Over the very short time i have done photography, around 4 years (well technically 6 years but it has been 4 years since doing client work), there has been moments when i have felt like throwing in the towel, to put the camera down once and for all and just forget about doing it ever again. I’m sure other photographers have felt that way at one point or another. It’s a perfectly natural thing to feel whenever there is creative block or if hardly any work comes your way despite doing all you can to drum up business.
This has happened to me very recently but i promised myself to keep going no matter what. Why? Well i have spent years pursuing this hobby/part-time career and it would be a huge waste to throw away all the effort, practice, research, learning, time and money. Yes, money, which has went on equipment and advertising.
I’m giong to share a couple of do’s and don’ts that have affected me at some point and i hope my solutions help anyone who have had similar problems.
DON’T – compare your work to other photographers of any skill level. This is something which dogged me when i first started. I would browse photo sharing sites, Deviant Art being one of them, and i would be awestruck with the skill of some of the photographers. The works were amazing to look at but then a niggling, bad little thought would creep in which went something like “why can’t i take photos like that?”. I’m sure we have all been there but there are lots of factors to consider such as chosen discipline, skill level, equipment and location. What i mean is that the photos you are looking at may be that of a professional (skill) landscape (discipline) photographer with £1000’s of equipment who lives in sceneic rural areas (location) who happens to take those types of shots constantly, therefore become better at it over time and has most likely learned how to do it in some manner.
For this, all i can suggest is to take a step back from those dark thoughts, otherwise you will obsese over the images and convince yourself how bad you are and think “everyone had to start from somewhere”. Yes it will be a long road ahead but if you have found a style of photography you like doing more than others then that’s one step forward. From there, use tools such as YouTube to learn more about that particular style and the more you learn, the easier it will become to take those kinds of shots with lots of practice. Just shoot, evealuate your work or have someone else to do it for you and then go back and take more photos. With time and effort, you will be able to take those shots you so desired to have taken once upon a time.
DON’T – get upset over criticism. Linking to the first point. if you ask someone to look over your images, or use a website to display your work, whetever you do, just don’t fly off the handle whenever someone points out some constructive criticism. It may sound like that they hate your image and that you’re very bad at what you do, but in reality, they are only trying to help by suggesting some changes you can make to improve upon that particular photo. There have been times when i have been given criticism and i felt the same way, like that my photos were rubbish and i should delete what i had and try again, or just don’t try at all, just because someone suggested i should crop a particular part or straighten my image more! Remember that they are only offering some advice to make your images better and from there, you can apply from what you have learned from the critic to your new shots and when you finally receive lots of praise and zero criticism, then you are on your way to being as good as you want to be.
Of course you want to please everyone but remember that different people like different things and you can’t win everyone over. As long as you remember that tidbit and keep telling yourself that, criticism will be just that and nothing more.
DON’T – let emotion get in the way. If you are someone like me who is striving to gain some photo work, don’t, don’t, DON’T let your emotions get in the way for any reason. I’ll explain this one. I have been doing photos on/off for folk over the year due to work and other things in my life and there has been occasion when i have been asked to do this, that and whatever, designing and photos. This is pretty normal to me since this is what i do. But there have been times when i get asked, and i may be feeling down at the time and being asked to do work feels like a mountainous struggle which would frustrate me to such a point i feel like telling that person needing the work to get lost, leave me be and get someone else to do it. However this is not good business sense, even if you are a hobbyist or part-timer.
As well as that, you could end up losing that client due to letting emotion get the better of you and you begin to ask yourself such questions as “is my work not good enough?”, “is it something i’ve done wrong?”, “will i ever get any photo work again?” and so on. Then the inevitable happens; the client starts using someone else to fill in for you and you start to ask those questions over and over, becoming more frustrated with yourself until you just want to give up on the whole photography thing and be done with it all. Then if you somehow managed to convice yourself to not give up, you will have lost the client due to taking so much time to get your act together, ruining your chances of getting work from that person again.
If there is some advice i can offer, it is this; if you feel annoyed when asked to do work, just take a breath and think about what your next actions are. You may end up feeling fantastic when the work is done and that surely is much better than making a big mistake and having no work at all. Also, when taking on a job, just remember that it is strictly business, no matter if the client is a close friend, aquaintance or someone you hardly know. It’s ok to be passionate about your work but don’t let that passion get on top of the fact that you are there to carry out a job. If you purge emotion when it comes to taking on work for clients, then you won’t feel disappointed if you don’t get regular work or if you are replaced. Just keep in your mind that you were part of something, learned from it and can move onto other things. Who knows, it could lead you to that one job that could open doors for you.
I know i’ve went on a bit and i have tried to structure out this post as much as i could but if you can make sense of it then congratulations. Thanks for reading.