Friday, January 22, 2010

why a photography career is like a long term relationship

I often remember back to the heady days when I first picked up my digital camera from Future Shop. It was my first foray back into photography since i was a teenager with a sketchily constructed darkroom in his parents basement.

I had moved into motion pictures after university, leaving the fixer, developer, enlarger and poorly ventilated darkroom far behind. It was many years later that a desire to re-visit photography emerged and by that time digital photography had begun to firmly entrench itself as a viable photographic alternative to film.

I bought one of the first 30d's on the market, really had no idea where it would all lead but i fell in love instantly. It was so different an experience than the old days of film, so immediate and fun.

It was really like falling in love; you didn't care what you took pictures of; leaves, bike chains at a shallow depth of field, bracketed exposures of mountainous landscapes, friends at parties, it was anything and everything. You didn't mind spending your money on a new lens or an upgrade, you took courses and workshops.

It was a wild and experimental time, just like a new relationship is. Lots of sex, late night phone calls, impulse purchases of expensive lingerie... any excuse just to be with the person.

After a while though decisions need to be made, energies and interests shift. Things start to get more serious. A question is asked; "I this thing going to last? Does this have long term potential? Is this someone I want to spend my life with?" and so on.

It's really the same with a photographic career. You ask yourself "Should i pursue this full time or keep my day job and photography as a hobby?" If you keep it as a hobby, photography becomes like your mistress; fun but ultimately on the sidelines. You may buy the occasional lens or take the camera down to mexico and snap a few pix.

but for some of us...we decide to marry our mistress, our photographic dream. We decide that this is it, we're going to make a go, a career, a serious committed relationship. We're going to forego a steady paycheck, draw up a business plan, get incorporated, get educated, buy insurance, get a startup loan, print marketing material, build a website, setup a booth at our local wedding trade show.

And so we marry the love of our lives, an art form that inspires us, that compels us to create, that aids in the expression of our soul.

but all in marriage is not rosy...bills need to be paid so we compromise with clients, mistakes need to be made in order to tweak the business model, new technologies have to be learned. Invoices need to be paid and monies need to be collected from clients who think '90 days to pay' is just a rough estimate, give or take a month.

and what has happened to the love of old? the rainy sunday stay in bed and make out attitude of young lovers? the days where there was a photo around every corner, didn't matter long as you heard the click of the shutter.

like all marriages, your photographic career is a ton of work and I don't mean 'work' like carrying light stands and sandbags...I mean 'work' like "Shit...i can't believe that job fell through, how am I going to pay my rent...ok f**k it, let's go for a walk and take photos, of anything, just to keep that love alive."

You have to keep the love alive, somehow, in the midst of recession, tough times and new opportunities, you need to remember what it is you first fell in love with...and if you can, your marriage will thrive, bring new opportunities and ultimately elevate you.

a good way to accomplish this is to do something that scares you: like approaching a new client, calling a Big Scary ad agency, raising your rates in times of 'economic uncertainty'...or (gulp) moving to India (?!).

love is a force that exists all around us but it can be elusive; a constant test of our will, patience and determination and like a fire it must be stoked or it will shift elsewhere and lose intensity....

...just like in a human relationship.


Miguel Perdido said...

Anyway, many thanks!!


Unknown said...

Well said.

Craig Peihopa said...

Excellent analogy Martin, I am an avid reader of your blog and love this post.

Samantha J. Walker said...

Thanks for reminding me of The Vows Martin!

uday mallipudi said...

Nice buddy ....Photography is Like a Long term relationship.....

Writing With Light ........ur work is gud....

James Wm. Dawson said...

I really connected with your blog entry Martin. Photography is definitely like falling in love with a temperamental and demanding woman. A woman capable of evoking great passion and even greater doubts. A woman capable of great encouragement or bitter disappointment. Regardless as you point out photography like any relationship that one has dedicated themselves to requires work as well as romance to keep it vibrant and exciting ....

I'm this ".." far away from chucking in the day job to live her forever. But I'm old enough and wise enough that one cannot live on love alone.