I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that being a “photographer” would be difficult. I mean, all you do is push a button and take pictures of pretty people and things. Right?
Big fat, “nope”.
Let me explain.
When you first begin photographing pretty people and things, all you want to do is just take pictures of everyone and everything. Your dog, your neighbor’s dog, OH LOOK a cute duck, and how about your sister’s friend’s uncle’s cousin who is getting married? Yep. When starting out you are excited to photograph whatever crosses your path. Even though it is extremely thrilling to photograph everything and anyone, something still doesn’t sit right. Usually the word STYLE haunts you. You begin to ask yourself, “What is my style” and “How do I REALLY want my images to look”. Getting your work to look the way it does in your head is hard, like REALLY hard, and you begin to force yourself to be satisfied with your work not being what you imagined it to be.
Then, you get burnt out. You want to stand out but you don’t know how. You battle with yourself inside of your head. Your images, that you don’t really like, become your brand and your brand begins to define you as a photographer. Everything you post on social media and on your website represents YOU as a photographer. You begin marketing yourself as the photographer that shoots everything, even though you JUST want to photograph newborns, or lifestyle, or weddings, or whatever it may be.
How can you be known for something if you try to be good at photographing everything?
This was me the first 3 years of my business. I have been doing this for almost 9 years. I have no idea how I didn’t give up those first 3 years because battling with myself in my head was the most horrific experience, ever. But, I didn’t give up. I pushed through and found myself.
The most difficult part about being a photographer is being yourself. You HAVE to be comfortable sharing a piece of your soul. You have to be comfortable with certain people not enjoying your art. You have to get comfortable saying “no” to the things you don’t want to photograph. You have to get downright comfortable with yourself and what you like. For the longest time I was afraid to post images where no one was looking at the camera. Why? Because I was afraid that people didn’t want that and wouldn’t like it. So I forced myself to offer posed images and that is what I posted. I focused on what I thought people wanted. What I didn’t focus on is what I wanted as an artist. Quite the double edged sword.
Ya’ll, I am not a posey type of photographer. I want to capture your souls being free. I want to capture how you act as a family when no one is watching. I want to capture your son’s hand wrapped up in your hair when you hold him. I want to capture those sweet moments that your heart holds near, the ones that you think no one notices. I notice, though. Those are the moments that make my heart do flip flops and my spirits soar high.
The hardest part about being a photographer is doing what you love and focusing on photographing just that. Us photographers have a blessing, if we do it right, because we do not have to pay anyone to photograph our product. Our art is our product. Our art is our brand and our brand becomes the personality market we crave to bring in. In the business world, it is like we are a one man band juggling branding, marketing, and delivering the artistic finished product all at once. Your product might not be for everyone, but it is for you. A happy you is attractive and an artist doing what they love creates a one of a kind brand.
Photograph what you love. Only post on social media the images that tickle your soul. Only say “yes” to the people that understand your art and what you offer. If you do not enjoy photographing newborns, do not do it. If you do not like photographing landscape, do not do it. Does Chevy build Fords? Does a specialized watercolor painter paint with acrylic? No!
Life as a photographer can be golden. When you focus on creating the art that keeps your heart at peace, a session is like a breath of fresh air. Images become magical and you begin to be known for something. You’re something might not be for everyone, but that’s the point. It’s for you. It’s for your clients. It’s for your sanity. It’s for your very own brand. As you grow, so does your art, so does your brand...and it will constantly move forward as long as you stay true to your art.
Let your soul loose and wave that crazy artistic brain flag high.