It’s been almost a year since I gave up professional photography, and the went back to the grind of a day job. To be fair, it isn’t a grind as I get to work with a bunch of fantastic people, and it isn’t often that I consider my co-workers “friends”, although this bunch definitely fits the bill. (I also knew two of them from before I landed this job, so acclimatising is much easier.)
A week ago I was having a conversation with a friend, a fellow photographer who has struggled with the ever-decreasing corporate budget for photography, when I had an epiphany or sorts: that I’m finally getting used to the fact that I’m just an “amateur photographer” now. I’m beginning to embrace that freedom that comes along with that. No more stressing over securing jobs from (potentially) unreasonable clients with budgets that resemble a secondary school student’s monthly allowance. The day job has given me a stability that I can now leverage into doing what I love.
(That said, I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients who are as close to perfect as one can hope for, as well as amazing models who have been nothing but inspiring muses. Long may that continue.)
With that though, came a catch: stable hours means I have to actively find time to photograph. The day may be beautiful, clear skies and sunlight that gives purpose to even the slowest emulsion, but it is useless when I’m stuck behind a desk that is the foundation of my financial stability. This isn’t a complaint, but rather an observation. And I’ll be completely honest in saying I have not done that. It was a fear that I only admitted to a couple of people, and I realised that it was entirely an error of my doing.
I failed to embrace my status as an amateur.
That needs to end. I need to rediscover what a friend of mine calls “the hustle”. That energy to do what I must do because that’s how I want to live my life. The relentless, insatiable need to photograph, to fill my lungs with fumes from the fixer, to keep exercising my shutter finger and my eyes, to maintain the discipline for a process that not only brings joy, but also purpose.
It’s been far too long since I have done that, and by failing to keep up, I’ve done myself no favours and maybe even a fair bit of damage, psychologically.
Time to embrace the grind again.