This year I decided that I should have a goal for my pseudo-life as a photographer. The easiest route would have been the vaguest one – “take better pictures”. I could have also done the tried and true inspiration catalyst of trying to take a good photo every day for a year. However, I really wanted something tangible at the end of that project. Okay, I know the photos themselves are tangible, but roll with me here for a second. I really wanted something textile that I could hold and show people and say, “yup I have this because I accomplished my goal!”.
After thinking about it for a while, I thought, why not try to get something that would normally be out of my reach. For me, a goal is not just the end to a means. So I set out with the idea that I would try to purchase really expensive studio lighting which I’ve tried out in the past but would not have purchased for myself anytime soon (barring winning the lottery of course). The caveat of this goal was that the entire cost of the studio lights would have to be purchased with with income gained solely on shooting something that I love doing. You guessed it, it has to come 100% only from dance-related photography. That way I wouldn’t feel so guilty dropping down a couple of G’s on a light shaping tool when it’s done with the idea that I’m going to have more fun dancing anyways.
So I put the word out on my social media circles that I’m doing a crazzzyyy special on my photography rates for this endeavour and the inquiries started coming in fast and furious. Everybody loves a deal.
What I started to notice however as soon as I started doing more and more of these shoots was that I didn’t even really mention the idea behind the promotion when people asked me about it. I was more excited to just really be shooting constantly than the benjamins (or the queens?) I would be banking for future use. Another thing that I started noticing was that I actually did like seeing my photos out there in the public and all the comments that the subjects were getting about not only how great they looked in the picture but also how wonderful a person they always thought they were. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we just don’t do this enough to people in our dance lives.
Now I now that being in a dance community is not all fun and games all the time. There are ups and downs with relationships, the stresses of dance commitments, and life issues that sometimes need to take priority over dancing. However, what I think we could sometimes focus on more is how we can personally put a positive spin in our own little dance world and make it better for everyone else. So that is what I resolved to do for this summer – shoot EVERYBODY. Well at least everybody in my dance circles. And if I happen to get just a tiny bit better at taking photos and make a little side money from it, well, that’s just icing on the cake. And I don’t think I need to write just how much I love cake.
As a little ending for this post, here is a great motivational quote that has been making the rounds on the internet lately. It’s great, great stuff:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass