I’m nowhere near where I want to be as a photographer. Not even close. Even so, I have come a long way since my first paying shoot in December of 2012. Not only have I learned a lot when it comes to shooting, editing, and booking clients, but I’ve also become a lot more comfortable with who I am as a photographer. I wish I could go back and reassure my 2012 self that even though I didn’t know whether or not I was cut out to document the important moments of people’s lives through photos, I would be okay. Here are three things I wish I had known about being a photographer.
1. Not everyone will believe in you. When I first started taking paying clients after a couple of years of shooting family members and friends, I was overwhelmed by the support I received. My parents and siblings all gave me loads of encouragement. The important people in my life told me that they were excited for me to pursue something that I loved so much. I even had support from a few old friends that wanted to book me almost immediately. I am so thankful for each and every person that gave me the encouragement I so desperately needed. However, I quickly learned that not everyone thought that I would be able to take quality photos. Keep in mind, I was just started out. I wasn’t claiming to be the next big portrait or wedding photographer. (I’m still not!) I simply wanted to turn a passion of mine into a paying hobby. I wasn’t even charging very much. I charged $25 for a sixty minute session. That’s less than a tank of gas!
But some people thought that I had no business venturing into the world of photography. Through the world of social media, I saw some not so nice words:
“You’re not a photographer.”
This broke my heart into a million pieces. Was the person that said that a photographer? No. Did they have any knowledge on shooting, editing, or what it took to be a photographer? No. Should their opinion have mattered to me? No. But it did, and it hurt. Up to that point, everyone had been so supportive and so kind.I’m not going to lie, I almost considered throwing in the towel at that point. Looking back now, I can’t believe how silly that was. I hadn’t even spoken to this person in years. I shouldn’t have let their opinion define me. I quickly learned that not everyone would believe in me. Not everyone would wish the best for me or want to see me succeed. And to be honest, that’s okay. As long as my family and friends support me, that’s all I need. My goal is to love what I do and to make my clients happy.
2. You will make mistakes. Oh, man. This is a tough one. The worst part is that no matter how long you have been a photographer, you will make mistakes. It isn’t something that stops after your first year or your fifteenth. As long as you are doing your best and trying your hardest to be the best photographer you can be, that is all that matters.
3. You don’t have to be like other photographers. I have several photographers from all over the world whose photography I admire. However, there is a difference between admiring someone’s work and trying to make yours look similar to theirs. I would beat myself up for not having enough talent or the best equipment or the best editing skills. I was trying too hard to be like photographers that have been in the business a LOT longer than I have. I still struggle with this a great deal. What I have to remember is that what makes my work unique is that it is MY work. MY technique, MY shooting style, MY way of editing. The more I try to be like someone else, the more I distance my personality from my work. Every photographer brings something different to the table, and that’s okay. The interesting thing about life is that five years from now I may read this blog post and think of ten more things that I could add to it! Growing as a person should never stop, and neither should growing as a photographer.
Have an amazing day!