Marj Merges Beautiful. Honest. You. {and me}

My Homework: Personal Work

This blog is an interesting space sometimes.  It’s at once a place for me to showcase my work visually.  And at another time a way to think and write about the experience of being me.  Me as a photographer just starting out and what sort of trials and tribulations that begets along with all the immense quantities (or hours, however you want to look at it) of self doubt I experience.  And me as Marj: wife, daughter, sister, friend, and just me.  I can see why some photographers say little else beyond this couple was great.  This location was amazing.  These kids were so cute.  As I’ve told you many times on this blog, that’s just not me.  And if you want a photographer who just shows you the pictures without letting you into her world that’s not me.

So I’m going to thank this wonderful family who truly were a delight to photograph. Thank you!  And I’m going to write some more.

Occasionally there comes a time for reflection. A time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going. And that time has come yet again for me. One of the beautiful things of working for myself is that I have the power to determine what I’m doing everyday. And what I’m doing is going to benefit me. It’s different than a normal job when sometimes the goals are unclear. At least day to day I know what I’m doing. I’m taking pictures that I get to give to people to make them smile and help them remember their lives at this brief moment in time. Beyond the day to day, that’s what I haven’t really thought of too much.

I have one main goal. I would like to keep doing this. I like it and I don’t want to be forced back into an office job. In order for that to happen I need to actually make it worth my while. And my husband’s patience. And that’s the crux of the problem. I’ve been focusing on taking pictures as often as I can of whomever I can get in front of the camera. And I’ve been working under the assumption that eventually it’ll pay off. And I still think it will. But for that to happen I need to constantly be evolving. I need to be constantly pushing the boundaries of what I know. And I need to forget about the future once in a while for my shoots. I was watching a super interview the other day that Chase Jarvis did of Jeremy Cowart (which you should totally go watch over here, amazing) and they both talked about how truly integral they believe personal work is to a photography career and success.

I’ve been neglecting personal work and that’s a dangerous place to be in.  It’s a place that could stick me forever in the under $1000 wedding photographer category.  A place I’m not interested in staying. You might question what I mean here. Isn’t it all personal work?  Isn’t everything you do what you want?  This is true but there’s a difference. I’ve been so busy just keeping my head above water keeping up with the editing I’m generating and managing future shoots and clients that I’ve neglected this. I haven’t shot much just for fun in a while. Sure, I love photographing my family sessions. And I love photographing weddings. But I haven’t dreamed up a really crazy idea, found some co-conspirators, and executed it in a while. Sure, there were several weeks this last month that I just did the bare minimum to get through the week (or the day). There’s one thing I don’t question, that my family and my relationship with Eric will always come first. But there’s no point in doing this if I’m not really pushing it in the time that I do have to pursue it. If I’m just sort of coasting along because I’m certainly not anywhere near that stage in my career yet. Because eventually Eric will lose patience (or more likely I will) and I’ll need to find a “normal” job. Or I’ll have to do some more complicated family/work balancing and it better be worth it before I get to trading off time with kids for a career that’s more like a hobby.

And so in the interest of my long-term goal I have a homework assignment. Dream up something I really want to photograph and do it. It shouldn’t be something that I’d expect to get paid for anytime soon. It’s not optional and it really is that important.  It’s also homework so that means that’s in addition.

And I hope with a little kick in the pants I can move beyond coasting.

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