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The rise and fall of my photography business

Mid 2022 I officially closed my photography business. It disappeared quietly. I unpublished my Facebook page, changed the description of my Instagram account, and made some adjustments to my already a bit repurposed website. But before I dive into why I made this decision, let's rewind to the start.

The slow start

I took up photography more seriously in the summer of 2018 while trying to break the monotony of my daily job. It happened very spontaneously. I took a photography course, bought two extra lenses for my super basic camera, and organized a few photoshoots with friends to see if taking pictures of people would be something for me. I concluded there was potential for my hobby to become my passion and maybe something I could do on the side. I was excited to share it with others and created a Facebook page where I started posting pictures from the photoshoots. Looking back, I am surprised at how naturally and without overthinking this all went.

A few months in, several people thought that I was doing it full-time and was already quite successful. It's interesting what impression social media can leave. The reality was quite far from it. I did it more as a hobby next to my full-time job. I was only doing photoshoots with friends and had no ambition to grow fast. Lucky for me, because I also learned that other than weddings, pregnancy, and baby photoshoots there is a pretty non-existent photoshoot culture in Belgium.

The bumpy ride

As my experience and portfolio grew, I decided to create my own website. It was already public in September 2019, yet I waited until December before I had the courage to share it publicly. For me, it was a big scary step. I was stepping into the market, officially labeling myself as good enough to sell my service as a photographer. I felt ready for it, but I was intimidated by what others will think.

After some Covid quietness, I did all kinds of photoshoots - couples, portraits, weddings, and events. Even though I had my doubts and insecurities about certain types, I gave everything a chance. And I am happy I did as I learned a lot and it lead to several nice photoshoots and experiences.

The slow fall

Feeling a little lost, I tried to adjust my focus several times in the final year. For example, I decided not to accept wedding or event requests unless it was from friends. I also set boundaries on time that I was willing to put into photography next to my already full-time job. Yet, it still felt that I was not being fully honest with myself about what I wanted. Even though I was mostly satisfied with the outcome, something was off. I no longer felt the joy. The excitement was gone. Taking pictures became something 'I had to do'. I started to get annoyed that it was taking away my weekends. My job switch along with a new exciting role also did not help. To illustrate my thought process, I found this paragraph from another blog post, written a year ago:

There is joy in doing some things just for the sake of doing them. Activities that give nothing in return except joy and energy. Photography used to be such a thing for me. It was a hobby I did out of joy, expecting no return except nice memories for myself. I was fine being mediocre. And then I turned my hobby into a business and started posting pictures on social media. All of a sudden, it became 'productive time' that I did for exposure, likes, and to find new opportunities. Now I am selling my time.

As I had invested so much energy, love, and time into my photography business, it took me a while to fully admit that it was time to let it go for now. Once I did, I felt a huge relief. I was sorry to see it go, but it did not make me feel sad. I have no regrets.

The future

My business is closed, but the adventure goes on. I am still doing photography as a hobby, exploring and refining my own style. I will keep posting on my Instagram account, though it might look a bit different. And I will occasionally still do photoshoots with friends because I enjoy doing that. And who knows, maybe someday I will come back to open my photography business again. When the timing is right.

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