How To Be Successful As A Freelance Photographer
I love looking at photography. Let me be more clear. My heart and mind align in wonder when my eyes are staring at a great photograph. There is something magical about capturing a moment in time that will never exist again. One of my favorite Facebook fan pages to follow is Freelance Photographer, Ryan Hodges. His lighting techniques are impeccable. The images he nabs are urban and raw and somehow full of celebration.
I met Ryan on the independent movie set of Impulse Black back in 2011. I was brought on to create some fake FBI documents and Ryan was there to capture the behind the scenes photography. Since that time, I’ve watched Ryan’s work with awe-inspiring excitement. I was able to ask him about his journey as a freelance photographer and here is what he had to say:
What struggles did you encounter in order to become successful doing what you love?
Being a photographer isn’t an easy job. Everyday out in the field or even in the office doing post work you are going to run into something difficult. Sun going down, rain and what we all love: gear not working properly. Affording to keep up with gear and paying other bills can be tough.
Something people might not realize about professional photographers is that we never stop working. I love the jobs coming in daily and the long hours trying to make beautiful photographs but, having a life outside of all of this is hard. But, its something I work on everyday.
What people, places or things motivated you to make your dreams come true?
First off my Mother Connie. She has taught me to never to give up even when things are tough. My father Tim for telling me that he is proud of me for doing what I love. My parents will always have my back. That is something I couldn’t live with out.
My brother Jordon for putting me on any project possible. He has gotten me work in Detroit and Los Angeles multiple times. Without him there is no way I would have experienced shooting the way I have in such a short amount of time.
Many times my girl friend Joey and I will be watching a movie at 2am and see something interesting…immediately she says “Ry wanna make a picture?” A few minutes later we are putting batteries in the speelites and setting up our broken stands. Joey thank you for always pushing me to become better even in more ways than photography.
Daniel Fitzpatrick is a fellow photographer in Chicago and a child hood friend. He is the person who turned me onto this crazy photography thing in the first place. I can’t really say I would know what a camera is if it wasn’t for him.
Veteran photographers, such as Joe Mcnally, have motivated me a ton. This is a guy who has been through thick and thin with his camera. Motivates me in ways I really can’t explain.
“Throughout all the travails and disappointments, the blown jobs, the missed calls, the times you zigged when you shoulda zagged, the broken pixels, the random attaboys, the monthly stare down with bills that aren’t getting paid, you receive, occasionally, the sheer unadulterated joy of having a camera in your hands at just the right split second when it all works.” -Joe McNally Photography
How did you deal with fear, doubt and worry?
If I have a camera in my hand I am not afraid of anything. It’s my shield. I will always get out of my comfort zone to get the frame I want. I love pushing these boundaries.
Who or what inspires you to stay motivated?
Experimenting. I am always always always experimenting. Without that I wouldn’t be a photographer. I have never been someone who can photograph the same thing more than 3 times the same way.
The thrill of this to me is just incredible.
Ryan, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with this community. It sounds like having people around you that support you is an influential part of your success as a freelance photographer. You’re smart about allowing yourself to be mentored, even at a distance, from such a remarkable photographer like Joe Mcnally. It’s wise to see how someone else went down the same path you’re headed. Congratulations on being courageous about pursuing your dreams with an open heart and mind. I will be watching for new photographs with eyes wide open.