I wrote this article a year ago but wasn’t ready to release it into the world.
I think it’s time…
Sometimes, when I’m up late at night, editing images or answering emails, I begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. If it’s worth pursuing a career or business in your passion and really going for it. I question the time I spend working and ask myself if the rewards are worth the price you have to pay. I never question whether I will continue to pursue my passion, the question is at what level. Why not just be an advanced amateur, rather than a professional striving to make a living and life as a photographer?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Maybe when rent is due and bills need to be paid? Or perhaps when you have to deal with insurance agents and private healthcare? Or it could be when you’re up at 1 am still working, when all you really want to do is crawl into your comfortable bed and get a full night’s sleep?
Of course, for some, there isn’t much struggle. They pick up a camera and are an instant success. They open a Twitter account and immediately have 10,000 followers. Their Facebook page is full of friends and they have to start a new account for all their fans. Often those are the photographers held up for all to see. They’re teaching workshops and seminars (sold out, of course) and blog about their globe-trotting escapades. All the while, you’re at home buried under past due images and orders that need to be processed. (I may exaggerate a bit, but not much.)
While I’m not discounting or minimizing their success, I will be honest and say that they are not the rule. They are the exception. And as the exception, that means we’ve got to stop setting that standard as the norm or expectation for success and forward progress. Reminds me of a saying from the 90′s “Stop the Insanity!”
Is anyone with me? Certainly I am not alone. So what can you do when it feels like you’re sacrificing more than you’re gaining, whether it’s time, energy, security, or even money. I’ve come up with three strategies for transforming my vision and outlook. Perhaps they’ll work for you…
Cultivate your vision: A primary reason I get discouraged is losing the big picture of why I’m doing what I’m doing. So don’t let that happen to you. Start by making sure you have a crystal clear vision of where you’re going: whether it’s as specific as the number of clients and gigs you want or more about the lifestyle you want your business to support.
If you haven’t done this yet, stop reading right now and take five minutes to write down or even draw a picture of where you are headed. I won’t get into all the psycho-babble about why you have to write it down, but I will tell you that if you do write down your goals, you’ll be in the top 2 – 4% of all Americans (depending on what study you read). Now that is one way to start differentiating yourself right now!
Make it plain: Plain doesn’t mean boring, it means keep it in plain sight, somewhere you can see it every single day. You’ve heard that before, but have you done it? Don’t tell me you keep it all in your head because that is not the best place for it. As photogaphers, most of us are visual learners, which means that the more we see something, the more it will create a memory and connection in our minds and hearts.
So post your vision where you can see it: right above your computer monitor, next to your bed, on your bathroom mirror. This is easy and powerful.
Stop the insanity: Has this ever happened to you? Your day is going great, you’re feeling productive, so you take a quick break to hop on Twitter, Facebook, or browse a few fellow photog blogs. Then you see someone’s post about their amazing, super-fabulous, uber-incredible photo shoot and everything starts to unravel… no motivation, no inspiration, no energy. It is so easy to get derailed by one email, blog post, or tweet. So don’t let it get to you. Know your weaknesses and set up and maintain clear boundaries. Protect your creative spirit, it’s the only one you’ve got. If you don’t, who will?
As I continue to pursue my passion, I am constantly learning how to put the above three steps into place. When I remember them, I’m so much more fulfilled and content with who and where I am on the journey. When I let myself slip, I find my creativity sapped and my momentum start to fade. Don’t let that happen to you. Let’s commit together to make a change in our habits today. Are you with me?
If so, would you accept this challenge to do all three of the above? I’d love to hear what your vision is in the comments. I’ll be writing more about this topic and my ongoing professional transformation in upcoming articles. If you’d like to stay inspired, get updates and find out about DAILY DELIGHT with free wallpapers for desktops and mobile devices, it’s easy to sign up. Would love to have you join me for the journey in 2013!
Image Note: The image above of the photographer with the massive lens was taken in August 2012 near Chateau Vincennes, a stunning castle on the outskirts of Paris, France. It took us two days and countless metro rides to find this lake, at once both stunning and simple. A lake is a lake. Or is it? At first, I wondered. And then I began to photograph the budding fall colors of the trees reflected in the still pools of water and I knew. I understood. But more on that later.