"For Your Inspiration" is an ongoing series of weekly posts showing examples photography from PPA's Loan Collection and Showcase books focusing on a specific photography subject matter.
Intro by Skip Cohen
“Passion” has to be one of the most abused words in photography and business. And, I have to admit, I’m one of the guys out there using it all the time. Because I believe in passion, but to Chamira’s point in today’s guest post, passion is only one ingredient. Passion without the skill set or the understanding of the business is a recipe for failure.
We’re a word-of-mouth industry, and you can’t create images that tug at people’s heartstrings if your own heart isn’t in it. It sounds like I’m suggesting passion is the cure-all, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not, because no matter how much passion you have for something, if you’re starving and struggling to face each day, eventually your attitude will crush that love you had for the process when you started.
Frustration, lack of skills, lack of understanding consumer trends, paranoia about how little you really know, and a lack of ability to communicate will eventually smash passion. There’s no question passion is essential, but it thrives on small and large “wins,” and everyone’s definition of success is different.
Be passionate for quality, education and understanding your target audience – they’re all just as important as your passion for the craft!
By Chamira Young
It’s not all about passion. While there is definitely something to be said for being passionate about what you are doing, there’s more. There just has to be more.
You grow up hearing the phrase, “follow your passion,” or “pursue your passion,” and while there is merit in that, there has to be the work ethic to follow up that passion. Hard work is often something that is forgotten, especially now.
Too many photographers think their ideal clients are going to knock on their door and pay high prices because they follow them on Instagram. That’s just not how it works. There are photographers doing all kinds of amazing things because there are passionate but what about those tasks, those strategies, those plans you want to achieve but don’t have the same passion for?
Why Passion Won’t Work: Passion is one of the most important parts of running a business, and something no one can refute. However, there are plenty of successful businesses out there in which the owner or founder is not particularly passionate about their path. Does that make them less successful? No, not necessarily.
Passion can only take you so far. It’s great if you have a job that you can get paid for and be passionate about, but passion needs more to make money. Passion won’t always bring in money, but hard work will.
Finding Fulfillment: Hard work is easily one of the best ways to find fulfillment. Working hard, sweating it out, and being victorious are some of the traits that separate the good from the great.
How can we find fulfillment? In order to find the fulfillment you are looking for, it’s time to separate the passion from the product. You can have lots of passion but the fulfillment isn’t there because you aren’t seeing success. There are gurus in the industry that tell you that passion will be enough, but reaching that fulfillment of success in making money with your craft -that you happen to be passionate about- is even more important.
Changing Your Mindset: In order to make money, reach fulfillment, and stop relying on passion alone to get your business where you want it to be, you must change your mindset.
You need to start thinking about your business differently. Addressing the strengths, you have in your business and finding a way to use hard work to reach a new level is one of the best ways to start.
Next would be to focus on your weaknesses. This is where the passion for the business wains when someone tells you to do something that you aren’t great at.
One of the clearest examples in the photography industry is sales. Almost all photographers hate sales and they hate putting a price tag on their work. They are passionate about photography, but the business is going to give them fulfillment. You need to take the time to accept your weaknesses but also find ways to make sure those are not keeping you from being successful.
Photography is lovely and finding your passion in such an incredible art is something to be proud of. But instead of just relying on passion to make it happen for you, it will take hard work and business-sense to make sure you can continue that business in the future.