This's meant to be a fun piece to read. Grab your choice of coffee or wine, relax and read on.
The story went like this - I quit my job in early 2014 and became a full time photographer right away with no prior experience. That was, if we defined full time photography as it being my only source of income, or lack of income I should say.
I didn't quit my job to become a wedding photographer. The idea of making photography my career came after I quit my job. I spent three months visiting home and travelling while taking a break from the office. Prior to being a photographer, I was a planner at Holt Renfrew. The job sounded prestigious and the income was decent. But the job didn't mean a lot to me. I found myself naturally working hard and climbing the corporate ladder because that’s what others did. I felt trapped. My only motivation was my pride to prove myself. It turned out that it’s difficult to walk away even when I knew the job was not the right fit. It took me a while to accept that maybe taking a break from the corporate world was good for me. Photography still wasn't in the picture when I finally resigned. I travelled for three months off savings and came back to Toronto thinking that I was ready to look for another job. Only then I started to realize my travel experience had grew on me. It's a very personal experience with a lot of fun and learning. It felt like that's how life should be - devoting time in things which truly interested and inspired me.
Sitting at home trying to discover the next dream job on the computer, but really just working on all the photos from the three-month trip, a career in photography presented itself. Photography was something that I loved to do and enjoyed getting better at professionally. Then I started to wonder which type of photography am I the most interested in? I knew that there were the human element and documentary aspect that I absolutely loved about photography. Almost in all my travel photos, there were people in them. I loved capturing people in their zone, just being themselves. So naturally I dreamt of being a documentary photographer, making pictures that might end up in the museum one day. I immediately felt the need to embrace Facebook and to find people who might be able to help me in this brand new venture. The feedbacks were overwhelmingly discouraging. My lack of experience, absence of a network for support and referrals and the competitiveness in the industry were only a few things that industry people pointed out. Apparently competition was fierce. It's sink or swim. Despite the obvious challenges, I picked and chose what I wanted to believe and built my case - I dived into wedding photography. I found wedding photography composed with the right amount of documentary and fine-art elements which were perfect for me. Going ahead with freelance photography was not the most logical decision based on the feedbacks. I weighted the pros and cons. But at the end I listened to my heart.
Wedding photography was the type of photography that'd satisfy my eager to document real life events with real people and real moments. It's independently operated hence it provided me with creative freedom. I didn't know at the time the level of passion I would have for being a documentary wedding photographer. I started intuitively and it grew on me since.
Long story short, I made it work.
Sustainability was driven by two main factors, passion and money.
With passion, there's persistency and with money, there's stability.
If you can sustain your passion for the path you're pursuing and calculate the income you would need and find ways to make it, you're half way there. You should have a contingency plan in case money went out. Small investment income helped me to pay bills and living at home helped me to minimize expenses. I always believed in savings and investments. I was lucky enough to save up enough on my previous jobs and had an investment income. We would all find our own ways whether it’s through savings or keeping a side job. Many kept their day job before they became a full time freelancer and others worked part time to fuel their business.
To me, the path of becoming a freelance wedding photographer full time wasn't easy. Not to mention that once the game's on, being your own boss could feel restless. But it's definitely possible and it's satisfying when it worked. So you can too. Don’t think it’ll be easy but believe that it’s possible.