So you’ve taken your passion and turned it into a career…only to find that you’re not feeling too passionate about it anymore. Now what?
We all go through it, perhaps some more than others, but I’m right there with you. I can remember when the thought of being a photographer brought me so much joy. All I wanted to do was see new places, meet new people, and photograph everything along the way. I was excited about every opportunity I had to break out the camera and capture something in my own, unique way. But something happens along the way. You find that working for yourself also comes with a lot of baggage. It’s not just taking photos but it’s editing, taking phone calls, responding to emails, marketing, social media, billing, office management, paying bills, filing taxes, continuing education, networking, maintaining a website, placing print orders, sending invoices (just to name a brief few)…and let’s not forget the stress associated with “being your own boss”. Because unlike working for another company or corporation, if there’s a problem, mistake, or something just goes horribly awry, there’s no one else to hide behind. It is solely, utterly, and completely on YOU (even if it’s your fault or not)!
Is it any wonder that so many photographers give up on their business within the first few months and that the rest of us seem to lose our drive so often? I don’t know about you, but I got into photography because I loved the creative process of it…and now I loathe so many of the other areas of having a “photography business”. So if you’re thinking about starting up a photography business, be sure to weigh the pros and cons…and most importantly, be sure that your love of photography outweighs all of the other mundane tasks and boring processes that go along with it. But if you know it’s still something you want to pursue, only you’re finding that the joy is not quite there like it once was, then what can we do to get that joy back?
For me, I find that there are three things lacking when I go through times of feeling “less than enthused”. The first is a lack of purpose. I’ve found over the years that how I feel about myself is very attached to my purpose in life. I never feel as fully alive as when I know and understand the purpose God has for me here and I work towards accomplishing that purpose. But sometimes I lose focus and allow all the other stuff to get in the way. I forget about all of the hours spent in prayer and seeking God’s direction before listening to His call to pursue photography. I get wrapped up in the day to day of trying to keep a business going and ignore the projects and responsibilities He has given me to use photography in ways greater than I am capable of imagining. When I lose focus on my purpose, I begin to lose the joy of being in the middle of what I am here to do.
Secondly, I find myself in times of a lack of vision (this shadow is typically cast from a lack of purpose). When we try to operate on “cruise control”, we tend to find that we have no vision for our future and no goals set out before us. Sometimes when we do set goals, they are not in line with our purpose. This results in being counter-productive on a number of levels and usually ends in frustration. It’s like trying to slide a box uphill. Doesn’t mean these goals can’t be achieved…but the effort and energy expended is often wasted when our goals don’t support our purpose. We have to have a clear vision of what our future and goals look like if we ever hope to find ourselves reaching those goals. After all, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” – Proverbs 29:18
Lastly, when I find myself wondering where my happiness in photography has gone, I typically find myself experiencing a lack of creativity. This is usually a result of falling into a routine. While routine in many things can be very beneficial, it is simply kills creativity. Creativity is fueled by doing something new and different. Looking at problems and solutions in different ways. Asking different questions and coming up with different answers. Routine is all about doing the same thing the same way in order to building speed, accuracy and efficiencies…but creativity is all about slowing down and not being afraid to make mistakes. For most of us in photography, we are the latter mindset. Creativity is part of who we are and it’s hard to feel complete when we’re not trying new things.
If you reading this, and you’re able to relate with what I’m saying…then it’s time to take a pause today. Ask yourself what your purpose is…not just in photography, but in life. Visualize what that purpose looks like and what goals would need to be established in order for you to make your purpose a reality. Then, work in some time to be creative. Make something new, just for the sake of doing it. Remind yourself of why you’re a photographer and you will find those warm, fuzzy feelings return before you know it!
(*Something as simple as photographing this free concert was aligned with all three areas for me (purpose, vision & creativity). If you’d like to know why feel free to message me and I’ll be happy to share.)