I never knew I’d one day be a photographer & actually never had any interest in photography while growing up. Before all this, I was a self taught graphic and web designer, and to be honest, I wasn’t really good at it. My interest in photography peaked when one of my grandpas gifted me with a very small point and shoot camera, which he had bought in Venice while on work travel. My family wasn’t well off and after highschool, there was no hope of ever joining campus or college. So, I really needed that jolt from reality, to think of possible ways to make something out of myself – considering college or university wasn’t going to happen, hence the gift of the camera.
So at 25 and with the knowledge I had from graphic and web design, I decided to take the leap into the unknown field of photography. Here’s one thing I wish I remembered or I wish someone told me. First, everything new will be hard at first before it becomes easy. And secondly, seasons change – after a drought comes rain, and after rain comes a harvest.
I quit my previous job and got into photography with the naivety that it would be easy to start and master, not knowing the different aspects of this career I had to learn and master before I could experience any success or results for my efforts. I found myself very discouraged at times when none of what I expected ever came to pass and at times also wanted to quit. Nothing was happening, contrary to what I naively expected. And even as much as I got myself immersed into learning this new skill, nothing was reflecting on the income side of things. I stayed almost a whole year broke, just shooting buildings, sunsets, landscapes and bugs as I waited for work to come. I was really silly to think that this change in career would be simple to navigate and that I’d easily get work from my previous clients. I still had a lot to learn before any of that happened.
We live in a society that predominantly celebrates the success or result, but not the journey and the challenges it took to get the celebrated result. Most people don’t really talk of the struggles of beginning new careers, and I think we should tell the whole story and also tell of the days we spent in doubt, depression and discouragement.
Photography is a risk, just like any other career choice. It’s not a back up career, no. Even at the position I’m in, in this industry, I still haven’t made it yet. I still haven’t figured everything out there is to this career. I’m still learning and a lot still lies in mystery for me. I’m not the big shot people think I am. Granted, I may make money a lot more easily than I was a few years back, but the truth is, even at this stage, I still face challenges. There are challenges at every stage of growth and perhaps I may be possibly projecting a deceitful picture that I’m successful or that I have a successful business, but in all honesty I’ve just been a freelancer, freelancing and hoping to keep my head above water.
I’m not telling you this to try and discourage you in your journey, in fact, I’m doing the contrary. I’m trying to paint a picture of the reality, giving you the facts and truth that you deserve to know, and in a sense, what to realistically expect and not get discouraged when you don’t see your desired progress or response.
It’s very rare to encounter instant success and most times, when and if you do, it’ll be short lived. The truth is, it’s hard to push through, but you have to, because that’s what sets you apart from the rest. You pushed through despite, and went the extra mile that most people didn’t. There’s a saying that goes, the extra mile is always empty. Go the extra mile and reap from your effort without any competition to distract you.
Don’t be naive to expect immediate response about your work from your peers or social media. That isn’t the measure of success. In fact, it’s normal for things to feel slow at the beginning. Learn to learn from these disappointments, failures and even rejection. Learn to make mistakes because it’s from these mistakes that you’ll learn how to do things differently the next time and the time after that.
Mistakes are the steps you’ll have to make in order to create the progress in your journey.