The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop, because that's what you do when you've got a lot of free time. That and I'm only an intern who is being paid minimally, haha. Anyway, as I was sitting there editing photos, prepping for a meeting, and making sure things were ready to go for an upcoming styled shoot I realized that just a few years ago I almost packed everything up to put it away. Yeah, I almost gave up.
I felt like I wasn't making it.
My work didn't connect with people.
I just shot photos to produce something in return.
You name it, I felt it, and it was strong enough feelings that I didn't want anything to do with photography. I write that knowing how silly of a thought it truly is because if you've met me after that brief season, you'd know me more as a creator than anything else I've ever been labeled in my life.
I'm not writing this piece though to share my "Cinderella Story", but rather I'm writing this because at the point where I started running my business into the ground I knew that there were things I wish I knew then that I know now. So here we go!
1. Never Stop Learning
I went through this weird season of being a photographer where I honestly thought that I knew EVERYTHING. Literally. Rolling my eyes at my younger self ...
"EVERYBODY STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING. I'VE LEARNED IT ALL. I MUST BE THE BEST THERE EVER WAS. I AM KING."
That was me. Trust me, I'm dying on the inside while having to type that out. But you know what happened in that season?
I stopped shooting and I stopped creating.
I realized though that the learning process of being a creative is so crucial because my famous line I share with people is,
"Growing your capacity to learn, is growing your capacity to create."
That's the beauty of photography, we create from the things we know. So if you're not learning or being inspired by books, music, or art pieces, how are you fueling your creativity?
2. Take Ugly Photos
Patrick Demarchelier, a world renown photographer and personal favorite of mine, has said,
"Take pictures all the time. Don't worry if you take a bad photograph: You learn more by taking a bad picture than a good one. If you don't like it, study it and figure out why you don't like it. You'll learn from your mistake."
If that quote isn't convincing enough, then I can't stress enough why you should embrace taking a bad photo.
Because you won't know what direction to go in to create a great photo. I probably sound like I'm blowing some major smoke up your butt, but I promise you, the best photos to learn from are your bad ones.
Trust me, I still have my early photos that I still take pride in because I tried, but beyond that they are complete horse shiitake. Maybe I'll pop them out during a workshop or a one-on-one, haha.
It was through my bad photos that I began to develop my sense of style because these bad photos gave me an opportunity to have a safe place where I could learn.
Go shoot a bad photo. Now. Actually, take a bunch of them.
3. Don't Make It About The Money
Oh Lord. This was key then and it's key now, but it's something I had to learn, but wished someone had shared with me. The thing is, when someone told me I could make money off this - I jumped.
I jumped on that wagon to find the ways that the money could pour in. That first year was comical, haha. It was slow in regards to sales, products sold, and in shooting (bad year of marketing, ha).
My heart was in the money and the money wasn't rolling in. So I wasn't shooting. I almost stopped.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, but when I shifted my focus from the money to the heart of why I shoot (capture memories, share stories, and invest in the lives of my clients), the clients came rolling in. When I chose to invest in my clients' stories and lives I saw the return of them investing in me. Both financially and with their life being.
Why do I share this? I share it because the truth is, the money could easily stop coming in, but I want to be in a place and have a reason to not stop shooting.
I have really enjoyed blogging lately and sharing bits and pieces of my life. From personal aspects down to the business side of things. I hope to write more in the coming months of the year. I hope that someone who reads this, who might feel like giving up, got something out of it. The three things I shared were definitely three things that helped shape me as a photographer and ultimately kept me going. For me, it wasn't enough to just go out and shoot, I knew that I needed to have a purpose to what I was doing.
Wishing you, whoever you are, the best! You've got this!
- Rick Andrew Baleros