Several weeks ago I consulted for a potential mentorship with someone who used to be a local competitor to me. She travels back to the Chicago area on occasion to shoot and was wondering if I’d be willing to do work 1:1 with her.
To sort of outline where she’s at in photography:
1) she’s established
2) she indicated that she’s mostly happy with her style and
3) she was feeling completely unmotivated to continue
I chatted with her for awhile and sort of broke it down for her. I straight up told her (rather than take her $$, hehe, darn ethics!) that the LAST thing she needed was inspiration from another children’s photographer! What I felt she needs is to shake it up a bit and create some chaos in her artistic world. LESS of the same and MORE of different.
Changing it up is partly why I like to learn from other photographers outside of the comfort zone of children and family photography. Honestly some of my very best learning has been outside that box. I told her to that she needed to take her $ elsewhere and learn from someone outside of our little world. Turns out she has some amazing artists in her family! I thought WTH?! Take advantage of people outside your artist circle and I encouraged her to take the cheap road and mentor with them! I mean who better to learn a different side of art than from a painter or a potter! There’s something to learn from everyone and when you step outside your box you allow yourself to open up to inspiration again.
A lot of my colleagues, photographers who’ve been in business for years and years, some longer than my own 8 years in business and some slightly less, have been having conversations about quitting, about doing something else, they’re essentially burnt out. My call to action for some of them: feed your artist soul, I promise that is just what the doctor ordered.
My belief is that once your art becomes a business, it’s all too easy to step away from those parts of photography that brought you there in the first place: the inspiration part of it. My belief is that passion may be the first to go once you start using the left side of your brain more than the creative right side of your brain. When the right side is overridden by business decisions it is all too easy to lose your passion! Your left side is controlling your right side at that point, of course you’re going to feel uninspired, burnt out, feeling like it’s time to quit.
I also believe that when you’re feeling some “burn out” it’s very easy to blame external forces in photography (right now: the economy, the influx of way too many photographers, the cheap and easy accessibility of dSLRs, the cheapening of photography in general, my God the list is simply exhaustive). When things start feeling like they’re going south we often look at the external factors but the truth is that when you feel a passion for something inside you stay motivated to do everything you can to keep that passion fueled.
A few years back I read He’s Just Not That Into You and this aha! moment resonated with me in the following analogy. It’s exactly like when a man is completely into a woman, he will move heaven and earth to be with her. Same thing for passion in your art, if you feel the love in what you’re doing and producing you’ll make everything else happen so it all falls into place.
My theory is that reigniting your passion will fuel the desire to keep doing what you’re doing. Period. If you’re feeling a sense of burn out, maybe just maybe, it’s time to start fueling your passion once again. Find an artist retreat. Take up watercolor painting. Take up sculpture. Take some art classes at your local community college. Take some time to cultivate your own passion and create your own art outside of your particular genre of photography. The list is unending and if you open your eyes to it you’ll be happier in your business art. Feel free to thank me later. FYI: I like coffee and chocolate! 😉