That I should have started putting light sabers in my work way sooner.
In all seriousness, the best advice I could give people is to not rush defining yourself as a professional. As soon as you pop up a website/facebook page that says <Your Name> Photography, your brand, name, and work become one. If you feel your work sucks, realize that’s your name/reputation on the line. Furthermore, once you establish yourself as a “professional”, why would any (real) studios hire you when they’d essentially be hiring a (wannabe) competitor. I’m kind of in that position as we speak. I’m pushing hard to get into commercial work - but don’t have any experience working at a commercial studio. The whole idea of getting work on that level is completely foreign to me because I’ve never been an intern. Lastly, if you rush into becoming a “pro” you’ll essentially be forced into a situation where you take gigs that you don’t want to do (assuming you have bills to pay like me). It’s like training your entire life to be a sushi chef then getting a job at a Greek restaurant.
I’ll try! Thank you xx
Thanks bud - glad I can be helpful!
Thanks bud, much appreciated xx
Thank you so much - means a lot xx
First of all, congratulations on graduating! That’s pretty awesome :)
That said, I completely understand where you’re coming from. As artists, the business side of things is often extraordinarily daunting. Combined with the fact that there are A LOT of really really amazing photographers out there - things can get real discouraging real fast. How can my stuff compete? Is my stuff as good as <insert photographer’s name here>? What’s my next step? These are things that, despite how overtly vain and egotistical they are, always play in the back of my mind.
So what can you do about it? Well, you should really just try and narrow the scope of what you want to shoot. I know this is something I say all the time, but once you define what sort of photographer you want to be, then you can really focus on your craft. In turn, your photos start to become better which boosts confidence which allows for more experimentation and growth, etc.
Consider this: In today’s photography scene, you can essentially break people up into four categories. First, you have the semi-pro and amateur folks trying to break in and get established. Then, you have the working photographers whose livelihoods are dependent mostly on the consumer/low-end commercial projects (weddings, babies, senior portraits, etc. I’d classify myself as being one of these). Above that, you have the “rock stars” of photography who mostly make a living selling prints and teaching workshops (Aaron Nace, Brooke Shaden, Miss Aniela, etc). Then at the top you have the industry professionals (Annie Liebovitz, Martin Schoeler, etc). Regardless of where you stand, artists tend to place a lot of their happiness on the perceived success of their work. I know I do. How can you blame us? When we release a photograph, we put our blood, sweat, and tears into what we do. If a photo isn’t well received, I tend to look at myself as to why it wasn’t. Things get personal. And it sucks. WHY AREN’T I A ROCKSTAR YET?!
I’d be lying to you if I were to say that I’ve completely come to grips with this whole dilemma because frankly, I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be really happy with my career or work (and hence life as an artist). There are so many examples out there of people whose work have hit mainstream success but despite their notoriety, were still miserable. Moving outside of photography for a moment, Kurt Cobain is probably the most famous example of this problem.
I remember this one time I was listening to NPR where they were interviewing the famous comedian Artie Lang. To bring you up to speed, Mr. Lang is/was a sidekick on Howard Stern’s radio show and has had a pretty successful career as a stand-up comedian. But despite fame, the guy has repeatedly tried to kill himself. In the interview, the person talking to Lang brought this up and asked a question along the lines of “You have millions of fans, a steady gig, and money in the bank – what exactly would make you happy?” His response really gave me chills. “To be alone in a dark room with heroin,” he said. Crazy.
So what does that have to do with you being in a slump and how to get out of it? I wish I knew for certain – but maybe it’ll help you realize that even the most successful artists perceive themselves as being in a slump. Just keep shooting.