I’ve gone back and forth for a few years now, trying to decide if I wanted to write this post or not. It’s time to be real.
Back in ’07, I began working at a family portrait studio and not too long after, I ended up being promoted to manager. I already knew my dream was to be in the photography field – in fact I screamed when I was given this job offer. There was just something about being able to document a moment, capture the beauty of the world from my perspective, and presenting someone with a print that they will cherish for the rest of their life.
When the economy hit rock bottom in 2008, the portrait studio began laying employees off. Not only was this the worst time to lose a job (at this time, unemployment was at a huge spike), I was devastated. I felt that my future had just crumbled. Unemployed and seeing my bank account draining, I pulled out the camera that I had purchased a few months back. I thought to myself, “I’ll just do this on my own. It’ll be a great way for some quick cash and I’ll be successful in no time”.
I started doing a few portrait sessions, mainly for friends. This was totally going to work!
Of course, it ended up being more like jumping into the ocean…without knowing how to swim. Not only was I shooting completely in auto and without any knowledge of lighting, I was purchasing equipment that I didn’t even understand. I wasn’t making smart purchases or business decisions and inevitably ended up wasting more money than I’m willing to admit.
Luckily, it didn’t take long before I snapped out of the fantasy and got myself together. I realized that having a camera didn’t mean you are a photographer and that equipment is worthless unless you know how to use it. It’s so easy to visit a photographer’s “what gear do I use” blog post and then just head to Amazon or B&H and fill your cart with their suggested list, but it’s also a huge waste of cash. What’s even more upsetting is thinking about how I could have ruined someone’s memories by photographing important moments before I was ready. I promise that if I were thrown into any of the photography situations that I’ve faced since I started photographing weddings, I would have failed for certain.
It is definitely possible to make a career out of photography, but it’s far from quick cash. You have to commit to investing countless hours of your time to learn the ins and outs of your gear. Learn to make wise business decisions, so you don’t find yourself in debt (which is actually pretty easy to do!). Continue your education and research like crazy. Put your all into it and don’t dive into the ocean until you are ready.