Art and business are difficult to mix. This is just a fact. As a photographer, dealing with your art and business is an art in itself. What we feel inside, our art, and what can pay our bills, our business, often diverges. How can you build both art and business so that you can feed both your soul and your stomach?
Many photographers before me touched this, and many have diametrically opposite ideas. I am not interested in joining any active discussion, and the side I will be taking in this article is just what I think is a healthy way of bringing art and business forward together.
Can Art and Business live together?
In short? Yes, art and business can live together. Their cohabitation can be rough at times, and you will often be in the middle of tough discussions; however, art and business can exist at the same time. To make it happen, you need to believe in your art, listen to criticism with a critical ear, build your business on your art and feed your soul often.
Let me make it clear: it is not going to be simple. You will face challenging decisions, and some of them will come back full of doubts over and over again. Hard times aside, the good news is that you can make your art and business flourish, making you live a dream!
Being a professional photographer, you will face long days, countless hours behind your computer. At a certain point, you will feel, as Neil Gaiman once said, “I had become someone who professionally replied to email“. The sum of all this, is a tough career that is going to challenge you in many ways. If you are not yourself in the photographs you create, if you are not in love with what you do here, with your art, then you won’t stand the challenges.
If you are not going to be yourself, art and business will be meaningless, as your business will strangle your art, and in doing so, remove the passion that made you start. You need to be yourself, you have to feed your artistic side and keep it alive and kicking. You have to imbue your business with it.
This does not mean to say that you have to forget all about your business, or that your business should reflect your art. You should still have a business model and make it viable. This means that you should never put aside your personal project. What you love to photograph!
Let your Art and Business learn from each other
The right hand should always know what the left hand is doing. In the same way, your art and business should understand each other and learn lessons from each other. Recently, in order to make our art more alive, and to push the boundaries of our photography, Faby and I have started photographing people without posing them. Being photo takers, more than photo makers. Capturing the moment more than producing one. This is something refreshing, something that fuels our creativity, our art.
And what have all this to do with our business? Is it simple, the more we make with our art, the more we are known for it. The more we are famous for it, the more possibility we have to find people who are interested in hiring us for it. More than this, though, the more we discover our art, the more we can integrate it in our business stream.
A photographer is an artist
Photographers are, first and foremost, artists. Or at least they should be. Being a professional photographer is a tough job. Therefore you have to do it with passion, or not at all.
You are an artist, you have a vision, and you should focus on giving your art the breathing space it deserves. Art and business can live together and nourish each other, and in order to achieve this, you should allow yourself to be the artist you are.
I am an artist, I live and breathe my photographs, my controversial style, my poses as well as my stolen moments, my clothed families as well as my nude models. I am not afraid of admitting who I am, I am not ashamed of the artist I am, and if this does not go down well with certain people, it is clear to me that I am not the right photographer for them. What others think of me is not of my business. I am an artist, and my business was born out of it, and trying to hide it would be wrong and it would just negate who I am.
And you? Are you an artist? What kind of artist are you?