Why I chose NOT to pursue photography as a career.
I've been wanting to write about this for a very long time because I feel like it's something people question - in fact I often get asked. It's something that is so hard for me to quickly answer in conversation because there is so much more depth behind it than it seems. So here's why.
I have incredible parents that always encouraged me just enough - although never forced me to do anything I didn't want to do. One thing that my mum used to say to me when I was little that really stuck with me for so much longer than I think she expected is "You never have to do ANYTHING that you don't want to do." Of course there is always an exception, just as there is to most things but I took this advice and really let it shape me. No - I didn't use it to get out of homework or things that I didn't like doing - but bigger things.
The first significant decision I ever made for me, when I realised I was doing something I really didn't want to do, was when I decided not to do TEE exams in my last couple of years in high school (These were exams for entry into university). My school made it seem like TEE was the only way to success - the only way to get into university and get a good job and get ahead in life but the truth was - my passion was photography and I had no intention on doing anything else. The classes and exams I had to take which determined my future were testing my mathematics, english and HISTORY skills - this made no sense to me at all and was incredibly discouraging.
I used to always say as a joke that I had no left side of my brain - I actually remember once during high school I asked my mum if it was actually medically possible... Science, maths, NUMBERS, anything involving memory was just an incredible struggle for me - so basically...everything I was being tested on in TEE. It was a terrible feeling - I felt like I was never going to get anywhere & my artistic talents were barely recognised as significant. Kids that aren't good at art are just told 'thats okay, not everyone is born with artistic talent.' but not being good at the academics means you're just not working hard enough. I was working hard - I got tutoring and spent hours finding different strategies for remembering the answers. Regardless, I still got Ds - Cs if I was lucky, regardless of being well behaved, willing to learn and teachable it all didnt matter. Don't get me wrong - Art, Photography and Dance I got all A's - but who cares if they won't look good on your resume down the track right?
In high school I was a fish literally being forced to climb a tree - the worst thing about it all was that I had no desire to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher or anything else that requires a university degree. I enjoyed photography and I wanted to pursue something I enjoyed - studying has never been something I have been passionate about. I love learning but I hate the strings that are attached with studying - being tested on your knowledge and being told it's wrong or right. I think everyone learns differently and we should just be encouraged to learn. Who cares if we forget a fact or two, or interpret something differently.
When the stress became too much I quit TEE and was put into lower classes in my last two years of high school. These were all classes where the teachers didn't really focus too much on the kids, because hey those who don't do TEE don't care about their future right...But to be completely honest, I didn't care. I was stress free and thats when I realised that my happiness meant more to me than looking good to other people.
When looking at careers I sort of knew that I basically had two options
1. Work for myself
2. Work for someone else
I looked at what society perceived as successful - People with big degrees, and in high end jobs. Teachers, doctors, lawyers. Essentially they all work for someone else...and although they may be in high paying jobs, they're still working 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and only get time off on weekends. Personally, I do not measure success by money - I measure it by freedom. You can have all the money in the world but if you only have the weekends to enjoy your life whats the point, right? We can always get more money, its time we should value. The way I see it is even though these people worked hard and are probably some of the most academic minds out there, they're prisoners to their career, and to me thats not successful.
So who's free?
The people who work for themselves, right? Wrong. (Hear me out) This is what I used to think. Work for yourself and you'll be in control of how much you earn, how much time you have, when you go on holiday etc. Initially I chose photography as a way to work for myself - I would be self employed...and theres the problem.
Just as working for someone else varies, there are two main variations of working for yourself which a lot of people don't realise the difference between.
1. Self Employed 2. Business
If I chose to pursue photography I would be self employed. Which basically means I'd be in charge of EVERYTHING. I'd not only need to be a photographer, but id also need to be an accountant, and a secretary, and a consultant, and a sales person, and a customer service rep and a marketing professional etc. Self employed = owning your own job. We can look at this in the case of someone wanting to own their own restaurant or franchise - they might invest 500k into their 'business' but on most occasions they'll work there 9-5. So essentially they have just paid half a million dollars for their own job. For me photography is a creative outlet and huge passion. The idea of it becoming stressful (I experienced this through my last year of study) was enough for me to decide it was not worth it. Also I broke it down to: If I did become successful that would mean getting a lot of work right, and how much work can one person handle? If I decline work, I decline money. If I take work, I decline time. See the problem?
Last year I learned true business means building networks and reoccurring income. For instance, does the founder of McDonalds still work in the stores? Does an author write a book every time it sells or write it once and then sell copies? Does a musician only do live shows or do they get paid every time their song is on the radio? Im sure you guys know how passionate I am about travelling by now...I realised if I wanted to travel the world, I needed to find a way to leverage my time, and with photography I just couldn't do that.
Last year I found a way I could gain control of both my time and income through business. Now I work on my own schedule, from my laptop, I can be paid while I travel & I didn't need to write a book, learn how to sing or invest $500k into my business to get here. I have been working at this for a year and just started working "full time" for myself last week. No more alarms, no more morning traffic, no more rushing to get ready and to work on time, no more half hour lunch breaks!!! Most importantly - no more 8 hour days.
I am no where near where I plan to be yet, but I have gained control of my time, so to me thats successful.
Happy monday beautiful people.