Some personal thoughts on having to be an artist and an entrepreneur all at the same time.
I got into photography for the artistry of it. I think most of us do right? We have that initial passion for photography, and are being creative just because we love taking pictures with our cameras. The moment you start to take it seriously though, and start a business out of your photography, I guess you’ll quickly learn that just being an artist doesn’t cut it though. Not unless you are really really lucky. You have to learn how to market yourself as a photographer and educate yourself to be an entrepreneur as well. You get into things like branding, marketing, start thinking about financial goals and all that stuff.
At the end of my first year as a wedding photographer, I noticed my interest in entrepreneurship and marketing. And I quickly developed myself in that area, as I kept on doing for the next couple of years. Which was a really good thing because it made my business grew quite quickly. Within 2 years, I was able to photograph full time, make a living out of it and was shooting destination weddings like I wanted. I was checking of goal after goal from my list and even started helping other photographers do the same.
But, four years into my business I noticed I wasn’t having as much fun as I did before. Which felt kind of weird and maybe a bit ungrateful since a lot of photographers wished for the things I had accomplished. And I didn’t feel like wedding photography was something I could do for many years to come. Besides that, I was working far too hard, which came to a breaking point for me a little more than a year ago. I was overworked, unhappy with my photography and business, and kind of lost. After some hard conversation with friends and family, I finally cut back on my hours and started thinking about how I got to this point.
And I think a big part of it was, me not realizing I had to develop myself as an artist as well. It wasn’t that my photos weren’t beautiful: I still love the work that I shot the last couple of years. It’s more that I wouldn’t take the time to create personal projects, experiments, and turns out, I was only working for clients, working too hard for them, and draining myself creatively.
I do really think you need both. You need to be an artists ánd an entrepreneur. The artist that isn’t an entrepreneur and has no-one to be the entrepreneur for him or her will probably have a hard time making a living out of it. And on the other hand, the photographer that loses him or herself in the business of it, ignoring the artist side of itself, will end up unhappy.
For me, making some changes in my business was necessary. I’m now shooting less weddings, but loving every part of them. Diversifying my workdays means I’m more inspired then ever and more free time means getting to enjoy life so much more.
So… here’s my reminder to you and to myself: please stay focused on the beautiful job and talent that you have. Be smart in business but don’t forget to keep the artist that you are happy. Develop your photography, find your creative voice and keep creating for yourself. It will make you a better, and more fulfilled photographer. And therefore will benefit your clients and other people around you as well. You can do this!
PS: this subject is one of the many things I talked about with Cole on the Way up North podcast. Click here to listen to it!
Fine art photographer Europe // Artist entrepreneur scale // On being an artist // Raisa Zwart photography
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