Being passionate while making money
Regular readers of my blog know that I like to emphasize again and again that I photograph out of pure passion and that making money is not my main focus. That always sounds poetic or like a big lie, but it's my deep conviction. If you do an activity too often, it can turn into a routine and both passion and magic can get lost. In such a sensitive area as nude photography, where nuances in body and visual language are important, magic plays a major role. It decides whether a photograph will turn out to be special or just ok.
Of course I also work commercially. I take on assignments and I finance my free artistic work through other jobs that I do. Which I also do with passion. I am also sure that you can have several passions in your life. It doesn't mean work is done half-way or unmotivated.
And I know amateur photographers who take really great photos, because they put a lot of passion into their hobby. The word hobbyist photographer sounds somehow derogatory, but maybe I'm too sensitive. Many of these photographers dream of a great career as a professional nude photographer, but the market has actually become quite small, I have to tell you. Fewer magazines, a lot of unpaid online stuff.
To make it clear, hobbyists should stop asking themselves if they are wasting their life and missing out on a career. People often think in terms of money and they simply don't see the benefits of doing something entirely out of passion. Which even includes spending money on it instead of earning it.
We all have to find ways to finance our dreams another way. In Germany we say: "You have to dance at several weddings at once in order to be able to make a living". And this ia a bit how it feels sometimes. Not necessarily in a bad way.
I don't know any nude photographer who makes a living from nude photography alone.
Keep your passion
If someone had asked me a few years ago what it takes to create good photos, my answer would have been: practice, practice, practice. Take as many photos as possible. This is of course, true. But today I would add something. It is important to take a lot of photos when you start out so that you know how to operate a camera and become independent of the camera's automatic mode.
But after that, it's just essential to be passionate about your work and keep your curiosity. Curiosity drives passion. It's a cycle. You urge to do things differently, you long to rediscover something, to feel something new in a different way. And then you are able to surprise with new picture ideas.
First and foremost this takes time. And experience. And also granting yourself down-time and creative breaks.
This is where it all comes together.
Allow yourself breaks — take time to breathe
You have to hatch ideas, try them out, discard them. Very few people are kissed by the muse just like that. At least, I am not. There is a process behind it. And processes take time. In my opinion, it is also better to keep some photos to yourself. Don't publish everything you shoot.
Develop your own standards of quality and, above all, develop yourself further. I speak from experience and also have to laugh when I think of some images that I have taken in my early years. Embarrassing stories from today's perspective.
Balance your work life to stay inspired
The important thing as a creative is to stay inspired. Inspiration is like recharging your batteries. You definitely have to go into the pit lane every now and then and you can't just do your laps at full throttle. That is why, from my point of view, it is also important not to work non-stop as a nude photographer.
But how often is too often? This question is not that individual, I think it can be answered fairly broadly. If you do the same things over and over again, same poses, same locations, same styling, you basically do them too often.
From an artist perspective, this is would feel unbalanced for me.
On social media I see a lot of models presenting their butts every day and the poses repeat themselves. It just bores me so much. The inspiration is completely gone. Yes, they do have great bodies, but I only see shells. To me, these photos look like product photography. Nothing against product photography — I've been working in this field many times.
I definitely don't want to blame the girls if they do it because of the money. In the pandemic, making money from bookings is difficult if not impossible. They have learned to market themselves and do it very well. I am happy for their achievements and every dollar they make. I am not being jealous. Still it sometimes feels a bit like they sold their artist soul to the devil.
Speaking of money
To dispel one prejudice: sometimes I read that models are at the end of the food chain and are very disadvantaged. That is not correct. I've worked with many models who have earned significantly more than me. And I think it's great that hey have achieved that and I am happy for them, too.
I find self-reflection to be essential in order to develop further. I see myself as part of the entertainment industry and it thrives on innovations. That is why I look for themes for my photo series that inspire me. I am looking to create images that I am so convinced of that others will enjoy them, too.
Sometimes I still wish I would take more photos, though. Because I spend more time planning than I actually like to. Sometimes it does not pay off. But I think that dedication to a job is simply more important. In the current times, things are not easy though, I have to admit.