It’s time to Do The Work

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on January 14, 2015

in This is Business

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It’s time.

Not for another kick-off-the-new-year ra ra cheerleader post.

Not for another “this will be the year that you make your dreams come true” pep talk.

Not for another January where you get excited, make some awesome to-do lists, then get to March or August or next New Year’s and realize with numb regret how little you’ve done.

(You know you’re not living right when you’re so used to disappointing yourself that your don’t even feel regret anymore.)

It’s time to reframe the entire discussion, in your head and with those whom you’ve told your dreams, into one of excitement and conviction.

Damnit y’all, you and I and everyone in this position where we have a camera in our hands and a dream in our hearts are blessed.

We have the opportunity to exercise our art to create a side income for ourselves and our families.

We have the opportunity to earn benefits artistic, financial and social through our work.

We are lucky. We are envied by those less fortunate across the globe.

Living your dream of being a part time professional photographer is just a choice away. We have no one whose permission we have to ask – the opportunity is there if we want to take it.

But we aren’t acting blessed, are we?

We’re not acting lucky, or graced with opportunity, or empowered to make the choices that will shape our future.

Instead, we choose through inaction to be scared.

We choose through inaction to be unworthy.

We choose through inaction to be weak.

We choose to read another book and another blog post, to hack through another Photoshop tutorial, to pour over a dozen more camera body or lens reviews or sample shots.

We choose to do none of the things, take none of the actions, which we perceive as introducing the chance of discomfort or failure. We choose to fear discomfort (which is not unhappiness) more than we fear disappointing ourselves.

It’s time.

It’s time to choose. Proactively and consciously.

This year is another chance to stand up, move our feet and our hands, and be the better human being we aspire to be: as artists, as business owners, as makers and creators.

Fact: You have never been more prepared, more ready, more wise or more capable of achieving your dreams of professional photography than you are right now. Right this moment, as you read these words, you are the most mature, capable and empowered you have ever been in this life.

It’s time.

It’s time to take baby steps, no matter how small, and get your business off the ground.

You know what to do. You know where to start. And if you don’t, make it up – continue to learn as you go: Ready, Fire!, Aim.

I’m not here to kick your arse – even though a good arse-kicking is what most of us need when we get stuck in a rut of doing a lot but getting nothing done. Trust me, I need it as often as anyone.

If you’ve got a plan and you’re working that plan and it’s just not time to launch yet – I respect that fully; you guys know how much I preach that you’re the boss of your business and every decision is yours to make.

But if you’re reading these words and feeling convicted:

It’s time.

It’s time to recapture those mixed feelings of guilt and fear and excitement as powerful energy so you can Do The Work and make 2015 a year you don’t regret.

Next Steps

  • Whether you’ve got a knot in your gut or your sword raised high after reading this, capture those feelings on paper as a set of commitments: In 2015 I Will… In 2015 I Will Not… When was a time you made a brave decision and felt powerful last year? When was a time you didn’t choose bravely, and how did it make you feel? What Will you or Won’t you do in 2015 so this time next year you can look back with pride and self-respect for all the brave decisions you made? Review this list every single morning of 2015. If you don’t have a morning routine yet, start by getting up five minutes early tomorrow and reading this list. (And bless yourself with a copy of Hal Elrod’s The Morning Miracle – it is a huge part of why 2014 was my best year yet.)
  • Brainstorm Session: What milestones or majors steps stand between now and launching your professional photography business? What baby steps are those major steps broken down into? If you don’t know, make it up – what would you write if you did know? What baby steps do you feel unprepared for? What one, single thing can you do that would make you feel prepared for that step (read a book, ask a mentor, discuss with a friend)? For every one of those things, put it on your schedule for the very first opportunity – right now, this evening, tomorrow, this week. It’s time.
  • My writing at exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter at the top of any page of this site.
  • What’s the biggest struggle holding you back right now? E-mail me your answer (yes, right now!), and let’s make a breakthrough today.
  • If anything in this post has spoken to and inspired you, please comment below, drop me an e-mail, or call or text me at 830-688-1564 and let me know. I’d love to hear how you use these ideas to better your part time photography business!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

D Morris January 16, 2015 at 5:40 am

I first started The Morning Miracle last September and it’s been a game changer for me too. In fact, have you mentioned it before? I think it might have been on this site that I first saw the recommendation for it 🙂 (If so, HUGE thanks!)


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor March 12, 2015 at 10:09 am

Thank you for your comment and readership!

I may have linked to the book before, I’m not entirely sure!

Recognizing even just an extra five or ten minutes in the morning can make a huge difference in how your day (and done daily, how your life) plays out has been a boon for me. Even just that small victory of getting up a little before you have to starts your day as a winner and in control.

Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Maira January 16, 2015 at 2:41 pm

I read your courageous article. I felt like you were me! I have most of all those emotions and thoughts. I have ambition and passion but at times I feel like I’m not quite there where I want to be as a professional. One of my resolutions is to educate myself and do more workshops, reading but most importantly, practice practice, practice. I strongly believe practice makes perfect. Giving up is not in my vocabulary, I love photography and thats what keeps me going!!!


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor March 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

Maira, thank you for your kind words and readership!

It’s been my experience that startup photographers who end up on a site like PTP are in some state of suffering, either minor or major, due to fear, doubt, inaction, and imposter syndrome. Often, all of the above!

When you convert those feelings into energy, and recognize that you can focus that energy toward the negative and holding yourself back or the positive and propelling yourself forward, it reframes the experience – and the results.

You’re going to be a wonderful blessing to your community, Maira. You take your art seriously and already have a beautiful portfolio and style. Don’t be afraid to soft-launch your business and start turning some of those free practice shoots into paying clients. You might be surprised with the momentum you get there.

Thank you again Maira! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Terry January 19, 2015 at 4:45 am

Hello James, I picked up a copy of The Lesser Photographer by CJ Chilvers, escaping the gear trap to focus on what matters. It seems to me that this came out of one of your recomendations, but even if it didn’t it’s been a great read. Especially about the story we tell with our photography and getting out of the gear trap. Reminded me a lot of you and the message you put forth!
Just a quick comment on the above comment. I also go through the “not quite there” syndrome; however, when I take the plunge on just a daily basis and put some of your principles to work, things go much better. Thanks again James!!


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor March 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

Terry, thank you for your kind words and readership!

And thank you for the recommendation of CJ Chilvers’ book! I’ve ordered my copy and look forward to reading it.

I’m so glad you’re getting benefit from PTP! It’s the daily choices we make that build the positive habits of progress which lead us up the mountain to success. Willpower and discipline are more and more losing rank to habit as the driving force of change or improvement in our lives. It’s not through pure effort that we reach the top of the mountain, but in the commitment to one step at a time, but taking those steps consistently and with tenacity.

Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


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