Hello fellow Photographers! HAPPY FRIDAY! I want to take a step back in today’s post to open up a dialogue about something I know we all have thought about, struggled with, or are contemplating. The topic?
Photography: Full Time or Part Time?
How many of you are full time? Part time? Are you some combination of the two? I’ve been informally on this journey called photography for several years now – I’ve always worked full time (or more than, in my line of work) and balanced photography when I could. I didn’t take myself too seriously and didn’t think too much about it. I was enjoying my career and letting things happen naturally.
But then we uprooted and moved back to the midwest. I took the giant life-change as a sign to switch gears – I wrapped up my former career path and job and set out on this amazing journey of photography.
Of course, I chose the absolute WORST time EVER to do it. I mean, seriously, who goes full time in the DEAD OF WINTER when you’re BRAND SPANKING NEW to a city? Especially a city like Indianapolis – one that’s abundant in family photographers, wedding and couple, senior, and lifestyle photographers!?
((Raises hand slowly…))
Now don’t get me wrong – I started working in the fall before winter really set in. I was also pulling double-duty still working remotely for my former company and building up my business in Indianapolis as I went. It wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy… we moved to Indy, then moved north to settle into our house. I have struggled with my SEO due to moving several times over the last few years (I think Google has stopped taking me seriously, but I swear I’m here in Indianapolis to stay) which makes it even more difficult. Did I mention there is a plethora of amazingly talented artists here in Indy? And when I say artists I mean photographers! Many of them have been here for most of their lives and have a network of people.
I’m sensitive to being the ‘new kid’ – I want to come in strong, but not bulldoze anyone. I’m not here to steal clients or one-up anyone. I’m just here to network, make friends, connect, and hopefully find and fill a niche that isn’t currently being reached. I’ve researched price points, reevaluated my services and work, changed my niche and fine-tuned my shooting and post-processing to make sure I’m offering something that’s unique to me, the community, and the team of photographers that care for this city.
It’s still hard.
I met with a local photographer last week whom I admire for several reasons – one of which was that I thought she had figured out how to master the ‘full time photographer’ gig. Guess what I learned? She has a full time job… and photographs on the side. She does this because she loves her day job… that’s it. She has consciously decided to have it all while she can – she doesn’t need to choose between photography and her ‘other’ career… she has both! Sure, she works crazy hours, but it was clear to me in meeting with her that she’s happy – she loves it.
I left the meeting wondering if maybe I had cheated myself. I’ve spent the last 7+ years focusing on my ‘other’ career and setting this dream of being a photographer on the back burner. As of the first of this year, I allowed myself the chance to fully chase this dream – and focus on nothing else. I’ve spent the majority of the last four months doing office work. This is what the slow season looks like for photographers – it’s a lot of accounting, spreadsheets and workbooks, contracts and website development… and not a lot of art. The truth is… I’m a bit over it. I NEED to get out and shoot. In fact, I’m writing this a day early so that I CAN get out and shoot tomorrow. 😉
For some reason, despite my obsessive multi-tasking tendencies, I failed to see that I didn’t have to choose. And neither do you. There’s no reason you can’t have it all – just fine tune it to what it means for you. When I met with Kristeen (Kristeen Marie Photography) I had a moment where I just went on babbling about who knows what and when I finally took a breath, I realized that my subconscious switch of my niche from wedding photography to family photography – something that happened in the move to Indiana – was actually my heart trying to tell me something.
I miss teaching.
I suppose I already sort of knew this – I’ve been volunteering at Peace Learning Center since settling into our house in Indy – and I didn’t expect my love for youth work to just face away. I just didn’t account for how much I would miss it. In my nervous stream-of-consciousness chatter to Kristeen, I had a lightbulb moment when I realized that I don’t feel fulfilled without two things in my career: photography and kids.
I’ve been mulling this over for a couple of weeks now and am trying to wrap my brain around what I want – what will work for me. I know I can’t do a full time job, again, and expect to reach my goals with photography. But whoever said it had to be full time? And if it were full time, that doesn’t automatically mean it has to be 50+ hours a week as I have often committed to in the past.
It’s all about finding BALANCE. Something I work daily to achieve, yet am so, SO far away from mastering.
So as spring blooms and the seasons change, so does my mindset and my goals for myself. 2015 will be a year about growing a business, building client relationships, and finding balance between personal and professional goals.
So how about you? Where do you stand on this topic – where are you at in your career and what works for you! I’d love to hear from you!
casey and her camera is an Indianapolis Family Photographer specializing in family, couple, lifestyle, senior, and wedding photography for Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas.