If you look at what working photographers share on social media, it’s all glamour, travel, awesome photoshoots and more. It looks like a perfect life and we tend to compare ourselves and feel like failures. Here’s the thing: people only share the good stuff. The bad, difficult, uninteresting stuff never gets online. It’s only natural, we want to look our best. But it’s a lie. A lie that creates unrealistic expectations, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to that idealized version of their life.
I’m no stranger to that. This is why I’ve decided to write more about the less glamorous side of being a full-time photographer in the coming weeks. The daily struggles, insecurities, disappointments, and failures. The bad, the ugly.
People only share the good stuff
See, when I share photos from a great photoshoot at a luxury watch store, I don’t talk about how I got that job. I should. The reality is, it started months earlier when I decided to market my services to malls around Toronto. I hired someone to design a brochure and someone to write the copy. I researched online for hours to find malls and their contact persons (including email and mailing address). I printed 50 brochures, the accompanying letters, the envelopes and mailed everything. Then a few weeks later, I followed up by email with every single person on my list. Among the responses, one of the malls emailed back saying they would keep my information on file. A few weeks later, their PR company contacted me for a quote for a small job. They decided against hiring me for such a small job. Then a few more weeks later, someone from that watch brand contacted me for a photoshoot, mentioning the mall had recommended me.
As you can see, it took some money, and a lot of my time to get that photoshoot. All you saw was a beautiful store and how great that photoshoot was. But the life of a photographer is not just about travel and photoshoots. There is a lot of emails, contracts, calling, administration, and other less interesting things. You need patience and perseverance. You need to get your hands dirty. Do I love mailing brochures to 100 people? Not particularly. But it’s part of the job. And there are many other parts that I enjoy. I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but my life is much more boring than you think 😉
So, before you jump and quit your job to pursue a photography career, stop for a second. The life you see on social media is not the one you will have. Especially not at the beginning. Which is not to say that you should give up. Being a photographer is awesome. I just want you to have the right expectations.