IN FOCUS: My Journey into Professional Photography
I realize this is a lengthy post, so I completely understand if you move on after reading the first few paragraphs. But, I do hope you’ll give it a chance because I believe there are so many people out there with this dream and your participation may be exactly what they need. In fact, it may be exactly what I need!
IN FOCUS: My Journey into Professional Photography – Introduction
Several months ago I published a post about dreaming. You may want to read “I Have a Dream” part 1 and part 2. Over the past eight months, professional photography has become my dream. And whether I succeed or fail, neither will be as difficult to endure as having never tried!
There are many sources available that offer a variety of information to those who may have aspirations of becoming a professional photographer. Some are helpful – most are not. But this series of blog posts will be different from all of those, in that it will chronicle my step-by-step journey into the professional photography market. My goal is to share the victories and the disappointments, the good and the bad, the successes and the failures, what works and what does not. Literally everything I do will be recorded for your comment and evaluation. By inviting you to participate, my hope is that your comments will offer insight and encouragement thus becoming a vital part of this journey. I intend to be completely open with my goals, my plans, my strategies, and my progress. Everything will be documented. My reason for doing this? It’s to offer hope to anyone with a dream!
Now, let me preface this series of blog posts with these comments:
- If you happen to be a professional photographer – this series is for you because you can be the sounding board of sensibility that cries out when I venture too far from reality.
- If you’re interested in becoming more serious about your photography, even venturing into the professional world along the way – this series will encourage you to do that.
- If you have absolutely no interest in becoming a professional photographer, but enjoy photography and consider it an important part of your life – this series is for you because it will provide the information needed to improve your skills and expand your horizons.
- If you have no interest in photography but you do occasionally grab a camera with the idea of snapping a few pictures, and you primarily enjoy this site and share your comments because of the images posted here – this series is for you because various images will constantly be used to demonstrate a point of focus.
In May of 2010, a journey began – my journey. And in eight very short months, it’s already been a time of great challenge and reward. But, I sense the greatest challenges still lie ahead. Knowing that, creates a growing excitement within my very being! But, that excitement brings with it a strange accompanying anxiety.
One of the anxieties that seems to repeatedly haunt me is the fact that I’m not young! Yes! There, I’ve said it! I’m…not…young!! The thought of starting a journey at this particular stage in my life, at times, seems like a foolish dream – or the dream of a fool, I’m not sure which. At any rate, this anxiety causes me to sometimes internalize any aspirations about photography becoming anything more than an enthusiastic hobby. There is a certain reluctance if not an outright refusal to share this dream that is growing within me. Because of this anxiety, this post is a monumental step for me! I sometimes fear what those closest to me might think?
But, if they’re my closest friends and family, won’t they eventually if not immediately share in my dream and support me along the way? Time will tell. However I would advise you in this way: Before you ever share a dream of this magnitude I would strongly suggest having any and all doubts settled in your own heart first, and a plan of action (even if that plan is in its infancy stage) already in place. That way when you share your dream with those who are closest to you, they too, can share in the excitement of that dream and stand with you through all the ups and downs along the way.
On a side note: To be perfectly clear, I’m not old either! I want to make sure everyone understands that. I’m not young! But, I’m not old either! I’m somewhere in-between.
One of the books I’ve been reading and re-reading this year is a book by Julia Cameron entitled The Complete Artist’s Way. It’s actually a compilation of her three works, The Artist’s Way, Walking in this World, and Finding Water. In this book, Julia makes a statement that caused me to completely adjust my thinking to recognize the potential of “NOW!” She explains that when she teaches her artistic concepts, there is always someone who voices an intense defensive hostility by asking, “Do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to be a professional photographer?” To which she always replies, “Yes…the same age you will be if you don’t!” To me, that’s a profound statement that allows me to dream anything at any age!
When I began this journey, some of you indicated you were excited about coming along. I’m not sure how serious you were when you said those words. But if you’re still interested, you better hang on because we’re getting ready to shift into high gear! So, whether you’re a professional photographer with all the latest gear or an amateur enthusiast armed only with a point and shoot camera, jump on board and let’s see where this train will take us! If you’re young, old, or like me – somewhere in between, put down your morning coffee and grab something to take some notes because this is about to get good! If you have aspirations of becoming a professional photographer (even though no one may be aware of those dreams) or if you have for even one fleeting moment wondered if you could ever sell one of your images or have one of your prints included in a gallery exhibit, dust off your zoom lens because we’re going to glance into the future and discover the possibilities!
When I talk to people about their life, I always ask these questions, “Where do you see yourself in one year?” And, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Those two questions usually give me the insight needed to evaluate their vision and motivation. Believe me without vision and motivation, in five years you’ll likely be somewhere close to where you are right now. And that’s the issue for me. I don’t want to still be dreaming about becoming a professional photographer five years from now. In five years, I would much rather be dreaming about where I’ll be opening my second gallery! For a certainty, I don’t want to be in the same place I am today, five years from now!
Take a look at the image below. Tell me what you see.
In many ways, I feel this young person heading into a foggy ocean with no way of seeing any further than the steps directly ahead of him at this very moment, accurately depicts my feelings as I begin this journey unable to see beyond the few steps I’m taking today.
Just as you would think it folly to grab your camera, point at your subject, and shoot; so to is life when you move through each day by simply getting out of bed, going through the motions, and going to bed that night only to get up and do it all over again the next day. Even though we refer to them as “point and shoot” cameras, in reality we actually point, FOCUS, and then shoot if we really want to extract a usable image. Life can be similar in that we need to develop a focal point that commands our attention and directs our days.
Let me share with you some of the questions I’ve been asking myself lately:
- Is my work good enough to compete at the professional level?
- Am I good enough to start charging for my work?
- Do I have what it takes?
- Am I good enough to start investing in equipment and classes?
- Do I have “it?”
Obviously what I’m really asking is, “Should I take the risk of investing myself emotionally and financially in becoming a photographer? Will I be able to make a living?”
I had to come to the realization that I’m the only person who knows the answers to those questions. And if those questions sound familiar to you because you’ve asked them repeatedly as well, then recognize that the tools for success lie within you and me – concealed from even the closest observer. Because of that, only you and I can determine the answers to those important questions.
So, what should I do today? The first step you must take is to begin to discover that focal point for your life. And whether it’s photography or something completely different, embrace it and pursue it with an undeniable passion.
Are there any hopeful professionals out there? Are there any “Dreamers” reading this post right now? Let me encourage you to join me on this journey. From the legalities of a small business, to the painstaking efforts of securing a professional printer and framer, to the complex task of obtaining gallery space, and everything in-between, you can walk with me as I follow the strategic plan I’ve developed for this dream. Will you share your thoughts, or maybe even your dreams by adding your comments to this discussion? Believe me, you will only find support from myself and the readers of this blog!
Note: IN FOCUS: The Journey Into Professional Photography will be a twice monthly feature here at Photographyfree4all.
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