As most of you have read over and over JFY came upon me as a pure fluke. I love to draw and paint so photography was just a new medium, and as fate had it I met and married a man who owned an entry level DSLR.
JFY exploded quickly and took my by surprise and has moulded me in good and bad ways. I have learnt many valuable lessons during this up-hill journey, some technical some personal. I believe it is true though – the prize is always worth the climb. Here are a few areas where I flubbed, and flubbed hard.
1. Learn how to operate your camera – When I first started photography I was pretty awesome and shot on ‘P’ mode. As far as I was concerned the results I got were also awesome! Why would I ever need to learn anything else? Well that was until I was faced with different lighting situations, invested in better equipment and was faced with some pretty horrendous images. Learn your camera, teach yourself (hey I learnt on my own!) manual mode. It will give you so many amazing options and let you control your camera giving you the best results.
2. I tried to edit JPEG images. This is easy, shoot in RAW – way better folks.
3. You NEED a website. Sure Facebook is great, it offers you all the options you could really need or want. What did I learn through experience though? People WANT a website – I guess it makes you look more professional. I didn’t have one for a long time and found many people questioned my legitimacy. Well I stumbled upon a great site called www.wix.com . If you need a website it’s a good option!
4. I let the opinions of others bother me. When I first started off photography I was faced with the usual claims. I was just another person with an entry level camera, under charging in the market delivering sub-par photos. I was accused of copying. I was bombarded with hatred and a constant feeling of being lower than low. The worst part is when you believe for even a moment it may be true. It took me a long time to realize that others will be cruel just because they can. Experience is a major factor (in my opinion) in the photography industry, and many will use this to push others around because they lack any of it. Don’t listen to others. I had to remind myself every day that I am doing what I love because I LOVE it, and no one has the power, the right, or the freedom to tell me otherwise. Don’t listen to other people like I did, it’ll just make you mad.
5. Learn to love your product more than anyone else. Believe in yourself and your work. If you believe in your work and your vision, people will see it and want to be apart of it. For a very long time I doubted myself, I wondered if my photos were good enough – could I even charge? It translated through my images. Don’t get sucked into self doubt.
6. Market yourself to what you feel is fair. One of the toughest things I was faced at was wondering ‘do people think I am worth it?’ – then I had to remind myself – market myself for what I feel is fair for my time, talent and skill. For a long time I worked for what would just barely cover costs – needless to say you can’t live off ‘FREE’.
7. Don’t distrust everyone. I had a bad experience. I let it effect my relationship with other photographers, I became jaded, closed off and always second guessed what so many other people said. Now?! I have some of the best amazing photographer friends and supportive circle. I couldn’t be happier knowing I have people to turn to with questions, a bad day or just the need to talk shop.
8. Learn to say NO. My first year of photography I shot as MUCH and as MANY sessions as possible. I burnt out, and I burnt out hard. My relationship suffered, my husband was frustrated and my friends were annoyed that I had a better thing going with Mr. Canon. Don’t let your passion become your life.
9. Invest into your work. When I started I didn’t print my work, I didn’t invest in albums or packaging. I did recently and it reflects how much my work has GROWN. I am surrounded by my work in my office and I love it. It lifts me up when I am down, and people LOVE seeing what I offer. I WANT to put money into my albums and packaging because I am so pumped about what I can do now. I am not just the ‘entry level photographer’ anymore. I want my work and clients to see that.
10. ALWAYS carry business cards. People will want them. Even when you’re being searched for explosives in security at the airport. No really – booked a wedding consult.
11. Last but not least, and ultimately the most important. NEVER GIVE UP. I can’t tell you the amount of times I gave up inside. I quit, I was done. It was too much, I was frustrated, I hated the work I was doing, my editing sucked, my creative brain was dead and it felt like I was just another number, useless and pathetic. I don’t let myself think that way anymore – I can’t. I love what I do. No one should give up. Photography isn’t something you can ever master. You’re always going to be learning which also means you’re always going to be failing. Remind yourself where you’ve come and gone and what you NOW are. It doesn’t matter if you did something wrong, it doesn’t matter if someone feels you aren’t as good as you think you are. Your passion isn’t about the Facebook ‘likes’, the ‘comments’ or fan count. It is about taking, processing and loving photography. Don’t let the fluff that accompanies photography change what you love. No one can take your passion away – it took 2 years to learn, buckets of tears, countless curses and hours of frustration, but where I am today makes up for everything I went through yesterday.
ps: If you travel be prepared to be searched at the airport because of your gear. I am 6 for 6 for security searches. Leave a little early.