The older I get, the more sure I become that passion is the single most important ingredient found in the greatest of photographs. I have been writing about passion and photography for years but frankly, it’s not a sexy enough topic in today’s busy and loud world, to garner much attention.
If I were to run stories like – “Why such and such a format is dead” or “Why such and such camera company is going out of business” I would get WAY more clicks. But I don’t care because I don’t blog about photography to earn a living. I do earn some money from it and always have, but in the last five years it’s been very little and a fraction of my overall income. That frees me up to write about the things that I think are genuinely important.
Passion in photography is one of those things.
I have had this lesson served back to me during the pandemic. Because most of us are home-bound, sitting out the quarantine, I haven’t been able to pursue my number one passion, which is bird photography. I need to travel to do that job (if I am to do it as I always have) and that just isn’t possible these days.
So I started playing around with product photography. I invested more money than I should have in a home studio to do product photography and I have enjoyed it. For me, a day without a camera in my hand is always a bad day. Conversely, a day WITH a camera in my hand is never a total wash out.
So I figured what the heck. I’ll do product photography until the quarantine ends.
I have produced some results that I am proud of but – and this is a bit but – I am just not passionate about it. It’s something to do. But it’s not something I HAVE to do. When it comes to bird photography, that is something I HAVE to do. There really is no plan “B” for me. It’s bird photography times 10.
While this may seem like I am rambling there is a point here.
So around this same time period, I also started getting serious about playing guitar again. I minored in music in college and this downtime has allowed me some opportunity to pursue some additional creative outlets. I also decided to start collecting guitars again. Now this is (all at once) fun, dangerous and expensive! Every time I set out to collect something I tend to go all out. Hence five new guitars in four weeks! (In all fairness, I have decided to stop collecting fine watches, ink pens and exotic automobiles – I am keeping most the cars but selling or trading most of the ink pens and watches – this will fund my new habit, er I mean hobby – for a while anyway…)
When I started back in collecting guitars this gave me a new subject to photograph in my product studio. All of a sudden I felt a fire in my belly that is close to the same high I get when sitting in a blind, waiting on a bird. It’s because I love guitars. I minored in music in college and I find comfort every time I play. So now, I am mixing my passion for music with my desire to do some product photography and it makes all the difference.
The key to succeeding at pretty much any creative pursuit is to focus 100% on your passion. If you just spend your time comparing yourself to others on social media, you will de facto spend LESS time doing that which you are passionate about. Focus on developing the skills, acquiring the tools, and searching inspiration where you are passionate and your art will soar.
I don’t have an opinion about the quality of my guitar photography. I know that it makes me happy and the results are pretty much what I hoped for so that’s good enough for me. It’s a great for me to keep my photographic eye busy while waiting on the birds.
What about you? Are your photographic (or other) creative efforts focused on your passion or what you think will impress others? Are you working toward your artistic goal or simply doing photography that pays well?
When the road ends, and you find yourself in a place like I do where you have fewer tomorrows than you do yesterdays, you will start to realize that chasing your passion was the only thing you ever did that mattered.
I am rooting for you.
P.S. If you are interested in guitar, please visit my new blog and podcast – bigscottymusic.com.