Being a photojournalist involves sacrifice. There is no way around it, whether you are beginning your career, in the middle, or winding down in it, if you want to be successful you will have to make sacrifices. The idea that being a successful photojournalist is easy and all fun and games is short lived.
Just as a flower does not begin as the beautifully colorful thing we see in spring, the path to making a living in photography is a slow and sometimes difficult process. In the beginning it may not look anything like what we want it to, but we know that inside of us is a drive and passion that will keep us moving along the path. In time, we will get to a point where we will see things coming together just as with a flower we can see when it starts opening up that there is so much more inside.
In his book Vision Mongers, David Duchemin remarks that, “…if you do not feel like photography is something you are called to-by God, your gifts, your talents, a small nagging voice inside, or just an overwhelming passion for it-then it’s probably not the right choice for you. Finding a life through the lens is not hard-if it’s what you love, it’s easy. But making a living, that’s tough.”
The reality is that in order to make the transition from shooting as a hobby to relying on the money you bring in from photography is quite a big one. There are a ton of resources on the internet and in print that can help guide you along this path, but the transition will take time, and then some more time on top of that. It’s a lot of work and a slow process (for most people).
I am constantly confronted with the reality that if you want to do this for more than a hobby, it will test you on every level. You will begin to realize how much you were able to just focus on shooting before and now you are having to balance shooting, marketing, researching, planning, ect. It is quite an involved task.
It is a good idea at the beginning to ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice. I am currently in a position where I am having to sacrifice time shooting in order to provide. Moving to a new location and a new market can change everything about your photography. Moving back to the U.S. from living in Moscow, Russia, I am faced with many differences in culture and life. I have been learning a lot about myself as a photographer in the past few months and I’m really excited to see where I will be going with this over the next several months and even years. As things are moving slowly for me right now I’m using this time to learn and study my craft, to develop an even deeper understanding of it and how to use it to produce compelling and lasting images.
For more thoughts on making the transition to professional photography check out Skip Cohen and Scott Bourne’s site Going Pro