Many people consider becoming a professional photographer. So, there are no shortage of tips and suggestions for making such a leap. However, here is a list of 5 reasons you shouldn’t use as impetus for going pro.
This post was originally published at The Candid Frame.
1. You Hate Your Job
Being in a job that is not fulfilling and challenging is its own unique level of misery. If Dante had ever worked in a cubicle, he would have likely added another circle of Hell to his epic poem. But being in a state of misery and loathing it is not often the best state of mind for making a life change. Making a living from something you love involves making thoughtful and informed choices that will change the rest of your life. Making an impulsive choice based on such strong feelings might not result in the best decision-making, particularly when all that thinking is negative. Though your unhappiness can serve as the inspiration to make a change, it’s your well-considered plan, which will eventually lead you to successfully improve your professional situation.
2. You Think You’ll Have More Time to Shoot
If you are struggling finding time to shoot with your current 9 to 5, you’re going to find it even more difficult when you are working 24/7 to build and sustain your fledgling photo business. With your current role, you are responsible only for one job (regardless of how frustrating or onerous you feel about it), but there are other people at the business that handle the rest of it including accounting, sales, inventory, and office management. When you have your own business, you are wearing all those hats. This often results in you having less time to do the very thing you love. If you can manage to find time with the job you currently have to go out and shoot, especially personal projects, you’re ahead of the game. You will not only have the satisfaction of being creative, but you’ll likely be able to continue this practice when you go pro.
3. You Believe You’re Going to Become Rich & Famous
There are easier ways to become wealthy than becoming a professional photographer. Some of these even involve choices where no laws are broken and you don’t risk sharing a jail cell with a guy named, “Meat”. Though making a living from doing something you love can be vey gratifying, the work involved from procuring the job, creating the images, delivering the work and getting the client to pay you makes you feel like you earned every penny. The only way to achieve long-lasting success is to think of yourself as a business. And though it seems antithetical to a creative life, it’s the kind of thinking that allows you rise above the tens of thousands of camera slingers who hang a sign outside of their home office and call themselves a “pro” but who only succeed in working twice as hard at making half as much.
4. You Want to Be Your Own Boss
There are definite advantages to this including someone not calling you on extending your 15 minute bathroom break. But the reality of being your own boss is that you are likely going to be the worst boss you have ever had. Now, you can’t hide your oversights or omissions or your mistakes. You are ultimately accountable for everything that happens or doesn’t happen. Though doing the laundry might make your significant other happy, it could simply be used as a distraction from the work that you really need to be doing to grow your business. Yes, your clothes may be clean and well ironed, but that will mean very little if you don’t have any clients to get dressed for. If you need the fire underneath your butt to makes things happen, remember you are going to be responsible for gathering the kindling and lighting the match.
5. You’re More in Love with the Idea of Being a Pro Than Actually Being One
A dream manifested can be a wonderful thing, especially when it is the fulfillment of a lot of hard work. But it’s the hard work that will take up the bulk of your waking hours. Unless you can find that work satisfying and gratifying (or pay someone to do that work for you e.g. accountant), you are going to have a hard time sustaining yourself financially and creatively. It’s easy to get fooled by the glamour especially today in the era of the celebrity photographer, but photography is still a job, which will demand the best of you most days. That’s both good and bad news.
Making the choice to go pro is a giant leap of faith, but the best things in life happen when you take a risk. The greater the risk for failure, the more satisfying the feeling is when you succeed.
Just be honest with yourself and take those first steps with the clarity of knowing why and the confidence that comes from a well-planned route. It is always easier to plan for a journey when you know from where you are starting.
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