Mel Collie


Is Photography just a hobby?

I first read a couple of years ago that you are not regarded as a professional photographer unless you are earning a living from it.

Now, this may well be true, but this mindset can mess with your head and keep you playing small, apologising when posting your photos, not showing your work and thinking you are just taking photos as a hobby.

As human, we like to box thing, compartmentalise. It keeps us feeling organised in our minds.

Labels can, however, be judgemental.

They play with the perception we have with ourselves and with the world around us.

Not wanting to be cast out from the tribe, we wish to be accepted, so we conform.

When you don't conform, when you question, you are deemed to be argumentative, bossy, awkward to deal with, a bully.

When in truth, when you do question others, it makes us feel them very uncomfortable, they will blame you for being the "difficult" one.

If you have a belief, you should be able to justify it, and know it from all sides, all angles. Otherwise you cant be certain that you are true in your belief. Never stop searching for mistakes that question what you do, why you do it , for its those mistakes that uncover truths, which can open up your beliefs and show you that they may not be true after all.

I didn't see myself as a professional because I am also a back pain therapist, I teach Pilates and study therapies that focus on the neurological side of pain and movement. I find it very interesting. We only have one body, its interesting to see how it moves, to understand how the brain feels movement, pain, senses. I don't think I would ever change that. Studying something outside of photography has helped my photography.

I saw photography as a "hobby" until I changed that word. A hobby is something you do that you love. Its part of your character. Photography, for me, is that.

Does that make me a professional? Yes, in my eyes, and thats all that matters.

Dos that mean a professional photographer who earns a full time living would disagree with me? Probably. Everything is just an opinion. Opinions come from stories we believe since we were little. If you have an opinion on something, where has it comes from, why do you believe it, have you really studied it from all sides and angles until you know its come from you, however you are, and not from influences you've had, we've all had, since a child.

If you are practicing something that you want to get better at, change the words you use to describe it to yourself. When you stop seeing photography as just a hobby, but from a professional point of view, your brain changes focus.

Just one word.

Language is a powerful thing.

Pay attention to how you speak to yourself everyday. Especially when you first wake up. Change the negative self talk, notice it, notice that the brains natural tendency is towards the negative, you can't change that, but you can notice it, acknowledge it, and ask if whatever negative thoughts you have are true. Or are they based in fear and judgement, against yourself.

Fear of what others will think of you
Fear of being rejected from the tribe
Fear of failure

When its negative words that keep you playing small, its those negative words that have to change.

What would change in your actions and words if you changed this sentence for this sentance when asked the question: " Are you a photographer?"

"Well, kind of..its just a hobby really, not won anything, I just like taking photos"


" Yes I am. "

You could elaborate and say "Yes, Im a professional photographer"

Now, if you aren't earning your living from photography, how does saying that feel?

Does it change your attitude to going out there and being more professional, does it change your direction, does it make you more decisive as a photographer who has wanted to stop doing Monday competitions on Twiter because they aren't for you yet you feel you should because everyone else is...
Or to practice abstract photography more
Or to practice black and white photography more
Or street, or landscape, or paint, or try drawing more.

We get paralysed by perfection.

Notice if you are that person.

I certainly was, and can still fall into that trap, thats why I watch my language every morning.

Question my thoughts. Change my direction. Be true to myself, by first knowing myself.
Thats a long road to travel, its not an overnight revelation, it takes work uncovering layers, beliefs, takes as long as it takes, its not about the end of the journey, its about what you uncover as you begin to question yourself, those small steps begin to change you and your direction. People around you change. Those small changes all add up to the bigger picture.

If you are happy with it being a hobby, then you are happy with that. Thats all that is required. Nothing more. Settle in that mindset. No question.

If not, then change those words, those labels, and the world that you create changes with you


Workshops with a difference in North Cornwall
October 29th Japanese Gardens, North Cornwall

Melanie CollieComment