I often get asked if I went to school for photography. Truth is I’m a self taught photographer, I did mentor under the wing of a professional photographer for awhile. Other than that everything I know is from experience. I was recently asked what I do for a living. Am I a full time photographer? What’s my job exactly? It made me realize that I don’t share as much as you think I do on social media. I keep most of my projects on the down low simply because they’re moments I like to keep just for myself. I am a full time freelance photographer. My title is broad, I work as creative director, I often work as a consultant for marketing business as well. When I can I’ll also photograph products for small business. When I’m feeling up for it I’ll take clients for portrait sessions, which doesn’t happen that often.
So I thought I’d put together this blog sharing a couple of things I’ve learned as a freelance photographer. I’ve worked as a freelance artist, professionally for five years. (See my portfolio here). Over the years I’ve learned so many things that have reflected the way I run my business. Things that I still keep in mind today.
1. Know Your Worth
This is the holy grail of advice, please understand your worth. Once you see the value in your worth it will change how you work as an artist.
Here’s my take on the topic.
To know your worth means respecting yourself ultimately. It means creating healthy boundaries, not limitations, that allow you to live a positive wellbeing. This boundary means saying no to clients or opportunities that do not align with your soul, intuition or morals. Ask yourself. Is this client or project beneficial for my wellbeing? Are they making me feel small, do they trigger anxiety? If the answer isn’t helping you, remove yourself from the situation. You are an artist, your creativity has value, your time is valuable. If someone isn’t respecting you or your ideas then leave. Your wellbeing is important.
I understand that sometimes you have to work in a terrible environment and all, but if it’s something you can control, walk away. I’ve removed myself from past opportunities that triggered terrible anxiety. Yes it’s tough, but it’s much better stepping away. Please remember how sacred your creativity is. Do not share your magic with others who do not respect your gift. There’s always another opportunity around the corner.
Knowing your worth also means taking your experiences into account when negotiating your value. Your time, energy, history and investments into your creativity should be recognized when overseeing an opportunity.
2. Equipment Doesn't Matter
Equipment is nice and all, but it doesn’t matter. I believe that it’s the person behind the camera who has the ability to greatly influence the quality of their work. It’s about having the passion and the drive to pursue photography despite lack of equipment. Having a full frame DSLR camera doesn’t make you a professional. So the next time you scroll through Instagram and you question your equipment, understand that it takes awhile to build your skill level. It’s something that will take dedication, passion and time.
3. Practice Practice Practice
I cannot stress this enough. If you want to grow, you have to shoot quite often. When I first began shooting I would shoot on a daily basis. I would bring my camera everywhere I could. Even if that meant running to the grocery store or ditching dinner and catching a sunset. Practicing on a daily basis helps to familiarize yourself with your camera. It also encourages you to challenge yourself. Think outside the box, if you’re tired of shooting landscapes, try portraits. Not into portraits? Try photographing flat lays. It’s all in your hands.
I’ve been behind the camera for seven years, within the past two years I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of my personal style. It takes time to figure out your own style, especially when it comes to editing. Editing takes awhile to understand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked back at past edited photos and have cringed. *eye roll* We all start somewhere. It just takes time.
4. There Are No Limits
Do not limit yourself. Expand your awareness and creativity to ideas that are far beyond your imagination. In photography or in any creative medium there are no rules. If every single photographer went by the book we’d all have the same images. Our own interpretations wouldn’t be unique. You don’t always have to follow the Rule of Thirds or shoot in appropriate lighting. Find what works for you an run with it. You won’t know your style unless you step outside the box and just create. Trust me this will take some time. Once you stop limiting yourself, possibilities are endless.
Okay, the only limit I will voice is to always respect the land, people and subjects you photograph. Don’t go out acting like a hooligan and creating negativity.
Here’s a favorite quote that I hope inspires.
“Your art will be your weapon. Your art will be your voice. There are no boundaries for an artist. No borders. Through art you can speak all languages and lead a magnificent life anywhere.” - Leonie
5. Take Time to Enjoy Your Surroundings
I’ve been so lucky to encounter countless scenes. Most of the time I’m not fully enjoying the view, instead I’m behind the camera, eyes closed. I’ve made it more of a priority in the recent years to stop and actually enjoy the moment. I’m speaking as a landscape photographer. This can even apply to the need of documenting everything on Instagram Stories. I feel like I’ve gotten better about this, this year. I used to share EVERYTHING on stories. TMI, Tyana. So take in that moment, feel the air, see the light. Your spirit will thank you, it’ll be a memory that lasts longer.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of advice. Please let me know what else you’d like me to shed some light on. Or possibly teach. Always happy to give inspiration and encourage creativity.