Photo by Ray Potes
When it comes to my photography/publishing practice I like to think it is a 50/50 split when talking about time space and energy. In reality though, it fluctuates. The swings can be as big as 90/10 in either direction.
The system is sensitive and swings can be caused by various circumstances like economies, romances, injuries, insecurities, moon phases, etc.
To re-balance it, I self-advise, “Shoot more.” The photos feed the zines, and the zines create more zines which are hungry for more photos. It used to be the same with darkroom printing, shoot then print then shoot then print, one informs and shapes the other.
My weird logic is to tip the scale on the shooting side so much so that the printing/publishing side is forced to catch up. This is why if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve seen me say it 1000 times, “Shoot more.”
But this post isn’t about balance. It’s about purpose.
You start with a photo curiosity, then a photo passion. Then a photo purpose. That purpose can be simple and exploratory like self expression with photography, or it can be complicated like influencing geopolitical policies with photography.
After photo purpose comes photo commitment. This is where you consciously decide to make photography your full time gig. Intrinsic drivers evolve with extrinsic drivers. That is things like passion and mastery grow and multiply with things like achievement and paying rent.
You are somewhere along this path in your photographic journey. “Shoot more,” is only good advice if you are in the curiosity phase. In all other phases, shooting a lot is basic. Or more like it is a life style choice.
So me saying, “Shoot more,” is as if your photography is without purpose which is presumptuous and asshole-ish of me. I think my new advice to any one at any phase of development would be, “Get money.”
This is a better presumption. It presumes that you are already committed or, even better, it motivates you to be on your way. Also like weather patterns, we cycle through all of these phases, sometimes stuck in a rut, sometimes hyper with no where to go. So it is supportive, “Get money.” It conjures potential. It sparks action.
Photography isn’t about money. But all the stuff you need to do photography full time costs money. Gear, rent, food, car, computer, etc. It is time to start figuring it out if you are feeling it is time to level up.
I get questions about how to get noticed, or how to get more followers, or how to blow up. In other words, how to get money. I only know what has and hasn’t worked for me (and I am very much still figuring it out), it is different for everybody so it is impossible to say in any type of formulaic way. Of course there are generalities, but each path is so specific and unique. This is one of the reasons why I think photography is so cool, it is both relatable and unrelatable at the same time, including and especially between photographers.
Sure, there are some who are happy enough with photography as a weekend hobby, but there are also a lot of us at the crossroads looking for direction. Stay tuned for the next post. It will be about all the different ways different photographers make money. Most are doing it in multiple combinations of ways. Let us count the ways.