We are smack bang in the middle of a photography revolution.
Photography is no longer a hobby, like collecting stamps or coins. It isn’t a hobby that defines one’s personality, like extreme adventure sports. It is a lifestyle habit.
Everybody loves a good photograph, and everyone loves making one. The tools to make it happen are easily and economically available, which of course means anybody today can make a good picture. For professional photographers, this certainly has implications.
If you’re running a photography business, there is a question you must ask yourself today. Are you, like most others in this business, driven by the desire to be competitive? As a matter of fact, for most of us, the question is rhetorical.
Better technology and a market that sees the rise of thousands of new professionals every day means more competition. That in turn demands more focus on the business aspects of photography. Nobody wants to get left behind in the race to seize bigger slices of a monstrously growing pie.
But along the way, in our quest to be successful, we trade the photographer’s soul for a businessman’s mind. That is inevitable.
What do you wake up to everyday? The vast expanse of sand painted gold by the early morning sun, the glitter of dew on a fresh bloom, and the silhouetted shapes of young legs chasing shadows of clouds on the ground. Or, the inviting glow of your monitor, with multiple windows defining the course of your day!
Do you spend as much time going out and photographing as you work on ways to grow financially? Does social media seem more inviting than the 10-stop ND filter that you purchased a long time ago and haven’t used since? If you’re a photographer for the love of the photography, you have perhaps taken a detour unwittingly.
Most of what we do as a photographer is defined by business gains. Even when it comes down to technique, we keep track of trends. We try to figure out what people like, and tune ourselves in to the frequency the market is operating in.
That may not be a bad thing entirely, especially if, say, you’re learning new techniques in the process. But if you’re giving up your personal style and your approach to photography to cater to somebody else’s needs, you need to ask yourself: is photography just another job?
You might ask: Can I shoot what I really love and keep my full-time photography business going? Will it pay my bills?
Well, there are no assurances. But, you might want to look up to photographers who do that and still remain successful and popular. Photographers like Benjamin Von Wong, who gave up a lucrative event photography business to shoot what he wants to, the way he wants to.
Von Wong is an inspiration for most of us photographers who still harbor dreams of running a successful photography business that’s not just another job.
A wise man once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” All it takes is the courage to do what you really want to.