Are You Committed to Photography or Just Involved?



by Skip Cohen

I wrote a post on a similar topic several years ago, but I’ve meet so many artists online recently and I’m amazed at the different perceptions they have of their business. With the first quarter trade show and convention season just around the corner, I’ll be meeting more in person and I know I’ll continue to be surprised at the different levels of enthusiam with each artist I meet.
I found a terrific quote a few years ago that Martina Navratilova is given credit for:

 “The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs.
The chicken is involved; the pig is committed!”
Running across that quote recently, it got me thinking about our industry, because we’ve got too many people who are involved, rather than committed.  Photography is an art form, not just in the capture and creation of the final image, but in the relationship each artist has with their clients and the passion for the craft.

An involved photographer gets the job done, has a goal to at best be average and spends too much time looking at the revenue stream.

Committed photographers can’t stop thinking about their images. While they’re obviously concerned about revenue, they’re more concerned about creating an experience for each client. They’re looking for ways to give back to the community. Their hearts skip a beat when they download images from a portrait sitting, commercial shoot or an event. They spend more time listening to their clients than they do talking to them.
If you’re a regular reader here at SCU you’re more than likely committed, rather than just involved. However, odds are you know somebody who’s on the fence between involvement and commitment. So here are eight questions to help you define the difference and maybe share to help them better define their goals.

  1. Are you excited when you meet a new client? Do you find yourself thinking about the images you’re going to capture and create in advance, seeing them through your “mind’s eye”?
  2. If you’re photographing a wedding for example, do you find yourself rushing to download images and watch the way the story unfolds?
  3. When you think about the people who you admire most, are many of them other photographers?
  4. Do you find yourself sad when leaving a photographic convention or workshop? At the same time are you loaded with energy to apply some of the new things you’ve learned? Do you stay in touch with people you’ve met at previous photographic events?
  5. Do you spend most mornings excited about the day ahead versus wishing you could just stay in bed for the day?
  6. Do you feel naked when there’s not a camera on your shoulder, in your pocket or in your car?
  7. When you look at a stunning image do you find yourself wondering how it was created and then working to find out more?
  8. Do you find yourself angry when you see images that were made my photographers who you know simply said to themselves, “That’s good enough.”

Okay, there it is, my top eight, but there are so many more. Feel free to add to my list via the comment section below and I’ll do an extension of this post with your additions.

Most important of all, being committed is about unstoppable passion! There’s little else you can see yourself doing.  While it’s directed to the topic of relationships, I found a quote that really hits home and being a photographer is about a relationship with your craft.

We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment,
unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”

Cornel West


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