So it's gone. First half of my 20s' ended 8th September and I am now officially 26 years old. Recalling the time I started my journey transforming to being a full time photographer, it was never easy and it's still with new challenges from time to time. Decided to write this reminding myself important things I still could recall back in the past.
Those time, couples I served would have been 8 years or above older than myself. With limited world view and young age is a challenge especially true on conversation and socializing. One of the most favorite question I get was "How long you have been taking pictures?" My number of portfolio that time is a real pity, maybe something like less than 15 sets. Despite I am rationally certain that myself is ready to take up wedding assignments, action appeared to be more persuasive. I needed the opportunity to improve from where I am. Relieved that many modern couples agreed which resulted I am still surviving now as a full time wedding & portrait photographer.
I have no clue about working people, how I should properly run the business and plan my own personal finances. Having met not so kind people are inevitable back in those days. Like a gown vendor I met in a city way before I even had this website. When asked about possible collaboration efforts, I remembered her saying this 'You know, we have a lot of collaborating professional photographers displaying nice photographs at our place and we will not be responsible if your couple changes their mind to engage other people when they come to try the wedding attire'. My young heart felt offended, she was right, for stereotyping the young me will not be able to contribute volume to their business. If I am a potential celebrity photographer, I am certain the treatment would differ greatly.
Everyone starts somewhere and it's the best time you know who would call you as a friend and who would belittle you when starting out. Few years later I read complaints by several brides about their bad attitude, it confirms my view that my treatment were no coincidence. Hence, I would really distant myself with bad people this lifetime as there are so much more in life to cherish. Will never promote people with undesirable attitude. I only want myself to be treated as how I would treat other people.
Saw this scene recently and I think it's interesting. To me, the ocean represented life while fisherman boat resembles us, the human being. There are a lot uncertainties out there at the ocean. When you are small, there's just so much you can do no matter how good your fishing skill is. Those with bigger boat/ship will always catch more fishes and able to withstand rougher waves going to deep sea regions.
Likewise, it is true being a photographer. Money seemed to be the hindrance of passionate and talented young people. Sad to see friends whom the family objected fiercely the idea of getting their foot into photography as career. Partly, it's logical as creating art work with photography is highly underpaid or almost non-existence in Malaysia compared to developed country. Of course, unless you have good marketing skills and financial backing that's able to help you withstand months of no income. At the end of the day, passion and how good your work is seemed not really helpful at bringing bread to the table in this noise filled era.
Throughout the process of figuring out how I could continue to survive, I read a lot everyday. Never been a fan of reading back in high school and boy I am equally surprised. The process of exploring must have triggered dopamine in the brain and it's actually quite enjoyable, just that the scope I should be learning is very very wide to better the business and my craft concurrently. I learnt that in life, no one could better help us other than ourselves. Explicit influence like photography seminars can only help you so much; in technical skills that could even be found via Google, short term motivation that vanishes quickly. If you don't do anything; being true & critical about the real problems you face after going home, you'd still be stucked on the very same spot, craving for more drug-like 'motivation' that never had been your antidote to begin with.
For my first half of 20s', I hoped to be able to survive as a full time wedding & portrait photographer in Penang starting with no client base. I believe I have achieved a little more than that. Entering second half of my 20s', I am anxious about many professional and personal challenges to come, also the 5 years goal I set to myself. This will be a very important stage which would shape the rest of my life. It's the time when you make important decisions like marriage, finding a house forming home, supporting your own family financially. These are whole new stage and also huge commitments. Year after year, body clock and age are ticking non-stop but the bank savings does not work this way for self employed photographers especially, unless we work it out. I felt this kind of pressure since 18, and now, the numbers are very real.
Having faith is good, if we keep it realistic that is. I think the journey so far wouldn't be possible without good people and friends around me who inspire and helped directly or indirectly. Starting something foreign, deciding what worked best for the business, setting own rules and so forth... all these decisions making alone were scary. You have no superior to consult to, no colleagues to discuss with. So every single thing you decide be it right or wrong will impact on your living directly.
If you too are thinking of starting young, make sure you get the experience first and then ensure you have a financial safety net. Remember that doing part time doesn't make you any lesser of a photographer. The game has upped now therefore the better way to start is in a group of competent members with a variety of strengths. Think about how and where you want to be in 10 years time. Being photographer is not that glamorous or fancy as you might have imagined, be prepared.
&.b.t.w. - I think my English teacher should be a little proud of me now.
&.&.b.t.w. - Realized that I enjoyed Instagram a lot for it's simplicity. Will be using it more often, you can see my account by clicking the bottom left camera logo.
&.&.&.b.t.w. - Hair stylist said my 'hairlines' above forehead is climbing up. I guess ageing is kicking in for real! What do you think about my changes for the picture above?
&.&.&.&.b.t.w. - Even if one day I have to quit wedding photography, I have no regrets of quitting my studies which leads me to being here. I learnt so much more useful stuffs now than in school. In fact, I wrote about how I ended up with everything in 2010 in this blog entry.