If you weren’t aware, I have a photography business centered around my landscape images. I sell prints! I don’t do it full time though, and that is ok. It takes a lot of work as it is! While photography is my passion and calling it isn’t easy connecting the two. So, lets dive into what it looks like to have a right-brain passion built into a left-brain business and doing it part time. Hopefully, I don’t sound like I only have half-a-brain at the end!
Building the Business
When I started photography I didn’t plan on making a business out of it. That part came from mixing my college major with my passion for photography. I started to build the business side because it would give me some experience as an entrepreneur. It can also be fun and rewarding at times too!
I don’t do it full time and never have claimed to, though I toy with the idea sometimes. There is a lot of work that went into it already and that is only exponential when trying to make a living out of it. To start, there is the entire business backend of building something out of nothing. A website, accounting, licenses, etc… Just to sell art from spots like Antelope Canyon legally you are required be sent a letter from the Navajo Nation! (which I did get done BTW)
Another part of building a business is the marketing side which I do enjoy for the most part. It can be enjoyable to create and campaign things about the art I create. The difficult part of this is twofold though. Keeping up with hashtags, trends, and demand for new content is exhausting, and I struggle with constantly talking about myself. I just don’t become too self-absorbed!
I do go out to shoot as well, capturing new images, which I enjoy, but there is a down-side to having photography be a part-time job when practicing photography. I tend to have at least part of my brain telling me “this won’t sell” when I start taking photos for myself. While this is probably not entirely true and I have been working on this it is still there. The idea of shooting stock photos that are wider than I like for micro-stock sites is still there. (yes I do shoot stock photos too, but I don’t post those on here, mostly)
It Keeps Me Going
There is a good side to build a side-hustle out of a photography business. To start a list of the pleasures I would have to include travel. I have been blessed to have had the opportunities to travel to the destinations I’ve gone to so far. I look forward to plenty more as well! Not to mention, the people I have traveled with and met along the way has also been a real treat.
I like getting out in nature and relaxing on the trail. It is hard to beat an office outside in nature, regardless of the conditions. I go out prepared for the elements, and after being cooped up inside with a day job it makes me genuinely appreciate the times I get into nature to experience things more slowly. I also like being able to stretch the legs and exercise the body as well while exercising my creative mind.
The art of photography and business side combined are truly fulfilling for me. The times where I make a sale or receive some other form of positive reinforcement the feeling of accomplishment rushes through me. I don’t make much from a print sale and honestly spend more on creating the art than I expect to ever get out of it financially but that isn’t the point. The practice of doing something more with my life and creating something quality with the time I have is what matters most to me at the end of the day.
Committing to the Art
Speaking of money, I can support myself creating the art. Back in the days when artists needed support from a patron of the arts it wasn’t easy to support yourself without a wealthy backer. I don’t make a lot at my day job, but I can survive working that while doing my art part-time. That is a good feeling to have!
I commission my own works. If I want to do something it is simple math and determination on how far I can take it. Creating a large Acrylic print of the grand canyon to put in a gallery is about me funding my trip there, processing it how I like, and creating the physical print all with my own cash flow. Nobody tells me how to do my art or at least I don’t need to listen to anyone else funding the art. I think this makes it more authentic and unique to my vision.
I have fully committed a set amount of time to the art of photography. I don’t spend free time doing much other than photography related activities. I listen to podcasts in the car, follow artists on instagram, and watch mostly photographers on YouTube. My form of relaxing at home typically involves some level of connection to a camera. I just love studying the art in all forms of information and mediums for display!
So, I enjoy being a part-time photographer. It just works well for me right now. I might not always live this sort of lifestyle as things do change. It certainly would be nice to find a way of eliminating the not-so-fun parts of running a landscape photography business! I love having it though overall as the positives win out. Maybe I will end up doing this full time at some point, but until then I am content with the way things are going!