If you read just about any photographers bio I’m sure somewhere it will say they have had a passion for photography since a very young age. If you’re getting into photography later in life this can leave you wondering if you have what it takes or more importantly how do you become passionate about photography because being excited and being passionate about photography are 2 very different things. Today I'm going to show you exactly how to discover your passion in photography in just 4 easy steps.
First we need to talk about passion. What is passion? Passion is a feeling right? If you have it you have it and if you don’t you’ll know. Wrong. Let’s talk about what passion is NOT!
Passion vs Excitement.
You may think they are similar but would you say that you are passionate about finding a coupon for free shipping from your favorite online retailer or would you say your excited about it? Excitement is everywhere! I get excited when I get a free cup of coffee after I have already bought 7 others. But I’m not passionate about it. Passion is not instant. It takes time to cultivate. Be excited about everything you can about photography, but be passionate about one thing.
Passion vs Dedication.
If you have ever been on a diet for several months you become dedicated to it. Everything you do somehow revolves around the diet you are dedicated to. Go out with your friends to that new burger place? Sure but you know you will be ordering something you wouldn’t be if you were not watching what you ate. But if you were passionate about eating healthy and you went out with friends you may still make a bad decision because enjoying the social setting with your friends is more important in this moment than saving a few hundred calories in the long run. Passion is merely the catalyst and dedication is what keeps you going.
So there are 3 levels of joy here. Excitement, Passion, and Dedication. Excitement is everywhere and the joy can go as fast as it comes. You can even be excited several times a day. Passion is the next step you think about hard and often. You become curious about it and seek out the answers. You may only become passionate about something once a year. Dedication is a whole other beast. You dedicate your time and your life to 3 or 4 things in your entire lifetime. They are rarely physical and often ideas or practices. Like your faith or your partner.
Why is it important to find your passion in photography? Well it lets you control your time. If you have a day job please don’t get into photography for the money. The desire for money will lead you into taking shitty gigs just because they come with a paycheck. You will become so unhappy with what you shoot and grow to resent photography. You may have got into photography as a way to leave your full time job and that’s fine, but think of your job and the paycheck as a lifeline. A way to fulfil yourself creatively and shoot only the things that excite you.
So now that we know what passion is not and why passion is so important let’s talk about how to cultivate and find your passion within photography.
1: Learn As Much As You Can
Chances are, right now you’re extremely excited about photography but you would like to become passionate. You’re looking for an area to focus on and dive headfirst. But you don’t know what you don’t know so step 1 is to learn all that you can. We all know that youtube is a powerful platform to learn just anything you can imagine but I would suggest giving Creative Live a try. They offer hundreds of in depth courses on anything you can imagine related to being a creative. They are all for sale BUT 24 hours a day they run multiple courses for free. With creative live you know your course with be in depth and be taught by a professional in their field. Which can’t always be said for Youtube.
2: Don’t Shoot What Doesn’t Interest You
Does everyone tell you that the only way to make money in photography is by shooting weddings but you know that you don’t want to give up your weekends? Then don’t shoot weddings! Check out Outdoor Adventure Photographer Kat Carney. She is a professional photographer who lives out of a converted 4x4 suburban! She’s doing it because she’s passionate about shooting nature and being outdoors. Not because it’s the most popular option. Now I’m not giving you a pass to not be curious. When I first got into photography I didn’t think I wanted to shoot weddings but I gave it a try and fell in love.
3: Learn When To Move On
You got into photography because you enjoy it. It’s fun. Not because you felt obligated. So if you ever get to the point where you become bored or no longer into it as you were before, move on. Photography is really something that you can learn and grow with and sometimes what you thought was passion was actually just excitement. When I first got into photography I really enjoyed the idea of macro photography. Being able to see the world in a completely new way was fascinating to me. Almost a decade later, I don’t even own a macro lens anymore because it was not as enjoyable as I had previously thought and it took much more effort to get a great macro photo and I didnt think the pay off was worth it. So I moved on to keep the passion alive.
4: What Are Good At And What You Enjoy
I’m good at math. But I do not enjoy it. I’m not good at speaking other languages but man do I love when I’m able to piece a sentence together. When you take an inventory of your strengths and then pick out what you love to do you may have just found your match made in heaven. I love newborn photography but I’m terrified making a mistake that could hurt a newborn so I don’t do it. I love going to new adventurous places and meeting new people and I’m good at making people feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera so engagement and wedding photography is a great fit for me.
I simply took something I love and something I’m good at and focused my attention on it. This is where passion lives. From here I know what I should be focusing on. Flash photography for weddings is entirely different than high fashion flash photography. Now I don’t have to waste my time learning high fashion photography because that not my passion. 5-10 years from now wedding photography may not be my passion. And if that day comes I’ll be happy I wrote this guide to look back on and continue to grow!
As you can see being passionate about an area of photography is the only way for it to be sustainable but you have to start somewhere.