'What if?' - 3 part Series | What if you decided to become a photographer? Part 1

September 11, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Part 1: What if you decided to become a photographer?

What if... your dreams are closer than you could imagine... Not everyone is meant to hold a camera, although everyone CAN. Being a photographer is so much more than taking pretty pictures. It requires a solid set of skills in truly working with people: patience, confidence, comfortableness, accommodating, flexible, energetic, understanding - and these are just a few. Of course, the trade also requires a creative eye, quick thinking, problem-solving, knowledge of composition, colors, camera settings, lighting, flattering angles, etc. None of this even covers the aspect of the business side which ranges from marketing, a website, client products, client meetings, phone calls, E-MAIL, purchasing and maintaining expensive photography equipment, accounting, managing, ohhhhhh you guys the list goes on and on. 

And in fact, when people first start shooting they often claim, "I could do this all day! I'm in love with photography!" Well, of course, we all could do the enjoyable parts of any job! That's the FUN part of the job, shooting. The not so fun part? Bookkeeping. Marketing yourself. The late night editing. Timelines. YOU GUYS>>> the HUSTLE. It's so real.

Had you told me in 1998 when I graduated college with a Fine Arts degree that I would be shooting 30+ weddings a year I would have
1.) Peed my pants.
2.) Nervously laughed at you and then ran away afraid.


There was NO way I had the desire to photograph people professionally. Especially standing in front of a crowd of 250+ people wearing all black and being sure not to step on my bride's train, making sure that I wasn't flashing crack to anyone in the church as I squat down in the center aisle and making sure I got every important detail on the spot. Weddings are legit work. But even more so, there is a HUGE amount of responsibility in photography. Managing expectations and PRICELESS FILES? Yeah. Anyone might be a bit nervous about doing this job for real and not just as a hobby.

There is a HUGE leap in the world of differences from photography as a hobbyist to photography as a professional. I know this because I did both for several years each. Running a business is harder, less enjoyable and requires more commitment. BUT, it's also more rewarding. TRUTH. I look back at the day I left my full-time job and decided, this is IT. I am going to do this and make it work! The first year will be hard, but sitting poolside isn't going to cut it for me. I want to jump in. {read Visionmongers by David DuChemin, it will rock your world.} 

Know if you decided to become a photographer, it does take planning as this series will discuss. It takes knowledge and developed skill set. It takes time and lots of practice before stepping out into this thing full-time. It takes money. {Which is why keeping your current day job until you can buy all that you need isn't such a bad an idea}. What would I say to someone who says.. "what if I decided to become a photographer?" ??? I would ask them, how much of this fills your mind and heart? Do you obsess over photography? Do you find yourself watching every tutorial on youtube? Do you constantly find your mind framing every view of an open field or city scape as you drive or walk anywhere?? Do you love people? Beyond that, do you want to tell their story? Do you have an appreciation for the brevity of life? Do you want to document the gift that life is? DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO PUT BUSINESS PRACTICES INTO MOTION? Not just taking photos all day, but actually running your business. Because the great majority of this? Sadly it's BUSINESS and less about PHOTOGRAPHY. But that's OK! They two work together and they must in order to be successful. Truthfully, running a small business is WORK. And after many years? Most don't survive the hustle and grind. Here's the numbers: 
 

"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics, here’s what the survival rate looks like:

About 80% (four-fifths) of businesses with employees will survive their first year in business. (The most recent data shows that of the small businesses that opened in March of 2015, 79.9% made it to March of 2016.)

About 66% (two-thirds) of businesses with employees will survive their second year in business. (The recent data shows that of the small businesses that opened in March of 2014, 69.4% made it to March of 2016.)

About 50% (one-half) of businesses with employees will survive their fifth year in business. (Data shows that of the small businesses that opened in March of 2011, 51% made it to March of 2016.)

About 30% (one-third) of businesses will survive their 10th year in business. (The most recent data shows that of the small businesses that opened in March of 2006, 32.8% made it to March of 2016.)

What you really need to know is that about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, and 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year."

This is taken from this blog post at Fundera.com  

I look at these photos above of my first year in my current studio, 14 years into photography and 7 years of those full-time... and I think about all it took to get here and how worth it this journey has been. I would have never figured this place to be my studio. I shot in this building when it was totally abandoned and dilapidated years ago - now it's redone by the city and amazing... and I look at that door and feel a connection to this space. Serendipity is an amazing thing in that we may not know where the road leads, but we can atleast know we want to be on the road. It all starts with putting your foot on the path. It requires patience and willingness to learn. It requires NOT CARING about your competition being better or worse than you, it does require cheering them on as a true professional would do. It requires not comparing, but rather adopting the mindset of COMMUNITY OVER COMPETITION.

Live your dreams. <3
If you're always thinking about it, go after it. Life is short. Too short not to truly jump in. Don't sit poolside. Grab your drink, your Ray-Bans and sunscreen and just DO IT.

Life is full of risks, you're going to take them in all areas of your life. Some are worthy of the risk, some leave us sad and feeling like we failed, but many times, the outcome is absolute success and a resounding, I'M GONNA DO IT! and even better... I DID IT. <3


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