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Passion Isn’t Enough to Succeed in Photography

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Passion won’t keep you in business.

There, I said it. I’m sorry, but it had to be said. #sorrynotsorry

And I know this might come as a surprise to some; after all, we hear the word Passion everywhere. It’s in bios and emotional speeches given from stages to eager audiences; it headlines marketing banners and fills workshops and seminars. Yes, it’s everywhere.

It shows up at the beginning of a new idea and it is thrilling. It’s exciting and shiny, as all new things are. It’s a wave that lifts you high and gives you butterflies in the pit of your stomach as you bob about in the water, feeling weightless and indestructible. It washes over you and you feel alive, brimming with purpose. We love Passion, and more than that, we need it. It’s the key that turns the engine of possibilities. Just using the word itself makes us feel ready to take on the world.

“I am SO passionate!”

But, it’s a fickle thing, this Passion, for although it is powerful at the beginning, it’s the first emotion to run and hide in the corner when things get tough. It talks a good game, but when the hour is dark or the road is long and your heart and soul feel like lead, it buckles at the knees, unable to carry the heavy load.

Passion heads for the hills at the first sign of a problem; its sparkle wears off quickly. It doesn’t want to hear of difficulties or hard times-it has no interest in it. It just wants to show up, make you happy and then, take off.

Passion is the fancy “gold” ring that turns your finger green.
It’s the exciting first drop of the roller coaster.
It’s the Fruit Striped Gum that loses it’s delicious flavors after 4 chews.
It’s the Cracker Jacks tattoo that comes off in the bathtub.

Yes, Passion is temporary; but that’s okay…that’s how it’s supposed to be. Because Passion is not meant to last…

it’s just the precursor of something better..the warm-up, if you will.

Passion is the seed from which Dedication grows.

And Dedication, well, that’s the real stuff…the good stuff.

Dedication makes you dig in your heels when times are bad.
Or stay up late to finish a job when your body is crying out for sleep.
It’s the gritty stuff that makes you push yourself to be a better photographer, a better businessperson, a better person.
It’s the unwillingness to quit…to settle…to give in.

And unlike the thrill-ride of Passion, Dedication, well, sometimes it ain’t pretty. It has nothing to do with unicorns and rainbows and glamour, and everything to do with Advil, headaches and, in my case, vodka. And coffee. Lots and lots of strong coffee. (How else do you think I’m going to get through this editing job?)

Passion is the brightly colored flag waving in the wind; Dedication is the strong and sturdy pole on which its anchored.

So, to my photographer friends, embrace your Passion but don’t expect it to last.

Remember, Passion is what makes you pick up the camera, but Dedication is what keeps it in your hands.


About the author: Missy Mwac is a photography satirist who occasionally “takes it waay down” and gets serious. This is one of those times. You can connect with her on Tumblr and Facebook. This article originally appeared here.


Image credits: Header photograph by Ray Smith

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