A sense of longing

Lately I have been struggling to express myself creatively through photography. It’s that feeling that you have all these great ideas but there are other factors in life pulling you in so many other directions, leaving photography somewhat on the back burner.

I find myself longing so many times just to pick up my camera and shoot. I have gotten to do a few big projects in the past few months as well as work on some editorial work, but nothing close to what I would like to have done and I am left feeling drained both creatively and physically.

Many times I think about my desires for photography and how they shape my life daily. I think about ways to use photography to give back to the community around me, using it to invest in the lives of other photographers, as well as to push me to advancing further in my craft. But when I’m feeling drained, I don’t feel like I’m progressing in any of these areas, or at least not effectively.

This morning as I was reading through a couple of blog posts online I came across this quote on David duChemin’s blog,

“The batteries that keep my cameras working might as well die in the darkness of my camera bag if my personal batteries are not constantly recharged by the direct encounters with the natural world that first gave me the burning desire to interpret that experience in photographs.” Galen Rowell, The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography.

It was so easy for me to identify with this; I mean, Rowell has put into words something I have felt so many times. This leads me to the question, how do I charge my batteries?

It is so important that we are recharging our creative batteries. Whether that be through putting the camera down, picking it up to shoot some editorial work, or simply meeting up with some other creative people to talk over coffee, all of it works to recharge you when you are drained.

So I’m proposing that we all take a week to just refresh ourselves, my next shoot is this Saturday and I plan to be ready for it.

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Sacrifice

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