We have all been there at one point or another. The thought of picking up a camera and having to take more pictures seems less than appealing. Shooting the same thing over and over, dealing with frustrating clients, or simply not getting the results you had hoped for. All these things can take a toll on your mental state and will eventually translate into feelings of disdain towards your passion. It might feel like you need a miracle to find your passion again, but here are four things which have worked for me, and maybe they can work for you as well!
It is completely normal to lose interest in what you do. I feel like I need to say that. There is nothing wrong with you for growing tired, feeling burnt out, and the pressure of deadlines getting the best of you. It happens to us all. The trick is to find ways to inject some excitement back into your business while at the same time eliminating some sources of negative energy. I'd like to share with you a few ways in which I deal with this very problem and perhaps some of you can use this in your own lives.
Try Something New
I’m a big believer in a minimalist approach to life and I will be the first person to remove all excess distractions from my business. It’s been said many times that finding your focus and working away at a niche helps to solidify and define you as a brand in the minds of your target market. That said, there is an understated importance in exploring new avenues and developing new interests.
When you become successful at anything it is usually because your results are consistent. You have proven yourself in the market as a repeat performer. While this is great for business, sometimes the creative aspect gets lost, and as artists we tend to get a bit restless when the creative process becomes stale.
Exploring new genres can be an awesome way to renew your passion in the craft. I am primarily an apparel and catalog photographer. Day after day I shoot clothing on and off models. I love what I do and have developed quite a routine. As a result I have become dependable and extremely efficient at my craft; something which all my clients value.
It is this same repetition and routine however which has made me feel a little burnt out and I have been yearning to try something a little different. Recently I decided to give the boudoir style a chance. To me it symbolizes a total contrast to my current work. Boudoir allows me to strip my models of the stylized clothing I generally shoot. It allows me to crop a little tighter and get a little more intimate with my models.
I am far from an accomplished boudoir photographer, in fact, I have a lot to learn. This is the exciting part however. It is this feeling of not knowing, of being in foreign territory, and of wanting to improve which has re-ignited the spark. I now have something to break the routine.
Drop A Client
Working with clients is a bit like dating. We try a few, or if you are fortunate, a lot. Over time though you really learn what you like and the types of "relationships" that suit you best. It is unrealistic to expect each and every one of these relationships to work out. Sure, there is customer service and we go the extra mile to help keep a client satisfied, but sometimes the two forces are just not a good fit and in the creative world that is OK.
I find that when I speak with photographers who have lost the passion for their craft, more often than not, it is a result of a poor client relationship. They become so consumed with making the relationship work, that the relationship is no longer based on photography but rather maintenance. That is an extremely stressful burden to add to your life, especially since most photographers already have so many tasks on their plates.
In every roster there is always that one client who is just a little more hassle than they are worth. When you find yourself growing sick and tired of picking up a camera, look towards those clients and ask yourself, are they doing this to you? If so, I seriously urge you to explore the option of dropping that client.
This does not have to be immediate, but if you put a plan to action, and actively seek a replacement so that you don’t feel the pain of losing a client in your wallet, you will find the transition much easier and the result will be that of a happier life and business environment.
Offer A Client Free Work With No Strings
An awesome way to get out of a funk is to collaborate with your own clients. To this day I still like testing with various agencies and I will take on creative projects when time permits. The reason I do this is to keep things fresh and exciting. The thing is, you don’t need to look for new sources where you can test out your creative ideas. Use your established network.
Call up a client and tell them you have an idea you would like to try with them. Pitch it to them, ask for whatever product you need, and let them collaborate with you. This is a good way to push your own clients to be a little more creative, and to trust you and your vision a little more. You have a chance to show them that you are not just a one trick pony, and that you in fact can handle conceptual work.
Clients generally are under the mercy of very strict budgets. It can be hard for them to take a chance on a creative project and break out of the box they have put themselves into. By offering them a free sample you can give them a taste of what is possible with a little more control in your hands, and if they like what you produce, you better believe they will be back for more. It is a chance for the two of you to explore new avenues together and that can lead to a lot more work down the line.
Introduce A New Service
Often times our view of the market becomes so narrow minded that we forget to keep our eyes open for all the new and exciting opportunities that allow for expansion of our business. Just because you are a photographer does not mean you can’t offer any other services to compliment, or even contrast, what you currently do!
A short while ago I opened up a rental studio in my hometown of Toronto. Though my photography work keeps me busy, I have always planned to help OTHER photographers evolve their own craft. A rental studio allows me to create the kind of space I always wished I had when I was starting out. A place that is clean, well stocked, warm and inviting, versatile, and affordable. I think I have always had a passion for hospitality. A rental studio allows me to merge that passion with photography in an effort to bring a cool space to all the amazing local talent.
While I was in a fortunate position that I did not NEED the income from the studio, it is something I pursued anyway, because it gave me an exciting break from my day to day routine. I wholeheartedly enjoy running the rental studio and it has become my little baby. It is a service that I decided to offer in ADDITION to what I already offer, and it has re-ignited the passion I have for photography. I get to interact with so many incredible photographers, young and old, and hear their stories. They come here to create their visions. To bring ideas to life. I find that inspiring beyond words and it fuels my own creativity when it is time for me to create commercial work.
I love this article. It is what I needed to find to help me through a rough patch. Being a professional photographer is my passion it's what I was meant to do, it's what I was born to be. It's about constantly changing and evolving to remain in the game. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it.
Thanks Rebekah. Glad you enjoyed it.
All the best in pursuing your passion! I love the ambition you have. :)
that studio space is gorgeous. It would be my dream to open a rental like that. Can't find any finished locations that accomodate, did you have to build that yourself with contractors or just found a space that worked?
It took me 2 years to find the right place. I wasn't in a rush and kept my eyes open. As soon as I saw this spot I knew it was the one.
The space was initially bare. We renovated for a month before opening it to the public. :)
There's something special about a photographer teaching other photographers to "steal" their clients! It's a sign of good heart and a carefree approach to life, in my opinion. I enjoyed reading this, and definitely learned from it!
Have a good one
That was an incredibly kind comment James, thank you. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the help of countless generous souls. All I can do is try to pay it forward. :)
Great write up dude. Great ideas!
Thanks Kyle! :)