On Being An Amateur Photographer

I no longer want to be a professional photographer.

I got into photography for the love of making art not with the plan of becoming a professional photographer and making a living at it. Sure, I like to get paid for my photography and it happens every now and then but I’m not going to try to make a go of it as the main means of income. I just can’t do it.

I have a few friends who are professional photographers. One who is quite well known in the sports photography circles, especially Hockey and Formula One racing. But they still have regular jobs as well. When I ask why they always tell me there’s just no money in photography unless you are very fortunate. Don’t get me wrong, there are many out there who make a good living doing it but they are very driven and very, very busy.

To my friends doing this amazing hobby of mine as a business, I say “good for you, I hope you do well” and I mean that from the bottom of my being. It’s just not something I’m going to pursue any longer.

The more I plan to do this for a living, the more I second guess myself and think that I’m just not good enough to do it. That’s wrong of course. I’m a decent enough portrait photographer that I could probably keep myself busy most weekends doing portraits. It’s just that it seems to be taking the wind out of my sails when it comes to the passion for the art.

Between the years of 2008 and 2013 you would be hard pressed to see me without my camera gleefully capturing scene after scene. Be it from the back of a boat or a moving vehicle or laying on the ground to get just the right angle for that little group of mushrooms in the grass. I absolutely loved it and lived for it. But then as time moved on and I became better at the whole photography thing, I started to think about getting into it as a way of making extra money. I quickly started to judge my art with a more critical eye and was beginning to dislike what I saw in my own work. Work that used to just light me up for the mere joy of creating it. I was starting to hate taking the photos.

In the later part of 2013 and all through 2014 I found myself taking fewer and fewer photos. I was just not feeling the love anymore. Why? What changed? Was I getting worse? Was I losing the skills I had been honing?

As a result of some long deep conversations with my self and some deep thinking on the matter, I’ve decided that I was putting too much pressure on myself to produce the same level of work as all those professional photographers I was idolizing. I was telling myself that I was not skilled enough and that I should just give up but at the same time I wanted to be one of them so badly. I was all over the place with my thinking and I was beating myself up constantly over every photo. Every click of the shutter button was filled with conflicting emotions. As a result, I began to take fewer and fewer photos.

Now, if it so happens that I get more and more paid gigs, well, I’d be foolish to turn them down now wouldn’t I? But it will have to be on my terms and my style. I’ll need to be hired for my style. That’s important to me.

What does amateur photographer mean?

Well, according to Webster’s Dictionary, Amateur means : a person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a job.

For pleasure and not as a job. An amateur does it for the pleasure, the love of it. How many photographers have you heard say they spend more time running the business of their photography business than actually doing the photography? The very thing they wanted to do has become the last thing they do.

I want my love of photography back. I want my passion back. I want to be known as “that guy with the camera” again.

I’m going to focus on taking photos, making photos and just loving the results of spotting just the right light on just the right subject. Maybe I’ll start up another photo a day project and not be so judgmental of the day to day results but more interested in the process itself.

For now, here are some photos I took because I love the subject.

 

 

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I don’t care who likes them. I do. End of worries.

Chris.

PS follow me on my Flickr Stream or my Facebook Page.

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