I was discussing a recent photography triumph with my friend and co-worker the other day, An image I created made the front page of a magazine! (Details on that later...) After congratulating me and letting me get my giddy excitement out, he asked "So, what did they pay you for that?"
My heart sank. Just like it did earlier that day when my mother asked the same question. And just like it did every single time I told someone my exciting news after that, and they all asked about the money.
No, I wasn't paid for that. But what an amazing accomplishment for me and my model to be FRONT COVER of a magazine?! How can I explain to people that at this stage in my art I am just excited that anyone even LIKES it, let alone wants to publish it.
Why is success always measured in terms of how much money we make from our efforts? Why do our achievements have to be lucrative? Why isn't it okay for me to just bask in the glow of my victory and savor the sweetness of mild and temporary fame?
Art is my passion and it's my hobby. Why does everyone always try to find a way to make money at something, it degrades it, and drains every ounce of joy from the process to have to worry about whether or not it will pay for itself in the long run.
Do you golf or garden or play tennis or hike? How often does anyone ask you if you've made any money at it yet? How often to people say "Oh, You won your match? How much money did that make you?" Or "WOW! You hiked the Appalachian trail all by yourself? NO KIDDING?! WHAT DID YOU GET FOR THAT?"
You might argue that I spend a lot of time and money on photography, but to that I would counter "You spend money on the things you like to do. Do golf clubs not cost quite a bit? Do you get paid every time you play?"
Since the question seems so important to people, I will answer briefly. Yes, I do make some money. Mostly from Getty and Arcangel, some from print sales, and some from selling props I don't need anymore. Not enough to pay the bills on it's own, but it helps pay for itself anyway. Since everyone is concerned about my income, I'll add that I work full time. I make more than enough money to pay my bills and buy the things we want and need. But even if I didn't work, why wouldn't I be entitled to have a hobby I love? Why aren't we all? Why do we put ourselves up to impossible standards of wealth and success?
Think about the accomplishments though- and please try to remember this when you are talking to someone else about their beloved hobby. I mean, for pete's sake- I have work hanging in a gallery!! I have several images published in magazines! I have a freaking picture of mine as a book cover!! WOO HOO! I'm stoked about all that. I'm wildly happy with it. I'm OVER THE FLIPPING MOON about it. So why would you degrade my accomplishments by asking if I've made money yet? I guess by your standards, I'm a failure. But I don't see it that way. I'm pretty happy with where I am.
In a wild universal coincidence, I stumbled across this article about famous authors and artists who refused to quit their full time jobs, because they didn't want the pressure of having to create their passions for money. It's an interesting read and I find myself in admirable company.
My Fellow Fine Artists
Tammy Zurak of Z Photog Studio | Memphis, TN, USA | Fine Art/Illustrative Photography Gallery:
Pam Korman of District Photography | Philadelphia, PA, USA | Fine Art Photography:
www.bonniealrifai.com Fine art photography
Handy Andy Pandy