Ya’ll when I first started my business I was just over the moon and excited to be doing photography full-time. I was flooded with all the gooey happy feelings of my new adventures. No one prepared me for all that followed.
At the time I had no fellow photographers supporting me and encouraging me the way I do now, so I had no one to talk to that really understood the lows that sometimes come with owning your own business. Especially being a photographer! Most of us are passionate people who have some HUGE emotions. And those emotions can get very bruised by the lack of phone calls & appointments!
Obviously as a photographer we need a tremendous amount of confidence in ourselves and sometimes that mean monster called “doubt” creeps in when we have a shoot that does not go as planned. Maybe you were expecting a sunset and you had severe overcast. Maybe your client did not come with the wardrobe you had discussed and planned props around. Maybe you are still learning manual and you were not pleased with your settings.
WHATEVER the reason is, it brings you down and makes you start questioning yourself. ” Why even continue this? I’m no good” or ” ____________( insert big name photographer here) is so amazing and talented I could never create work close to that.” All of those thoughts begin creeping in and before you know it you are ready to throw in the towel and walk away. Walk away from the business YOU alone have put the blood, sweat and tears into building (literally all three for myself). The real question to ask yourself is “why would I give all that up and be defeated for fear?!”.
Many photographers, myself included, struggle with this. Recently, before writing this blog, I did a poll amongst several photogs asking how often they wanted to throw in the towel. The response was overwhelming with sometimes 2-3 times a month, some even weekly. What I am hoping is, my lessons learned (still learning them daily), can help you fight those monsters out of your head!
- Take a step away from the “work” part of your business. Take a day and grab your camera and shoot things you never shoot. If you shoot portraits, shoot nature. Fall in love with photography again.
- Speak with your mentor. If you do not have an elder photographer in your life that mentors you and encourages you I strongly suggest you find one and fast. For me this step has been my saving grace in the lowest days. This is also why networking with other photographers is such a big part of your success. We are constantly being pushed to the next level and inspired by those around us.
- Create what you love and pass up what makes you hate what you do. At the beginning we like to call ourselves the “I do everything” photographer. If large group photos aren’t your cup of tea, then don’t do them. Photographing things that don’t light a fire in you actually smolder the very thing that made you start your business in the first place.
- Compare yourself ONLY to yourself. Watching yourself grow is the greatest reward. When all else fails, look at your very first photo you took when deciding to do this and see how much you have grown. Your career has progressed you just may need a reminder! This will encourage you to push forward.
- Take chances. Don’t worry about rule of thirds and all that other nonsense that puts you in a box. Be creative and try new styles!
- Create a niche that you can feel like an expert in. This doesn’t mean you need to stop doing all the other things but having a specialty creates passion and an expertise.
- Remember above all else, if you did not have a talent or a passion for photography you would not be pursuing it in the first place and that alone will bring you back to reality. YOU ARE GREAT. Believe you are great. So what you had a bad shoot, WE ALL DO! Even the top photographers in the world have had a major crisis and they kept on going.
Throwing in the towel should only be an option NEVER as long as photography is wired inside of your DNA:) If you have been shooting for 25 years and are a professional or like me you are just building a strong foundation for your business we all have struggles. Battle through your struggles and pour that inside of your work. Some of my favorite images have been created while struggling and questioning myself. Push through and keep growing ya’ll:)
“It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass
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