In your dreams you can see it: you become a professional photographer/video maker/make-up artist/hair-stylist/designer/stylist/writer/painter/another creative profession (delete as appropriate) and it’s so cool! You are finally being paid for doing what you love. True? Yes, it’s true. But… there’s always some “but”, because, as we all know but sometimes don’t want to admit, money changes everything.
It’s all about the client
When we dream about working as a professional creative, we imagine people would happily pay us for having fun and doing what we love. The truth is, they do – as long as it corresponds with what they want. They pay you for doing what you’re good at and for delivering the results they expect. Nobody really cares if you like it or not.
Why money changes everything?
The fact that reality is not always what we expect it to be was one of the biggest discoveries in my professional career. Taking pictures is never an unpleasant job for me, but mostly it’s not as fun and enjoyable as when you do it as a hobby neither. It’s something in between. There are expectations, responsibilities, deadlines. Does it make this job unpleasant? No, just more serious. Obviously, some opportunities you may get this way are better than anything you could have ever imagined following your passion, but one thing remains always the same: money changes everything.
Working as a professional adds one more key factor to the whole equation that we do not notice until we face it: the client’s opinion. In our dreams, the client would beg us to do the job for them as they love our art. It can happen, sure, but it’d be very rare for the client not to have expectations. In a professional job you have to consider the opinion and needs of your client. You can create the biggest masterpiece, but if the client (who pays for it) doesn’t like it, it’s worthless. Sometimes, you will disagree with your clients. They often have no idea about the whole process of creation or the best ways to use what you’ve done. In such cases, you may try to persuade, explain and suggest solutions, but in the end, the only thing that matters remains always the same – client’s satisfaction.
What’s the reality?
Consider pressure, time and money limits, higher and higher demand, etc. Under these points of view, creative professions are no different than any other. In fact, they can be even more difficult – art is not math, so you can’t specify exactly how the final product would look. This can lead to potential misunderstandings and problems.
From my own experience, I know that I like some photoshoots more – they follow my style and I feel blessed I’m being paid to do such amazing things. But there are others that are quite the opposite. Same, some clients are sweet and love what you do unquestionably, others will totally break your balls. It’s a part of the game. With time you will learn how to recognize each type of client and eventually you’ll arrive at a comfortable situation when you don’t have to accept every job just because it’s paid. Once you see you won’t get along with the client well enough, you can refuse. Trust me, some jobs, even if paid, are not worth the gigantic amount of stress and work you put into them.
Why am I writing this?
I’m not writing all this to discourage you. I just want you to get ready for it. For me, it was a surprise. I had no idea I could have problems delivering good pictures under pressure. I didn’t expect the process to suddenly seem different. I didn’t know sometimes I could be scared to follow my instincts and choose the safer path for security.
Don’t understand me wrong – I would never change my job for any other. Every single day I’m grateful that I can go to all those beautiful places and be paid to take pictures there. For God’s sake! Last week I had a photo shoot in Venice and Florence, hello! But there are a few things I now take into consideration while planning my job. I’m still learning, but I already arrived at a point where I’m more calm and confident and that is when the job truly becomes fun. I wrote this article to help you arrive at that point too.