Just last month, I hit the five-year mark in the photography community. I know that that is nothing compared to some people but I am awfully proud of it. I am what they call a jack of all trades and a master of none. Before I found photography, I tried my hand at everything from sewing to refurbishing furniture but I never could find something that I wanted to stick with. I knew that I wanted to create things but I didn’t know what path to take that would hold my interest.
Sidebar: Yes, this is a sentimental post so feel free to skip it if you like. You have been warned.
It wasn’t until I found Photoshop (I did the process backward) that I found myself with the tools to create practically anything I wanted. I needed versatility and room to grow constantly. I didn’t want to make the same types of things over and over which is what I think bored me so much about my other “passions.”
Five years ago, I picked up my first camera. I had researched the basics but I was still a little nervous. Would I actually like doing this? Had I wasted my time and my money? After that first photo shoot in the field with my sister, I had my answer. I have been hooked ever since.
So, I haven’t been a part of the photography community for years upon years. However, I feel like I’ve been in it long enough to have learned a few hard earned lessons.
What I’ve Learned From My Years in Photography
1) Your images are going to suck pretty hard at first.
I hate to be that person but there have been very few creative things that I’ve tried that I didn’t just “get” right away. I don’t know why but I’ve always seemed to do a great to an adequate job the first time I’ve tried my hand at most crafty things. Photography was a rude awakening for me.
I remember seeing images from long established artists that would literality blow me away. I wanted to know and do everything that they could. Being the little research nerd that I am, I would hunt for hours for tutorials and videos. Studying like a mad man, I always convinced myself that I could pull it off.
Then I would take my newfound knowledge and put it to use. And I would fail miserably.
My images still couldn’t compare, and I would get so frustrated. In time, I had to learn to accept that I was going to be pretty horrible at photography before I was ever pleased with my work.
Photography takes time. It takes practice. Do not pick up a camera and expect to get where you want to go immediately. Photography is hard, and it takes a lot of time and skill. Contrary to “photography muggles,” we do not just push a button. Be patient with yourself.
2) You don’t have to have a Photography Business to succeed.
I think the misconception that most people have when they first find their love for photography is that they are somehow obligated to try to turn it into a business. I know that when I first started getting my images out there, there were tons of family/friends who would tell me that I really should start a business doing this.
And I did.
However, photography businesses are not for everyone. Sometimes you accomplish more when you just enjoy your passion. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try but don’t just do it because others suggest it and don’t do it for money. That is a sure-fire way to get you to resent creating images.
I started my business because I was told over and over again that I should. What I found was that the business side of things like constantly trying to get new clients, trying to get my brand out there, and trying to make enough off of it was draining any love that I had for this art form.
I stopped picking up my camera. I didn’t want to accept shoots. Muttering the word photography was enough to make me want to vomit. Tired of dealing with clients who didn’t respect me or my time, sick of shooting for everyone else but myself, made me re-evaluate why I was pushing so hard for this in the first place.
When I figured out that maybe I needed a break from the business side of things and distanced myself from what was causing me so much stress, I was able to find my love of creating again. I eventually opened my business back up but I took a more relaxed approach.
After five years of running my photography business, I am back to taking another little break. I want to focus on my composites which I failed to do in 2016, The Educated Shutter as a whole, and making more digital backgrounds.
What I am trying to say is that you don’t always have to open a business just because you find that you love your camera. Opening up a business is not the only way to succeed at photography. It is more than okay to be a “hobbyist” photographer.
Just stay a photographer and keep enjoying your art.
3) When you try, you never actually really fail.
I’ve talked about this before. Every time I’ve picked up my camera and tried something new, I’ve succeeded regardless if I created an acceptable image. The point is to try and to learn from your mistakes.
Pretty much since the get-go, I’ve been obsessed with composites. The idea of creating a whole world, being able to make anyone into anything, was a huge draw for me. Plus, I am totally in love with editing. I know that not everyone is but editing is what attracted me to photography in the first place.
When I first started dabbling in composites, I tried removing subjects from their original backgrounds. I had zero ideas about the best ways to do it. I was using the eraser tool. The eraser tool! However, the general crappiness of my outcomes made me learn. It made me realize that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted with the way I was going about it, and I started trying other tools to help me get there.
I didn’t fail. I learned.
These five years have been some of the best of my creative life. I know that I have a long way to go but I can’t wait! Do you have any hard earned photography lessons to share? Please tell us in the comments!