Is Passion Enough?

Passion is a word I hear a great deal in photography, but is passion enough?  The word passion is often used by those who very new to our profession, that have no idea of the challenges and commitment it takes to be a member of this profession, to say nothing of being a long time member of this profession.  Passion without direction is like thinking you’re in love with someone you took home from a bar!  There is a one in a million shot it might work out, but the passion will quickly subside when the challenges of daily life with Mr. or Ms. Right Now come into the light.

There are many correlations between finding a romantic partner and a career.  In both cases you are trying to make a lifetime decision based on little knowledge and with the odds stacked against you.  When a new photographers use words like passion, vision and art, it’s kind of like my 17-year-old niece whose new boyfriend is her soulmate…like the 55 guys before him!  It’s like she and the young photographers are trying way too hard and you have to question whether they are trying to convince you or themselves?

While there are many things that make a photographer a long-term success, passion and vision are not even close to the top of the list.  Knowledge…meaning  a clear understanding of all aspect of photography and business, with the ability to always get a salable portrait under any circumstances, rates way before passion or vision.  You can know what you want a photo to look like and you can love photography, but unless you can properly record what you are not a professional photographer, you are a student and should be studying and practicing, not working with paying clients…no matter how little you charge.

More important that passion is determination…I guarantee you will be challenged trying to make a living in this profession, especially with so many people who only have passion and vision with no skills and willing to almost give their work away!  Without determination to make it work, you will be like my niece finding “soul-mate number 56” as you move your miss-placed passion from photography to the next career choice you expect to learn in two months and get paid for while doing so!

Character is much more important than passion.  As our profession gets more competitive you see more and more people willing to do almost anything to survive.  I realize this is business and you try not to make it personally,  but there are some lines that you do not cross.  When someone takes the time to help you learn in this profession, you don’t turn around and use what you have learned to take business away from the one that helped you.  I receive so many emails from young photographers wanting help, who are baffled as to why their local photographers won’t help them.  Anyone in this profession, at some point in time,  has helped someone who has turned around and started trying to take work from them….this isn’t business, this is a huge lack of character and we can only hope Karma turns around and bites them squarely on the ass!

Passion for photography, just like love in a relationship should come when you know enough about photography to be able to create your vision and paying clients call it “art”.  At that point you can say you have a passion for photography, for you will actually know what you are passionate about…unless of course you are a hobbyist and then you can have passion because you are not selling what you create, you only have to please yourself!



~ by jeffsmithbooks on January 15, 2011.

One Response to “Is Passion Enough?”

  1. Jeff, your post on passion is the most accurate account of today’s photographic climate I have read to date, I applaud you for being so straight forward with this. Thanks for what you do.

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