Becoming a professional has to be one of the hardest transitional moments in a photographer’s career. For me, it took years of struggling with how to turn talent with a camera into an income. Making the leap from artist to business owner requires entirely different skills and means you must look at your work in a new way. Pretty pictures aren’t always commercially valuable. I know plenty of photographers who create incredible work and can’t figure out how to turn that into cash flow. So much of it is based on passion and dedication, a willingness to step out into the unknown, to risk losing everything.
I was recently having a conversation with one of my favorite adventure photographers, Ted Hesser, about how he got his start. I spontaneously grabbed my camera and started to record the conversation without having any real plan of putting a video together. But I loved what he had to say.
Ted was a finance guy, and he made a good living, but his passion was always photography. He’d save up vacation days to spend his time taking photos and building a portfolio. Now he works for some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry.
He really did put it all on the line to become a photographer, and he figured out a great way to avoid risking everything. He got rid of everything. Ted and his girlfriend moved their lives into a Sprinter Van taking only what would fit under the bed and in the cabinets, and then they drove off into the American wilderness to follow their passion of a life of adventure.
I think you’ll appreciate his perspective even if it isn’t how you want to go about building your own career. I know I did.