I follow a very nice group of people on a forum on Facebook. They are all trying to start their businesses with varying degrees of luck and success.
One of the things that is emerging is that many of them are simply not ready to be professionals and in business. And that is a shame.
It is not a shame they cannot be in business, it is a shame that they thought it was as easy as buy a camera, get some business cards on the way home from the camera store and then shoot like one of their heroes shoots.
Not having any understanding that their hero spent years, decades even, learning and honing their craft, they think that if they copy the light and methods, success will be right around the corner.
It usually isn’t.
And while the perky workshop husband and wife teams go merrily out the door selling young photographers on how ‘easy’ it is to become rich shooting families and babies and weddings, the reality is that it is anything but easy.
Yes, they may have opened their doors five years ago, but they were shooting a lot longer than that.
Marketing plays a huge role as well, but that is a discussion for another time.
My take on all of it is that first, before the business cards and the promos and the vouchers and the awesome website and the perky videos… one must first BE a photographer.
Being a photographer means shooting technically and artistically without encumbrance. It means knowing the gear, how it works, how light works and how to use it to make the images you see in your head… or on someone else’s Pinterest.
Being a photographer means not struggling with simple light, and being able to concentrate on the shot at hand. Being a photographer means knowing what the shot is going ‘to turn out like’ before committing it to the film or sensor.
It takes time. And a lot of shooting and failing and screwing up. It takes understanding the win, and working through the challenges.
Football players generally play more than 8 years before they are considered by the pros. Tennis players play for years and years before getting to the pro circuit. Cello players and rock drummers play and woodshed and practice for decades to get to the point of becoming a paid musician.
Why would anyone expect photography to be any different.
I think it is important to shoot a lot of photographs, and love making photographs so much that it is all you want to do. Live photography and breathe photography and dance photography.
When you are shooting photographs that matter, photographs that everyone thinks is awesome, photographs that YOU think are awesome, you may turn around and realize that you are already a professional photographer.
That’s when the fun begins… really.
Thanks and see you next time.