I am Overwhelmed
Here's a truism about commercial photography that I think might dumbfound some of you - Even the best and busiest commercial shooters in the market today, with few exceptions, spend only about 20% of their time actually taking pictures. The other 80% of their time is spent on more mundane tasks like marketing, selling, promoting, branding, insurance, new business development, administration, facilities management, equipment acquisition and repair, public relations, social networking, customer service and support, meetings, etc.
This has been my own personal experience, as well as the experience of hundreds of working pros I've been privileged to know and work with over the years. It's the classic 80/20 rule - 80% of a photographer's career is spent in non-photographic activities. Fact.
I think there is this romantic notion, especially among emerging photographers, that once you hang out your photographic shingle...you'll spend 80% of your time shooting, and the other 20% of your time doing all the other stuff. But reversing these percentages is a much healthier perspective to have when choosing to become a career photographer. I mention this because you need to be realistic about what you;re getting into. Photography, as a career, is certainly glamorous. I know it's been glamorous for me. But it's also mundane, routine, tedious, ordinary, workaday, unremarkable. And at times, pretty overwhelming.
If all of this run-of-the-mill, commonplace, workaday stuff puts your stomach in a knot, then I suggest you seek a career other than photography.
I think most of us who have successfully launched sustainable photographic careers would tell you that even shooting only 20% of our time is still worth it. And it's plenty of fuel and fire-in-the-belly to balance out those tiresome and wearisome tasks that are admittedly less glamorous...but absolutely necessary.
Here is another truism that may also surprise you - Even if you are a marketing genius and in high demand, it would be creatively impossible to sustain a business model where you were shooting 80% of the time and dedicating only 20% to the other stuff. You would burn out. Been there, done that. It can't be done. And it's naive to think you can do it. You can't!
Yes, all of the non-photographic tasks seem daunting and overwhelming, I won't argue with that. They surely do. But it's a necessary imbalance. And one you'll learn to appreciate as you grow your photographic business.
Photography, like all creative endeavors, needs to take a rest. Relax. Slow down. Unwind. Unbend. Recharge your batteries. Put your feet up. Take a breather. Chill. Because it's exactly during these 'down times' that you are regaining your strength. And rejuvenating yourself for your next photographic masterpiece.
Of course, like so many other working photographers, I'd rather be shooting more and administrating less. That 80% stuff, at times, does seem to engulf, bury, deluge, overwhelm. But having been down this same path many times before, the disproportional lopsidedness and seeming inequality does indeed serve a greater good.
I love my 20% moments. I live for them. I cherish them. I give these moments my all, my best, my heart. Shooting only 20% of your time may not seem like much to those without battle scars, but i'm here to tell you that it is enough. It's more than enough to sustain, underpin, authenticate. As a matter of fact, if you don't get to the 80% stuff and do it well...you'll never have the privileged experience of enjoying that coveted 20%.
Don't be overwhelmed. Be overjoyed. It all works out.