Today, I received an e-mail from a fan asking me a question. Her situation sent me down memory lane and I had to revisit the past two years. Lately, a few people have asked me how it all started and what to expect, so I thought of sharing this brief conversation with you guys:
Hi Saad – Your work is simply amazing. I got to know about your work through Ayesha. I had a few questions for you
Are you doing photography fulltime? Did you do something else before this (like have another job)? How did you make the transition?
I find I am almost ready to make the switch from my fulltime job to Fulltime Photography – but I live in canada and I’m afraid..
Come winter and it’s going to be so dead (work wise). What steps did you take? Would love to know.
– A. Hakim, Canada
“I will not be a rockstar. I will be a legend.”
– Freddie Mercury
The choice to stay at work or start in photography full time is directly related to the depth of your dream and the strength in your legs. You will have to stand alone at times – do you have the tenacity, patience, and dedication to your art to deal with this? Prayer goes a long way and without patience, you will fail. At times, you will have to hold your breath, keep your head down, and hope for the best as you crash into a wave of uncertainty and risk – kind of like going down those big water roller coaster slide’s with the big splash at the end. However, your eyes will stay open through out the crash – you will stay up at night staring at the ceiling wondering what tomorrow brings. You count hours away and go back to your e-mail every thirty minutes in the hope that there is a client inquiry. You will have to count your dollars and will know, to the cent, how much you have in your account and how many hours are left until rent is due.
You have to have the will to sacrifice. I remember I had to eat Quaker oatmeal cooked in water for a month and a half before I could save up the $499 I needed to get my first dSLR – a Rebel 350D XT. You will have to have the wisdom to put a smile on and come up with an excuse to not go to the movies with your friends in order to save that $9 – just so you can put it towards batteries.
You will need thick skin and a backbone. There will be people – some friends, some family – who will doubt your choice and ask “what can you possibly do with a camera?”. When you set out to build a mountain, many will not understand. Start from the ground up, and keep going… until you can’t … and then some.
Freedom has a price.
After all this struggle, a day will come where you can wake up at 10am, take your spouse out to brunch, have a nice conversation, watch a movie midday, and go for a nice run – all by 5pm on a weekday; while the people who doubted you are pulling their hair out in cubicles or stuck in traffic.
Business is not for everyone. Whether it’s photography or not, business is business and you will need to work harder at it than you did at your 9-5. As they say, “for the love of the game…” – work hard, have faith, and play to win.