When I first ventured into Photography, like many photographers out there, I started because I wanted to take better pictures of my kids (sound familiar?), and then it wasn’t long until I “caught the bug.” My first year behind the camera was almost constant. I did not leave my house without my camera, it was always out, charged and holding a card, ready for every single little moment I could use it, and I did. Photographers, do you remember that? That thrill, that zest, that energy? And..then when you started a little business, you were now living the dream? A job that you love to do every waking moment?
No matter how much you adore your profession as a Photographer (I do!), you have probably come to realize that the zeal you had originally might just have waned a little. Nothing wrong with that. It’s hard when there are deadlines, clients with needs and questions, events to attend, expensive equipment to buy, 843 family sessions on your Autumn schedule. It’s simple burnout, and it happens to everyone.
My good friends will attest to the fact that I am the kind of person to get very gung-ho about a new idea, overwhelm myself and fizzle. Yes, I confess. I tend to dream big and play hard, and keeping up momentum can be difficult, if not impossible. HOWEVER, while I had put aside past ventures of various kinds, Photography just wasn’t something I wanted to give up. For me, it just fits. My passions for art, life, people, color and whimsy found their outlet this way, and I was (and am) continually feeding my heart by following this path. Yes, I had to learn balance, I had to grow from my mistakes, I had to take two steps backward so I could regain the momentum to leap forward again. I did so, again and again. I want to keep on going, serving my clients and teaching the craft, but I don’t want to lose the giddy, 24-7 passion I had in the beginning.
Is that too much to ask?
I don’t think so. Of course, balance is key to staying the course. So is close analysis of your time, effort and expenses versus your photography income. But, for me, what keeps me striving forward, even on Fall session 842 of 843, is taking time to shoot for ME. To shoot what I want, how I want, and take the chances and do the experiments I’ve wanted to do, to GROW as an artist. Sometimes I’ll take a quick picture that makes my heart sing WHILE I’m with a client (my daughter often tags along on shoots and loves to pose for me – lucky me!). Sometimes I’ll ask a friend to come over and we’ll raid my prop closet and go make some magic somewhere. Sometimes I’ll see a gorgeous sky and toss a dress on my kid and throw a chair in the car and race to a field to get pictures. I want to love what I make, all of it. And I want to keep getting better so my clients love what they get, too.
Here is a short list of tips for keeping the passion alive:
- on every client session, shoot something just for you. It could be a macro, a pretty sky, a glorious tree, or a reflection. Any little keepsake you can bring home with you that speaks to YOU.
- give yourself challenges. Try shooting with just one lens (like an ultra-wide angle or a Lensbaby) or shooting one subject with all your lenses. Try a new technique (stacking focus, freelensing, HDR, panning, whatever!). Try shooting in a different kind of light, like full sun or super low light indoors. In other words, keep on learning. Every new trick you master is another thing that feeds the passion and keeps your photo-brain active and excited.
- take a few pictures out of every gallery you shoot and push your editing a little bit. YouTube has infinite tutorials on all sorts of techniques. You don’t have to show the edits to your client, but you might just discover something you just LOVE.
- Once a month (at least) plan a fun shoot, even during your busy season. Get a friend to go with you, and recruit subjects if you need to. Tell yourself you only have to edit 10 of the images, but just go out and shoot. We all know the exhilaration that comes when we realize that we can’t wait to go home and download the magic immediately. I can tell you, this happens a LOT when you do a shoot for YOU. It’s so pressure-free and you can plan it around your time, the weather, and your stylistic choices.
I’ve been blessed this year to spend much of my time mentoring and teaching others in photography, and hosting little mini-workshops we call “shoot-outs,” so I’ve been lucky to have a portfolio stuffed and overflowing with personal work. So bear with me if I make you a little crazy with the following very very very long picture share, but I wanted to highlight at least one image from every “for me” shoot I had this year.
And now go have fun!