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News & Insight

My Best Piece of Advice for Photographers Who Want to Give Up

By Amanda Diaz on March 24th 2014

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We are very excited to introduce to you one of our new guest contributors, Amanda Diaz. Amanda’s work was featured a few months ago in this article and her work continues to inspire us. Amanda is going to be sharing about her journey to becoming a renowned, sought after fashion photographer].

 
z (20)_1I don’t have any romantic stories of growing up while getting patted on the head telling me to go after my dreams, far from it actually.  I was quite lost and did not know where my life was going.

In 2003, I decided to study Graphic Design online so I could keep working my day job. I grew up with a single mom and we struggled – a lot. I continued working 40+ hours a week, being miserable while I took 5 years to complete my courses, just to realize in the end that I was no longer interested. To complete the course, I had to choose an additional subject. I chose photography just to get it over with.

I used friends as my “victims” for school projects. I remember when I tagged a friend on Facebook from a shoot we did and the next day waking up to a whole 45 notifications! I was really surprised, this encouraged me to keep going and so I began my photography journey. I went after it and realized I enjoyed it. I searched for models and other artists online and worked on creative projects together.

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As I did this I continued working my day job. I constantly was on the fence with everything, the main reason was even though people would tell me that my work was great and what not,  at the same time I would be told from others, “You are not making any money doing that. Why are you wasting your time shooting models? You have enough models on your website, you should be photographing babies!! You should shoot weddings! Now THAT is where the real money is! Have you tried pet photography? You can make a killing doing that and so on. So, that’s what I did. I did it all and didn’t like much of it. (Now, this is NOT by any means saying that photographers don’t enjoy shooting in those areas, it was just the way I felt about it).

One day it hit me. Why the hell am I doing this? I don’t really enjoy it. If this is what my photography career is going to be like, then screw it. I guess I have to keep working my regular jobs and I grew depressed all over again. Why? Because I didn’t listen to myself. Instead, I listened to the endless chatter from other people. Most who weren’t even photographers or from photographers that had that same feeling as I did, but bought into what they were told to do. I let it take my passion away. I became bored with photography.

Thankfully, early enough, I gave my head a shake and started reaching out to photographers I admired and began asking endless questions on how they enjoyed specializing in shooting fashion and beauty. Most were kind and gave me some of the best advice I have ever been given.

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I know many do this, reaching out to other photographers who shoot the same genre of photography that you love for advice,  but how many of you actually take that advice to heart? Do you truly believe in yourself and your dreams? I started telling myself that yes, my work is good enough, I deserve better, I can shoot what I love and still make money, yes I can teach workshops if I want, and I am good enough to work with other top creatives in the industry. It has, of course, had its ups and downs, and I am still nowhere near where I want to be, but when I look back, if I had I given up by letting other people’s endless chatter in my ear telling me that I’m doing it all wrong, I would have given up a a few years ago. I have watched some really talented artists give up. They allowed others to influence their dreams and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it. It’s sad and disheartening.

N-5There is so much more to this story, but to make it short and sweet, I just wanted to start my first article on SLR Lounge with some words of encouragement, share a little bit of where I came from, how I started with nothing and full of fear.

Actually, I believe it’s the fear that made me push myself to continue.  I am thankful that I did not fully give in or give up. My biggest piece of advice to you, a photographer that may be at the point of giving up,

If photography is your passion, chase after it with all your heart and soul, keep your blinders on and don’t let others bring you down…at least not for too long. And know that even if you have nothing, you can still make it into “something.”

I know this probably isn’t some “a-ha!” moment or anything new, but take it from someone who has been through it and still has moments of doubt, go chase your dream fearlessly. I’m cheering you on.

I hope this little article has helped you. Till next time,

Amanda Diaz

Amanda is now teaching fashion and beauty workshops and you can find out more info on her website under the workshops section at www.amandadiaz.com

About

Amanda Diaz has worked as a freelance Photographer in Canada since Mid 2008. – Her focus in photography ranges from Fashion, Conceptual, Beauty and Portraiture. Her work has been featured in multiple blogs, magazines and websites from around the world. She was nominated as one of the top ten fashion/ editorial photographers of 2012 with the Framed Network.

She has shot in different cities across Canada and began teaching Fashion & Beauty workshops in 2013. Amanda is also planning on upcoming workshops in the states as well as international soon!

You can view more of her work here : http://www.amandadiaz.com/

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jack Woodery

    I’m really happy that I found this article.  For the past few months every model that I have “booked” has cancelled on me the day of the shoot.  The results of this were devastating for me which caused me to delete all of the work that I have created in the past.  I actually believed that it was my work that was the root cause of this.  It was just a bad time for me because I was spending more than I was making in an attempt to build my portfolio.  So along with the models cancelling and nothing to show for the investments had me wanting to give this up.  I want to continue trying however it’s like a catch 22. To build a portfolio you want to work with professionals such e.g. models, MUA, stylist but in order to do this, you will be coming out of pocket to pay all these folks for their time.   

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  2. Mike Rigby

    I cried while reading this article.
    I am best at black and white portraiture.
    That is the skill I most excel at.
    It’s also completely useless, and pointless.
    I am starving and falling into deeper debt.
    I need to fight to get back in the regular job market, which if I’m given a position will lead to further depression and probably self harm.
    I’ve fought.
    I’ve put in the long hours.
    I’ve studied & applied.
    I market as best as I can with what shitty budget I can spare.
    But the only people that value what I can do can’t afford it, and those that can afford it feign their disinterest unless I do it for free or a pittance that won’t go far on food, or rent or other living expenses.
    I am lost. I am pointless. I have no place in the world.
    I’ve tried to offer my services to other fields (weddings, pets, blah blah blah) but no fish are biting.
    Who I am has no place. I don’t belong. There is nowhere for me.
    I’ll be out on the street soon anyway.

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  3. Ipek Amdahl

    Beautiful work!

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  4. Jacob Jexmark

    Great images!

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  5. Paul

    It’s kind of funny I am thinking of giving up before I even started.. I wanted to be a wedding photographer down the track not just for the money.. I am a newbie that knows what to buy well 80% of it anyway.. Being 45 now and divorced really changed something in me as in I still love her so much and the passion we had when we first got married I would love to bring that into photos.. I was going to do some courses and take it from there but sitting here now I’m not sure now .

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  6. BRIAN MC GARRY

    Just turned 70 been taking photos for past 60 years . Rewnted Heavy equipment for a living but always took images even on some Jobsites .

    Place some photos on canvas in small cafe recently ( Scenes) and owner asked me to take them down and replace with pictures of FOOD.
    I like eating FOOD .
    Your Photos are GREAT , I LIKE THEM.

    Respectfully ,

    Brian Mc Garry – Calgary– not the New York , Brian Mc Garry.

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  7. Michael Stagg | Light Scribe Creative

    Amazing work and inspiring testimony! I’m just shy of 42 years old and I didn’t start pursuing photography seriously until about 3 years ago. People ask me all the the time that at “my age” I should be focused on something with real money making potential.

    The way I see it, now’s the perfect time for me to pursue photography! All my kids are grown and out of the house so I have all the time I need to focus on photography. Thank you for being a beacon of light to all of us who struggle with fear, doubt and worry and for sharing your wonderful work with the word. I wish you continued success. Oh! And welcome to SLR Lounge!

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  8. Holly Montgomery

    Thanks for the article – I do have a question though… Exactly how do you get rich doing pet photography? LOL. I am not even close! LOL.

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  9. Alice Bochnakova

    The perception of the environment is a reflection of our inner self.
    Your perception is creative, inspiring and highly professional in terms of processing. thank you

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  10. Jamie

    What a great first article! I love the part about chasing your passion with blinders on.

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  11. Kurtz Orpia

    Thanks for this read, im on my second year as wedding photographer, second shooter for a local studio, i tell you every morning i wake up with “i give up” in my head everyday, but reads like this keeps me going.

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  12. Alberto tanikawa

    Thank you for your advica Amanda. In my case I did give up photography because while shooting for a wedding studio for over 11 years, somewhere along I lost my passion and soul for photography. If you lose those, how are you to continue shooting? I came to the realization that pursuing the dream killed my passion, but having a normal weekday job rekindled it. I was glad to give up being a pro photog so I could once again enjoy photographing any subject.

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    • Chad Whiting

      I came across an article (http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2010/11/01/proud-to-be-a-hobbyist-photographer-reasons-not-to-go-pro/) last week that expresses a similar sentiment to Mr. Tanikawa’s comment.

      My take-away from it was that we should all be careful about over-reaching for something simply because we enjoy it. I like having my camera in my hands. I like the feel of knowing that I just captured something I will use. I get an almost sick pleasure using lightroom like a command center. But that doesn’t mean I should go for the next-assumed-step of going pro. I meet people frequently who are perfectly happy to pursue photography as a serious hobby, with no desire to hang out the shingle. Seems I’ve found another.

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  13. Rob

    I loved this and more so loved the positive comments under it, rare these days on some sites. Warmed my tired heart.

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  14. Gary Rosen

    Thanks for the article, have been feeling a bit that way. your words are inspiring.

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  15. John Grant

    Inspiring, than you for sharing. MM

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  16. Amanda Diaz

    Thanks everyone for the kind words and I am glad it has helped some of you!

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  17. Adam Kuzik

    Congratulations on this! Great to see you’re now writing for SLR Lounge!

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  18. Ed Jones

    Brilliant article, and I love the summation. It’s exactly what I try to remind myself, to keep my blinders on, but hearing that from you reinforces it so muchore than just telling myself. Thankyou… Great timing!
    Ed

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  19. Chris Nachtwey

    Wonderful article! Taking chances and keeping my blinders on is how I’ve gotten to where I’m at. Welcome to the SLR Team Amanda, can’t wait to read your future articles. FYI your images are killer!!

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  20. Tanya

    Welcome to SLR Lounge! Your journey resonates with so many. I too have felt lost (and bored with graphic design, ha!) Following your heart takes courage. For me, figuring out what I really want to do is half the battle.

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  21. Erik

    Wonderful article Amanda. And timely! For me anyway. I was just telling my wife how off base I feel right now with my photography. Too diversified. Like you said, gotta get back to the passion of it.

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  22. Luther Mutikani

    Great work! Thank you for this article.

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  23. Bob Owen

    Brilliant. Plain truth and honesty, sadly lacking in these days of Facebook inspiration posters. Ignore what others are doing and concentrate on your own clients and service to them. If only I could always follow my own advice. Thanks for steering me back on course.

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  24. Daniel C White

    I saw your post shared by a mutual friend on facebook and clicked it. I love a good underdog story and people that push through and persevere no matter what they do as a trade. It’s definitely so difficult to look at another person’s work, especially a photographer, without wanting to be like them instead of learning and imparting elements of their work into your own art. It sounds like you’ve done that beautifully, having dealt with your own challenged in the process of course. Thanks for sharing and inspiring others to continue on with their passion and gifts. Your work is stunning!

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  25. prasanna

    Thank you for this article.
    Glad to know there are others in the boat. Even more glad to read this on what has been an abject day.

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  26. John Morrison

    Amanda a great article that I can relate to and anyone I believe who journeys in any of the arts. We are taught in school that life will go better for us if we conform….get a real job kinda thinking. Yet our very existence is founded on not being a conformist . Investigate history and you will see that anyone who pioneered new territories was thought of as a non conformist. What is life if we watch it go by from our hamster wheel in a cage ?
    The fact you heard the once voice that matters ( yours ) blesses not only yourself but those you encounter and who you photograph. God knows there is so much ugliness in this world , bringing some beauty in is welcomed by anyone with eyes to see and a heart to hear.
    Your work is fricken gorgeous ! Fly eagle fly is what comes to mind…….You’re free !

    Respectively, John Morrison

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  27. Stacey

    You are a talented photographer and you are lucky you have a natural talent. I struggle and wish I am as talented as you are. Thank you for sharing your article with us.

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  28. Pye

    Love this article, and love your work Amanda. Welcome to the Lounge! ;)

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  29. Adrena

    I have always loved photography, especially fashion and beauty! I quite doing photography about 10 years ago and back in September I decided enough is enough I want to do what I love. What I have always wanted to do was fashion, right now I feel stuck in doing family photos, maternity, newborns, etc. Don’t get me wrong I like it but it is no where close to what I want to do. Being from a small town in Indiana I thought well for now that’s all I can do.There isn’t any other options unless I am in a bigger city. Reading this article really hit home and now I believe I know where to start to do what I have always wanted to do. I have a friend that keeps telling me ” Do not chase your dreams! You will never catch them. You need to go full force and run them down.” Every time I start to get discouraged I just think of that and now I will think of this article. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  30. Catherine

    Thank you so much for this. Like right on point. I’m about to give up because of a big slump after a big loss in my life but this kinda keeps me going just enough to live through my next shoot. Hoping it doesn’t get cancelled though..

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  31. Brenda Clevenger

    I just had this discussion this morning with my husband after feeling discouraged a little and a bit overwhelmed. I feel like this was written just for me :) I thank you for taking the time to write this Amanda. I appreciate all of your work you share. Have a great day!

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  32. Rodrigo Cunha

    Very nice article and fantastic work.

    go chase your dream fearlessly (best piece of advice you could ever give).

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