I am not a professional photographer, nor have I ever claimed to be. I love photography, it’s my passion and in snowflake terms “my safe space”. I consider myself a young man. I am in my twenties (albeit the latter point) and I still feel I have time to develop the craft and move it forward.
Whenever I tell people I want to build a career in photography, it is often met with two responses. Number 1 is “that’s great, I think you should go for it”. Number 2 “There is no money in it, it’s hard to build a career, do something more safe instead”. Focusing on the second response, I say this. – I don’t want for much in life, being rich has never been my focus. I want to get up each day and do something I love and care about, whilst building people in my life that I also love and care about. Simple. No I don’t want to always make ends meet, but I don’t care for a big mansion, 5 cars and designer gear.
The fact is, people do make a living out of photography. Sure, it may come from multiple sources, i.e. good old fashioned shooting, blogging, vlogging and other related avenues, but people do it – so why can’t I?
It is time to stop playing it safe.
We can all be great photographers when we have no pressure on us, with no deadlines or client expectations. We also risk telling ourselves “I will get paid for this one day” without ever really pushing through the transition of hobbyist, to semi pro right through to professional. I shall be the first to say that the road to being a professional is daunting for me. I know there will be knockbacks, criticism and big thick doors slammed in my face. I also know that saying I want to be a professional does not guarantee me being one. I must be good enough, smart enough and determined enough to get there.
I do have control over how much effort I put into this though. I can decide how resilient I am to negative parts of the journey and how I make the most of the positive parts. I also have control on what strategy I put together, and I know the road I am on now – changes need to me made.
True passions are not always profitable.
It is no secret I love street photography. I spent most of last year roaming the streets of London and visiting different countries trying to create a body of work whilst exploring the streets. Sure I got some of my work exhibited and articles published, but it didn’t pay my rent. Let’s be honest here, for many, street photography is never a source of income. It is a passion, a long term project with hope of having 10-15 images you are proud of when you reach the end of it. And whilst I am not walking away from it, I must reorganise the amount of time I spend on it.
Just picking up a camera gives me a buzz. I don’t even need to take off the lens cap or switch it on for me to feel adrenaline in my body. In other words, no matter what style of photography I am doing, it is going to make me happy.
Plan of action.
Ideas and vision are a wonderful thing to have. When your brain creates something, a goal, or a new approach to life, it can be both exciting and liberating. However, in between the initial idea and the end goal, there needs to be a plan so you can understand how to move from one to the other.
The first thing I did was invest in a professional standard lens. No this does not now make me a professional photographer, but they are labelled that standard for a reason, as both in quality and optics they are far superior to the mid-range lenses. I then upgraded my living space. This will allow me to set up a home studio, nothing extremely fancy, but something that can certainly take my work to the next level.
My next focus was to then understand what avenues I will move down in terms of the photography I do. The route I have decided to go down is product, portrait and event photography. There is a demand in all three of those markets, and whilst some may argue that they are over saturated, I strongly believe those who work hardest and develop their craft can succeed even when competition is in mass.
Drive does not blind me, I am fully aware I can’t just go out charging silly money and telling everyone I am a pro tog who they need to book. I am 2 years into this journey, 2 years of taking photography seriously – I have a long way to go yet. I have always believed that to become the person you want to be, you must surround yourself by those who already are it. I looked up local photographers who work within the fields listed, and I contacted them, asking them if they would be willing to take me under their wing and show me the ropes. Photography schools are great, however learning from those while on the job, in my eyes, is far more valuable to your progression.
My biggest down fall over the years has been sticking to a plan. My brain often jumps from one thing to another and I can often get lost in the romance of being a visionary and lose touch on building the foundations to see an idea through. I feel I have become more disciplined with age, and this current venture is something I certainly want to see right through to the end. Let’s look back on this in December and see how far I got!
What are your goals for 2017? What direction do you want to take your photography in? I would love to know. You can contact me on all the social media platforms below, I am always happy to engage.
Have a happy year shooting!
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