I’ve been thinking a lot lately about photography and me, more specifically my relationship with my photography business. I am a photographer. I have been one seriously for the last 8 years, and more truthfully I have been one for much longer than that just not with a fancy camera. I have grown my skill to a place that I am proud of, and I love that my excitement and passion for it continues to grow. It feels like a very natural extension of myself, and to not do it would feel like losing one of my senses.
When one is a photographer, it is assumed that you have a business, and I just rolled with that assumption. However, I have never fallen comfortably into the role of a businesswoman, and having a business and marketing myself as a business isn’t a natural fit. That is not a knock against businesswomen. I have mad respect for those who do it, because there is no way to half-ass your way into a successful business. While I do not love the business side of having a photography business, I love taking pictures for people. I can think of no greater gift than to capture the love, connection, and intention of a period of time for a family/couple/person/project into images and hand that back over to them. Truly, it feels like holy work.
There is no need for me as a family photographer in this world. There seems to be approximately 5 million photographers in Wichita alone and our population is just under 400,000 people. Trying to sell myself to people feels so bad, and it feeds into old, not-quite-healed wounds of desiring acceptance and fearing rejection. When the market is as flooded as it is, you’re not exactly a business-type, and you feel uncomfortable trying to convince people to hire you it is all but a guarantee that you are not going to be “accepted” often and will be “rejected” more times than not.
“Just don’t have a business and shoot whatever you like,” I hear you saying. Yes, I’ve thought of that. That is partly why I have created my new instagram account (@jillnicolecurated) to encourage me to create whatever it is I want to create (like the pictures in this post). But even that doesn’t feel quite right. Is it because I want to be recognized as a photographer? Is it because I desire to be “successful”? Is it because you can only shoot your kids so much without getting bored, and it can be hard to convince people to let them take your picture “just for fun”? I would guess it’s probably a mix of all of those things. Not only that, but I love shooting families.
So where does that leave me? A tentative and not particularly disciplined “business owner” who wants to have success because she’s passionate about what she is selling. I’m thinking of taking a break from calling myself a photography business to see how that feels and to see what would come of it. What would I create if I weren’t a “business”? Would I figure out my niche? Would I take things in a totally different direction? Am I just being a quitter? I’m not sure of any of those things. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.