3 Reasons to Quit Photography in 2020 (and 3 Reasons not to) | athenaandcamron.com

3 Reasons to Quit Photography in 2020 (and 3 Reasons not to)

Yesterday I put a question box on our instagram which was a ‘finish the sentence’ about being a photographer in 2020…

This is why I’m writing this post – to hopefully encourage Photographers who are struggling but want to keep going, and to encourage Photographers who genuinely want to stop but feel they shouldn’t.

If you’re looking for only positivity, this post might not be for you. I wrote it from a place of honesty and compassion. Too many people struggle in a profession like photography, believing if they stop, they would be “giving up,” or perhaps even feeling shame for not experiencing “success” or financial freedom.

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that when everything is stripped away, it’s easier to see what really matters to you and what doesn’t.

This post is for the photographer who is unsure, who is confused, who is doubting. The photographer who has anxiety over their bank account, who finds social media stressful, who sometimes wishes they could throw in the towel.

I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t. I’m not going to go all toxic-positivity on you and say that you can do it, anyone can do it, and you should just try harder, hustle longer, and stay strong! 

The simple truth is: sometimes it’s okay to let go. To say, “I actually don’t want to do this anymore.”

And on the flip side, it’s okay to know deep down that you want to do this, but to begin the journey of finding peace with the inner struggle that is this job.

“This post is for the photographer who is unsure, who is confused, who is doubting. The photographer who has anxiety over their bank account, who finds social media stressful, who sometimes wishes they could throw in the towel.”

I just read a bunch of statistics on how the pandemic has affected the photography industry. It’s truly heartbreaking. These are real people with empty calendars, who have families and employees to provide for. And these cancellations are from real people, clients who are devastated over their canceled event, mums who are missing out on newborn photos because they can’t have anyone in their home, and couples who are literally postponing their marriage because they’re committing to having their family and friends surround them.

For our business, this year has been very hard. Last year we poured our heart and soul into our pivot from wedding photography to full-time education, experiencing huge success with our editing education and Embracing Connection Masterclass.

We went into this year believing that we had hit our groove, we knew what we wanted, we had projects lined up, and even hired two employees to help make it happen. Even after the pandemic hit, we thought we’d be okay because our store was online and none of our shoots were being canceled, as we’d never booked any – we had already devoted 2020 to our online education business.

But it turns out that it’s hard for people to invest in their own education when the very foundation of their job is shaking.

Why invest in editing education and presets when there are no shoots anymore? Why learn how to invite real joy and connection in your photography when you aren’t even sure if you can continue down this career path?

We get it. We’re on the other end, but we get it. 

Even though it’s been hard, we do not want to stop. We love what we do, we love using our gifts in this way, and even if the topics of our education may shift and change over the years, the heart of it is that we love helping others get back to the heart of what matters to them. The pandemic has not changed that; it hasn’t even come close to touching it.

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For now, I wanted to address two groups of people (or, perhaps you’re in both groups, and that’s okay, too). The first group are those who, when you’re honest, you aren’t sure you want to do this anymore. And the second group are those who, when you’re honest, you’re desperate to make it work somehow

I’M UNSURE ABOUT CONTINUING…

If you’re a photographer, are any of these you?

  • I’M TOO DISCOURAGED - You’re realizing it’s more than just hard to be a photographer; it feels impossible right now. Discouragement has taken a hold of you, and you just can’t do it anymore. Cancellations are breaking your heart… and the client’s hearts. Maybe cancelled shoots have set you back thousands, if not tens of thousands. And rescheduled shoots are pushing back future income, too. Your heart just feels too discouraged to consider continuing.
  • I’M TOO UNCERTAIN - You can’t handle the unstable income anymore. Before this year, it was already hard to make a stable, consistent income as a photographer, and 2020 has made it even more unpredictable. You’re done with all the uncertainty of what’s coming next.

  • I’M TOO TIRED - You’re tired from the endless hustle of being an entrepreneur. You dread your inbox, you feel anxious before shoots, you are sick of playing the Instagram game, you don’t feel passionate about your work, and deep down… you just don’t like doing this anymore. These are all real, legitimate reasons. Do you resonate with a few of them?

Stop being a photographer, then. 

You can let it go. There is no shame in stopping. Life is too short to do something you hate. If you truly don’t want to do this anymore, then don’t!

There’s a lot to that, I know. This isn’t black and white, it’s very, very grey. But sometimes we just know, deep down, that we want to stop something. And there’s enough articles and youtube videos and podcasts on stopping your 9-5 to pursue your dream business, but I don’t hear much compassionate words on those who actually don’t want to do it anymore. You don’t need permission from anyone to “leave your 9-5,” but you also don’t need permission to decide you no longer want the stress and burden of endless ‘hustle’ for your business. If you want to stop, allow yourself permission to stop, and then start brainstorming what it is you REALLY want to do.

I’M UNSURE ABOUT STOPPING…

Maybe you do feel some of these things, but they’re only fleeting. They come and go, but ultimately, the desire that stays behind is strong, and you really DON’T want to throw in the towel (even in a pandemic). 

Maybe this is you:

  • I KNOW PEOPLE STILL WANT PHOTOS - You feel so much hope, despite the pandemic, because you know people will ALWAYS want photos, people will STILL continue to get married, and people will STILL have babies. A pandemic won’t stop that! You know the work will come when it comes, and you’re willing to wait out the stay at home orders and uncertain future.
  • I STILL CARE DEEPLY ABOUT THIS WORK - You know that what you do matters: inviting joy, inviting connection, capturing life’s most precious, unrepeatable moments. This work lights you up, brings you joy, and, even on hard days, you still can’t get over that you get to do this. You feel immensely privileged that this is your job, and you treasure it as a gift.
  • I LOVE THIS TOO MUCH TO STOP - Or perhaps you simply love it too much. Everything feels very confusing but your love for the work remains. The other day we got a message from a photographer who joined our Masterclass when it reopened last week. She said,

“Athena, I am literally on the LAST module and I have LOVED every bit of it. I can’t tell you how much of a God-moment this feels like… I was about to throw in the towel with photography. I was way too anxious about sessions and never able to get a good client base… It has been an incredibly disheartening season. I sat in bed before my husband came to bed the other night, and kept thinking, “I want to give up… I hate photography and I don’t understand why I keep trying to go back to it. It never works.” But I don’t truly hate photography. Beautiful moments that I get to capture make me smile and make my heart smile. Seeing faces light up when clients see how beautiful they look, it brings me absolute joy… My husband and I have been watching the Masterclass together, and it honestly can apply to life outside of photography, too! Seriously so thankful. I feel so loved by you both through your teaching, like my soul is being encouraged and taken care of.”

SOME NEW COMMITMENTS

If this is you, but you’re still wrestling with discouragement, I’d love to offer you some tangible commitments so you can have something concrete as you navigate the confusion that is 2020. Allow these to be guides. Take none, some, or all of this and make it your own.

  • I COMMIT TO TREAT MYSELF WITH COMPASSION. I accept the deep disappointments I feel over this year. I don’t deny their reality, I see them and surrender them day by day. I am okay with not being okay sometimes. I will not beat myself up about content I ‘could’ be creating. I will accept the energy that I have, and treat myself with tenderness and gentleness. I will honor the creative within me by not forcing her/him to suffocate under my expectations. I will breathe deep and allow space and silence for creativity to occur within me and through me. I will pray. I will sleep. I will read books and delight. I will stop and rest and realize that there will always be more work that could be done, but I have permission to rest.
  • I COMMIT TO A REORDERING OF PRIORITIES. I am grateful to be a photographer, and will no longer make this job about myself. I will allow 2020 to be a rebirth into a new way of seeing my job, with my clients at the centre. I will not be consumed by my own (instagram/website/reels/youtube/email list/insert what consumes you), because what ultimately matters is my mindset and the way I serve my clients, not numbers or figures. Without the clients, I wouldn’t have a job. When I focus more on them and becoming an incredible Photographer for them, I can focus less on myself (and experience the blissful freedom of self-forgetfulness).
  • I COMMIT TO MY OWN EDUCATION - I am worth high quality education. I value my own growth. I know I can learn from others, and I will do myself the honor of seeking out the best, while honoring my own financial situation. I believe in myself.

May I just add in here – there is more online education than ever before and some of it is HIGH quality. Truly, we have invested in some of the most incredible, career-changing courses as we’ve transitioned from full-time photographers to educators, ourselves. We love Jenna Kutcher’s Pinterest Lab, Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy, and Brendon Burchard’s Experts Academy. If you’re not interested in becoming an online educator, but rather you’re interested in being educated, then honestly, I couldn’t recommend our Masterclass more. 

If you want to continue being a photographer, inviting REAL emotion and connection from your clients, then this Masterclass is for you. We also cover building a business, a portfolio, using social media with integrity, the entire client experience, email templates, checklists, cheat sheets, editing workflow, approaching sensitive topics, personality, shoot environment, pricing yourself, etc… and of course Inviting Joy, Inviting Movement and Inviting Intimacy (our three core modules). You can find out everything about it here.