Why personal photography really matters

A funny thing happened to me when I started getting paid for photography.  The more I focused on my business and how to pay the bills the further I seemed to move away from my personal work.

Most of the time it just ranked pretty low compared to making a living.  I’ve since discovered that if you’re not careful, you can stray so far off course, that you forget the whole reason you began.

Recently, I ran into an old photography teacher of mine.  He told me that he still really enjoys teaching photography, and was never that interested in pursuing commercial photography work.  When I was studying photography I would have seen this as a failure, because everyone thought being paid for your work was what mattered most.

My photography teacher didn’t seem to care one bit that he wasn’t earning money taking photos.  What mattered to him much more than money was the act of creating his personal work.  That really spoke to me!

This made me think about an experiment I’d recently read about.  A group of artists were divided into two groups.  One group created work purely for their own pleasure.  The other group were told their work would be judged by esteemed experts and were given some guidelines.

The results were quite astounding, because the group that created work for their own pleasure produced a much higher standard of work (as all the experts agreed) and their work was by far more original and emotionally charged.

Like my photography teacher, I’ve also come to believe that following your deepest aspirations matters a lot more than money.  That’s not to deny that we all need to make money somehow, but making time for the creation of personal work can prove more beneficial than we may think.

By nurturing our inner creative voice we can help it grow into a powerful vision which can sustain all other areas of our lives.  For the photographer and artist I believe the creation of art can be the highest form of expression, regardless of whether money is involved.