I've shared before of the rose-colored glasses I wore starting photography as an amateur. I was excited to jump at every opportunity, take my career by storm, but first I had to know what I was doing. I had a good eye, and could take a good picture, but when it came to business I had no idea where to start. Every great photographer had the same solution to this problem: a mentor. Easy enough, I hear and see so many amazing photographers in the country that are always sharing their knowledge, I'm sure a local one would do the same, right? Wrong. I understand the situation, though. Small area with a small handful of professionals and a hundred amateurs.
So I accepted the fact that no helping hands would be extending my way anytime soon, and decided I had to make a start for myself. So there I was, making my own way, starting at zero, when I got the rude awakening that it wasn't going to be that "easy". I knew a local pro had seen my work, as she had commented, complimenting the model. She then took similar pictures at the same locations. It was odd to me, but I felt a little irrational and somewhat presumptuous for jumping to a conclusion that could be mere coincidence or possible request of her client... then she offered my pregnant sister a maternity shoot. Bang. My initial reaction was hurt and insecurity. After seeing and reading all of the negative posts by nearby pros about amateur photographers, it felt like I should just stop. I didn't think I could get anywhere here, especially feeling like there was a target on my back. It was hard enough for me to gain my own clients without risking losing the ones I had. Of course my sister decided to go to me, but my confidence was hurt. I told her it would be okay if she did choose to have someone else take her pictures, that I wanted my clients to choose me for my style, not bias.
Life became a lot of belittling. From place to place doing the lowest job titles once again and being belittled by everyone. It finally struck a nerve and I thought, I am better than this, I have so much potential that I am squandering. I gained a new confidence in a second that others had chipped away at forever. There had to be a reason it wasn't easy, nothing worth earning is easy. This way I appreciated myself. People weren't belittling me and my abilities because I was horrible, it was because I had potential and a want to pursue dreams that scared them. Other photographers weren't "out to get me" because I was an amateur, it's because I'm a threat, a new style and ability with fresh passion.
I may not have a mentor, but I found that I learn more from my favorite photographers online than I would have in a local photographer who had a different style and vision. Don't be discouraged if the start is rough and you don't have help. If you're wanting inspiration or tips, develop your style and find photographers who really inspire you. A lot of my favorites are actually very involved with their photographer fans and take time out of their extremely busy schedules to answer questions about anything. It's really refreshing, so explore before getting discouraged and as far as the business goes, bing it, google it, whatever. One thing I have going for me is that my dad is an entrepreneur, so come tax time I'll have more knowledge on what to do. Take your time and learn, some great resources are YouTube, Formspring, Flickr, and Pinterest. There are so many informative sites that you can use to your advantage. Stay ambitious! xxKatie