10 Ways to Stay Happy (in a cutthroat, demanding industry)


I realize that this industry can be difficult at times. In the past, I have found myself slip into periods of inactivity, a lack of motivation or just plain exhaustion. I often see the same thing happening to my friends and acquaintances. I have therefore decided to compile a list of behaviours and thoughts that help keep me happy and motivated. In no particular order:

1.) Support Others

I have made sure to build good relationships with the other photographers in the area, and I’m glad I have. It is nice to be able to talk to one another, ask advice and show support with no negative or jealous feelings. Don’t be afraid to ‘Like’ photos on Facebook. It shows confidence in your own work if you are able to support other artists’ work. It makes them feel good, and in turn it will make you feel good. Offer help where you can, and others are more than willing to do the same for you. Give referrals if you aren’t able to take a job. It’s so much nicer to have friends, rather than enemies- Surround yourself with them!

2.) Focus on YOU

Focus on yourself and your own work. If you are focusing on others, make sure it is in a positive light. Take time to appreciate your own work and to recognize how you’ve grown as an artist. Celebrate your achievements.

3.) Don’t be Afraid to Say No!

Do what will be beneficial to you. Don’t agree to projects that are going to drain your energy, waste your time or leave you feeling unfulfilled. You owe it to yourself to do what will make you happy. If someone asks you do to a project you’re not interested in, don’t be afraid to tell them no thank you. If you can, suggest another photographer/artist that may be interested in the project.

4.) Positive Thinking

Turn negative experiences into learning experiences. Most of us have probably walked away from a shoot or project before feeling like we let ourselves down, like it just wasn’t our day. That’s okay- We tried, and it didn’t work out and now we know what to change next time. Dwelling on it will only make us feel worse. Take it for what it was and move on, learn, grow.

5.) Work with the Right People

It can be difficult to find a good team. Try working with various people in the industry and figure out who is right for you. Who supports you and elevates your portfolio? Who has good energy and keeps you motivated? Decide not to work with the ones who drag you down, push you around or make you unhappy. Even if you like their work, it isn’t worth taking abuse from anyone. Find those who are genuine and make you feel good about yourself and your work, surround yourself with them.

6.) Do One Thing Every Day

Try to do one thing every single day that will help you reach your goal. If you have a busy day ahead of you, do something small. If you have a day off and are feeling productive, go further. Here are some ideas:

  • Connect with someone on Facebook (a photographer, model, MUA, stylist, etc. who you would like to collaborate with.) Send a quick message introducing yourself and expressing your interest.
  • Like some pages (magazine you might like to submit to, other photographers/artists, bloggers, etc.) I find it so beneficial to have these posts coming up in my newsfeed, it is a constant source of inspiration and also shows me the occasional photography contest or opportunity.
  • Show some love- give a few likes or comments expressing your appreciation for someone else’s work.
  • Spend some time experimenting with a new editing/shooting technique.
  • Search for inspiration. Go onto some of your favourite websites (for me, it would be Flickr) and have a look at what some of your favourite artists are doing. Looking at beautiful images is such a huge source of inspiration for me and really gets the creativity flowing.
  • Brainstorm- Jot down some ideas in your idea journal (or start an idea journal, if you don’t have one yet).
  • Write a blog post.

7.) Don’t Burn Yourself Out

Take on as many projects as you can comfortably handle. Are you the type of person who is go-go-go, or do you need time to relax and regroup between shoots? It can be tempting to say yes to every project,  but have a look at your current workload and deadlines first. You might risk exhausting your creativity and drive if you take on too much. Allow yourself to take breaks when you need them.

8.) Work on Personal Projects

Work on personal projects to keep yourself happy. I like to carry around a film camera with me. Film gives me a different outlet- It’s no pressure, fun and it’s just for me. I don’t have to worry how they will turn out, I don’t have deadlines or pressure from others. Work on personal projects to remind yourself why you do what you do, and why you love it.

9.) Keep it Positive!

There is a time and place for everything. Facebook usually isn’t that place. If you are feeling emotionally charged, take a breather. Step awaaaaaay from the computer… Vent to somebody close to you, who you trust. Sleep on it. DO NOT write an angry e-mail, status, etc. This can come back to bite you. There are people who I have decided not to work with simply based on their angry, unprofessional statuses. I understand that people get angry, and that’s okay- I’m just asking you to think about who might be seeing that status before you write it.

Keep your online presence as positive as possible. If you present yourself as a positive person, people will be more likely to want to work with you. If your statuses are excessively negative, it could be turning people away. I’m not saying you can’t be yourself though! Definitely be yourself, and be honest, but try not to post things out of spite, anger, jealousy, etc. If you’re thinking “It’s my profile and I’ll post whatever I damn well want!”, then maybe consider getting a second profile for business contacts. I do this myself: I have a professional profile (for photographers, models, MUAs, etc.) as well as a personal profile (which is reserved for family and friends). This makes things easier for me, as I can be selective about what I post on each. I can also Like more photography-related pages on my professional profile, as well as post photography-related statuses that maybeeeee my family members won’t be as interested in (like my thoughts on the make-up in The Hunger Games, for example).

10.) Don’t Give Up!

Remember that success takes time. All you can do is keep going and get your work out there. Remember, little things every day can contribute to your success. Don’t be afraid to promote your work. If the right person sees it, you could find an awesome opportunity coming your way. So spread the word, be diligent, and watch great things happen!

Thank you for reading!

Follow my work on:

follow me on Facebook!follow me on Flickr! follow me on Twitter! check out my official site!


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