It’s understandable that you’re terrified, doubtful and insecure about where you are. You desire something you think you want so much, but what if … what if it doesn’t work? You’ll look like a fool, you know? So, your only other option is to play it safe. Don’t pursue the dream that’s keeping you up at night. Get a job you’ll love almost as much and tell yourself that things are better that way. Save yourself the money, the late nights, the risk. Dreams come and go. This one will die, too.
Or will it? What if it doesn’t? And, you cage it? All because you feared taking a risk and failing! Do you really want to get to your 50’s and realize you wasted the best years of your life because you were scared of failing? By then it will be too late to do all that is swirling around in your head right now.
You have to do it. At least try. Otherwise, you’ll only be left with the “what ifs.”
Mark Twain said it best … “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Now go. You will never regret it. Yes, even if it fails.
This is the letter I mentally wrote to myself in 2007. I was dying to do photography full-time. I was in love. I had ideas of how wonderful things could be if only I could do something I loved so much. But, the fear of it all nearly handicapped me. When my husband finished school and finally started making a bit of money we decided it was now or never. Take the risk or find a good job to help us start tackling the mountain of debt medical school gave us.
It took me several weeks, but the words written above kept swirling around in my head. I knew that even if I failed I had to do it. But, EVERYONE’S a professional photographer!! Who needs another?!?! Hey you! Stop talking. It’s time to sail away from the safe harbor.
Three years later and I am officially working my dream job. Aaaannnnd, happy. Aaaaaand, making good money. Yep, they can all go hand in hand if done right.
This week I’m going to share the 6 steps I took to get from a hesitant wannabe to a successful and self-sustaining, full-time, professional photographer.
My desire is not to tell you this is exactly how you need to do things. My desire is only to share with you what I have learned and found to work for me. If any of you can learn anything from what I’ve done (right and wrong) I feel these next two weeks will be most successful.
Also, thanks to some of our friends, we’re giving away loads of fun stuff. Definitely want to check in for those contests!
Step 1: Get Educated
It’s really that easy. Education is without a doubt the only way you can learn your camera, the art of photography AND how to run a successful business. Without education you will waste a lot of time and most likely a lot of money.
Education can come in the form of getting a degree, but the great thing about photography is that it can also come in all kinds of other ways as well. Some of these include, but are not limited to, local and online classes, workshops (online and in-person), books, DVDs, one-on-one mentoring with a seasoned pro, teaching blogs such as this one, photography forums, and of course, taking and learning from every picture taken.
Something important to understand is that education does take money. Personally, I spent a good chunk of money on getting educated. I had the luxury (and I call it a luxury because I know not everyone will have this opportunity) to spend an entire year being a full-time student. I took several online classes, read books, watched DVDs, attended live workshops, took other photographers to lunch, read blogs, studied art in books and magazines and took pictures of everyone that would let me.
By the time I officially launched I was still terrified, but I was confident in using my camera, in creating solid work and in running a business properly.
When I decided to pursue photography as a profession I treated it as if I was returning to school to get a degree – I was just the one that deciphered which credits were necessary for graduation.
Too often people think that all you need is a nice camera, a blog and a logo, but this is not the case. Way too many people enter into their “dream job” and fail miserably. This can be avoided if you prepare. Know what you’re getting into and what is involved on all levels (photography as an art, running a business and what to expect when working with clients). You won’t have everything down when you officially launch, but your foundation will be solid and this is what is most important.
I know money often keeps people from getting the proper education in photography that they need, but I’ll tell you that for me it gave me the confidence I needed to charge for my pictures. I had invested in myself and in my business. I knew I was going to give my clients a product they could not get from their neighbor who just happened to own a high-end DSLR. Bottom line: I quickly made the money back.
Disclaimer: I do not advocate going into debt to start a business. If you have to save up to get educated or receive your education slowly over time then I would highly suggest that route way before I would suggest the stress that comes with being in debt. Clients will sense your desperation for money and most likely will not be drawn to it.
So, Step 1: Get Educated. It is the absolute foundation to a successful business. Without it you will be like shifting sand. Only time will result in a failed business or at best you will work like a dog making less than minimum wage. Yuck. I’d rather be a Barista at Starbucks. At least then I’d have my health insurance paid for!
Jessica, our guest writer for this series on going from Hobbyist to Professional Photographer, is the photographer behind 503 photography and the owner and creator of 503 |online| workshops for adults and now, KIDS AND TEENS!
p.s. Sign your chid up for one of our kid/teen workshops and use code MCP503 for $50 off. Offer ends May 23rd.Previous Post: Winners of the Color Inc Stand Out Mount Prints + Discount!
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