Live & Learn: 10 Things I Have To Remind Myself As A Full-Time Photographer

This past weekend was the one year anniversary of an event that shaped the rest of my year. No, I’m not talking about the premiere of Black Panther, although that was, and still is AWESOME! One year ago, February 16th, 2018 I lost my job. Don’t feel bad, I hated that job, but it did allow me a cushion to pursue photography in my free-time and take on gigs and clients that I actually enjoyed. Over the past year, I’ve had the highest of highs, and some lows that I don’t ever want to feel again. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my strengths and weakness and a bunch of things that I had to constantly remind myself. I made it into a list and wanted to share  it with you all:

1.Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
very quickly.

I hit the ground running and booked several gigs that carried me through most of the year. What I wasn’t prepared for though, was for those gigs to dry up. Because I had no clue where my check was coming from I fell into a mild depression and prayed something came thru quickly. Luckily I had enough saved up to make ends meet while I scrambled to book the next gig. I had to get comfortable not knowing when the next gig was and that even if I was booked that clients don’t always respect when the balance is due. So money management is ultra important.

2.It’s not enough to put yourself out there;
you have to constantly remind your tribe of what you do.

It’s funny. As much I post on instagram, share on Facebook and promote my photography, people still need a constant reminder
about what I do, especially since becoming full-time. So one thing that I realized is that you have to tell people what you do, show them what you do, and then tell them again. I see way too many bad photo shoots on Facebook to not be consistently booked, just saying.

3.Ask for what you want; closed mouths don’t
get fed.

Pretty self-explanatory sure but you literally have to remind yourself to be bold and that you worked hard to be where you want to be. So when you get there show up and big yourself up; probably the hardest thing for me because I’m super laid back when it come to everything.

4.You can’t rely solely on talent.

Another one of those things that’s just plain common sense but I have to constantly remind myself. I know what I am capable of creativity and sometimes that talent isn’t recognized. It’s the most frustrating thing ever but talent can only take you so far; it takes discipline and dedication to stand out in an over saturated market such as photography. No one is going to
hand you anything.

5.Always be prepared. Your next opportunity
can come at any moment so continue to work.

This is both literally and figuratively. I literally should have my camera on me at all times but if not then it should be home in my camera bag with the batteries charged and ready to go! Opportunities sometimes come in out of nowhere so I’ve learned to prepare for whatever situation I might find myself.

6.Support doesn’t look just one way.

Support your creative friends. It’s not just hiring or referring me or buying a print. Sometimes support is simply asking how freelancing is going or asking how a show went but that goes back to Number 2. Support your local artist; we make the world a more interesting place to live in.

7.Know your worth and then add tax.

Negotiating pricing is one of the biggest parts of freelancing. You never want to low ball yourself or maybe worst, overcharge, lose a client, and possibly ruin a fruitful relationship. We’ve all taken L’s when it comes to charging our worth. Whether it was fear or just not being misinformed, continuing to make those same mistakes will not sustain you. If a client reaches out because they like your work, charge your worth and add tax for all the times that you didn’t know your worth.

8.Remember why you love your craft because once it doesn’t love you back, shit gets real.

I started photography back in 2011. I had just walked across the stage and was working a low wage job while I applied to jobs in my field and figured out what I wanted what my next move was. I knew I wanted to take cool photos so I saved up and bought a camera. I had no intentions in making this my ‘thing’ but I fell in love with learning new things because I made my intention to outdo myself daily. Last year I lost that. It became more about survival and the next gig rather than the art and the love for photography. Although my technique and workflow improved in 2018, I was probably the least fulfilled from photography because it started to become an actual job and less of a passion.

9.Never stop learning. You don’t know everything.

One thing I do multiple times a week if not everyday is to research and learn something new or just stay up to date with all things photography related. I will YouTube for hours to learn better shooting and editing tactics and even how to better organize my files. Even if I don’t pick my camera up to shoot, something related to photography happens every single day; and it’s been this way since I first picked my camera up. I am committed to being a professional student of the game.

10.Go big or go home. You’re one shot away from that GOAL goal, so don’t play small.

DO THE WORK. I should be shooting daily. I should be sharing my work more. I should be doing a lot of things to make my life a little easier but at this moment I’m not there yet. I believe it’s a little bit of fear, and a lot of  self-sabotage on my part.  It’s much easier to whine and sabotage yourself and blame the client, the system, and everyone else than it is to work harder. When you are your own boss it all falls on you, so I have to take accountability for every decision or non-decision that is made. This I am still working on.

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