You have an expensive camera. A "pro" camera, so to speak. It cost an arm and two legs. You have a bunch of lenses. You have a tripod. Two flashes. Remotes. You have a gazillion bags, one for every occasion. You suffer from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) and LE (lens envy) and any other disease that involves buying newer and better cameras and lenses for your growing addiction. You have everything a pro photographer needs to be a pro. The one thing that you don't have is customers.
People tend to like your photos. You get compliments everywhere. "Wow... awesome shot!" "So cool!" "Great photo!!", are the order of the day. You have a blog. A social media presence. You twitter. You post on Facebook. You are on Google+. You instagram and pinterest. You even have a channel on YouTube. You have online galleries wherever online galleries are shown. You upload your pictures left, right and center. You have followers, and you have online friends. The one thing you don't have is customers.
You think you're a photographer. You think you're good. Because why else would you want to upload all those pictures to all those place on the internet? Nobody has ever told you that you're not good. Although, in the back of your head, there is this constant, nagging voice that tells you exactly that:
It's only a tiny little voice in your head. Sure. You are still not convinced? Let me put it in numbers: You invested thousands. And your return on your investment is zilch. A big fat zero. A zero with only one advantage - you don't have to pay taxes on it. Here, let me show you on this little graph:
Cool, eh? You invest ever more in photography, and you still get nothing back. Financially, picking up photography is the worst decision you ever made.
But... is there really nothing you get back?
Wait a second... something isn't right about all of this. Isn't photography supposed to be a hobby, and isn't a hobby supposed to give you something... else?
An avid angler... does he not get pleasure from sitting by a quiet stream, hooking a couple of fish and throwing them back in? A model train enthusiast... doesn't he get enjoyment from tinkering with his trains? And a gardener, doesn't a gardener spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars and all he gets are a few crummy little flowers and a sore back?
Sometimes, money isn't everything. Sometimes, the real value of something cannot be determined by the return on an investment. You invest money, time and dedication into a project, and you may never, ever get anything tangible back for it. It's like raising children. You invest so much money and so much time to raise them, and all you get out of it is a card on your birthday each year, a hug here and there, and if you're really lucky a hurried "Love you too..." before they hang up on you. Nobody gives you ANY money for all the stuff you invested in your children.
Photography is the same. You give your best. You try your hardest. You spend money and countless hours on the computer to bring the best out of yet another picture nobody will ever download, let alone pay money for.
But those pictures, they're you're babies. They're what you created. They give you joy. They give you a sense of accomplishment. They will be there after you're gone. And they will be a testament to what you value, and what you stand for. And they're awesome.
So next time someone, or something is trying to make you think that you are not a good photographer, that your pictures don't mean nothing to anyone, think again. As long as YOU enjoy taking them, they don't suck. They mean everything, and they are worth every single last penny you invest in them.