A Photographer's Secrets to Contentment (No Matter Where You Are in Your Journey)
Sep 24, 2018
Of all the topics photographers can blog or speak or write about, being content with your photography may be one of the hardest.
Hopefully we all love our job, but our creative or professional successes are often followed by doubt and even feelings of failure and unworthiness. Instead of seeing our images as they are, we see only the flaws in our creativity -- or lack thereof, editing, emotion evoked or not evoked, framing, posing, sharpness, etc.
Social media, for all its attributes for good, can also bring about these feelings if we're not mindful. Ironically, while you are green with envy over another photographer's success or work, she may be feeling the same about another photographer's creative renaissance or professional accomplishments. These feelings can be isolating so it's important to recognize that almost all creatives experience them at some point!
There's no surefire way to escape having some "down" time, but there are things we can do to help keep ourselves grounded during such a time, and move into the next stage of our creative and professional journeys.
Remember what's important.
In our society "Likes" are practically currency. As photographers, we're told to share, share, share, share, share our images as frequently as possible, in as many places as possible. Social media can be a great way to document your business, and your growth as an artist, but it can also be distracting. Not only that but it can chip away at our authenticity if we're not careful. I highly encourage you to find small professional groups, forums, family and friends, and even social media friends who will give you honest feedback about your images. Don't let pressure -- perceived or real -- cheapen your work; you'll find yourself miserable.
Work you love doesn't necessarily mean you'll always be happy.
It's said that if you have a job you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life. Well, respectfully, that's a lie! Our work is creative, and therefore (hopefully) fulfilling, but the downs come with the territory. Low points shape us into better artists and can motivate us to hone our skills. Even when your technical skills are solid, you'll find that your work still continues to grow!
Tell yourself, "No."
Hopefully at this stage in your life you know that the things that make others happy won't necessarily fill you with delight! There are photographers who love the business side of the industry and others who want to be recognized by their peers. Some photographers love to be featured on social media and other photographers enjoy filling books with images, for their kids. Some photographers (like me!) adore photographing perfectly squishy newborn babies and other photographers have an intense love of capturing weddings. Figure out what makes you happy and do that. When you're able to, say no to the things that aren't in line with your creative and professional vision. A little bit of unpleasantness can push us to grow, but burdening yourself is just plain unproductive. If you feel a sense of dread when it comes to your current work, begin thinking about what changes you can make now and the changes you'd like to make down the road.
I hope that by thinking through the things I've outlined here, you're able to move toward a sense of overall happiness with your photography!