About a year ago I started on a journey to become a professional photographer. Whatever that meant. At the time, it meant that I aspired to be paid for my photography. Seems simple enough. And when my first client threw in their hat and gave me a chance, and then another, then another, I thought I might be on to something.
But I'll admit I didn't think I could make it as a full time photographer. I was indoctrinated in the gospel of the 'real job' and even if no one said this to me explicitly, I felt it in what everyone did around me. When I wanted to apprentice myself at a restaurant where I had made friends with the owners and chefs, ultimately I was my own barrier (that one may have been a good choice - professional kitchens and epilepsy don't go so well together).
That fear of revealing yourself to the unknown is all too real and faced down by entrepreneurs and go-getters the world over. I'm not just talking about start up silicon valley types who so frequently have a comfy safety net to fall back into (as did I). I'm talking about people who feel the fear and face it down - the teachers who chose to join a profession that's getting hammered from every side, the women who don't just break through the glass ceiling but imagine a new sky, the justice fighters who shove aside snide labels and bigots on social media to do work for a higher cause. That kind of fear.
It wasn't too long after I began working as a semi-full time photographer that I also came to a realization about where I got my energy. What I wanted most was to bring people joy, to tell their stories, and capture portraits of nature so that we might treat it better. I started spending more time talking with strangers and working on special projects with friends to help build their brands and personal branding. I waded into the world of engagement photography to celebrate the love of two dear friends.
In the end, I didn't want photography to be a full time thing - at least not yet. I couldn't give up my other passion working in education to help build and grow the teacher talent pool our city needs. But I also couldn't let photography go and I'll admit - I get a thrill each time a client shares an idea for a project or expresses interest in a particular print.
And that's where this story goes. The fear of reaching into the unknown, of taking a risk, is quite real. But one of the great rewards of taking that first step is that you realize how little we actually know and control in the first place. And once you're able to let go of that, you can open yourself up to new opportunities. Like selling prints.
I don't mean to be trite. It hadn't even occurred to me that people might want to buy images that I had already taken. It's like a restaurant selling leftovers (oh hey, brunch!).
Far from letting me settle in, the requests pushed me to go further. To know that someone might one day pick a piece of mine to hang in their home or gift to a friend is just pure joy. For all the benefits that digital photography has brought, there are few things like printing, framing, and hanging a piece of art. I hope I can hang one for you.