I shouldn’t even be here, statistically speaking. We have all heard statistics on new photography businesses, much less part-time ventures. Somehow, here I am. I have run a part-time senior photography business for 8 years. I had a side hustle before it was a trend. I didn’t know when I started what the future would hold, I just knew I had to create: create images, experiences, and eventually a business. It has not been an easy ride; I have my fair share of doubts, but I have never doubted my need to create. Early on I have dubbed myself a full-time creative. My hours don’t run 9-5, but my creativity doesn’t either. My goals, dreams and plans may or may not lend themselves to releasing my full time occupation, so where do I go from here?...part time photographer, full-time creative.
I have questioned, even industry leaders, if it is possible to be profitable being part time. Not knowing if or when full time is an option for me. What I have come to understand is profitable is not the right question, anyone can work numbers to make a profit. The question is: can I find satisfaction in my creative endeavors through part-time pursuit? Can my soul be satisfied with the work I am producing?My short reflection on is this, sometimes... I can’t shake the feeling that I want to design my own days and be my own boss. I am confined to my time “off” to do what my heart desires, although, I have to make sacrifices of time with family and friends. I also find in those creative moments, when I produce an image I have designed in my head, it releases something within me that validates my need to carry on. The result of this is embracing the whole picture, the combination of photography and the business that produces it.
My full-time creative mind does best when I am organized in all aspects of my life. Organization allows me to free up that creative space. The past few years, I set my shooting schedule for seniors in the spring. This helps me set a goal to fill the dates and gives me control over when I am busy and when I am able to be off with family. A couple times this last year, when a date was not filling, I took the opportunity to work with my hair and makeup artist and put together a creative shoot. Having those dates already on the calendar put the fire in me to conceptualize. I had a date with creativity.
Block out comparison
So what do I do when life gets tough? When I am not where I want to be, or I feel inadequate? A quote I heard at a conference in summer 2016 has really stayed with me: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is easy to fall into watching other creatives push out content daily, knowing my current schedule does not allow for such indulgences. Insta Stories could easily crumple me with jealousy. I am learning to separate myself from what I see and (gasp!) sometimes unfollow people who tug at my heart for comparison: Follow my own path, stay in my own lane...something I repeat to myself often.
Being a full time creative is not for everyone. It is a commitment to the creative, and for me, accepting my success is going to look differently than the traditional model, putting my creative life in order and letting go of comparison has been critical to getting me to where I am right now-- 8 years in with an optimism for the future. Knowing the future could hold part-time or full-time work, but only if I focus on the creative spirit. As Elizabeth Gilbert brilliantly shares in her book Big Magic, “Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that—whatever the outcome—you have traveled a noble path.”