After being a fine arts photographer for over 30 years I think I’ve learned a few things and one of them is this quote:
“Do what you love and the money will follow.” – Marsha Sinetar
Am I being harsh? Probably, but I wouldn’t tell you anything I wouldn’t (and often do) tell my own kids. Life can be harsh and there isn’t enough time to follow really bad advice. No offense Confucius but your advice isn’t much better.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” -Confucius.
I’ve been following my passion, my bliss, my photographic muse for over 30 years and I can tell you that success, financial or otherwise is fleeting and probably more of a mirage than a reality. Sure I’ve sold prints, I’ve had gallery shows, my work has been in magazines and my images have graced the covers of books; by todays standards I’m a success.
To summarize… I’ve done what I’ve loved, I’ve experienced success and the money has NOT followed. If I added up all the money I’ve spent on photography and balanced it against all the money I’ve earned – well I’m pretty sure I know which one would be larger.
Why do I continue to be a photographer of toys and other subjects? Because its fun; because it feels good; because it enriches my life in ways that I can’t explain but I know are there; because life is too short to fixate on money and the ‘stuff’ it can buy. In short, because I love it.
I’ve never reached the heights of success that many of my contemporaries have and that’s ok with me. I’ve seen first hand what happens when you find monetary success from your passion… it changes everything! As soon as you attach money to your passion, it no longer becomes your passion, it becomes your job. You’re suddenly put in a position of having to produce at a certain level, in a certain way to keep your customers happy and the money coming in. You don’t take chances anymore because you can’t. Your customers want to buy ‘the same, but different’ which can be a difficult task for many. With financial success you suddenly find yourself in a box of your own making with no way out. For me that’s too high of a price to pay.
If you have dreams of making money off of your toy photography I hope you won’t be discouraged by this post and that you will continue to create and share your work. I want you to take toy photographs because they make you smile; because it’s a fun hobby, because it’s a great way to tell stories, because it satisfies your inner creative drive, because you meet interesting people. I hope you will continue to take toy photographs for any number of reasons, but don’t take them because you want to make money. There are easier and much more profitable ways to make money to support that toy habit than trying to sell your photography.
Be a toy photographer because its fun… because you love it. :)
I will leave you with one last quote from Mike Rowe, host of the TV show Dirty Jobs.
“Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”
Why are you a toy photographer?