2011 flew by. It was my first year in business full-time as a fine art photographer. This was a year of exploration for me as a newly established artist. I had to test the different paths I could take and navigate cautiously, so as to not make a major error. As many people do in their first year of business, I did stumble a bit around some things and struggle with decision-making more than anything else.
The #1 question I had to answer for myself this year was: what path do I want to take with photography? After participating in my first juried outdoor art festival, taking portraits, and researching the commercial side of things, I landed right back where I started: art. I’m so excited to start 2012 with a clear head and more focused goals. I’m mostly excited to see how my work evolves and where life takes me. I can’t wait to share my journey in 2012. But first, I want to offer this list of things I learned in my first year of business to anyone who might benefit from reading it. I sure wish I’d found a solid, comprehensive list when I was first researching photography as a career choice, so I hope someone finds this useful. :)
1 - Take your time with the big stuff.
It’s ok to make [small] mistakes and super-important to tread carefully until you know what you want to achieve.
2 - But get out there.
Don’t hesitate to explore different areas of photography as needed. It’s important to learn what feels right to you before you dive into a specific area. Test the waters. Post online. Get feedback.
3 - Narrow your focus.
Don’t forget about PASSION. Photography is a broad topic, but it can be so much more rewarding career-wise if you specialize in the area you love most.
4 - Leave fear behind.
This summer, I had a fellow artist approach me during my first (and so far, only) outdoor exhibition about how I had come to be a part of the festival (this was only 5 months into my business). He seemed anxious to show his work too but hesitant to proceed with submitting. It seemed that he was concerned his work might not be “good enough.” I encouraged him not to worry about that. If you’re creating from the heart and want to share with others, submit. Art is beautiful because of how different each artist’s perspective is.
5 - Say no.
I have a tendency to get a huge adrenaline rush when I move forward in some way, whether it’s joining an organization or making a big decision. Sometimes, I feel inspired to rush major decision-making because of the excitement of opening doors. Remember that there are tons of opportunities out there. But you won’t feel fulfilled by taking the ones that aren’t a good fit. It might be exciting to get offers, but don’t feel pressured to accept them if they don’t feel right. More will come. You don’t want to let the fear of things slowing down lock you into commitments you don’t truly care about. This has been one of the biggest realizations I’ve come to this year.
I hope my post was helpful in some way! If you have a specific question about starting out in photography that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask me here on Tumblr or Formspring. I’d love to know I was helping someone in the same position I was just a short time ago. :)