Do You Really Want to Make a Living Out of Your Passion?

Something I’ve discovered over the period of anxiously venturing out alone during any type of weather with my camera is that I’m more passionate about the act of photographing than I am thinking about whether I would ever want to do this professionally.

They say that when your hobby becomes your business, there’s potential for you to loose that artistic essence which attracted you to this pastime in the first place. There’s talk about this need to maintain a balance between something you do on your spare time and something you would perhaps be willing to upgrade to with hopes of making a living out of it.

As photographers, I don’t think you should feel compelled to turn your hobby into a business venture unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll be able to maintain the passion and enjoyment that derived from when you use to do it for free and for yourself. It’s absolutely inspiring reading about people who quit their job to follow their passion but it can be devastating to realize that passion may not be enough to be successful as a result of you failing to consider everything else that’s fundamental to the business.

I think many of us desperately want to see progress in the things we do recreationally but it’s important to realize that any progression made doesn’t necessarily have to end up with us going pro so as to monetize from it. I don’t shoot professionally and yet in between some prints sales, some advertising and writing, I’ve manage to generate a few bucks from photography without ever really having booked a client. Can I make a living out of what I generate from this? Absolutely not but because it’s not my end goal, I’m absolutely grateful that I’ve managed to see any amount of money safely deposited into my bank account.

I promise this relates to the overall gist of this post when I say that one of the things I dislike about the barbershop I frequent is that there’s hardly ever anything valuable to read while you’re waiting and several King Magazines with half-naked women on the cover eventually gets old, especially if it’s the same issue month after month. Located at the bottom of the pile, I recently discovered the November issue to Inc Magazine where I read an article about David Sacks, founder of Yammer. In it, he described the way he works and there was a quote which is what initially sparked this whole topic of passion, hobby and business. He said:

I don’t believe in hobbies – if you are really passionate about something it should be your job.

It’s a valid assessment but I believe the reason some people are reluctant to upgrade their hobby to anything else other than what it is, it’s because they prefer to keep it as a growing bubble with potential to produce any income rather than bursting it at the expense of dealing with all the other stuff that can ultimately take you away from where you would prefer to be which is behind the viewfinder. They say that pro photographers only spend about 20% of their time behind the camera and the rest of their time is spent reach out to potential clients, marketing their work and handling administrative responsibilities.

In the end, we all do what we do with our cameras for different reasons. For myself, I’ve discovered I’m more in love with the discipline of the craft, in writing about what I shoot and why I shoot it and to somehow inspire people with what I do and if any money comes my way as a result of the combination of any of those things, then I welcome it.

Do I think I can ever ruin my passion for photography if I were to choose to do it professionally? I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far and honestly the only way I foresee that happening is if I chose to specialize in an area which I had no interest for and yet I pursued it because it’s considered the most lucrative.

Contrary to David Sack’s statement, as of now, my current plan is to simply keep photography as my hobby and do it for pure passion and interest because I see that as a sustainable and long-term motivation which is what’s kept me going for the past 2-3 years.

I’m aware I don’t have any comments enable on my site but that shouldn’t ever dissuade you from with your thoughts on this topic or any other topic I pretend to know about. I’m learning about stuff like this as much as you are and it can only help us both sharing our opinions on matters that we’ve all thought about at some point.