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Why It’s Important as Photographers to Create For Yourself

By Chris Nachtwey on May 7th 2014

We, as photographers, all to often fall into the trap of creating what we think we need to create vs. creating for ourselves. If you’re a full-time photographer or an aspiring professional, it’s easy to feel the only way to “make it” is to do what everyone else is doing. That could not be farther from the truth. Yes, if you make your living off of photography alone, you might have to take on projects that don’t fulfill your creative soul to pay the bills. But, why not create for yourself and feed your creative soul to help pay the bills?


Using candid conversations, Cinematographer Andy Newman offers a beautiful look into the hearts and souls of artist in his ‘Why We Create‘ films. In the short film below, Nick Fancher, known for his work with ESPN Magazine and Jackthreads, offers insight into his creative soul. Explaining why shooting for himself has lead him to where he is today as a professional photographer.



For Nick, he felt that he needed to shoot weddings and families to survive as a photographer. He realized that shooting weddings and families was not why he got into photography and found that to do the jobs he wanted to do, he needed to start shooting them on his own. If you take one thing away from the film, it should be that, don’t get sucked into shooting what you don’t love. Setting up sessions to create what you want to create for free might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. How are you going to get the paying jobs you want, if you don’t have the images to represent yourself? If your heart is yearning to create something other than what pays the bills, go out there and do it on your own and in the long run, it will pay dividends.


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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kurk Rouse

    I’m getting into portraits, sadly portraits and weddings are the weakest area of photography for me , you see i’m a any thing kind of shooter. What ever moves me at the time i see it is what i shoot. But i got bills to pay and where i come from you can’t that easily with out a ton of connections by shooting just “any thing”. I still think personal projects like this are a must, it’s only when you are not under that pressure that you can really shine .But i can only speak for me , hopefully others out there are the same way . Thanks for posting Chris.

    PS this link also gives some good advice

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  2. rhommel

    easier said than done.

    i’ve been shooting weddings for 7 years and I also ‘create’ on my own time ( Transitioning is the hard part. There’s a lot at stake specially when you have a family/mortgage that you have to think of.

    This can be done for sure, but slowly and carefully.

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  3. Daniel McElmury

    Thank you for sharing. This video is just what I needed to keep moving forward. Cheers.

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