What is photography to you? Is it your business or you just something you do for fun and pleasure? For me, it’s the second one. I have been into photography for quite a long time, yet I never turned it into a career. It’s always been something else that paid my bills, and photography is here to enrich my life in a totally different way.
I am a stubborn hobbyist who never gave it a shot to turn pro. Over the years, I’ve heard many annoying proposals and questions about my photography “career” – though I never had a career. But I came up with four of them that have always been said with good intentions – yet they’ve made me feel very uncomfortable. Have you heard them as well?
Why don’t you start making money from photography?
To make it clear, this is kind of good for the ego. It’s nice to know someone thinks your work is good enough for you to go pro. Pushing it, though – that doesn’t help at all. It creates a pressure and it starts sounding like “why are you wasting your life?” People often think in terms of money, and they simply can’t understand you’re doing something entirely out of passion. And even spend money on it instead of earning it.
Another issue here is that good photographic work is not enough to start earning from it. You need to have strong business skills, be able to deal with people extremely well and tackle all sorts of challenges. I simply can’t do it. And it probably goes without saying that I don’t see myself as photographer good enough to become a professional.
Why don’t you photograph weddings?
This is in a way the step that comes after the previous one, when someone still can’t understand that you don’t want to earn money from photography. They basically start telling you what you should do, again – to make money. And believe it or not, I’ve heard this one the most often. I know it’s all in good faith, but it has always made me feel very uncomfortable.
In case you like weddings, you can insert any event you absolutely hate, yet which is believed to bring money to photographers. In my case and my country, it’s definitely the weddings.
Of course, I’ve been to some awesome wedding reception with great, intimate atmosphere. But a traditional Serbian wedding is how I imagine hell. There are gazillion people and the music damages your brain cells. The whole event lasts forever, and the photographers cover all of it. Everyone gets super-drunk at some point, so unpleasant situations are inevitable. And people are constantly pulling your sleeve to take photos of them. For me, this would all be too stressful. I’d rather be poor.
What do you even have from it?
When you finally convince people you don’t aspire to make money from photography, this question comes along. As I mentioned, many people think in terms of money, so they can’t see what benefit you have from doing something if it doesn’t bring earnings.
All you hobbyists know what you have from photography and how beneficial it is for you. Personally, I have a great way to express my emotions, keep my sanity and if nothing else – have lots of fun.
You have the camera, you’ll take photos of my…
…birthday/graduation/wedding/baby shower, you name it. This is often not expressed as a question, but more as an order, and that’s when I have a problem with it. People who tell you this often haven’t even paid attention to your photos, they only know you have “that fancy camera” (and I had a Nikon D3000 until recently, lol). And of course, they don’t have the intention of paying you. Ironically, this one often comes from those who forced you to make money from photography in the first place.
This happened to me on a couple of occasions, and it put me in a very tricky situation. Just because I have the camera and like photography, that doesn’t mean I’ll photograph anything (especially not for free). The thing that I am a hobbyist and do photography for fun gives me the freedom to choose what I want to capture. So when someone “determines” what I will shoot, it makes me really uneasy.
Naturally, I do love taking photos of my family and close friends even when they don’t ask. If I like someone’s idea or project and see it as fun, I’ll photograph it, even if we’re not that close. If someone asks me to take shots, I’ll accept if I have time and willingness. But, when it comes almost as an order (and it has happened quite often), that’s really unpleasant.
I’ve heard plenty of annoying suggestions and questions, although I must admit – I do get irritated easily. But these I mentioned are the most common, and they make me feel the most uncomfortable even though there’s usually nothing but good intentions behind them. Have you dealt with any of these, too? And what are the sentences and questions that made you feel uneasy as a hobbyist photographer?