When my husband and I purchased our first DSLR shortly before our twins were due to arrive in the spring of 2012, I knew that I would someday I would want to learn more about photography. With two newborns to feed, change, and love, however, it was some time before that someday came.
Read More: Owner to Hobbyist-8 Lessons Learned
Eventually, though, I found the time to teach myself how to use my fancy new camera. At first, I wasn’t very good. Actually, I was a pretty awful photographer. I had yet to learn about avoiding limb chops, and I thought that a photograph wasn’t complete without a heavy matte filter.
Over time and with LOTS of practice, I got better. No longer ashamed of my pictures, I started sharing my images with friends on social media, and soon after, they began asking if I would take their family portraits. Some friends and family even encouraged me to pursue photography as a business venture. I considered it, but never felt “ready” to take on clients and knew that I didn’t have the time as a stay at home mama to two small children to devote to opening and maintaining a successful small business.
I decided that a photography business would have to wait until our twins were in school. Until then, I would continue shooting for myself and for my family.
In the blink of an eye, our twins are now four years old and enrolled in a half-day 4K program. Next year, they will spend full days in kindergarten. I will have much more time on my hands, and could open that photography business that I’ve been thinking about all these years. And yet, I have my reservations.
Becoming a working photographer scares me a bit. The last several years of practicing photography as a hobby have been so wonderful that I don’t know that I want to “mess up a good thing”.
From flexible working hours to the absence of any deadlines, there are several reasons why I have loved being a hobbyist photographer.
- No.01Work In Your Pajamas
Working photographers must dress comfortably for their job, yes, but as a hobbyist, I can literally take pictures in my pajamas. There’s no need to dress to impress my subjects when they’re often in pajamas themselves!
- No.02Freedom to Play
As a hobbyist photographer, I feel free to experiment while photographing my subjects. I’ve captured my children through a prism held in front of my lens and with Vaseline smeared around the edges of a lens filter. I’ve shot through a plastic bag and through plastic wrap. I’ve also attempted freelensing.
I’ve played around with various exposures and perspectives and compositions… all without the pressure of capturing the perfect image for a paying client.
- No.03Take a Day Off
Like most photographers do, I hit ruts. I go days without shooting anything, or continue to shoot but decide I hate every single picture I take.
If I were a working photographer, I wouldn’t have that luxury to step away from the camera for a day or two if I just didn’t feel like shooting.
- No.04Projects, Projects, Projects
For each year over the last four years, I have (mostly) completed a Project 365. This daily practice has IMMENSELY contributed to my growth as a photographer. I participate in several blog circles with other photographers; in one, we tell the story of a local outing through our photographs.
If I were a working photographer, I honestly don’t know that I could keep up with all of the photography projects that I’ve been able to tackle as a hobbyist.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have “met” some amazingly talented photographers via social media. I have followed the work of some of these photographers for years, and credit them with inspiring me and motivating me to keep learning and practicing.
I am an admin for two wonderful Facebook pages, and am an active participant in several online photography groups. I spend quite a bit of time online supporting and corresponding with all of these artists; I fear that I wouldn’t have the time to do as much of that networking if I were a working photographer.
- No.06No Boundaries
When I have agreed to take pictures for friends, I typically meet them during the golden hour at a local park. Always golden hour. Always a park. As a hobbyist, I shoot anytime, anywhere.
I’ve captured images of my children while they were sleeping in their beds, playing on the beach in mid-day sun, and while painting their latest masterpieces at the easel in our playroom. Shooting at all times of the day and in many different locations has forced me to learn about more about light than constantly shooting during the golden hour ever would.
- No.07Making Memories
I have documented life and love for my children and family for the last four years. My children have more pictures of themselves in their first four years of life than I probably do after 38 years. I wouldn’t trade those images, those memories for any paycheck.
I don’t know where photography will lead me in the next year or two; if I can muster up the courage, I may take that leap of faith and open that business. I know that I will never regret these years spent “just” as a hobbyist, though. It’s been such a good thing for me and my photography.