If there’s one question that we need to ask ourselves above all others, it’s what we want out of photography. Why is this question so important? Because it sets the course for the things we’ll do over the duration of our photographic careers. This is one question where there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone is going to want something different. Whatever it is you desire from your photography, that’s perfectly OK. But it is still important to answer this question so that you know what to expect from the years to come.
You see, here’s the thing: Most of us, at one point or another, have harbored dreams of striking it rich, so to speak. We’ve probably all imagined what it would be like to see one of our prints hanging in a museum or on the wall of a high-end gallery with an enormous price tag attached to it. It’s a lot like dreaming of winning the lottery, in away. Sure, it’s possible. But for most of us, it’s highly unlikely.
Unlike winning the lottery, though, that dream of creating prints that will sell for large sums of money isn’t quite so reliant on random chance. There are things we can do to make this scenario more likely. And this is where you really need to think long and hard about the question. What do you want from photography?
If you seriously want to pursue the dream of striking it rich, then you’ve got a long, challenging road in front of you. The simple truth is, those who become household names in the photography world are people with celebrity. And most of them have done certain things to become photographic celebrities. It takes more than working hard to produce amazing photographs — though that is part of it, too. You’ll definitely be spending lots of time honing your craft, always striving for improvement.
But you’ll also need to spend as much time on a variety of other things. You’ll need to make connections in the upper echelons of the photographic world, people who can help guide you along the way. Self-promotion will be key because no one is going to pick up pieces of artwork if they’ve not heard about the pieces or the artist who created them. There will likely be lots of traveling involved, and you may even someday find yourself giving workshops or presentations to help other photographers who are pursuing the same dream as you.
It’s all a lot of hard work, and that’s why it’s essential to ask yourself if this is what you really want from photography. If so, if the idea of doing all these things fills you with anticipation, then, by all means, you should pursue this particular avenue.
For some of us, though, that’s just too much pressure. We’d prefer a more relaxed existence. Sure, we may sell some prints for smaller amounts of money. Some of us create small businesses around our craft as wedding photographers or product photographers. Still more of us keep photography as a hobby, something that we do with our spare time. There are varying degrees to the expectations that we can set for ourselves as photographers.
So when you ask yourself what you want from photography, think about the kind of lifestyle you’d like to lead. Would you rather create art as a relaxing hobby or do you enjoy the pressure and thrill that comes with creating a business or pursuing celebrity as an artist? Again, there is no wrong answer. But it is important to think about this so you can guide yourself down whatever path you choose.