone, etc.

Image: Shooting for a self assigned project about street performers

Shooting for a self assigned project about street performers

Image: Photo of the week #21 of my 52 week project

Photo of the week #21 of my 52 week project

The result was almost immediate. Through sharing my work with others on social media and the blog, my passion for photography was rekindled and my work got better. The results were even apparent in my professional work, I felt more confident and it showed. My renewed passion and confidence gave me the edge to sell myself as a photographer and gain new clients which in turn allowed me to really find a niche and specialize in photography genres that I truly love. Now that I’m busier than ever with commercial photography work, I still do not miss an opportunity to go on photo walks and share my passion with other photographers or photography lovers. I continue to show my work on FB and a personal blog, I also started a commercial photography blog where I post some of my work related images. I keep them separate because they represent two different aspects of the craft that I love but they are intertwined in many ways as they both are a reflection of my personality and my passion for capturing a moment in time.

Image: Interior photography is what I do for work and I love it!

Interior photography is what I do for work and I love it!

Image: As well as food photography.

As well as food photography.

If you are a pro photographer and you have experienced the same loss of passion because photography became just another job, I urge you to give yourself some personal projects and to share your work with others in order to find your muse again. If you are thinking of making the jump into pro photography, be aware that this may happen so try to keep the personal projects part of your routine to keep the passion alive!

I would love to hear from you if this is something you have experienced.

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Valerie Jardin
Valerie Jardin

I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it’s an obsession, almost an addiction. When I’m not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website
Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

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