Being an artist is hard.
We are critical of our own work and then have the voices of others to contribute to our own critical voices.
I have been a photographer going on 20 years. Professionally going on 9 years. My journey as a photographer began when I learned how to develop my film and images in a dark room. Oh how I miss that experience...
When I first started shooting professionally over 8 years ago I was consumed by other people's work via blogs and websites. My desire to continue my growth and study was on fire. I had made the jump to charge for my work. I read many photography books for inspiration, was a part of forums to have my work critiqued and to create a business plan. It was a positive experience with positive growth.
Has it all been easy? Absolutely not. Being your own boss is HARD and takes DEDICATION. Big time. Especially in photography.
Year after year I see new photographers pop up onto the scene fast and furious. Eager to create a following and build a brand, which is great! I applaud them and am here to encourage, support, and am an open book to help them grow. They have a lot of gusto and excitement, as they should. But sadly, they quickly die off and essentially quit because photography is hard. Being an artist is hard.
Facebook was brand new to the public when my business started developing in 2007. Business Pages hadn't been developed yet and it was still a very new world to everyone. But quickly, the world of social media burst onto the stage and there with one click were THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of other artists wanting to be seen and heard. No longer did I have to save blog posts and try and remember websites, there they all were, with one click of a button to "LIKE" and look. And honestly, it was awesome and still is! Facebook has brought numerous of dear friendships within this industry that I am so grateful for and I would not have meet them if it wasn't for social media. However, I did have to teach myself very fast to not compare myself to other people. To put blinders on. And that was hard.
This quote was going around Facebook and other social media sites a few weeks ago and it could not speak a louder truth then if it were to be blasted by a horn. This is a CHOICE we all have to make.
Comparing ourselves to others on the internet will only rob us of joy. My all time favorite quote is by Theodore Roosevelt: "Comparison is the THIEF of joy." It is a popular quote and one worth writing and sticking to your monitor. It is a quote that I remind myself throughout every aspect of my life. As a mother, homeschool mom, business owner, and woman. If I want to rob joy from my life, then all I need to do is look to my left or right and compare myself to the person standing next to me.
I believe we were all created in the unique image of God, of which I believe has no bounds in His unique creativity. We are all different. All beautiful. All unique. He did not create me to be like "Susie" or "Jennifer" or "Peter." He created me to be me. And if I begin comparing the gifts and talents He has given me to that of others, then I only rob myself.
Does that mean that I shouldn't look to others for inspiration? Absolutely not. But I do believe we need to be careful of our motive. What is driving us to do so? What are our intentions? If it is truly to grow and develop our craft, then BY ALL MEANS, look, learn, and be inspired. But if we are on social media for reasons that are only going to break us down and steal joyful moments... the no, look away.
I had to decide a LOOOOOONG time ago to not compare myself to others on the internet.
My first mentor in photography taught me this after a conversation we had. He told me to put the blinders on and to stop caring what other people were doing. If I didn't I would only be upsetting myself and get frustrated and would quit. And I am glad I listened to his advice. It has stuck with me for over 8 years and will continue to be a good reminder for many to come.
2015 was a unique year for me. Things slowed waaaaaay down for me. In ways (at the time) I didn't understand. [Hindsight is always 20/20]. It was a year that was shifting, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on it. There were moments that I thought, "What if I quit?" But the answer "NO!" was quickly behind that question. Yet, even still, I was frustrated.
I began asking myself these questions:
WHY DID YOU START?
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
"HARD" ISN'T A REASON TO QUIT, IS IT?
Then I found this quote...
And I did just that. I remembered the reasons I chose to pursue photography as a professional career. I remembered the HARD work I had poured into this business for 8 years and CHOSE to not give up. To push harder. To NOT quit.
Being an artist is hard work. But is also VERY rewarding and, if you will, fulfilling.
I believe and know that I have been given a gift of photography and have a love for people. And with that gift, it has allowed me to touch people's lives. To forever freeze moments in time that can NEVER be recorded again. Moments that will be cherished by generations to come. I have been given the privilege of using this gift to show women that they are BEAUTIFUL while pregnant. To see themselves in a new light... I have shed tears with clients when they have lost loved ones, but have the memories that were taken with my camera to forever remember.
THIS IS WHY I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER
THIS IS WHY I DON'T QUIT
If you are in that place of wanting to quit, remember why you started.
EVERY artist has been in that same spot. EVERY photographer has had moments of frustration and blocked creativity. But you have been given a gift. A gift to share with the world and those surrounding you.
Photography isn't about me. It is about my clients. Providing them with images that will last a LIFETIME. Forever freezing moments that will be cherished for GENERATIONS to come. The moment that I realized [again] that it's not about me but THEM shifted my perspective and I went back to work with a new joy. A joy and passion to create and provide my clients with the best experience I could physically give them.
I am human. You are human. Being an entrepreneur and business owner is hard. Yet SO - SO - SO REWARDING when we know that in a service oriented industry - it is not about us, but them, is the moment of new freedom.