Long before I started my photography career I was worried that, over time, I would start to see photography as a job and would lose my passion and love for what I do. The nature of my job as a contributor to iStockPhoto & TWIP is, in a nutshell, to photograph & teach what I want with no boss & no deadlines, so I guess that keeps most of the boring stuff out. But there is that part of me that realizes (well, hopes) that one day I do have those things and that I am still able to keep my passion for photography alive. The fear is there … it’s tiny and in the back of my head, but I won’t ignore it. I want to be scared of it because if I am still scared then it means I still care.
Even though I can photograph & teach what I want to, it’s still work. Sometimes I take pictures of things I know will have a good chance of selling. I get a sort of “high” when I look at my images on the back of my camera and see a great image that has potential, but sitting behind my computer and processing the photos is still going to be, for the most part, dreary and monotonous. I can sit at my computer for half a day creating a tutorial that will reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people … and, well, I actually can’t think of anything boring or uninteresting about that part of my job (other than the fact that I do it for free, hehe!). ;)
In five/ten/twenty years will I still feel the same way? Will I get excited to go on a photoshoot? I think so. I honestly can’t imagine not wanting to create in pixels the images that are burned into my brain. I want other people to see those images too … I want other people to be able to create their own images, their own memories. I don’t want to stop!
So … what do I do?
One of my recent hobbies has been to create TimeLapse movies. I do these because I want to; I get enjoyment from the process of creating them and sharing them with others. I do them because they are FUN! That’s the key. Keep the fun in photography … don’t make it only about gear, megapixels, money, contests, critiques, or skills. If you suck at photography but you love taking photos, don’t stop. If you don’t have a lot of money and can’t afford a “better” camera, use what you have and don’t let it get you down. If you work all day and the sun is down when you get home, grab a tripod and try taking photos of the stars. In my opinion, everyone is a photographer … you don’t have to be a pro or even know what you are doing, but everyone enjoys taking photos because they are preserving a memory. If photography is your full-time job, try to integrate a part of photography that makes you happy and doesn’t just result in a paycheck. I sometimes have to force myself to step out of my “iStock box” and take photos that I don’t plan on uploading or making any money on … it keeps my brain charged and my creative juices flowing. Sometimes I even (unintentionally) come up with great-selling images in the process!
So just as we do in our day-to-day life, we are happiest when we have a balance of work and play. That, in my humble opinion, is the key to staying passionate about photography.