The Importance of Being Happy With Your Photography

I was minding my own business when one day in 2017, I received a message: 

“I saw that you photographed so-and-so’s child. I wanted to know how much a session costs.”

I had just photographed her colleague’s child for free. I was transitioning from pet photography to child photography and needed to practice what I had learned in a workshop.

After sending the quote, she responded with something I have heard many times in the following years:

“If you need a model, my child is available.”

About 10 months earlier, I had left the company where I worked and, full of enthusiasm, thought I could make a living from photography.

I practically didn’t sell anything that year.

The response from that woman, asking for a quote and then offering her child for me to photograph for free, was a slap in the face.

I felt undervalued. I was offended and furious.

Despite that situation and not knowing how to monetize my sessions for years, I continued with photography.

From 2017 to 2020, I photographed at least once a week without earning anything, almost uninterruptedly.  

I felt happy like a child in an amusement park.

I was excited by the ideas that came up in abundance for future sessions.

It was a hobby done almost unintentionally.

In parallel, I was trying to promote myself in the hope of making a living from it.

I would never have become a photographer if I had focused only on the money.

It took years to achieve more significant sales, and even today, if I stop promoting myself, I stop selling.

I photographed in countless awful locations because it was what I had available.

Mosquitoes, unbearable heat, ugly weeds, the risk of snakes and spiders, and the clothes I invested in from my pocket without immediate return, all for the sheer pleasure of photographing.

For me, photography transcended the status of mere work to become a source of freedom and personal satisfaction.

I made my own schedule and felt privileged to work outdoors while my friends were in offices.

When we do something we would do even without earning money, things flow more naturally and without pressure.

Although monetization was a goal, I discovered that my true pleasure lies in expressing my creativity without the constraints of payment.

Photography continues to be my source of freedom, and now, more than ever, I seek to revive the passion it brought me at the beginning.

It’s that old story: “Do what you love, and you will stop loving it a little every day.”

I am someone who gets discouraged and gives up easily at the first obstacle, but interestingly, this never happened with photography.

Obstacles were challenges for me.

Seeing photographers better than me was an inspiration.

I see some people getting discouraged just because they didn’t get that beautiful photo. Others give up because they can’t monetize.

I understand. But I suggest that if this is your case, you go back and try to remember why you became a photographer.

We know it’s not the first profession someone thinks of when they want stability.

I believe those who start photographing do so because they found joy in it.

Whether to make a living from photography or purely as a hobby, it’s important that this joy continues because the path to success is entirely possible, but arduous.

You will have to photograph many times in uncomfortable settings and focus most of your time on something you didn’t think about back then when you decided to become a photographer: selling.

Photographing as a hobby removes the pressure of having to please someone.

In this case, you are your client and need to feel happy doing something for yourself that justifies all the effort that lies ahead.

Achieving small results will bring you small rewards that can keep you motivated and provide a sense of personal accomplishment.

But our motivation does not remain the same over the years. Even if you see photography only as a hobby, at some point, it’s quite possible that you will lose interest, even if it’s 5 or 10 years from now. And that’s okay.

I myself would love not to have to work haha, but since I have to, it’s best to make this journey as enjoyable as possible!

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