I’m a self-taught photographer. I progressed in fits and starts and plenty of dead ends. Yet no one was telling me what to learn. I was following my curiosity- just trying to take photos I wanted. Successes helped me solidify new techniques, and failures gave me opportunities to figure out what I did wrong.
But here’s the thing. If you want to be the noun, you need to do the verb. I wanted to be a professional photographer. To do that, I had to start not only taking photos, but selling them.
Take the Reins
The most successful people I know take the reins of their own education doing what they need to survive in school but still invest their heart and soul in mastering their chosen subjects on their own with or without side coaching and training. This learning practice is what drives them to achieve far higher levels of success than their peers.
Never to be one that sits still for long, I realized if I wanted to become a professional, I might as well act like one. I traveled to ski slopes across the country to meet would-be subjects for my portfolio, at my own expense. It was years before I was granted the industry standard credentials to stand in the “right”place to get the “right” kinds of photos without having to sneak in ahead of time. None of that mattered. If I waited for permission from the gatekeepers, I’d still be waiting. I did whatever it took to put myself as close to my dream as possible.
The Difference Between Hobbyist vs Professionals
A professional photographer takes photos. A professional photographer sells photos. So that’s what I set out to do. At the World Extreme Skiing Championships, Olympic Qualifying events, Red Bull Contents, anything on the competition calendar I could get to. Suddenly – or maybe not so suddenly, my work started to appear alongside photos by established pros. It slowly started working. The reason? I was working. I was showing up over and over, wherever my heart and intuition told me to be – even if my brain was telling me I had no business being there.
Taking a thousand tiny imperfect actions was the only thing that got me from wondering what was possible to experiencing it. Each action created more momentum.
There’s No Secret, Just Action
If your dream is to become pro at your craft, there’s no secret to it other than just starting. Pros don’t wait until they are pros to act like pros. People who make it are the ones willing to show up and do the work without approval, permission, or praise.