When the Line Between Work and Life is Blurred
When I was in fifth grade I wrote an essay about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I aspired to be a photographer — for National Geographic, specifically. Even then I knew it was a lofty goal, so I added “but I will probably end up taking pictures of babies and brides.”
And so it was.
Now I won’t bore you with the details of saving up my allowance to buy my first camera, or the hundreds of weddings I’ve shot over the years. But suffice to say, I am still a working photographer, at almost 60 years old.
But the thing is, it’s not just work. And it’s all work. Even when I’m not shooting a paying gig, I’m taking pictures of something.
It’s my vocation and my avocation.
I plan my life around taking pictures, and I fund my life by taking pictures. When I pick a vacation destination, it’s all about where I can get the best photos. And then I get on the computer and pick out the very best shots, and try to sell them.
I am not going to just lie on the beach when I take a trip — I am schlepping my camera gear and exploring every interesting bit of that location, with the intention of getting some killer photos.
Even when I’m home and have some free time, I might plan a local “field trip” or take a walk through my neighborhood, or explore a different part of the city. Always with my camera (which is sometimes just my phone).
But yeah, money. We need it. I often think about something one of my college professors explained about making money as an artist. He said there are three options:
- You can starve for your art. Immersing yourself in your passion and not necessarily making the big bucks, but that potential is there. Not “selling out”.
- You can get a job in your field, while not exactly doing the kind of art that you want, but it is related to your interests. Maybe a photography teacher, or working in a photo lab.
- You can get a job in a totally different field that will eventually enable you to live your life as an artist, years down the road. You can make big bucks as a insurance salesperson, or whatever, then pursue your passion later.