In our generation, many photographers stumble across their love for photography. It’s common to hear that a young mother developed her passion when her babies arrived or from photographing her children. After the new-found love of photography is discovered, many hobbyists decide they should showcase their work on a website, blog, or Facebook page. Sometimes this is done without a specific purpose or direction. Before you do these things, decide on your goals. What do you want to achieve as a photographer – whether it’s as a hobbyist or professional.
When I started as a hobbyist 7 years ago, I knew I loved photography and that was about it. I photographed babies, weddings, families, seniors and threw them all up on my blog in the process. I asked advice from other photographers about business, my photos, and what I should do. I was told things like “don’t clutter your blog.” I never did. Another time someone said, “you need to show variety on your site,” so I added a large sampling of images. Someone else explained, “keep yourself affordable” so of course I did that too. Each piece of advice quickly became part of my business model and I lacked my own direction and voice.
I was following their direction and trying to speak with their voice. I found myself regretful wishing I could have start over. I would have included my passion for writing in my business plan. I would have marketed myself to specific genres that I love to shoot. I would have accepted the type of photographer and artist that I was instead of trying to mimic who I thought others wanted me to be.
Precious time gets waisted when we don’t take the time to consider what our direction is, and what platform we want to stand on. But thankfully there is always time to turn things around. I made a change to my blogging format and included more of my daily life (sometimes even from my iPhone GASP!) on my blog. Originally this terrified me, I was worried about presenting anything but perfection. I have felt so blessed as I’ve received emails, and encouragement from my readers. I also quit taking the types of sessions that don’t fulfill me. This rejuvenated my love for my work, and helped me to strengthen and improve in the areas I specialize.
How to make sure you do not make the mistakes I made:
1- Decide early on who you want to be. Don’t change who you are because you think it won’t be perceived well or attract clients. Be authentic and true to yourself. The people who relate to you and your photography will come.
2- It’s great to follow advice from other photographers but do what feels right to you. Instead of trying to be like others who have already succeeded, try to bring something new and exciting to the table.
3- Shoot what you love. No exceptions. When your heart is in your work it shows, and that’s when your work begins to speak for you.
We’d love to hear from you. In the comments below, tell us about your biggest mistake as a photographer. If you have advice on how others can avoid it, add that too!