Needing to sell our car, I opened up Craigslist today for the first time in years. When I went to my account settings, a screen popped up that showed me all the old ads I ever listed with them with a button to “repost” if I wanted. There I saw it, an ad I posted on January 6, 2007, with the title, “Wedding Photographer out of work – $300.” I clicked it, then quickly closed my eyes not sure if I was ready to open this door to my past. I slowly opened my eyes and read my ad.
While part of me wanted to hide the ad, even delete it, so no one would ever see it. The other part of me realized how many other photographers are going through a time in their career just as I was nine years ago. Struggling day to day. Trying to pay the monthly bills. Wondering if they will ever make it as a photographer. Afraid of posting on Craigslist for fear of ridicule from other locals. Always comparing oneself to all the other successful photographers, feeling paralyzed by fear, unable to see any future ahead. I was there.
We all were there.
Every photographer you look up to today was there!
See that’s the secret of this business, recognizing that every single one of us was there. You think your work sucks? Guess what, we all have felt that way. Yep. I still have those feelings creep in even today even after shooting over 200 weddings. They might not ever go away. When my business struggled, I wondered if it was worth investing any more time, money, tears. “Seriously, how am I ever going to succeed as a photographer!”
I would compare myself constantly. Some days I wondered if it was worth getting up in the morning because I felt so defeated while other days I thought I was so amazingly talented that I was destined to be a success. The mind plays funny tricks on you.
I hope there are a few of you out there that can relate. I feel like I am writing this for you. Instead of deleting that Craigslist ad, I felt it was important to put it out there and show others that everyone starts out at the bottom. Every single photographer that inspires you started at the bottom. Everyone! You might feel like you are at the bottom right now. Here’s the thing, you will only stay at the bottom if you give up and do nothing more. The only way to the top is to climb. That requires effort. It requires time. Someday, maybe nine years from today you will look back and be able to retrace your ascend.
If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. -Rumi
Just remember, we were all there once. So pick yourself up, dust those shoulders off and start to hustle. You’ve got this!
Lastly, I want to leave you with some inspiring words. This is from when Rocky was talking to his son. It’s one of my favorite scenes from a movie. Rocky is reprimanding his son who is thinking about giving up on his corporate job.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.. It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.
Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not point fingers and blame other people. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!
Back in 2007, I was worth $300. The ad on Craigslist was my effort to go out there and fight to pay my bills. I am sure other photographers saw it, probably pointed fingers, maybe even blamed me for ruining the industry. I ignored all that. Instead, I kept moving forward, and it’s something I continue doing today because in the words of Rocky, “That’s how winning is done.”
Trevor, our newest team member, is our Marketing Manager. Having run a highly successful photography business in Phoenix, AZ, Trevor has a lot of experience with online marketing and truly understands what photographers today need and want. He is an accomplished educator with many published articles and tutorials on Fstoppers and SLR Lounge. He has taught numerous workshops throughout the world, been a featured presenter at some of the major photography conferences, and was named one of the Top 30 Most Influential Photographers by Brandsmash. He lives in Maricopa, AZ with his wife and six children and loves spending time with his family more than anything else.