I Almost Gave Up Photography. Here's what I did to change that.
Ask most professional photographers and they'll tell you they got into the photography business to make photographs. Ask that same pro if they are creating more or less for themselves now that they are pro and many will tell you that they are creating less.
I began my photography career in 2005 after leaving Corporate America. I couldn't imagine doing anything other than making a photo. I recall telling my close friends that "all I want to do is shoot" but when I started my business I found out that being a professional does not necessarily mean making more photos.
What I had quickly learned was that photography as a business is the same as any other business. If I were baking pies and wanted to run a business, the time I had to actually make the pies would have to be split among the other activities of running the business. Silly as it sounds to me now I didn't think about that when I first started my photo business. I thought that I would have more time to create and didn't give much thought to marketing, accounting or the countless other things that go with running a business.
Fast forward ten years to 2015. Business was good but I was creating less than ever before. It got to the point where I realized that if I had a day job I could spend more time being a photographer. WTF?!? Something was wrong with this picture. I envy my friends who can work a cool day job then have the satisfaction of creating for them. I wanted that but also wanted to keep my business which, after all, was doing well.
For many people distractions come from bad things but I was fortunate(?) enough for my distractions to be good things. Maybe thats not the best way to describe it but what one of the many things I learned last year was that not every opportunity is for me.
As you may know I've been working with the Lumix team at Panasonic for about four years now. It's been an awesome ride and truthfully I had no idea where it was going when I started. I had no teaching experience and quite frankly was intimidated at the idea of teaching. I acknowledged my fears and took action anyways, turned out that I love to teach! Sharing knowledge and inspiring others to take action is a wonderful experience but now I had two loves - photography and teaching. So now I had even more demands on my time. Something had to give.
My mind was flooded with the great opportunities I had but it was time to practice an important skill - the ability to say No. I decided the best course of action was to practice saying No to opportunities that come my way and reset my creative brain by going back to basics with my work.
Using only one camera and one lens I committed to only create in monochrome and develop all my work in camera. This was both uncomfortable and liberating at the same time. At first it was strange to process raw files in camera or just go with the jpegs the camera generates but I quickly adjusted to it. Soon I began to love creating again and over the course of five months a new body of work emerged. Also while committing to monochrome in-camera only I was able to commit more time in the morning to write lessons for myself to grow as an artist. The writings began to grow into what I'm calling Creators Path, a series of educational writings for creators. From the writing of Creators Path came a podcast which I'll be releasing here soon. For some reason releasing a podcast scares the heck out of me even though I have several episodes recorded. There's something in that fear for me to learn but I'm going to do it publicly with Creators Path.
Everything I do now with my business has to plug into my Carry Less Create More Manifesto or I don't do it.
It's been over five months since I started on my creators path but since then - I've fallen in love with creating more than ever before, I have more time to create and run my business, plus I get to help other photographers find their creators path.