One of the most frequent comments that I hear as a photographer is, “I don’t know how to be creative!” Or, I will sometimes hear, "How can I be creative?" The immediate feeling that I get when hearing this statement causes me frustration, and sometimes sadness.
There has never been a more crucial time in our lives. Covid has wreaked havoc on our economy, lives, and businesses. So, as small business owners, we are all sitting here wondering if we will survive.
Learning to pivot is something all business people need to be able to do, and this is probably the most significant example any of us have encountered. It is also an opportunity to sharpen skills that can turn heads and win jobs that help differentiate you from the crowd of folks with cameras.
Now is the time to decide. Are you going to fight for your business and livelihood or are you going to throw in the towel? I hope this has helped you in some way to understand you are not in this alone and there is a path forward. Don’t ever give up!
The life of an entrepreneur is not easy, and I work more now than I did at any 9–5, but realizing early on what made me happy and turning it into a business is what allowed me to redefine work as enjoyment, relief, and excitement. My days start at 4 a.m. and don’t stop until the work is done, but ever since I was laid off, I have never worked again.
Sometimes I wonder, where did I get it from. I remember when I was a child and my father used to take me with him to the darkroom to develop film. He loved to take photos and enjoyed his time developing them. I grew up in Western New York, in the suburbs of Buffalo where the photography community was pretty much non-existent. Forget about a community of African American photographers. So I guess it's not surprising that I was never inspired to take up photography.
Trust me when I tell you, I am right there with you. Turn on the news, negativity. Go to social media, negativity. Family, friends, negativity everywhere. So what happens? This eats away at you, eats away at any creativity you may have left in you. It leads you to start questioning everything you believe in. Am I resonating with anyone yet? Or is this just me?
In the end, we are who we are, we love what we love, we do what we do, and that is sufficient. Being female in America is a journey. Embrace the skin, the gender, the size, the role, and everything that makes you, You. This no doubt is what your client initially sought you for. Stay in the fight and continue to reach. Your talent and skill are what others see.
Here is the reality: as I write this almost 30 million Americans are unemployed. Will they get their jobs back? Time will tell, but I'm sure we can agree that 30 million people will not go back to work immediately. Some businesses will never recover. There will be long-term unemployment. That news alone is concerning to any business owner. If your customers are unemployed, how will they afford your products or services? Fair question. So, that leads us right back to the headline. Is professional photography dead?
Not so long ago I was paralyzed by limiting beliefs about my talent, my abilities, and my business as a portrait photographer. I made excuses as to why x photographer was successful, consistently booked, had a greater following, and why I did not. Always finding comfort by filling in the blanks with which obstacles (finances, equipment, knowledge, time restraints, or life circumstances) were holding me back from being the artist, creator, and business owner my heart longed for.