Pursuing a passion full-time is definitely not easy. Usually you’ll read or hear people say...
“FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! SCREW THE WORLD AND PURSUE YOUR PASSION!”
What they don’t tell you is, “Oh, by the way, it’s going to be really hard, you’ll struggle a lot and at times you may ask yourself why you made this decision in the first place.” So, I’m letting you know that right now. I’m not being a pessimist about it all, but more of a realist. I’m not telling you to give up either! I’m just letting you know it’s hard, but you’ll get through it if you put in the effort.
I have both gladness and regret from that decision, but either way I was out of that environment. The smart thing to do though is always have a backup plan or before pursuing your passion full-time build up enough capital to support yourself. For myself, I work a few other odd jobs here and there when my photography is in its down-periods — be it building websites, graphic design or I.T. Support.
Don’t burn down all your bridges…With my tail between my legs I ended up moving back in with my parents (I was actually asked to move back too) as I couldn’t keep up with rent anymore and lovingly they let me take back my room. With whatever money I had left over, I started up my own freelance multimedia business and promoted myself like crazy — not to mention getting into contact with people I knew. Networking is so important because it really is about the people that you know, so there’s another tip. At the same time, it’s the best way I’ve been able to travel the world on such a small budget — it’s great to have friends who are from overseas and are always accommodating, also because you would do the same for them! I was lucky enough to be an international student myself while doing a stint of college in New York. Facebook has helped me keep in touch with all of my friends and I mean I actually take the time to keep in touch with them, not just when I need somewhere to stay. And yes, this does take effort.
If anything their answer to my want of taking photos of places and animals is, “Can’t you just Google it and see the place or animal on the internet?” Explaining to them about the importance of the journey is like talking to a wall. So, love those who support you and just be patient with those who don’t understand — the journey is yours, not theirs (so cliché right? But so true).
Enough of the DON’Ts what about the DOs?!
Do be adventurous… Dare yourself to do new things, but please do so with common-sense. You can discover new things not just in places, but also in yourself! Rather than spending more money on more gear, because sometimes what you have is already good enough, spend it on experience. I love exploring new places and there are times when my pockets are shallow and I just think, “YOLO.” Not always a wise choice as there are days where I’m crapping myself wondering how the hell I’m gonna get back home. Also, try out new techniques. I have a mindset where if I see another artist/photographer doing something really cool I think, “If they can do that, so can I!” So I try, with a minimal budget, and from there maybe develop or add it to my own style. Maybe you’re a little more savvy than me, but take the plunge and have an adventure — when you say you’re bored it’s because you’re a boring person.
Do take pride in your failures…So what, you took a crap photo, you made an ‘ugly’ piece of art, your story sucks, etc. like our primary school teachers taught us (if they still have this awesome attitude like mine did) there’s always room for improvement. Go ahead, make the mistakes — experience the failures! It’s how some of us learn. I once dated an interesting person who was doing their masters in media arts while my young naive self was completing an undergraduate degree (I totally lived the life of a ‘Hollywood’ college artist thinking love was forever) — now they‘re doing well in their passion in their field of photography/fine arts (thank you Facebook). How did they get there though? Well, I learned that they always threw themselves in the deep-end, prodded at things until it broke (like my heart…kidding…or am I?), experimented, made the mistakes and learned from them. As much as my heart was broken and for a while I was mentally messed up I’m actually grateful for the lessons I learned from the relationship and their life. Name one successful person who has never made a mistake or never had a failure — yeah, I thought so.
Do stay humble…Let me just put it to you…you will never be perfect. I don’t mean this in the negative way that you should just give up and join the rat-race. What I mean by this is that your best will never be your best…wait, that didn’t turn out right either. Let’s re-phrase. It’s good to stay humble in a sense that you know you’ll never ‘be the best’ photographer, artist, author, etc. because life is meant to be lived— you don’t just reach one goal and that’s it. Let there always be a passion for learning more. If you think you know everything, then there’s no room for new discoveries — a good teacher will always remember that they were once a student, and being a student is for life.