Beta Cover for “The Modern Photographer” by ANNETTE KIM / HAPTICPRESS

How to Succeed as a Modern Photographer

Beta Cover for “The Modern Photographer” by ANNETTE KIM / HAPTICPRESS
Beta Cover for “The Modern Photographer” by ANNETTE KIM / HAPTICPRESS

How do you “succeed” in your photography and life as a modern photographer? How do you quantify “success” in your photography? How do you continue to grow, evolve, and become more powerful and motivated as a visual artist?

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Make your own table of values of “success” for yourself

To start off, only you can and should define “success” for yourself.

Below is a list of what “success” means to myself on a personal level:

How I personally define success for myself

  1. Creative freedom: Making the pictures, images, and visual art which brings me joy — not being forced to make images I personally don’t like.
  2. Financial freedom: Making enough money not to worry about paying the bills. But the goal isn’t to die with the most commas and zeroes in my bank account.
  3. Growth, evolution, progress: To be constantly growing as a visual artist. To find new sources of inspiration through visual “cross pollination”— and never being satisfied with my art. To stay hungry and foolish, and to keep hustling.
  4. Meaningful work that empowers viewer and society: Visual art that is beyond myself — that will help inspire others to love living, and feel more optimism towards life. To feel joy through looking at my images.
  5. Legacy to help future photographers: Creating a new culture of experimentation, fearlessness, and openness.

Therefor your first step is to simply write out how you define “success” for yourself. Then the next strategy: figure out how you can best exploit your talents, to achieve your personal goals and barometers of “success”.

Personal photography life hacks

For me, here are some principles that help me achieve my personal goals, to feel “successful” on a day-to-day level:

  1. Push my visual limits: I seek challenge, obstacles, and difficulty in my life. Whenever I make new pictures, I think of challenging myself by making more difficult pictures. To me, a difficult picture is a picture which is scary for me to shoot (in street photography), or difficult in terms of making a dynamic yet simple composition.
  2. Publish 80% “good enough” work: There is no such thing as “perfection”. As visual artists, we are constantly in a state of flux, and constantly in a state of “becoming.” Therefore, if you let your inner-critic, or this silly notion of “perfectionism” hold you back, you’ll never publish anything. Treat your visual art as an experimental laboratory — keep making visual experiments with your pictures, publish, and keep evolving.
  3. Have fun: The ultimate photographer and visual artist is like a child, with a “child’s mind”— a spirit of exploration, play, and fun. Embrace child’s mind by not letting “rules” and boundaries hold you back. Rather, let your natural curiosity drive you forward, to accelerate your growth and learning process.

Try these out for yourself, and empower yourself. Be creative every day and never doubt yourself.


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