Have you been wondering if it’s time to call yourself a professional? Start a business? Really put yourself out there? And if so, where should you focus your energy? In today’s post, Jill Sloffer writes a letter to one aspiring professional photographer: herself. Read on and be inspired by the lessons she learned from her first year in business.
An Open Letter to the Soon-to-Be-Professional-Photographer: Me
This may be a bit confusing, but this is you writing this letter. Well, it’s me, but it’s you too, just a year from now. Like in the movie The Lake House, but this isn’t Keanu Reeves and the ending is better. Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much, but 2011 is a pretty great year. You’re about to start something really amazing. It will be TONS of hard work, but I promise, you will be glad you took this leap. Just remember a few things as you start your photography business, okay?
1. Don’t confuse inspiration with envy.
Be prepared, Lady. You already know that photography can bring out your insecurity, but now that you’ve started a business, the jealousy can get intense. It’s okay to admire others’ photos and try to figure out what you like about them, but don’t get on the big green envy bus. It won’t take you anywhere you want to go.
2. Don’t waste your time trying to be someone else.
You know how you take a picture to your hair stylist and say, “This is what I want,” and how then you’re disappointed when your hair doesn’t look like that photo- and your face doesn’t look like Rachel McAdams? It is the same with your photography. Try all you want to imitate a photo you love, just don’t get upset when your “inspired” photo doesn’t turn out how you expected. Embrace what makes your photography unique and run with it. Your clients are hiring you for YOU, Silly!
3. Workshops are worth the price of admission.
Remember the photography workshop you went to about 6 months ago? Yeah, that is going to pay off big time. All of the business advice and photography knowledge that the teacher and other photographer-attendees shared with you was invaluable. Good call on that one. You should go to another one, for sure.
4. Be secure and confident.
Joining the community of professional photographers, online and in real life, can feel a lot like high school. It seems like your peers are more popular, more talented, and all you want to do is fit in with them. But thankfully you are older and wiser now, so when you post a photo and see that it had 60 views and no comments, try not to take it too hard. Or when you tweet something super clever and the only tweeted reply is from @crickets, it may sting a bit, but remember putting yourself out there is a part of being an artist. Some people will love your work-remember to thank your Mom and Dad– and some people won’t. Criticism doesn’t feel good, but it helps you become a better photographer. So reach out, make friends, and don’t be afraid to fail. Good things are coming. I know it. Wink, wink.
5. Keep your family first.
As much as you love photography, you love your family more. Take good care of them. When you are being paid for your portrait sessions, you will feel extra pressure to spend even more time tucked away editing and getting the photos just right. But a year is going to fly by, so don’t spend it looking at the computer screen the whole time, ok?
That’s all the advice I can give you, my dear. I don’t want to disrupt the space-time continuum or anything like that.
The 2012 You
Jill Sloffer is a photographer in Fort Wayne, IN. She loves hanging out with her husband, loving on her 4 kids, and eating cheese (or just about anything dipped in cheese). You can find more of her ramblings and photos on her blog, facebook, and twitter.