I’m sitting here after a week off at the coast with the family for Spring Break. We had a great family time together, enjoying everything the Oregon coast had to offer from varied weather, sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, tide pools, forest streams, small quaint towns and lots of great downtime and reconnection with the family. I brought two camera systems plus my drone on this trip, thinking I’d have time to get out and shoot for pleasure (not work), experimenting with some different ideas as well as a few targeted ideas for various projects. Unfortunately I didn’t shoot as much as i wanted to. In fact, I really only had one serious photo session in the 5 days we were gone. Mainly because family was important and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them and not be “selfish” and go off by myself. I was a bit disappointed coming home and not achieving the things I had hoped for, however, I got other “gifts” instead, namely quality time with my wife and kids.
Now, it’s back to work in my home office as a working photographer. As I’m sitting here getting my head back in the game for business, the thought came to me about how my productivity has changed between shooting as an amateur and shooting as a working professional. I don’t shoot nearly as often as I used to, my productivity has dropped a lot in terms of sheer number of exposures taken. Where before I could spend time and money on my “hobby” without any guilt because it’s what I did for enjoyment, now that it’s my livelihood, everything I do has to be focused on generating revenue. When I go out now, it’s for a specific purpose, such as scouting a location or working a specific job or leading a workshop. I rarely just go out and shoot for pure pleasure. I do get to shoot for me while I am out working other jobs, however, it’s not an individual trip just for pleasure.
Reflecting on this, I’m pretty OK with this. I used to take such great pleasure from going out and shooting for myself, communing with nature, getting in deeper touch with myself through solitude in nature, nowadays, I find that I have shifted my priorities around photography and seek that pleasure where I can find it, as well as developed different methods for achieving the restorative balance I need to be happy.
You’ve heard it all before, about turning a hobby in to a profession and it’s not easy nor is it typically what you might have envisioned. It’s all true. Photography is now a business and I treat it as such. From book keeping, promotion and marketing, permit applications, paying bills, connecting with clients, etc….thats what this business is about. Actually making artistic images is way down the priority list in terms of a photo business. Print sales have dropped significantly over the years so making “art” for people to buy is no longer a viable source of steady income. Being successful in this industry is about business skills and marketing skills, applied to a creative endeavor. Actually making the art is not as critical as it once was.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day.
I am a photography workshop leader based in the Pacific Northwest. If you would like to see my work, check out my workshops or subscribe to my podcast, please visit www.johnpedersenphoto.com