I have to admit, I’m a bit of social networking addict. It fascinates me that there are no longer geographical boundaries when it comes to connecting. We are “neighbours” on Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook.
Lately, I’ve been on Twitter more than usual, following photographers who’s work I admire. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve stumbled across a few business propositions put out from one photographer to other photographers. If only you purchase *this* (insert pitch here), you can be a better photographer. You can connect on a deeper level with those you photograph. You can make more money, attract more clientele, etc. etc. I have no issue with the fact many photographers make a good living by packaging their knowledge to other photographers, and I’m not discounting their value. I believe in life-long learning, and I do not believe one ever reaches the “finish line”. There is great value in attending workshops and I believe it’s important to expand on one’s knowledge regarding lighting and technique. I’ve learned so much from other photographers, and it’s a community I’m very thankful for.
Having said that, I got caught up in all of it…the competitive spirit that it embodied. I lost track of what success means to me, based on my own reality at this time in my life. I lost sight of my truth: which is to remember the reasons that brought photography into my life (and heart) in the first place.
“Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they’re really not. They’re companions – the hero and the sidekick.” ~Laurence Shames
I didn’t get into photography looking to make it a business. In fact, my first paid jobs were from friends who volun-told me to take their photos. I was encouraged to pursue photography on a professional level by those who supported and believed in me. I resisted turning my passion for photography into a paid gig, simply for the fact that photography is a lifeline to me. It’s what brings me joy. It allows me to document the world: full of complicated people with complicated emotions just as I see it. It’s like therapy! 🙂 It’s intensely personal to me on many levels. I turn to photography when I’m up and when I’m down. There are few things in life that hold that kind of weight within one’s heart.
To me (and this is *my* reality, I’m not speaking for anyone else), Photography as a business is not my first priority at this point in my life. I found the art of photography at a time when I needed it most. It’s been my companion and allowed me to document, celebrate, and memorialize what truly is my first priority: My children. Photography has allowed me to build a visual story-book of the life we have built together as a family. A few years ago, I quit my full-time job (which was not photography related) in order to stay-at-home with my children and most importantly, to find who I was again so that I could be a better Mom to my kids. It was the right decision for me at that time in my life, and I was lucky enough to be able to do so.
I lost myself for a long time, and photography really helped me discover my voice. For the past few years, I’ve blogged a whole bunch of life lessons that appeared to me one after the other. If you are curious, you can read them by clicking —–> HERE on my personal blog called “Reclaiming Life” ~ My journey to lose 90 pounds~
After years of keeping my opinions to myself, I finally found my own voice. Blogging is also like therapy! 😉
I have intentionally separated my Photography blog from my Reclaiming Life blog because to me they are very separate; however, lately after reading so many pitches on how to be a “better photographer”, I re-evaluated what my goals and dreams are. I have realized that for me, success as a photographer has no monetary value. My view of what it means to be successful as a photographer lies in developing one’s vision as an artist with a unique view of the world. A solitary voice documenting a big diverse world. A vision that is all one’s own. The ability to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. One who can effectively translate a story visually into a photograph.
A big part of my journey in photography does in fact encompass all that I’ve learned through times of self-reflection, so this is the reason I have linked to my Reclaiming Life blog in this post. They are very much connected in who I am as a woman and who I am as a photographer. But, my goal is to develop as an artist which means I need to listen to my heart and take the path that is right for me. I know that’s cliche, but it’s my truth.
When I photograph someone, the accolade that I desire is from that person alone because it’s so very important to me that I capture who they are within a photograph. That’s my goal with every session. Last year, I booked too many sessions and I felt completely burned out by the end of the year. In the beginning of 2011, I went weeks without picking up my camera and this is not common for me. I didn’t feel the desire to photograph anything and everything like I once felt. I lost sight of my vision and those amazing elements that live within the everyday that inspire me.
Recently, I made the only decision that is right for me. I’ve decided to take a bit of a step back in photography as a business. Yes, I will still be shooting (and happily so) because the only way you can grow is by doing; however, I will not be booking as many jobs as I have in the past couple of years. I have some exciting sessions booked well into the fall, and I am really thankful for the loyal clientele that book me year after year to document their life as it is. It is because of my loyalty to those I have photographed in the past, that I’ve made the decision that I will not be booking new clients at this time.
This will change in the future as my kids need me less! I will soon have more time to devote to photography, but for now they are only young once! I need to make more time for my children. I don’t want to tell my kids we can’t go to the park because I’m stuck in my office editing for hours. This is what’s right for me. It’s what’s right for my children.
I will also be spending less time listening to what other photographers advise is right for them, and instead figure out what is right for me (and in turn, my family). We are all very different and that’s the beauty of it! We make our decisions based on our own values, environment, and past experiences. There is no “right” way. There is no “one tried and true” method to connect with our clients. There is no magical number we should all be charging. As artists, we must all figure this out for ourselves! The best part of this industry, is it’s an artistic field without barriers and we can each make the decisions that is right for ourselves. Just because it’s my path, doesn’t mean it’s right for anyone else…and vice-versa
I believe the heart of an artist finds their own way. They blaze their own path. They make decisions that is best for themselves, and more importantly for those they love and cherish most. This is not the same for everyone! There is so much freedom in that, it’s exciting. It has re-ignited a fire within my heart to pursue the art of photography in my own way. The other day, I picked up my camera and shot my first session in months. http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2011/03/31/megan-and-brads-connection/ During that session, I fell in love with photography all over again. If fact, I was so excited when I captured an image that I knew they would love, that I almost hyper-ventilated and they advised me to breath into a paper bag. I felt that passion again because I really devoted my time to listening to that inner voice that I sometimes ignore.
So, I do hope you understand my decision to book less sessions. Life flies by, and kids….well they grow too fast. There will be a time when I can develop photography as a career with more focus.
But for now, I’m focusing on photography as an art once again, rather than the business of photography. I will be exploring the heart of an artist, in my very own way. I know that will probably not make me a rich woman, but hey…that was never my goal in the first place. 🙂
I will leave you with some iPhone photos. I love the App: “Instagram”. It’s worth the download!
And also, here’s a link to a song that’s just good for the soul. “The Heart of Life” by John Mayer
Thank you for reading my thoughts today! I wish you all the best in your own career and wherever your passions lie! I have zero judgments over how another photography chooses to run their business. There are many paths to the same destination. I encourage you to listen to that inner voice that leads you to do what is right for you and you alone. Trust yourself in this area.
From my heart to yours,