Editor’s Note: Tracie Maglosky is a portrait photographer specializing in weddings, maternity & newborn photography. She loves teaching and inspiring other photographers in lighting, posing, business techniques and balanced living. Tracie is an Olympus Visionary, MagMod Ambassador and a part of the Miller’s Speaker Team. Follow Tracie’s work at http://www.traciejeanphoto.com.
Let’s face it, as much as we like to put our best moments on social media highlighting our perfect plates, children, sunsets and outfits, the reality is that most of the moments in between those moments are raw and potentially stressful. Stress over a period of time often leads to burn out and photographers are not exempt from occasionally feeling drained.
Here are a few potential reasons you might be feeling sluggish and stuck.
1. You’re doing too much
If you’re like most photographers, you love to shoot. The time spent behind the camera is what got you into this mess in the first place and that time is your fuel. It can be easy to lose sight such a major role when business calls us to do so many other things like editing, sales, advertising, bookkeeping, delivery and admin. According to an article by The Phoblographer, the average photographer only spends 1% of their time shooting and 99% doing all of the other chores involved with running a business. No wonder you’re feeling exhausted and ill-motivated!
You didn’t sign up to be an administrator. Thanks to technology you can give up as much or as little of each of those things that you like. Administrative tools for photographers are an amazing way to get back your time. Check out systems like 17Hats, Tavé or Honeybook to get your life back. Don’t be afraid to give up a little control and outsource some of your editing. It’s OK to not personally edit every single image you deliver.
2. You’re not charging enough
So, maybe you started off charging a really small fee for your work and at the beginning, it felt amazing to get paid anything at all for doing what you loved. Now, you’re a few years in and doing business the right way (paying taxes, carrying insurance and archiving just to name a few), you realize that the expense and what you’re charging don’t line up anymore.
It may initially be terrifying to raise your prices, but your future self will thank you! One of the most motivating feelings is financial freedom to do the thing you love without ever having to fear that you might not “make it”.
3. You’re spinning your wheels just to make money and have stopped having fun making art
This may sound counterintuitive after the previous point, however, they really do go hand-in-hand. Charging the proper amount for your services can free you up from having to obsess about making money and draw your focus back to making art. You can make decisions like outsourcing editing or get an admin service when you have enough working capital. After all, if your art is photography, give yourself enough time to develop it.
4. You haven’t defined your “why”
This one might sound cheesy but it really is the only thing that matters in the end. Why? Why are you doing what you’re doing? No cheating — everyone works for money but that is more a result of work. What is motivating you? What are you giving? What thrills you about it? When the purpose is pushing you, nothing can stop you.
5. You don’t say “No” often enough
Most photographers are big sweeties. It’s hard to say “No.” It’s so emphatic. It leaves no explanation or compassion. It’s more than ok to say “No.” If a simple “No” is too difficult, try “I wouldn’t be able to give this project as much attention as it deserves at this time” or “ this opportunity doesn’t fit with the direction we’re taking at this time”. In any case, find your own way of saying “no” because one “no” frees you up to say, “Yes!!!” to the things you’re truly passionate about.
Most photographers experience burn out because they feel like they should be doing a million things. Give some things up. Focus on the most important things and you will notice an immediate change in your energy levels and motivation that will kick your burn-out to the curb!