[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].
I 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.
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.
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.
There 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 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