Don’t Follow Your Passion

“Follow your passion” is a piece of life advice that’s commonly thrown around. It’s heard in the photography industry, and especially in graduation commencement speeches. But here’s a 5-minute video in which well-known TV host Mike Rowe argues for the opposite: why you (maybe) shouldn’t follow your passion.

Rowe says he believes that “follow your passion” is terrible advice.

“Look, if we’re talking about your hobby, by all means let your passion lead you,” Rowe says. “But when it comes to making a living, it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

“And just because you’ve earned a degree in your chosen field, doesn’t mean you’re gonna find your ‘dream job.'”

Whether or not your full-time job makes you happy has little to do with the work itself, Rowe argues. And daydreaming about your “dream job” may prevent you from being good and passionate about the job you’re actually doing.


The application to photographers seems to be this: even if you’re passionate about, obsessed with, or even extremely talented in photography, you might want to think hard about quitting your non-photography job, doing a 180-degree turn, and jumping into being a full-time professional photographer.

If you’re not talented, you may find that out the hard way. And even if you are, the less-glamorous aspects of being a full-time photographer may kill what passion you do have for actually doing photography and enjoying it.

“[W]hile passion is way too important to be without, it is way too fickle to follow around,” Rowe concludes, “Which brings us to the final Dirty Truth. ‘Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.'”