STAGE ONE You are new to photography. You love taking pictures. You don’t know much about your camera, but you shoot anything and everything and learn along the way. You make mistakes, but you love the power and potential the camera gives you for capturing life as you see it. When you download the photographs onto your computer it’s like opening a present.
STAGE TWO You begin to get impatient. Your skills aren’t developing as quickly as you would like. You compare yourself to others and find yourself lacking. It begins to feel like hard work. You bring your camera out less often. Discouragement sets in.
STAGE THREE You buck up and read the manual. You gain a firm grasp of the fundamentals. You get your confidence back and begin to produce solid, consistent work for your clients. You begin to feel and act like a real business person.
STAGE FOUR While your clients are happy with the photographs you create, you begin to feel like your portrait work has become stale. You look back at your early work with a bit of nostalgia and admiration. You were so free and innocent when you first began your journey. You wonder how you can re-capture that risk-taking in your work. Is it possible to break the mold a bit, to not think so hard about what’s sellable? You begin to feel too much like a business person.
We maintain that you must set yourself apart with a distinguishing style. It’s not enough, in a competitive market, to simply produce solid, consistent work. How will you give yourself an edge? How can you infuse your work with a fresh eye for detail or new angles or challenging lighting situations while protecting the bottom line?
We’d like to explore these questions on the Photographer Cafe blog in the weeks to come. At what stage of the journey are you? What challenges have you faced? How have you grown? What are you doing to take your photography to the next level?