It Turns Out Accountability Is The Only Real Difference Between A Hobby And A Profession.
Last weekend I had my very first paid photo gig for taking pictures of living people.
Not that I take pictures of dead people ever.
What I mean is, I got paid to take pictures of people, who are alive — not houses, which are dead.
Not that houses are dead dead, since they were never really alive.
What I mean is, I’m used to getting paid to take pictures of inanimate subjects, like houses. They know how to pose for the camera, they don’t move at the last second, and they don’t take critical suggestions to improve their appearance personally.
(See more of Jaime’s mid-century modern abode in my post at Apartment Therapy.)
(Photo I took for a local realtor.)
People are different.
They do annoying things like move and blink and breathe.
And sometimes they’re linty.
And their hair blows in the wind.
So while friends have told me that I should turn my hobby into a profession, I never thought about it much beyond real estate and interior design photography.
I like houses. I know houses. Houses are dependable.
But more and more friends and friends of friends started asking me to take pictures not of their houses, but of them. And so I did it. I would spend hours taking the shots and editing the results and transferring the files and it dawned on me. I actually kind of liked this. Maybe I could do it — you know, just a little — and make some money.
But the thought of charging for it terrified me. It still does. Because charging means there’s actual pressure to produce results. Consistently good results. And crossing that line from hobbyist to professional is not something I’m fully convinced that I’m ready to do because a fancy camera alone does not a photographer make. There’s work involved. And investments. And the learning curve is so huge you can only really see it from space.
Being a hobbyist is easy. There’s no responsibility. No accountability. And, if you can’t tell, that’s kind of how I’ve liked my life.
Then last weekend a friend of a friend called me up and asked me to do it. I finally decided to just go for it.
I continuously write about how I need to overcome my fears. How I need to do the work. How I need to start taking myself seriously if I want others to take me seriously. And now, I’m finally doing it.
Yes, I made some mistakes. I left my shot list in the car. I kept blanking on their names. I left my ISO too high for the bright afternoon and beat myself to an emotional pulp by the time I finished editing.
But, in the end, I think I came through.
The photos are far from perfect. (Though isn’t that family adorable?)
I have a lot of learning to do.
And I still prefer houses for their straight lines and quiet beauty and cooperative immobility.
But there’s something about people — the way they smile. The way they laugh. The emotion we can freeze with the click of a shutter. The way they react when they see the results.
People are hard.
But they’re also more rewarding.
I know I have a long way to go, but I’m proud of myself for finally stepping up and facing my fear of failure. It turns out — and this is an innovative thought — that’s how we learn.
(Don’t worry — I’m not going to turn into yet another blogger who constantly showcases her photography business on her blog. I am, however, going to give myself a quick plug: If you are in the Fort Bragg, NC or RTP area and need a real estate photographer, I’m your girl. If you have a home you’d like featured on Apartment Therapy and you live within a day’s drive of Fayetteville, NC, I’m your girl. If you live in my area and are interested in outdoor family portraits, baby photos, boudoir photos, or you want to take me with you to Europe so I can take your family’s vacation photos, it’s very likely I’m your girl. If you want wedding photos, senior portraits, or indoor studio shots, let me know. I’m not your girl, but I know people who could be. My photography site is coming soon: KatieGard.com)
Those are great! Not only a very cute family, but the photos are really nice. Love the one where the little guy is toddling away, exercising a little independence, while his parents give each other a little attention.
Thank you! They look a little grainy on here but that’s because I resized them for the web. It definitely didn’t hurt that he was crazy adorable. ;)
Now you know precisely how I feel every time I take a job to shoot a wedding video.
I have no idea how I did paid actual photo shoots when I only had 35mm film. I am still FAR from professional and definitely don’t know as much as I should if I’m going to accept $ from people.
Oh well, what they don’t know right…?
…and great pics too. ;)
I feel like I know enough, but I know I have to get better at applying it consistently. Of course, there’s ALWAYS more to learn. And film would scare the crap out of me! Though it almost felt like it that day since I couldn’t see my screen due to the bright sunlight, hence not realizing my ISO oversight. Rest assured that I will NEVER make that mistake again!
As a mom who only cares about the end result, i.e. ME looking awesome and my family not looking too twisted – I think you should be THRILLED – I’m sure the family was delighted, the shots are beautiful, the colors brilliant, the lookers lookin’ good. You have an amazing knack for photography even in human form. Anyway, these look amazing and I can’t wait to see more KG originals! Now come back here and do mine.
This is why I love you. :)