I had a phone call this morning from a potential client that not only inspired this blog post, but made my day. The conversation excited me so much that it made all the hard parts of photography wash away. This is the good, I thought. When it comes to photography and freelancing, there really is the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'd like to share some of my good, bad and ugly when it comes to my photography and trying to establish myself. It certainly hasn't been easy, but it's been well worth it.
Now, even though the phrase "the good, the bad and the ugly" sounds really cool, it's better to end everything on a positive note. I'm going to go through the bad, the ugly, and lastly, the good :)
The bad: I can't afford to follow my dream.
The ugly: Being stuck in a miserable job or, quitting this miserable job and not being able to pay any bills. That sucks.
The good: The truth is, you can afford to follow your dream. You can't afford to live a life full of regrets; life's too short! Since quitting my real job to pursue photography, there have been a couple of months where I've literally had thirteen dollars to my name, and it sucks. We all have bills, we all have responsibilities and deadlines, but if you are truly passionate about your dream, the money will come, somehow.
A lack of funds inspires creativity. If you can take hold of the fear and desperation, you'll find yourself being pushed to work harder and try new things. If you really want to pursue your dream, you'll find a way to make the money come in, to get the clients and to make it work. It's a slow process, but remember, you always have a friend's couch to sleep on if things really do suck for awhile. At the end of the day, money and bills are just money and bills. Creativity, passion and happiness are what truly fuel a person to live their life to its fullest. I realize this may be suuuuuper cheesy sounding, but from what I've learned, the journey is worth it, the learning is worth it, the creativity and stretching of character is so, so worth it.
You can afford to follow your dream. If you really want it, you'll get it.
The bad: I can't get clients because no one knows my name.
The ugly: Again, similar to above, now you can't get clients, therefore make money, therefore you STARVE (just kidding, I hope). Not getting clients really can test your character.
The good: So no one knows your name because you're a new photographer, or you're young. Use this to your advantage! Clients want new and young photographers (or whatever it is you're pursuing!). People love supporting independent artists. We're young and our names are new to the game which means we don't have years and years of experience in doing it "this way because I've done it this way for the past 20 years." Clients see us as innovative and passionate. We have a new excitement that not as many "dated" photographers have. I know this because it's what my clients tell me, and why they hire me.
How do I get these clients when no one knows my name? I go to them. I email the clients I want and tell them what I can do for them, why I want to do it, how I can benefit them, everything. Sometimes I don't hear back from them, but sometimes I do. That's when the magic happens! One happy client turns to two, which turns to three (or however many people they recommend you to).
The bad: People low budget me because I'm a "new" photographer.
The ugly: Still starving! Plus, no one takes my work seriously.
The good: That's probably a lie, people do take you seriously. Unless, of course, you're bending your prices high and low to try and keep the client. Then, no one takes you seriously. Stick to your price. You know you are worth it, as is your work. Clients don't realize that it's not just taking a photo, it's planning the photo, it's finding the location, it's lighting, it's editing, it's traveling, it's creative input, it's everything else you do besides just taking the photo. Explain this to them. You're not going to get the clients you want unless you keep your prices set in stone. The clients that are willing to pay are probably the clients that really get your work, and you get them.
Another option when it comes to pricing is to figure out how the shoot can benefit you personally. Maybe they really can't afford what they're wanting and maybe you really like this client. Use the shoot to your advantage and make it a portfolio piece. Drop your price for them with the understanding that you have full creative control, and this piece is for your portfolio as well. A portfolio piece will have more value than a dollar figure. Most likely, the photos will turn out better because they have your personal touch to them. The client will be happier, you'll be happier, and surely more shoots will come out of it.
The good, the bad and the ugly comes with every situation. It makes me sad when I hear about people stuck in dead end jobs because of money and fear. I realize I'm fortunate in the fact that I don't have a family to take care of, only myself, and this obviously gives me a lot more financial freedom and personal freedom. But I know people who are doing what I'm doing with a spouse and kids. They're making it work just as I'm making it work.
It is entirely possible to follow your dream, as long as you fight for it every moment.