A repost of a short piece I wrote to accompany an image posted to Flickr from a March 2014 trip to Folly Beach in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I was three months into my first year of full-time photography and I guess you could say I was feeling the pressure!
Author and photographer, David duChemin often speaks of the two disparate worlds of photography as that of art and commerce, each largely different in approach and execution. I can say that the business side of photography has been really tough for me personally. After the initial flurry of activity occurs–you become a business, get all of your licenses, open appropriate bank accounts, grab a line of credit, put together a website, begin social marketing networks, get nailed with your first quarterly estimated tax payment, etc. etc., it sinks in that this is going to be a long-term venture if at all and the odds of success are stacked against you. I started out spending much of my time dependent upon (and apprehensive about) uncontrollable elements like the weather or the will of the buying public. Monthly bills came without prejudice and my photographs were selling without the same consistency or frequency as said bills–one photo here, one photo there, a license one day, a potential publication the next. There was a lot of pressure to begin shooting for market: adjusting my subject and travel schedule to be more in line with what I thought might sell; what someone else might want; what a magazine could use in their annual editorial schedule. Decisions began to slant more and more towards this end and less and less towards the thoughtless meandering in the woods that got me into the industry in the first place. Opportunities abounded all around me–art shows on the weekends, creative marketing pieces that I could make with expensive Photoshop products, fancy websites and blogs that could generate interest and new markets–but how do I get ahead far enough to afford the capital to take advantage of them…the monthly recurring costs of new software on the cloud or the one-time expenses to print and display professionally at a show.
But then, I take a walk on the beach with the camera, or up a boulder-strewn trail in the mountains, or through a path of wildflowers and it all makes sense, at least for me. I ground myself outside. On the best of days I manage to tap into the rhythms of nature. My thoughts become less cluttered, my purpose in life or business or in the eyes of peers, friends, family, less important, my ability to engage with the surroundings stronger and clearer. In some new-age garbligook I guess it’s akin to meditation. I repeat this process almost daily. It starts with the morning check on social media networks and business earnings/expenses; addressing e-mails and inquires if present. The apprehension builds–will I make enough this month?; can I afford gas to travel to the locations necessary?; am I doing the right thing? etc. etc. Then, almost regardless of what the conditions are outside, every morning and every evening I have the opportunity to put on my pack and grab my tripod and take a walk down a trail somewhere. I know that all the concerns of life and career will bear down again when I return, but for that little bit of time when I’m on the trail, or feet in the sand on the beach, crouching in a tidal pool watching the sunset reflect in the calm waters, it all makes sense and my choices are validated. It doesn’t last long, and the feeling is often attacked by invading thoughts when a tripod breaks, or the car makes an odd sound, or a pain develops in my knee, but the moments of peace are enough. And it’s why I do this thing: to be outside, to find beauty in the world, to convey it the best I can through the visual art form of photography. When it’s all said and done, I aspire to provide solid, honest, and consistent content, both visual and written. That is within my control. The rest…well, I’ll just do my best to let that stuff lie wherever it may.