It's always difficult to stay on task during the summer, and this year was no exception. Art shows, visitors, a website redesign, and a whole host of other excuses are up my sleeve, but suffice to say I am back here on the blog and ready to go! If you've missed hearing about some of the latest news, you are welcome to sign up for my newsletter, here, which I send out about once a month.
To get back in the swing of things, I'm participating in a challenge posed by the wonderful Brigitte of Unfettered Ink. I'd like to tell you one of my stories - how I got from there in 2006 to here in 2012.
In 2006, I lived in Connecticut in a damp lakeside cabin with my brand new husband. I had a job that I simply wasn't experienced enough to do properly, and going to the office felt like failing every day. After many difficult days and a lot of thought, my husband and I decided I should leave that job, despite not having another lined up. I started looking for another position in my field of Environmental Science, but I needed something to do in the meantime. We had purchased a digital SLR camera in 2005, our first married Christmas gift to each other, and it rekindled my passion for photography. I decided to try my hand at being a "professional photographer".
What a perfect plan! After all, I loved photography, all I had to do was figure out how to make some money with it. All I had to do...
My husband was concerned that I might grow to hate photography if I turned my hobby into an actual job, but I was confident that my passion would not wane. We were both concerned about how to make money from photography. I hit the internet - researching up a storm about all the different ways to earn an income with my camera.
The first few years were... eclectic. We figured the more pots I had a finger in, the better I would do financially. I took on portrait jobs and product photography jobs, all the while working on my true love, art photography. And much of the time, I really didn't like what I was doing. I'm very shy, not a people person - trying to draw people out to feel comfortable in front of the camera for a portrait was torture. Product photography bored me to pieces - product after product on a crisp background with perfect lighting and no soul.
But, my passion was still there. I still loved taking art photographs. I was beginning to show my work at small gallery events, camera clubs, and local libraries. Feeling burnout coming hard on my heels, I decided I needed to ditch the excess baggage and focus solely on art photography, even though it seemed like the hardest way to earn money. Not all of my supporters thought this was a good idea. I held firm, believing that if I was to make a living at this, it needed done in the way that lit me up inside. Otherwise, this would just be really, really hard work with very little reward.
Making this decision lifted a great weight. Now I could focus on one thing. I could be the best art photographer I could be, rather than being a mediocre portrait and product photographer that occasionally had time to take some artsy shots.
Now, I love what I do. I developed a signature style that puts a piece of my soul in each shot. And, I make a profit. Nothing substantial yet, but ever growing and changing and moving forward.
And, having created a narrower path in which to hone my skills and fuel my passion, I can branch out and play. I can take on that portrait photograph job, where it was my style that caught the eye of a family looking for candid shots. I can teach others about how to improve their own product photographs, and take a few that showcase my own work. I know that the core remains solid and strong, like the trunk of a tree, holding up those branches.
The lessons I learned? Let go of what isn't working, and focus on what is. But never stop experimenting - that's what makes you grow.
Share your story in the comments, or on Unfettered Ink on August 1st.