It’s been 12 or 13 years since I got seriously interested in photography. However, I haven’t made photography my business, even though I’m very interested in it and reasonably good at it. So why’s that? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. Why have I never had a wish to become a professional? I generally believe in “never say never,” but let’s say that it’s very likely that I will never become a professional photographer despite my interest in photography itself. I have six good reasons for this. And if you’re having second thoughts about turning pro, perhaps you’ll find yourself in this article.
To make things clear before we go any further: I don’t think a professional photographer is someone who just takes beautiful photos or who is talented for photography. I don’t lack talent, and some of my photos are pretty neat as well. As you can see, I’m very modest too. :) Joke aside, I believe that a professional photographer is someone who runs a business in addition to taking beautiful photos. And running a business is a whole different story. So, this is where my six reasons against turning pro begin.
1. I suck at time management
When it comes to my daily life, chores, and my job, of course, I try to stick with an approximate schedule and I’m not that terrible at it. But it’s so much different with photos, especially with editing. I recently remembered a Facebook status I wrote a few years ago in March. It reads something like this and it will tell you everything about my time management skills:
I came back from Athens in early January and started editing the photos immediately – there are 64 left. Out of 150.
Today I sent my brother his birthday photos. His birthday was on 14 February.
I took photos of my niece, I don’t even know when. The photos are still unedited, and she’s in a T-shirt, so it must have been last summer.
And people ask me why I don’t shoot professionally.
A professional photographer, in my opinion, must respect the deadlines and be able not to feel too much pressure because of them. I’m not really great at either, apparently.
P.S. A part of the photos from Athens remains unedited to this day.
2. Lack of business skills/ambition
As I mentioned, being a professional photographer means that you have to run a business. However, I’ve never had the ambition of running my own. So, I’m not even sure I have business skills as I never had to develop them. Maybe I would be good at it, but I just don’t have the slightest desire to try. It even scares me.
3. Never good enough
Another thing that has affected my decision not to turn pro is that I don’t think my photos are ever perfect. Luckily, that doesn’t prevent me from publishing them, because I still want to share my ideas even if the photos are far from being flawless. But on rare occasions when I took photos for money, I was always extremely nervous that the clients wouldn’t like them. And I hate that feeling.
4. I’m very awkward around people
There are many genres you can focus on as a photographer. However, what most folks choose here in Serbia are those that involve photographing people or just being surrounded by them: weddings, birthdays, all kinds of events… I’m a bit shy, I feel awkward when posing people, and I’m pretty sure they can feel how confused I am. So I’d rather pass.
5. Long periods of being completely uninspired
Honestly, this is what has bothered me a lot lately. Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, my creativity has been dropping. I’m at the point where I have absolutely no ideas for photos, but also for recipes and stories I write in Serbian. Nothing! I know it will return eventually, these periods without creativity can happen. But I feel that they’re not something I would be able to afford if I made a living out of photography.
6. I’m afraid that I’d start to hate photography
At this moment, I love photography very much. Even though we’re on a break right now, I’m pretty sure we’ll get back together. :) Anyways, if I started doing it as a business, I’m scared that I would lose the passion and love I have for it. I’m afraid that the deadlines, tons of tasks, and all that I wrote above would turn it into nothing but another chore. A similar feeling to the one I had with my “365 project.”
Maybe you have an ambition on becoming a professional photographer. And you might have found yourself in all the stuff I wrote above. So now you’re probably thinking: “Oh crap, I’m like this too, maybe I should give it up.” Maybe, yes, but don’t do it just yet!
Think about what’s stronger: your ambition or your fears? Your desire or your poor time management skills? Your wonderful personality or your self-doubt?
Before you give up, remember that you can overcome anything and that anything can be learned. Time management and business skills are something we can learn and practice. Our fears and self-doubts are something we can beat. And you can even learn how not to be awkward around people (so yeah, you can even become a wedding photographer as an introvert). Therefore, if you feel like you’re ready to change and train yourself to become a professional photographer: then go for it.
It’s more likely that you’ll see my name on a book cover (fingers crossed!) than in a photo gallery. I don’t think I have what it takes to become a professional photographer, and I have my other passions and skills that I’m developing. But hey – never say never… Right?