Why Turning Photography Into A Business KILLED My Passion
Just to be completely honest and transparent with you, I’ve been close to giving up on the art form I love countless times now. Its not because I don’t love photography, because I do. Its more so due to the demotivating places I was putting myself in when trying to start a photography business. I looked at what my Instagram and YouTube idols were putting out and tried to replicate their success. What I found instead, was an empty feeling and a deteriorating sight of why I loved photography to begin with. This blog post was written to address the other creatives that may be in a similar place, or hopefully, have not reached that point yet.
The MASSIVE misconception
Too often, creatives look at entrepreneurship as a way to “convert your passion into a business”, when they should be thinking of it as, “building a business around their passion”. It simply is not possible to sustain that passion/fire when you are no longer creating for the same reasons. Buildings collapse when the base isn’t sound right? I know this because this was a hurtle I’ve struggled with for the past couple of years now. I largely directed my focus to the business route, trying to replicate others' success and visions while subduing my own. As a result, I lost track of what initially excited me about photography; what inspired me and pushed my creative boundaries. I am now learning that this is a common issue for creatives attempting to monetize off of their art forms, and why you often see burnout.
The question we need to be asking ourselves constantly is “Why am I shooting and does this project align with that?”. Are you creating a monetization strategy around what excites you about photography, or are you doing the corporate portraits because you thought it was ‘easy money’ and Johnny on YouTube makes a living off of it?
Look, one thing that never changes is that you need to create for you. Remember that this life isn’t about success, it’s about happiness.
Marketing: The Internal validation stage
What I have come to discover recently, is that If you are already creating for “you”, then your marketing shouldn’t feel like marketing. When you share the content you love, then social media just feels like opening a window. When the opposite is true, I found myself feeling like a fraud. Unable to express my true vision and creative self with the world. The beauty is that it’s rather easy to fool other people, and extremely hard/next to impossible to fool yourself.
Look, I am not saying to stop allowing creatives to fuel your ideas and creativity. In fact, I’d argue that the opposite is true. We are in a world where so many creatives can seamlessly share and inspire daily, and I actually believe that we should embrace and encourage that world. The point I am attempting to make here is that we should be taking away key learnings, rather than cloning the teacher.
Surround Yourself with creative projects and individuals
Sometimes, if you are feeling a little uninspired and detached from your creative side- Get hyper creative. Call in a favor from your buddy with the pool, post on 1 of a million Facebook groups, buy/build a waterproof casing and shoot underwater portraits, or take landscape photos upside down, or do anything that is unconventional. What drives most creatives in the beginning is that lack of initial knowledge and the room for growth. As you begin to grow more and more comfortable as a photographer, it becomes increasingly important for you to break out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself creatively.
This is exactly why I created the “In My Head” project. It started as an idea that stemmed from this extreme desire to push my artistic comfort zone. In January of 2018, I decided to set forth and take on this project that would undoubtedly challenge my creative boundaries. The ability to collaborate with talented MUAs (make up artists), models and stylists has taught me a lot and has led to key relationships going forward.
What I am finding is that it is pivotal to your growth as a photographer to surround yourself with super creative individuals that are always thinking outside the box, hyper driven, and will be completely honest with you when feedback is warranted. You need reliable sources of honesty and a group of people that want to ‘GET IT’, as bad as you do.
Well, that is it for this week’s blog post. Don’t forget that this is one big feedback session, so if you agree or disagree with anything I said, then definitely shoot the information my way.
Till next time, KEEP CREATING AND DO IT FOR YOU!