My road to becoming (a photographer) has largely been a turbulent one. But maybe that's just the consequence of trying to turn your passion into a career. I couldn't have done anything else, though. I wanted it so badly, I felt like doing anything less would've been a compromise to the dream. My 21-year-old self's goal was to travel and share my photos with the world. I wanted autonomy and I wanted to create art. Maybe that's why I fought so hard. I wasn't merely pursuing photography, but an ideal.
I had graduated with a fiery determination to show the world what I was made of. But I quickly learned that trying to turn your passion into a career wasn't as easy as it sounds. In the span of 3 years, I had held over 8 different positions. My jobs ranged from 2nd wedding shooter, Lifetouch photographer (lol), baby photography editor, wedding editor, e-comm graphic designer, in-house jewelry photographer, e-comm creative director, and editorial manager to finally finding my way to where I am now. For those of you that don't know what I do exactly, I am currently a freelance photographer producing editorial content with fashion & beauty brands in Los Angeles, CA. (See Client Work.)
There were many times throughout those few years where I wanted to give up, where I hated myself for choosing the impossible route of photography. But at the end of the day, I dusted myself off, wiped my tears and pressed onward.
Because if you want it badly enough, you will do whatever it takes.
I'm excited to welcome in 2017 and what it may bring because I'm finally at a point in my career where I can say that I'm truly happy with where I am now. That's not to say I'm anywhere near the finish line or that there still aren't hardships. But after so many years, I've just finally learned to let go and rejoice in the process.
I don't have the end all be all answer on how to be a self sustaining photographer, but here are some tips I want to share to every creative who is trying to turn their passion into a career:
Tip 1: Your worst enemy will be yourself.
You will doubt and you will be afraid. Your friends and family may be there for you, but at the end of the day this journey is your own. It will be imperative to learn to view mistakes and setbacks as learning curves. The faster you get over yourself and get back on the horse, the less time you'll waste throwing a pity party for one. Learn to know that it's okay to make mistakes. In fact, the more mistakes you make the better, because you'll grow and learn more.
Tip 2: Be Kind
I learned this last year at NYFW. It was ubiquitously the most important and life-changing lesson I learned in 2016.
Sitting amidst the audience at Public School, I realized that it takes an army to put together a fashion show. Everyone from the models, MUAs, designers, set designers, crew, photographers, videographers, writers, buyers, and creative directors are there to bring something to the table. It made me realize that we can't do it alone.
It's easy to be on the defense and think the whole world is against you when you're building your career on your own. But guess what? So is everyone else. Don't get stuck in your own narrative.
Be kind and try to help others along the way, you will see more fruit than doing it alone.
Tip 3: Keep honing your craft
I used to say that I live and breathe photos. I had meant it as a joke, but sadly, it was probably true. If I wasn't shooting, I would be editing. If I wasn't editing, I would be shooting. My level of dedication might be borderline manic, but I believe that as artists, it's important to know and do your craft well. Make friends with other people in the industry, watch tutorials, and constantly push yourself to keep improving. It's the only way to go above and beyond the curve.
Lastly, a note to you & I ..
Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something.
If you want it badly enough, you will find a way. But more importantly, press forward in faith & joy, because whatever storm that may come will also inevitably pass. Nothing can stop you if you want it enough. And don't ever let anyone tell you that you're less than. Don't even believe it if you tell yourself that.
There is beauty in the mundane.
There is beauty everywhere.
Especially in you and I.