Becoming a professional photographer and the business that comes with can be an important goal for many who start in photography. Many people wouldn’t believe that this can actually be damaging to their creativity and the quality of their portfolio. With added work loads, a usual 9-5 job will often be replaced by the same amount of time spend behind the computer as a professional photographer. On top of that, as a professional you want to make money and that objective can conflict and distract with your freedom and ambition as an artist.
When you are an artist in the purest form, you are not limited by any other motivation than the reason you started photography as a hobby. Now when you start as a professional it is possible that a company hires you to shoot a specific landscape and set requirements regarding the exact location, mood or processing. If you do this occasionally it most likely won’t hurt your creativity, but if this becomes a full time job it most certainly will. Another example is when you want to organize and guide tours that are most profitable, which usually means an itinerary with the most popular spots and areas.
Another great example is Instagram. Super important for any aspiring professional photographer to reach and connect with a major audience, but many only shoot photos that will benefit the vertical or 1:1 format. Adjusting your photos for each website or social media platform can be a good thing – but changing your style in favor of a platform isn’t because you will set limitations for your own philosophy and abilities.
Instagram also has a popularity based algorithm which works well to increase your dopamine. At the same time it has made people become less creative or willing to share work which is unique but less popular. Both amateurs and professionals are active on social media, and while both can use it as means to enjoy sharing their work and engage with their audience, the professional also has a commercial motivate with it.
Becoming a professional photographer does not necessarily mean that you will have more time to shoot either. Just think about all the emails you receive and must answer, website management, advertising, or new online projects or products you decided to work. All of this has to be taken care of. If you have a job (which you hopefully enjoy) next to your landscape photography hobby and it allows you to go out and shoot regularly – ask yourself if a change will give you more or less time out shooting.
All of these things does not mean, however, that it can’t be done. As people get more experienced with time, it is up to each photographer how they will continue and if they adjust things in order to be satisfied. For one photographer it can indeed be the business side that keeps them motivated the most, while another might want to go back to the roots of being that ambitious and driven photographer they once were.
If you really want to use the maximum potential from both worlds, you would like to look into outsourcing tasks or hire people who take care of all the ‘other stuff’. Though this is something which is difficult to implant for many professional photographers, let alone starters.
So when it really comes down to it, you have to take a hard look in the mirror. Do you have what it takes to find a balance between business and the reason you are doing all this, or would you be fine compromising your future potential as a photographer in favor of business and money alone?