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Photography Passion Vs. Profession: Which Path is Right For You?

Photography Passion Vs. Profession: Which Path is Right For You?

When photography is your passion, it comes with a host of benefits. But when it’s your job, it’s a whole different ball game.

Often, people first pick up a camera out of passion. “I’d love to make nice photographs,” says the newbie. After some time, they invest in some gear, and they enjoy the infatuation stage of their new hobby. Later down the line, they start making good photographs. Friends and family may even say, “you should do this as a job.” Enthusiastically, they reply, “wow, a job as a photographer. That would be a dream come true!” Or would it?

Photography Passion

When you do something for passion, it’s often an escape from the struggles of life. When I first started making photographs and writing, I’d do it on weekends. It was my way of feeling in control and forgetting about the day-to-day struggles of ordinary life. I loved it.

In my opinion, having a form of escapism that is both healthy and rewarding, is important. And photography has so many mental health benefits. In my experience, and for many photographers I know, making images helps reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s a wonderful thing when doing something simple like picking up a camera offers so many rewards.

A passion for photography has many social benefits too. You can join walking clubs that go on regular photo walks, meeting like-minded people at the same time. You can do experimental TPF shoots with aspiring models, with no pressure and just some creative fun. There is, of course, a huge online community to access. Photographers worldwide can come together, share photos, offer feedback and talk about what they love.

All in all, photography is a wonderful hobby – that’s why so many people practice it. But what happens when you make the transition from hobbyist to working in the photo industry?

Photography Profession

First of all, working in the photo industry is awesome. I’ve been in this game for around five years, and I’ve loved every second. But it’s a totally different experience.

When I used to blog, I did it in my own time, worked with who I wanted, and didn’t take it too seriously. But there was no money involved. When you start working, and cash is on the line, you can’t afford to be so “I’ll do it tomorrow” about it.

Now I have to work with photographers, PR reps, camera companies, and many more. I have to manage deadlines, people ignoring me, people lying to me, and sometimes, rudeness. When I used to shoot events, I’d have to deal with needy clients, poor logistics, and untimely payments.

Online I’ve been bombarded by internet trolls. People wanted to humiliate me, threaten me, and try and bring me down. In the beginning, I couldn’t handle it. Honestly, it would keep me awake at night. Now, thankfully, it’s water off a ducks back.

I know many photographers that went from loving the craft to “oh, great, this again.” Like a person clocking in, they just wanted to get through it and get home. That’s a far cry from “working in photography is a dream come true.”

The point I’m making is, working in the industry means photography can stop being a form of escapism. Instead, it can become the thing you want to escape from!

Understand What’s Best For You

Again, I love working in the photo industry. Photography has afforded me some of the best experiences of my life. But I’m trying to show you how the dynamic changes when it moves from passion to profession.

So if you’re at a level where you’re thinking of making the switch, ask yourself: “Can I handle it?”

Can you deal with:

  • A lot of paperwork
  • Unhappy clients
  • Rude clients
  • Chasing up payments
  • Worrying about getting new gigs to pay rent
  • People wanting to break your spirits
  • Long periods away from home
  • People not respecting your time
  • Constant pressure on your mental health

Honestly, the list goes on.

If you can’t handle all that, then the transition isn’t for you. And guess what, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re good at something, and you love it, it’s totally okay to keep it as a hobby. Because there’s a risk that the love dies quickly when it becomes serious. Like an infatuated couple, nothing is more perfect, but then they marry and quickly ask, “what have we done!?”

It’s fine to remain infatuated and casual. But if you do decide to get married to the photo industry, be ready to find a new form of escapism that isn’t photography. Otherwise, you’ll be quickly getting a divorce!