I spent New Year’s Eve photographing the wedding of a wonderful couple, people whom I admire tremendously. I am no stranger to working on December 31st of course, having done so countless times in the past as a paramedic and as a musician, but this time it felt different to me. At the end of the night I was exhausted from shooting for ten hours but I left the wedding feeling inspired, both by their love for each other and by the opportunities that they now share together.
And now, as I settle into 2019, I find myself reflecting on the last year and giving careful thought to where I want to take my work this year. It is clear to me that 2018 was the most successful year I have had: I worked with wonderful clients, taught amazing students, delivered photography presentations for a wide variety of clients and traveled the world. I am so thankful for these opportunities that paid the bills, kept the lights on, put presents under the tree and allowed me to spend another year working on this crazy thing called photography.
On reflection, however, I don’t feel like I always pursued my long term artistic and business goals with intention in 2018. While I always approach every job, every workshop, every presentation and every client with the utmost sense of professionalism, I can’t escape the feeling that much of the year happened despite my efforts, rather than because of them. When I look back, it feels a bit like 2018 was a fast moving river that just carried me downstream from January to December.
Running a full time business is a lot of work, especially when you are balancing it with caring for a family and all of the day to day tasks that occupy our time. Being a photographer can look glamorous from the outside, but the reality is very different: There are websites to update, files to shoot / edit / process / backup / deliver, social media sites to run, book keeping to do, taxes to pay, insurance to renew, personal education to complete, etc. It is very easy to feel busy when you are running from one small task to the next, but busy does not always mean productive. If you aren’t moving the big rocks, if you aren’t completing the projects that move the ball further down the field, then you’re really just treading water and maintaining the status quo.
Do you ever feel this way? Like the seemingly endless day to day tasks of working and living consume you to the point where you don’t get the really important things done?
I have huge photography related projects that I want to accomplish in 2019. Projects that will help people, projects that my students will benefit from, projects that will be of value to my clients, and projects that will bring me artistic joy. My goal in 2019 is to attack these projects with intention, with purpose, and to no longer allow “busy work” to interfere with the completion of these goals. Yes, the day to day tasks of running the business will still need to get done, but I will no longer allow them to be a barrier.
Do you have a photography related goal that you’ve been putting off? If so, I encourage you to make 2019 the year that it gets done. Hell, I’ll even help if I can, but let’s make this the year that we do the things that have been sitting relentlessly in the back of our minds. And, to all of the clients and students who I am going to be working with this year: We are going to have an amazing time, make wonderful photographs, and approach photography with a renewed sense of purpose and wonder.
I’m pretty damned excited.