Friday, February 15, 2013

Food For Thought

Are you a full time photographer ? and have you ever considered doing something else ? im asking this because my friends are telling me that i would probably starve doing this kind of job
Bukowski famously wrote, “Find what you love and let it kill you”.  And I’d sure count starvation as a lethal means to your extinguishment.  But, such is the life of an artist…at least one at the onset of their career. 
Yes, you will starve.  You will starve, because it will take years to develop your skill, knowledge, and deep understanding of your craft, as well as your voice, your style, and to build an audience (aka clients) that can sustain you long-term.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and we’d all be amazing.
I’m definitely starving.  I’ve only just begun to understand one or two things about photography and am easily a decade away from even reaching the bottom-rung in this industry.  Right now, there is so much I don’t know, don’t grasp, and am completely ignorant of, and it will take years of practice just to begin to.  
…but it’s all worth it. I look at my friends, all my age or younger, and they have nice houses, luxury cars, take amazing vacations (and rub it in on Facebook), go out to lots of fancy dinners… and while I can’t say I’m not envious, I whole-heartedly accept that I opted out of a more ‘safe path’ for my life in place of doing something I absolutely, truly love. 
You have to think about it like this: will you die if you are not able to do photography for a living?  If the answer is no, then you’re definitely not cut out for this; you already have the wrong state of mind.  So, keep photography as a fervent hobby; you can still shoot lots of pretty models or sports or nature or whatever genre you express yourself through, and be artistically sated.  But in doing this, you must accept photography will always come second or third or forth in your life. If you can live with this, you’re probably much smarter for it.
However, if the answer is yes…’yes’ you’ll die if the rest of your life is not absolutely consumed with photography, then understand and accept it’s going to get far, far worse before it ever gets better.  You are going to spend YEARS of your life scraping by (and it could very well be indefinitely). You’ll forfeit a lot of luxuries and comfort. You’ll fail a LOT.  And worst of all, you’ll go through endless ebbs and flows of hating your work and yourself for the rest of your life, no matter how successful you are. 
But this applies to all of the arts.  So, if you choose this path (and remember, it IS a choice), the good news is you won’t be alone:  painters, dancers, musicians, writers, film-makers… it all applies; that’s why the arts community is so strong everywhere you go… because everyone ‘gets’ how hard it is.  So even if your family/friends aren’t supportive, know that if you begin to put yourself out there, there is a strong community that will embrace you.
But this doesn’t put food on your table. Doesn’t pay your rent or bills. Doesn’t allow you even the most basic things, like filling your gas tank all the way up (so many times I just put in $15 and pray I don’t have to drive much that week).  
…and that is just the state of the union; I don’t have the answers to this, because I have been going through it myself, and will continue to for a very, very long time.  Do I like this? Of course not.  But there’s nothing I can do… I have to put in the time, just like everyone else.  And if you wanna do this, you will, too. 
Nothing of value comes easily, nor should it.  You not only must, but you NEED to work hard for things of worth. My father imparted this to me when I was thirteen years old. He had an insane work ethic, just like his father.  He is not wrong.
Yes, you will starve. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Will I allow myself to, for this?”.  

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