Will Wohler resides in Portland, Maine. He is a photographer, musician and optimist at Life is good®. A high school photography course started his journey in the photographic arts and has been his only “schooling” other than the wonderful internet. Portraits and fine art images are his favorite to shoot and has been slightly obsessed with his iPhone. Find him on his website, Twitter & Facebook.
I was recently in a fight, with myself and my life and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It left me battered, figuratively of course, but my mind has never been clearer.
This fight that ensued has been a long battle back and forth with what I thought I was supposed to be doing with my life. My two passions were in competition for my attention and life had it's way of telling me which way to go but I didn't want to believe it. Kind of like the devil and angel on each shoulder telling you why their side is better. My schooling is in music education and after spending, and still paying, a lot of money to get this degree and be in a field I thought I was going to enjoy for the rest of my life I'm pursuing other things. Things that make me happier and that have been screaming at me to follow for quite some time.
I am happiest when I am photographing, whether it is with my iPhone or on a client session. I enjoy every minute of the creative process behind the camera. Though the guilt and dollar signs from my college days kept shadowing that passion and trying to push me back to teaching after I was let go after only 2 years in my first position. I have not been able to land a single interview since. This struggle has taken the better part of three years. The final blow to my teaching wants happened this past month when I was discussing this with my brother, who is younger but his view point was one that is educated in marketing and social media. I told him that I didn't think I wanted to teach any more. His response was “I could have told you that two years ago, look at what you post online and what you talk about all the time, it's photography, that's you!” He was right. The path was laid before me and I was aimlessly walking down it with out even realizing it. The realization below is what resulted during my path to recovery and a new exciting, yet scary endeavor.
Every time, and I do mean every time, I made the decision to focus more on my photography and not on teaching felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could be me again. I focused on myself more and thusly happier in all aspects of my life. I also used that new found motivation to do more for my fledgling business and every time it helped me, the business grew. I'm not going to get into business practices or anything like that because I do not feel like I have enough experience to talk deeply about it, but I will say that it started with doing what I loved and that was photography. I did it for myself first and found that I really enjoyed portraiture so I took steps to make that happen. All while still enjoying what I did. It did take a bit of time for me to get to a place where I could share my experiences with others but that is all part of the growth. If you enjoy what you are doing then you are on the right track. If you are not, then what steps can you make to doing something that you enjoy? However small a step forward is a step forward. I remember the first step I took toward the portrait side of photography. I was a nervous wreck but that one image that came out just how I envisioned it in my head pushed me to do another one. If you enjoy it make the time to do it. Momentum will build and soon you will be walking and enjoying the scenery.
That one image, like I said, pushed me to do another session with a friend and then another and soon I was almost running down that path. It was like I was flying in a dream. Then I got scared that I was going too fast and headed down a familiar yet dark and overgrown path. Be mindful of these things and if you feel like you are moving too fast then slow down and go at a comfortable pace. No one is telling you you need to run full speed all the time. I eased into it and I am thankful that I did because otherwise I may have burnt myself out. Take your own pace and then you can effectively manage roadblocks and pass on the dark overgrown shortcuts back to where you came.
My path in photography is just beginning, and I know the path never ends but only becomes easier to navigate the longer I am on it. Building my skills in weak areas has made my business and my photography grow even faster. Get the training or read about areas that you are weak at, like sales. That is one thing that I am not good at; even though I do that as a sales associate at a clothing store. Selling your own work is tough but having the knowledge has made a huge difference in my confidence and that is the beginning of everything. Blogs, forums, books, and online video workshops have all been how I have obtained these needed skills. Skills can be acquired in places you may not realize. My teaching background helps me work with people and problem solve to get the desired result. Music has brought another art form into my creative thoughts and often helps when creating. Those experiences will always be with me and I don't think I will ever loose the teaching or musician part of me. It just adds to what I can offer. Think of it like getting a pair of waterproof boots for when you come across a stream.
So now that you have the proper equipment for the journey, know your comfortable pace and recognize potential distractions from the main path and are thoroughly enjoying your trip, how do you know it is the right path for you? Even though the path may change it is always in front of you. You just have to take the steps. Listen to your gut, it is usually right in line with what your heart wants.[blogshow id=9cf5 player=1 autoplay=0 toolbar=1]