Being Successful in Photography is Like…

"Contemplation": image of chinese man on a bridge over serene water in Hangzhou, China by Jean Lua.

Hangzhou, China

…a marathon? A long and winded road? A frustrating, albeit rewarding, twisting, turning, chock full of pot holes, I-can’t-imagine-doing-anything-else, kind of passion.

If you are a photographer, perhaps your goals began as lofty as mine did. “I want to be a <insert genre> photographer!” “If I just have that camera/lens/photo geek tool, I’ll take better pictures.”
“I want to be featured in National Geographic one day.”

Well, that’s all changed. Taking a good photograph is much harder than I initially realized. Lighting, composition, subject matter, camera settings – those are just the beginning of the technical side of things. Then there is the “photographer’s eye”? That’s just as important too. Right now, I just want to take good photographs that will lead to great photographs!

"Remnants at the Wall": Close-up of love padlocks attached to a chain along a wall at the Great Wall of China by Jean Lua.

Remnants at the Wall

The Great Wall of China: The love lock tradition is one in which loving couples attach padlocks
to fences, poles, chains or string along a wall. These locks represent a symbol of eternal love.

If I were asked about what it takes to become a successful photographer, I would rattle off a long list. You know – things about the importance of time management, marketing, and rapport with people, etc. But above all of that…? You have to love photography. I mean, really, really love it.

Okay, you’ve decided that you’re in it for the long haul. Learn to embrace the ups and downs, the uncertainty and unpredictability, the art, the craft, and the non-stop learning curve. Embrace 4 a.m. mornings to catch the sun, the 3 a.m. Photoshopping marathons, the study of great artists and photographers, and the realization that it will take you not months, but years to gain a semblance of proficiency.

"Ready for Flight": reflections at Beijing Capital International Airport of a person, chairs and surroundings by Jean Lua.

Ready for Flight
Beijing Capital International Airport

But over time, you will see yourself getting better! All of that time and energy that you put in – it totally pays off for that one photograph. You know the one – where everything you have learned comes together (almost magically) and for a brief second, you were able to capture your vision.

"Waiting for a Ride": a chinese man set against a cement wall in Wuzhen, China by Jean Lua.

Waiting for a Ride
Wuzhen, China

At first, you may find yourself copying other artists, but you won’t be able to emulate their work exactly as you had envisioned. It’s okay. Keep following your unique vision. Stay true to yourself and listen to your intuition. It won’t steer you the wrong way. Oh, and remember to trust your heart too.

by Jean Lua
Article and photos: © 2014 Jean Lua. All rights reserved.

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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