A few years back I gave up my obsession with camera gear and I completely moved the goal posts that I had spent my entire life aiming to score through. Instead of trying to earn as much money as possible in order to buy all the luxury things I’d dreamed of, such as cars, houses, clothes and gadgets, I was now more interested in a far more valuable commodity.
You may ask yourself what it was that prompted this re-focussing of my priorities, away from money and towards having more free time to do the things I want to do. Well, the answer is simple. Kids.
Much like Adam Baker, the speaker in the video I want to urge you to watch today (below), my wife and I had a beautiful little daughter on New Years Day 2012. Zahra was born at 6.13am and from that very minute everything changed. I remember going back to work and not wanting to be there. I remember being up all night, and being fine with that (most of the time!). I remember travelling away on business and feeling a pull so strong that It made me so sad to just be away.
It struck me that what I wanted more than anything in life now was to be a great parent. Sure, part of that means working hard. Not just to earn money to feed and clothe my little girl, but to set an example too so that my daughter would see that working hard is the right thing to do. But it goes further than that. I started to realise I wasn’t overly happy in my job. Mostly because of this all-consuming addiction to photography, which shared most of my waking thoughts with my wife and my daughter. But it struck me that If I’m not totally passionate about what I do with my life (because, after all people are all too often defined by their work) then what would that be teaching my daughter? For me, this would be teaching Zahra that even if her job didn’t make her happy that she should just work hard at it and take the pay cheque and use the money she earns for experiences.
Well, the last part I totally agree with. Money should be used for charity and experiences. Experiences enrich your life. I’m fortunate that I’ve already had a varied and rich life so far, but what I want to teach my daughter, more than anything in the world, is that she can make a living doing anything she wants. As such, I want to encourage her to follow her passion to the highest and most elite level she possibly can and make money that way. This will teach her that it’s okay to enjoy a passion. That it’s okay to make money, but ultimately the aim is to ensure my daughter has a life full of experiences. A life that she can look back on and say “Wow, I did all that!?…Thanks Dad”.
I’ll be honest though, it’s really only in the last 6 months though that this whole feeling has become as strong as it is today. It really has become more amplified and the sense of urgency I have to make a change has become even stronger. Why? Because I’m expecting my second child on December 23rd.
For me, life is about passion, family and friends and experiences. It’s not about money. Fine, money helps you to enjoy and pursue everything you want in life, but instead of treating money and passion as two separate things, why not go big? Why not go for it all? Why not combine the two and make money from your passions?
It’s said so often in the Photography Industry that it’s very fast becoming cliche, but, fewer words have been truer: “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.
A photographer that I truly admire, Zack Arias, has very much stood out for me this year. Zack has been saying something I’ve been saying for the past 2 years now; that a better camera won’t make you more money. That low over heads and responsible spending are key. That living a more prudent life is the same as earning more money. Hey, if your overheads are lower you don’t have as big a ball and chain around your neck, right?
You may be asking yourself why I’ve even posted this here on the Ready Steady Pro website? Basically, it’s simply because if you want to make it as a full time, professional photographer you may well need to adjust your thinking and adjust your way of life. It’s a bloody tough industry and at times it’s going to feel a lot like the hardest work you’ve ever done. You just need to decide if it’s for you. The hard work you’ll have to do may very well start before you’ve even picked up your camera. The hard work may be making those adjustments in your own life to accommodate your passion.
My wife and I have made many adjustments in our life. We’ve forgone the larger, luxury family car for 2 years now. We’ve not even plugged our satellite TV back in. We’ve gotten rid of credit cards. We’ve had holiday’s in the UK rather than abroad and we’ve lived a far more prudent life than ever before. We even moved out of the massive cottage we had in the middle of Berkshire, surrounded by fields, stables and a stunning countryside in favour of a more affordable home closer to our family.
Whilst our earnings haven’t really increased since we had our daughter (aside from annual inflationary pay rises here and there) our free and available income has certainly been greater. My wife will be on maternity leave for what I hope will be an entire year (the entirety of 2014). 2 years ago we would not have been able to afford that simply because we had too much crap and too many outgoings. As Adam Baker says in the video below – a weight has been lifted and we are about to realise the benefits of freeing ourselves of the burden of crap and expensive outgoings. My wife is about to have the longest time away from work she’s ever had in her adult life and I’m envious, because she gets to spend all that time with our children. Sure, it’ll be hard and it’ll be a challenge and that will become her work…but being a Mum is also her passion.
One video I stumbled across was this one, from TED Talks by Adam Baker. Adam talks about debt, money, work and life in general and a vicious circle that happens to most people. If you can get out of that circle of debt and spending on material things you’ll be free to make the most of opportunities that come your way. You’ll be more agile, more available…You’ll be able to do things such as make a huge change in your career and become a photographer…Check this out. Comments very, very welcome and encouraged, below.