If you’re reading this blog post, I am assuming you may have some pretty nice camera gear. Maybe somewhere around $1,500 – 2,000 in your camera body, another thousand or more in lenses, not to mention your camera bag, editing software, external flashes and other accessories.
I have all of that, too.
But I don’t think spending a few thousand dollars means that I should become a professional photographer.
Before I ruffle any feathers, let me explain … when I got my first “big girl” camera and started taking better pictures than I was taking with my point and shoot, I decided to start a photography business on the recommendation of friends and family. Mind you, I was still shooting in auto mode with the kit lens and had absolutely NO education on aperture or shutter speed or working with light or spot metering or setting my ISO. I had no clue what I was doing.
Yet, I thought … nice camera, decent pictures, my very own copy of Photoshop Elements 3.0 … GO PRO!
I could not have been more mistaken. Fortunately, nothing ever happened with the business, and I saved myself a lot of embarassment.
Almost 10 years later, I shoot in manual, I’ve assisted with photography workshops, I’ve led photo walks, I’ve been asked to second shoot weddings, I’m an honored member of the Creative Team here at I Heart Faces, and I know about aperture and shutter speed and working with light and spot metering and editing photos and, well, you get it.
But I am not a professional photographer.
I really have no desire to go down that road, and I thought I’d share MY top 5 reasons for not going pro:
1. I don’t want the pressure that comes with being a professional photographer.
Even in the digital age, pictures can be ruined, lost, deleted, destroyed. It’s so scary to think about someone’s special day or event or session being POOF! Gone.
I actually experienced this firsthand with our wedding. I wanted a more photojournalistic approach to our wedding, so I didn’t hire the more professional photographer we met with. I hired the photographer who seemed a little more laid back and casual. He showed up to shoot our wedding in cut-off shorts and Converse tennis shoes, and he lost or deleted 85% of our wedding photos. Never to be seen again.
Luckily, I had friends and family with cameras who took a few pictures of our beach ceremony, so we have some photographic proof of that day, but the money that we paid him was completely lost.
There’s also pressure to get the focus right, catch that special moment, nail the lighting and “Can you make me look thinner?” I know that I, personally, just can’t handle that much pressure without going bonkers.
2. I don’t know how to run a business.
I’m kind of scattered and messy and not as organized as one needs to be to run an effective business. But I’m too much of a perfectionist to run a shoddy business with half-done logos and client packages. I know I don’t have the time and energy and money to put into making it a professional business, so I’m not even going to attempt it.
I also don’t have the money to spend putting a business together only to leave it a few years later. I will say that photography has been the one constant in my life since becoming a stay-at-home mom, but even now, I have to MAKE myself pick up my camera, because I just don’t have the time or energy to do it as much as I used to. So I worry that if I paid for a business license, started paying taxes, hired a professional to design a logo and website, etc., I would end up getting bored of it or too busy for it in a couple of years.
I think it takes a certain amount of PASSION to turn a hobby into a full-fledged business, and I just don’t have that passion right now.
3. I respect and admire professional photographers too much to join them.
I know I simply don’t have the talent or drive or experience to charge people for photographs when there are more capable photographers that have been doing this for years. The market has become saturated with “photographers” lately, and I don’t want to be just another camera in the crowd.
4. I have way too much fun editing photos.
This kind of sounds like a reason to BE a professional photographer, but I just mean that I haven’t yet found my editing groove. I still like playing and experimenting and trying new things too much to utilize it on someone’s family portraits or newborn photos. I just haven’t found that perfect formula that makes me NOT want to find other things.
Also, I look at how my editing style has evolved in just 3-4 short years, and I’m embarrassed by how I edited photos of Emma when she was younger. I don’t want to look back at my photography portfolio and see 17 different styles there.
5. Most importantly, I love what I do.
I am a mom who takes pictures of my kids doing what they do, dressed how they’re dressed, on a normal day, around our house, living life. I get the opportunity to write about it and take the pictures that I want to take. I can play and have fun and be totally un-serious about it, and that’s perfect for me right now.
I don’t think everyone should make the same choice, because then we wouldn’t have amazing professional photographers! But if you feel pressured to become a professional but don’t have the passion or desire, I’m here to say that being a non-professional photographer can be JUST as fulfilling.
Keli Hoskins is a busy mom of 3 kids, 5 and under. She spends her days changing diapers and cleaning the house and making sure her kindergartener makes it to school and back home again and doing laundry and making supper and occasionally taking pictures. And that’s just the stuff she does for fun! You can follow her life and photos at Kidnapped by Suburbia.
Have you felt pressured to turn your photography hobby into a business? Leave a comment or tweet about it with the hashtag #iHeartFaces.