surfing and the business of photography

Most of my blog posts are for announcements about publications and upcoming events that pertain to my business as an editorial or fine art photographer, but after taking some time off from work and spending that time surfing, I’ve had a few epiphanies about surfing as it relates to my career as a photographer.  In September of 2007, my husband and I visited Waikiki and he insisted that I take a lesson. (he’s been surfing for 50 years!)  On my first wave, I looked down and watched as the reef passed peacefully along below my board.  It was the first time I felt the quiet of riding a wave, being pushed along by the power of the ocean and it was remarkable.  I was hooked.  The learning curve in surfing is steep and long and never ends.  Since I grew up in Indiana, the notion of ever being able to swim in the ocean, much less surf, was at one point incomprehensible.  But so was a career in travel photography.  As I continue to pursue both, I find many similarities in their respective challenges and rewards.  Surfing has given me strength – both physical and mental, as photography has.  Being in the open ocean is exhilarating, but sometimes downright frightening and always challenging.  Where are the waves breaking?  How big are they?  Can I make the drop in?  Can I paddle over a growing swell?  How do I get out into position?  What’s the line-up like?  Is there a long enough break in between sets to rest?  If I wipe out, how deep is the water?  If I tombstone, can I get my leash off in time?  While I’m in the washing machine, how do I keep myself from panicking and hold my breath just a few moments longer before I pop up?  And then there’s paddling – right now, for me, it’s the what I spend most of  my time in the water doing.  Paddling into position.  Paddling over set waves that seem too big.  Paddling hard to make a wave that I don’t make.  Paddling hard for a wave that I drop into and have a smooth, long satisfying ride. All of these experiences and challenges mirror my career as a photographer, but if I want to make it at either, there’s one thing they both have in common: paddle harder.  It’s not a stretch to say that the learning curve in the business of photography is steep and long, particularly in these rapidly changing times.  I continue to push myself to learn the new technologies.  I continue to market myself using all available means including email campaigns, direct mail pieces, and face-to-face visits to clients or prospective clients.  It seems endless and exhausting at times, but when I land a fabulous job and get to go somewhere and continue following my childhood dream, all the work has paid off and I have that same feeling that I get in surfing – a lot of frenetic activity that sometimes seems endlessly challenging and fruitless, followed by that nice drop and the smooth ride.  Then it’s paddle back out time.

patience, fear, beauty

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