When I first start photography a bit over 2 and a half years ago now, I wanted to make people happy, I simply wanted to be accepted. I wanted people to like me and my work and welcome me with open arms into the huge community of art. Yes I loved what I did, but I also wanted to be seen.
I started shooting anything I could, newborns, toddlers families, teenagers, weddings and so on. I was shooting every single day sometimes 3 shoots a day. I was swamped. Was I happy, no. Did I love what I did yes but I knew I could love it more, I knew I didn't have that feeling that I have now, I knew there was definitely something missing. But I continued, I continued down the wrong path of photography, but i had no idea yet what was going wrong. I figured the more I shoot the more I post the more I will be seen and be able to do what I love. I was sadly mistaking. But I continued.
I started doing things even worse for my business/hobby, something I still regret to this day. I participated in promoting/advertising pages "ladders" sigh. That dreaded word, ladder.Yes some are great don't get me wrong, I will explain in a minute. I was doing ladder after ladder on any page I saw them on. marketing pages, promote pages, non photography related pages. Little did I know this was not helping me in any way. Why you might say? I will tell you. You want fans yes, but you want the right fans, fans that want to be there, fans that will follow you because they want to be there not because they had to like your page in a like ladder or they would get banned from that promoting page. I started seeing a pattern, a not so good pattern. I would gain fans FAST! Yayyy everyone would say. No not good. About a week would go by and I would lose a lot of fans, I wasn't getting comments or likes or any attention from these fans what so ever. I was getting aggravated, angry, sad and feeling like maybe I just don't belong in photography. Maybe it is me, my work, what am I doing wrong. I had a great fan base but my page was dead.
I ended up getting burnt out, uninspired and feeling not so happy about what I used to love. I stopped everything. I stopped posting, I stopped shooting I even stopped getting on Facebook for 2 whole months. I just wasn't feeling it. I felt like I failed, and I am not a failure. When I want something I will do what I have to do to make myself succeed. But I failed. I sat on my couch ( I was pregnant at the time), sick, icky everyday. So I had a lot of time to reflect on my short journey and what I was doing wrong. 2 whole months I just thought and thought and asked myself what can I do different I have to make this work. I love photography so much I can't possibly give up. Giving up is not me, it is not in my blood. I had to make this work. so I thought long days and nights. I finally realized what I was doing wrong was such a simple simple fix. I just had to do things the right way and be myself. Be me, show the world the way I see art and let it all happen naturally.
After 2 months of feeling uninspired I finally out of nowhere woke up one day and said I want to shoot. I text my friend and we met up and that was the day I began my what I call "real" journey. I woke up, I realized, I was INSPIRED to do this right! I stopped participating in those ladders. If they are on photography pages it is fine. But if they are just "promoting" pages it will not work. Those are fans that do not want to be there. It is what I call "pointless" fans. They aren't there because they love your work or because you have photography in common and you inspire them. They are only there because they had to like your page and they end up unliking it a few days later because they participate in like ladders so much Facebook doesn't allow them to like anymore pages so they start to unlike pages now so they can continue to participate in the ladders. They simply were not "true" fans that were there to support you.
I then started being ME. Doing what I love and letting it all just happen. I started participating in weekly themes on Facebook photography pages. my name started getting out, I starting meeting other people that I had things in common with. My fan base started to grow with "true" fans that really wanted to be there. They saw my work on the pages where I submitted the weekly themes and came to my page because they wanted to. I started getting people engaging in my posts, liking them and was finally really being supported by true supporters. Things were great! But I still felt like there was something missing. I was STILL shooting what I thought people would want to see. I wasn't truly happy or confident in my work.
I then made the decision that I was scared of and was uncertain if people would get me or understand me. I started shooting and processing the way I saw things and the way my images truly spoke to me. The way you know me today. moody, emotional images, not always following the technical rules, just shoot for me and the way I want to. I was scared! What if people don't like my work? What if people make nasty comments? This was a make it or break it decision and I decided to go for it. Because it was how I saw art and what spoke to my heart. When I tell you I was worrying for absolutely NO reason at all, that decision was the best decision I had ever made. People loved what they saw, I started really gaining fans that were inspired by me, wanted to see more. But the best part of it all was, I WAS HAPPY and I felt confident now. I started to get featured, people starting to know my name around the community. Things were great.
The reason for this blog post, the reason I wanted to share my story is because I tell people it in private messaging a lot and they come back to me a couple months later and thank me. Telling me they are confident they went with their gut and started shooting what they loved. Things were working out great for them too. So I decided to share with all of you. It is not about features its not about fan base. It is about being yourself and doing things for you so you can be happy in your journey and confident and things will work out naturally. Be you, shoot what you love, be confident, get your name out there and enter weekly themes. Its ok if not everyone loves your work, you will love it, thats what is important. try to focus on one, 2 maybe 3 types of photography and specialize in those instead of shooting anything and everything. Focus on the types you love. Who cares if you don't get featured. It took me a long time to get my first feature. It takes time, patience but it will happen. But again the most important part is you will be much happier and you will be confident when you shoot what you love. If you are shooting things you truly are inspired by you will never be as happy as you can be. How can you inspire others when you are shooting things that don't inspire you. So be you, be yourself, shoot things YOU love and let things just happen! xoxo, Amber, Prvizzini's Passion Photography