I have gone through such an introspective period the last few months. The deep soul searching type of journey where purpose and meaning are the main objectives.
“Why am I doing photography?”
“Why am I in business?” “Is all this work really worth it?”
“Do I have the power or ability to actually make a difference in the world?”
“Is this really my calling or should I be doing something else?” I studied music, for heaven’s sake! 20 plus years of my life in lessons, practice, passion, and not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars spent on training and education… have I given all that up? I’ve spent most of my life thinking music was my calling. Does photography have a place in my life’s mission?
“What is my motivation?”
“What is the drive behind my passion for photography? What do I love most about it? What is my purpose and focus?”
Yes. Its evident I’ve had a lot of questions. To be honest, a business in photography is hard! Its W.O.R.K. A lot of it. I love the photography portion, but in a business, its unfortunately such a sliver of a small portion of what actually goes on. When you add the concept of profit to the mix and the need to support your entire family, the pressure goes up a bit more. The fun hobby is no longer a hobby, but your career and an entity to be seriously dealt with on a professional level. Strategy, marketing, profit and loss, customer service… my roles and responsibilities suddenly spread into so many different areas–some with more expertise than others–and it becomes a one woman show circus. It can be overwhelming. Discouraging. Exhilarating. Defeating. Enriching. Baffling.
There are some things I love and some things I hate.
I have this ongoing distaste for Facebook and Twitter. I know all the reasons that they’re fantastic networking and marketing tools. But deep down don’t like them or enjoy them. I feel superficial and narcissistic so often and I despise those feelings. I hate the constant self promotion. I love blogging and writing, but that too can sometimes feel like a constant battle to “be on the radar” “look at me!” “pay attention to my work!” I have a deep desire to be authentic and real not only in my photography but in my communication with people. I don’t think I always succeed at that goal at all. In fact, most often I try to be filtered, positive and professional.
My constant challenge seems to be how to communicate with the world authentically but to still garner the necessary attention that will help me support a business and family. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just have people line up at my door asking me to photograph their lives, interact with wonderful people, create powerful images that change lives, and not have to deal with any of the other stuff? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me.
There have been several times when I’ve considered giving all this up. It’s easy to lose the purpose or meaning sometimes in the overwhelming tumble of life and tedious business practicum. I’m a purpose driven individual. I need a sense of mission to help channel the challenging waters. I need more than just “passion for photography” or “I love taking pictures” to keep me going when things get hard. There must be a rooted moral drive or ethic in place for me to remain committed through the trials and distractions. Thus my search. My deeply personal search for purpose.
I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve journal-ed extensively in morning meditations. I’ve pondered all kinds of philosophies on walks and bike rides. I’ve studied talks from great spiritual leaders and I’ve listened to two talks with one of my newest respected photography mentors. All of this has combined into some moving discoveries this past week. It for sure has not made the challenges go away, but it has certainly helped me be able to face them with a point of reference and rooted value of what I’m fighting for.
I’m not going to share all my references to some of these personal discoveries–since they’re likely just things I personally needed–but I will share the two talks that have made a powerful difference in my search for meaning from an incredible individual and photographer…
Any guesses on who it is? Perhaps he’s already changed your life as well?