Career: Photographer Motivation

I have been told that photography should always be a part-time gig and that you should supplement it with another job that is stable.

Yes, I would agree that more often then not, it sucks to always to be looking for your next gig.  Sometimes you don’t even know if you’ll get enough gigs to pay the rent.  So yes, I can understand why it’s important to supplement your photography career with something else.

At least until your photography career takes off.

When you don’t have a stable work, it’s easy to get side-tracked.  I’ve been guilty of wanting to stop doing photography and get a software programmer that’ll pay me 2-3 thousand easily every month.

In the end, I just value the freedom I have with photography more then anything else a stable 9-5 job could offer me.

The hardest part is self-motivation.  How do you keep on motivating yourself to do photography day after day, week after week, … especially when all you do is free photo shoots and you can’t really call something your career unless you can bank on it.

It also doesn’t help that you go on craigslist apply to 10 different positions and get nothing out of it.  Well, for the most part I do get about 5 responses.  Those 5 responses will ask what equipment I have, how much do I charge per hour, and a link to my portfolio.

For the most part, I feel like I have good equipment, my rates aren’t too high, but where I lack is my portfolio.

For example, a couple weeks back a company was looking for a full-time photographer to shoot buildings and architecture found in Dallas area.  They wanted someone with a wide angle lens with full frame camera, which I have.  They also said they’d be willing to pay 2-3 K every month for 40 hours of work each week, which is really good for a photographer.  But when I sent my portfolio, I noticed that I didn’t have that much buildings in my portfolio.  I still sent it anyways and of course I got no response.

The same also happened when I responded to a craigslist post for a convention shooter.  They wanted someone who could take pics of the speaker, the audience, and also of people networking at the booths.  I had the equipment, the  pay was already set, but my portfolio didn’t have any convention pics.

I could easily beat myself up for even trying.  It’s like setting myself up for failure, when I knew beforehand I had no experience.

In the end, I decided to use both these two no-response posts and future no-response posts as motivation.

If I don’t get a job as a convention photographer, I’m going to go out there and find some conventions to shoot for free.  So next time, I will have some convention pics in my portfolio.  I already have 3 different conventions this month that I plan on going to.  I plan on paying admission with my own money, shooting as if I’m getting paid, but end up with a more complete portfolio by the end of the day.

The same also applies to architecture and landscape.  I’ve been traveling around to different towns, driving around looking for buildings, structures, and landscape to take pics of.  I’m paying for the gas, shooting as if I’m getting paid, and making it hard for all my future clients to walk away from me.

Pushing myself anyway I can.

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