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Old November 21st, 2015, 06:17 AM   #1
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How do you know that this profession is for you?

I have been part time, on and off for some time - due to both extenuating life factors and marketing that didn't work. There has always been something driving me to do this - you know that thing you can't NOT do, that you feel driven toward?

Yet...now, work is starting to come in, and the reality is looking quite different than the fantasy. I just spent two straight weeks trying to correct uncorrectable low light footage shot by yours truly. Had more technical issues come from behind just learning the premiere workflow than I can count and more embarrassment than I can bear. And while watching files bake for hours upon hours upon hours (note to self: don't try applying effects to 2 hours of mts files) I was about ready to perform a "quick render" with a hammer.

I shot a wedding this week, which was on the one hand fun, and on the other, stressful and physically demanding. After the hell week of correcting footage and losing a lot of sleep due to stress, the last thing (physically or mentally) I wanted to do was pick up a camera and go shoot a wedding, or today, log more footage.
This, meaning both the business end and the production end, is turning out to be tiring, physically demanding, stressful, constantly in the learning curve no matter how much you already know, and I am not sure I am even good at this in general. I thought I had that potential but am not happy with the work. Maybe it's still in there though and will resurface when I am less burnt out. Maybe it's the self employment thing where you are always "on" and your personal and business hours meld together. Maybe it's from just going from 0 to 60 and doing this to the exclusion of everything else. Workaholic, much.

Still, this is like that relationship you always go back to because there's still a 'rightness" to it no matter what comes your way. But right now I feel like walking away. I have to log a bunch of footage and can't even LOOK at my editor right now. Yet there is something that always pushes me forward to keep going with this. I've just lost touch with it maybe. Or maybe I've just changed and am not in love anymore. Not sure.

I'm not complaining and am grateful to have the opportunity to do this work. Just reflecting on my next steps.

So my question for you all is: how do you know this is (or isn't) for you? Do you get burnt out? How do you rekindle the passion? Why is it that you don't walk away? What keeps you going?

Last edited by Kell Smith; November 21st, 2015 at 09:56 AM.
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Old November 21st, 2015, 07:00 AM   #2
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

How long have you been doing this? I can imagine when you just start out it can be very overwhelming but after several years you should have established a good workflow I also think it's not a matter if you are any good at this, you just had some bad luck dealing with problems but that's just like life, you fall and you get up again.

If you have a pc that is not up to the task, then invest in something that is, there is nothing so frustrating when you get crashes loosing hours of work or have a too old pc that takes ages to render a project out and last, learn from the mistakes you make, so you made a exposure mistake causing 2 weeks to correct, so what, I"m sure you know next time what to do to try to prevent that.

It is important though to find a good balance between your private life and work and if work is all that's left you do then something is wrong and you need to reevaluate.

Sometimes I am swamped with wedding editing work and I just take a day off to go out and shoot something for fun, with no stress or expectations or anyone telling me what to do and when I get home edit that in my own tempo and put it on my vimeo account. It helps to keep on enjoying what I do.
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Old November 21st, 2015, 09:56 AM   #3
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

Day off! Now that sounds good.
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Old November 21st, 2015, 11:07 AM   #4
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

yeah, just clear your head, even when you don't have time for it.
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Old November 21st, 2015, 12:07 PM   #5
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

There are ways to minimize the stress.

-- Be prepared. Know your equipment well, and take extra time to become familiar with the venue where you will be working. That will allow you to know what you'll need to get the job done right and not have to fix problems later.

-- Get help. Hire an assistant that's able to give you a hand during the shoot so you don't have to be two or three places at once. By having a capable person lend a hand you can focus on other things that can help ensure a better product.

-- Invest in good equipment. Get cameras that can work in the environments you'll be shooting in. The computer, software and hard drives should be capable of working with the files the camera will be producing. Good software also reduces the time it takes to render a production. Get good audio gear, including wireless mics and, if necessary, a recorder that will capture the sounds of the event. This is more important than some might believe. It's often said that audio is 50% of what you see.

-- Investing in good equipment also means having enough gear to do the job. A second camera to get a different POV during the ceremony and reception, for example. Even rigging GoPros to get other POVs can be enough, and they're unobtrusive. Again this is where having a good assistant helps.

BTW, include the cost of an assistant in your fee.

I only realized the value of a good assistant somewhat recently, even though I've been doing various types of production work for years. Prior to that I would scramble around mostly solo, thinking that the client might not be willing to pay for an extra person to do the job.

Overall, getting good quality material from the start mostly eliminates having to "fix" anything in post. And it allows you to focus on making the final product better. That's a reward in itself.

I switched from a decent-paying full-time newspaper job to producing a local TV show, along with some other work. I haven't gotten rich, but it's certainly been a satisfying career change.

Good luck!
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Old November 21st, 2015, 03:19 PM   #6
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

True that... alll of it...
What keeps you guys coming back? What do you most love about what you do? What is the thing that lets you know that this is right for you?
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Old November 21st, 2015, 08:11 PM   #7
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

I think some people are lucky enough to get to do what they truly LOVE all the time, while others of us have to "make a living" some or most of the time. Probably the key is finding what you LOVE about the industry (for me it was personal projects --sigh-- and camerawork, in that order) and trying to do as much as possible of that particular thing or things, while doing as little of the rest as possible. How much you enjoy it may be highky dependent on the content/type of project itself (shooting editing a corporate powerpoint presentation is worlds away from an indir film/weberies/short film). Yes of course everyone has to make a living but ideally you work towards making a living at the stuff that engages and excites you while slowly excluding the rest. It can take a long time or you may NEVER get there in which case you have to ask yourself "can I stand to do the other stuff?".

For me, my interests have gotten narrower and narrower as time has gone on. From being excited to even touch a camera or editing or being on any professional set, to now hating editing/anything that involves clicking away on a computer by myself for hours, and only really liking shoots where I'm getting to do something creative.

Also, this whole world simply isn't for everyone, and it might just be one of those things where you discover that over time. Sometimes the novelty of the whole thing can carry you for a quite a while, but when it ultimately wears off you realize you're just not into it.
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Old November 21st, 2015, 10:37 PM   #8
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

Most everything is difficult and stressful the first few times through. And you can easily become overwhelmed. You make mistakes, it takes longer than you thought etc. You evaluate what went wrong and you modify your technique and/or equipment to address the problems. Or you might decide what types of video work to do based on what you don't like.
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Old November 22nd, 2015, 06:53 AM   #9
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

For me i'm constantly on a learning curve, everyone makes mistakes, the thing is tho! that you learn from those mistakes, I'm never a 100% happy with what I produce i can always see room for improvement, but sometimes with fast paced weddings you just miss some stuff or are surprised by something you didn't anticipate. I've often been depressed initially by what I've captured but somehow i usually overcome it somehow.

I do take breaks sometimes a few days where i wont look at the edit until i feel that urge to get into it again.
Yeah it can be overwhelming, but to produce what amounts to a 60 minute documentary is no mean feat, considering that you fulfill all the roles to produce it.
Take a look at a typical credits roll on a TV documentary and see how many people are involved and you do that all on your own! if you think of it like that, your not doing so bad.

I've mentioned this someplace already but i'm finished following this race to get ultra low light performance(at considerable cost) because venues/Bands/DJs are turning out the damn lights, so now i have a policy that i tell the prospective B&G that if the lights are turned off or too low they'll get the appropriate image quality that goes with filming in the dark :-)

I still like doing what I do and the day I think to myself 'I really don't want to do this' is the day i'll sell up and do something else!
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Old November 23rd, 2015, 06:35 AM   #10
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

I have been earning my living exclusively from music, audio recording and video production for 50 years, with all that time self employed. I have been a performing musician for all that time, 47 years sound recording from big studios to home recording, both as engineer and producer and the last 31 years video recording and editing.

People often ask when I will retire and I always reply "NEVER". The reason being that retirement for me means giving up work and persueing my hobbies which would include music playing, audio recording and video and photography. I wouldn't want to stop doing the things that I love, so if I can continue doing them and get paid as well, what more do I need? I can of course choose to do less and take more holidays or maybe a bit more sailing, but that choice has always been there by working for myself.

My point is that if you love what you do and would do it whether you get paid or not, then it is probably the profession for you. You have choices in life and one of those is to decide if you want to work for someone else on a regular wage so you have a separate work life and a home life, or work for yourself building something that you enjoy and gives you freedom of choice. Neither route will guarantee you riches and happiness, but I long ago decided which one I would follow and I have no regrets.

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Old November 23rd, 2015, 08:10 AM   #11
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

Hello Kell,

To me, there are really two separate, widely different aspects to this profession, as you called it. First, there's the creative-technical-artistic side. And then there's the business side. The administrative-marketing-customer relations side of the business.

I really like the first side of this profession, as you call it. Just like in my former profession in the medical laboratory (where I had to be licensed etc.) we dealt with stuff I really enjoyed too (science and technology). Looking through the microscope helped train my eye for the camera, in a manner of speaking. Of course, video and photography was a hobby then that I really looked forward to on my days off from the lab. I love just about anything with lenses.

But in all those years, I avoided the administrative stuff. I hated it. Didn't want to deal with regulations, administrators, budgets, scheduling, government regulations, and all that. I hated it. ( I still do. It's like taking out the garbage or washing the dishes).

Of course, the stuff I hated in my former profession are now very important now that I'm a business owner, and my old hobby needs to make money. Business comes natural to some people. Some people even enjoy business courses in college. They were the least enjoyable of all the courses I took in college. But now I'm glad I at least took them. And I wish I hadn't avoided becoming a supervisor or even administrator like the plague in my thirty years of laboratory work. Those skills are needed to be a successful video/photo business owner or freelancer.

So deciding if this profession is a calling or not isn't a simple question. Once you start doing it for money, things really change. You have to manage your website, file business taxes, keep abreast of regulations, deal with insurance and liability issues, learn to market your services, generate repeat business or referrals, handle customer complaints, deal with delinquent accounts. All this takes time and energy.

But there's still the fun side...
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Old November 23rd, 2015, 01:20 PM   #12
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

I don't think it's a matter of knowing that this profession is the thing you want to do for the rest of your working life as much as knowing when it's time to get out. Between my years as a still photog and vidguy I put 42 years into the business. Were there times I loved it? Of course, most of the time. Did I like having to persue clients and contacts and chase work all the time? Not exactly. Did I want to miss things like birthdays, anniversary's kids football/baseball games etc.. Nope. Hell I worked a job the night after I had buried my mother. I'm not saying you need to or should but I was raised with and learned a sense of responsibility and my brain said I had to do it. Overall, running a reasonably successful business was fun, interesting, annoying, hard, left me missing a lot in life and gave me a lot in life. I made friends, it allowed me to provide nicely for my wife, children and even extended family BUT, after reaching a point in my life when I no longer enjoyed what I was doing in any fashion and after spending some time in the hospital after coming closer to checking out than at anytime in my life including when I was in combat, I realized it was time to say goodbye and stop working. RETIRE and I don't mean putting new tires on my car. I was used to running at 100miles an hour with my hair on fire constantly and that's what helped to almost be my demise and man I have to say that I wasn't ready for my time on earth to be over so BAM! I got out. For me it was the right thing to do and I did it at the right time. For others my age and older, they keep on tickin'. Everyone is different.
So the moral of this story is this. If you like what you're doing keep doing it. Do the best you can but make time for living. You'll know when it's time to get out (hopefully before they carry you out) Do some work, make some money but remember, Don't be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life!
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Old November 27th, 2015, 04:38 PM   #13
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Re: How do you know that this profession is for you?

I've been doing this Wedding thing for 6 years. It took time to reach this level and I still feel I have further to go; that I'm not yet feeling I'm at the top of my game. However thats the fun of it, working to do better. Success is a lovely goal, but harder to top after that. I'm still looking for mine and that's what keeps me coming back for more.

If you thought doing what you enjoy is a pleasure once it becomes your day job, think again. Turning a hobby into a business that pays your living, turns pleasure into pain. If stops being the same kind of fun, when your livehood depends on it. You have to accept that and stop expecting it to feel like a hobby. That said, I get a kick out of what I do. It has it downers as any job does, but the pluses make up for it. I've spent enough years working for others to never lose value working for !myself.
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