Look, it can be really difficult to be a photographer in this day and age. Here are just a few of the challenges we all face:
- Over-saturated market. Qualified and under-qualified, lots of people are offering photography services.
- Prices. People don’t want to pay enough for you to live on, but expect the world of you.
- Doing non-photography things. Often times, you have to spend more time marketing yourself and trying to get business than actually shooting and editing.
- Deciding what kind of photographer you want to be. Specialty, general, it can be agonizing.
- Unhappy clients. There are always unhappy clients and it can really, REALLY drag you down.
- Feeling like you always need better equipment. Photographers always want the latest and greatest.
The list goes on, but let’s stop there.
There is no more important skill than persistence if you want to be a photographer. Sometimes you need someone to push you further, sometimes you can stick with it, sometimes you can a client that absolutely loves you and lifts your spirit.
Let me share a part of my story with you.
I moved just outside Los Angeles right after college because “there’s a huge demand for photographers there” and I still think that was a mistaken thought. I’ve said that I took some 9-5 jobs to keep me afloat between gigs, but I never said how hard I tried to leave.
In 2015, my roommate and I decided that it was just too saturated over here. He got a job working at a paint store and I got a job managing apartments. In December of that year, we planned to move back to Tampa, Florida. That was where we knew more people, we went to college there, and we’d stand a better chance at getting jobs. It felt like giving up, but I thought it was the right thing to do.
Well, call it coincidence, divine intervention, destiny, whatever you want. But when April came around (that was when we planned on moving), we didn’t have the money. So we stuck it out without having a choice in the matter. A month or so later, my roommate got a nice gig in his field which introduced him to just the right people. A few months later, his business was taking off. I was really getting in the swing of managing and I’d stopped marketing my own photography. Apparently, something in the universe decided I needed another push, because my regional manager, who was absolutely amazing, left the company and her replacement was an evil woman who must have climbed from the depths of hell. Well if that wasn’t enough reason to give my 2 weeks, I don’t know what would have been!
During that time just before I quit, I met a member of the Filharmonic who really appreciated my work, which was a great confidence boost! Then my roommate and his new business partners talked with me and we hatched this crazy idea of making a photography studio.
Now I’m getting more clients and just really starting to make a living from photography like I always planned. Of course I tried to get that done before I crossed the mid-point of my 20’s, since I got my degree when I was 21 and didn’t end up starting to actually make a living from it until I was 25, almost 26, and those were some long, hard years.
Yes I almost gave up, I slipped into complacency with jobs that provided a very seductive stable income, I tried to move back where I thought it was easier and cheaper to live…but I’m glad I got stopped.
So in case you’re in one of those states, those areas where you need someone to tell you not to give up, please don’t. You CAN do it, you really can! If you need help, there are ALWAYS people around to help you. They might not be who you expect, but above all…