This week’s challenges are more difficult than last week’s.  “New Horizon” encourages forethought and planning; “Tough Questions” is thought-provoking and forces the struggle to be considered directly.  So how do I combine these themes?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I have heard a lot of talk lately from other photographers about quitting.  They’re disheartened, discouraged, bored, and uninspired.  They feel their clients don’t respect them as they should, and their once passion has turned into a chore.

As an avid photographer, this makes me so sad.  I know firsthand the joy that comes from creating beautiful art and capturing the fleeting candid moments.  I almost never go anywhere without a camera these days, and I simply cannot fathom ever growing tired of it.

However, with the new year almost upon us, I have to question my own future.  Where am I going with this?  What do I hope to accomplish?

Ultimately, I would love nothing more than to make a living off of my photography, travel around to amazing worldly sites, and never report to a 9-5 again.  That’s the dream.  However, I’m tragically realistic, and I know that only an extremely select few ever make this a reality.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I’ll be frank: photography is an extremely difficult market in which to become successful.  The general public are inundated with thousands of daily photos from ubiquitous cameras all over the world.  High quality has been made very accessible to the masses, so it’s more difficult for the average eye to distinguish between amateur and professional.  As such, no one wants to pay for photos he feels he could take himself.

Unfortunately, this is true for most arts.  My sister knows the struggle with her novels (go read them, by the way – she’s a phenomenal author! (and her first Grimoire book is free)).  My brother dreams of being a personal chef.  I’m also a musician.  All of these fields are highly undervalued.  They’re considered extraneous and unnecessary to some.

I know many absolutely amazing photographers who are simply hanging their cameras in failure.  If they couldn’t make it, what chance do I stand?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I do have one advantage over the typical photographer: variety.  I love to shoot everything from conventions to landscapes, travel to night shots, pets to macro… even the occasional portrait.  I love it all, and I’m constantly experimenting and growing.  This variety always keeps me on my toes.  If I find myself getting stale in one area, I simply focus on something else for a while.  My passion is always fresh.

Additionally, this allows me to view situations through a different perspective.  I am not limited by the mindset the rules of landscape photography can slowly cement.  I can think about the details of macro in a portrait.  As a result, I can get some unique shots.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

This is a double-edged sword, though.  I don’t hone skills for a particular type of photography.  This jack is never a master.  So while I never get bored and can take interesting shots, they aren’t of the same quality as others who do specialize.  Where does that leave me?

I’ve thought a lot about the struggle I witness in others.  What is the effort worth?

At the end of the day, I still love photography.  I don’t think that will ever change.  I might not be able to quit my day job, but I can still keep working to get my art out into the world.  My photography is worth more than any price tag, so even if I can’t make a living off of it, it will always be a big part of my life.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Hopefully the world appreciates my contribution of color, and someday, maybe I’ll make that dream come true.

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