This week, Austin based photographer Geoff Duncan talks about how he balances his passion for photography and his professional work and why it’s so important for photographers to “shoot for self”.
Shoot For Self: Why Personal Work is Important for Professionals
Every photographer I know seems to have an interesting story to tell about the first time they picked up a camera.
For me, it happened back in 2008 when I traveled to Ethiopia for the first time. I was just your typical broke college student with less than a month of living expenses in the bank, when the day before my flight I decided that I needed a better camera to document my trip. Funny enough, my dad actually advised against my decision and suggested that I save the money and just bring the point and shoot I already had.
As you probably guessed, I bought the camera anyways and it was love at first shutter. There was something about capturing a moment in time that wouldn’t let me go, and I’ve been photographer ever since.
Nowadays, I am lucky enough to be running a successful photography business in Austin, Texas. But I’ve experienced plenty of up’s and down’s over the course of my career; I’ve gone through seasons of inspiration, as well as seasons of burn out.
I can vividly remember the first time I felt burnt out just few years back; my business was growing by leaps and bounds, and to the outside world things seemed to be going great, but on the inside I was struggling. Somewhere along the way I had allowed my passion for photography turn into nothing but a job, and I hated that feeling.
When I was taking photos, I was working for a paycheck and I had very little motivation to continue. Something had to change. I longed to feel the same curiosity about the world around me that I felt when my interest in photography first began.
Then one day I took to the streets with my camera just for fun, shooting friends and whatever else I could find. Later that night when I got home, instead of backing up the files to my computer like normal, I made the conscious decision to format my memory card, never to see the photos again. It was liberating! Soon I realized that shooting for self inspired my other work, and I began to rekindle my passion for this craft.
It was about the same time that I started using Instagram regularly. I’ve met a lot of cool people over the years thanks to the app. We will explore the city with our iPhones and leave our cameras at home. It’s fun and challenging to use nothing but the camera on your phone, and you will gain a much better understanding for light.
There is no perfect formula. But I encourage you to get out there with your camera and start shooting for yourself! And then I hope you will rediscover your passion and curiosity for photography again.
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