How can personal projects help your photography business?

photography business

You’re a creative. 

You are a photographer because of the passion and drive that you just couldn’t ignore and decided to use these talents to make a living.

Unfortunately, the same things that make being a photographer your dream job are the things you can find frustrating, causing you to feel like banging your head against the wall.

While in accounting, 1 + 1 will always equal 2, in a creative field the proverbial writer’s block is your worst enemy. Working on autopilot can have your business go down in flames. 

You can’t treat a creative business and mind the same way you would an analytical, routine one. Without constant growth and new direction, your photography becomes stagnant and your goals unreachable. 

You become the definition of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. 

How do you make yourself as excited by your 100th wedding shoot as you were for your first? 

What do you do when it seems like you’ve exhausted every possible type of family shoot there is? 

Boredom and monotony are the number one killers of any photography job.

A large part of this is because once you make your passion for photography into a business, you will often find yourself putting any personal photography projects on the back burner. 

It’s easy to excuse the purchase of a new lens for your business but a new lens to help with that experimental shot you’ve been thinking about trying for your personal use? Way too expensive of an investment without an immediate payoff!

You have succeeded in turning your passion into a successful business. However, the more successful you get, the less passion you seem to have. Being a successful photographer shouldn’t mean hanging your creative side out to dry. 

While you can’t totally forget you have a business to run (sorry!), you should remember that it’s your artistic mindset that made your photography a sellable talent.

Remember, you can have both!

Anyone who has been in a long term, romantic relationship knows that they need to make sure to keep the “passion alive”- it only makes sense for you to keep the same mindset for your business. 

In photography, it’s conquering the unforeseen challenges…the constant production of putting what you have in your mind’s eye and putting it on film…the new technology which helps you find an exciting way to take an original shot…that all comes together to help make taking pictures new and exciting again. 

Considering your personal projects less valuable than your professional ones won’t help you grow. 

You need your personal projects to be current and exciting in order to keep your professional ones top notch- and not just because it will improve your personal satisfaction and mental health.

As you become comfortable in your business, it’s not unusual to find yourself looking at the pictures you’ve taken  and asking yourself “Are these really any different than if someone else had taken them?”

It can feel like you’ve become an order taker instead of an artist, with set shots and locations you could do in your sleep. Where is the excitement and drive in that?! What happened to creativity?!

Transferring the skills you have learned through your personal projects into your business should be a natural step. 

Every skill you learn and perfect can be used to level up your business beyond what it was before. 

Those awesome reflection shots you’ve been working on? They can be amazing for a well timed wedding kiss!

Playing with your camera’s aperture settings?  Now you have some awesome new ideas for senior portraits! 

Want to learn how to take photos with a drone? Use it for some awesome family sessions!

Photography is not a stagnant field or business. Your enthusiasm and drive are directly reflected in the work you do.

While it can be easy to put aside the “fun” photography you do that isn’t going to make you money immediately, remind yourself that your personal, passion projects are long term investments.

The knowledge, experience and renewed vigor they will give you and your work are priceless. 

Written by Linnae Harris of Linnae Designs

Linnae Harris is a custom website designer, educator and success-maker supporting you to show up, shine and become booked out in your photography biz.