There comes a time in every photographer’s professional career…whether it happens at the beginning of one’s career or smack dab in the middle, that we fall into a rut…a gap….a moment and place of feeling stuck.
I think, after making it out of a few ruts myself over the past 4 years, that the MAIN REASON such ruts happen is because photographers are SO BUSY SHOOTING WHAT THEY THINK THEY SHOULD BE, WHAT OTHERS TELL THEM TO, AND LESSSSS OF WHAT THEY ARE PASSIONATE TO SHOOT!
We have ALL been in the place where the phone rings, a client asks if we can shoot Billy’s baptism. The phone rings again asking to shoot Mark and Mandy’s wedding. Then it rings again asking us to shoot a retirement party, followed by your neighbors newborn session. WOW! That is a variety of photography right there. And let me be real….we all SAID, “YES!” Why… because it was income. Money in our pockets. Money to put towards a new camera, lens or camera bag. Of course we said, “YES!”
However, let me tell you what that immediate satisfaction of ‘getting paid for your work’ does to not only your mind, heart and soul….BUT THE LONGEVITY OF YOUR CAREER….IT STINTS IT. All of it. It strips the passion of why you fell in love with photography in the first place if you are shooting just to shoot and not shooting what you are passionate about.
We simply must LIMIT the work we do to what we are passionate about because if we don’t, long-term we will feel burnt out, saddened by the outcome of our ‘art’ and we will in turn let others know you are in this field for the wrong reasons….that it isn’t your love and passion for them or the art of it all…just the money. The busy status.
You feel me?? lol
One week, after shooting a family session, newborn session, birthday party, and engagement session I sat down with a cup of coffee and tried to think about why I felt so unhappy…so lost. I loveeeed all the people I got to meet at these shoots….I loveeed the opportunity it gave me get my name out there and just practice with my camera.
After a few hours of thought this is what I came up with:
I do not want to shoot anything other than families, engagements, weddings. No parties, no commercial work, no newborns, not even landscapes!
Once I nailed down what I did and didn’t want to shoot, I went out and got a myriad of magazines: Family Fun, People, Cosmo, In Style, Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings. I furiously flipped through the pages with a high lighter in hand and post its on the table. I bunny-earred, posit-marked and hightlighted anything and everything I loved. From poses, to outfits, to lighting, to composition, to angles.
I found that I didn’t like poses that left people looking stiff or broken. I didn’t like harsh or contrasty light. I liked bright, colofrul, natural, fun, candid, and some posed shots. I like everything to be true to life with minimal editing and simple retouches.
The next day I went out and shot based on what I found out I liked and GUESS WHAT!?!?!? I COULDN’T GET HOME FAST ENOUGH TO EDIT. I ranted and raved about how excited I was on my page to share previews and other people got excited alongside with me. I was positing what I was passionate about which in turn caused others to become passionate as well. From that one session I booked 3 more, and on those session dates, I shot based on that same imagery and research and out of NO WHERE….I was happy. Happy to the core. I was shooting who I wanted, how I wanted, where I wanted, WHAT I wanted. And since that moment on, I have never been more happy or more successful. I followed my heart, inspired my mind, ignited my soul, and REVAMPED my whole business.
I encourage you to grab a stack of magazines and get to tagging, marking and highlighting everything and anything that stands out. On that post-it, write down WHY you are marking that image. If you are better online, you can easily do this on PINTEREST. But don’t just “pin” an image and move on. PIN it and force yourself to write on that image WHY YOU JUST PINNED IT. Better yet, make separate boards based on those criteria above (clothes, poses, lighting, compassion, etc).
Trust me…the sooner you figure out what you do and don’t want to shoot…stop showing what you don’t want to shoot, and embracing the passion that follows suit with shooting what you love….you will be a success in no time! : )