May 28, 2024

The Powerful Lessons from Failing at Photography

By Oaks The Coffee Guy
The Powerful Lessons from Failing at Photography
I'll be honest, I've been feeling a bit burnt out lately when it comes to consistently creating content. But I'm committed to getting back into the rhythm and talking about something meaningful - my past "failure" with photography and the profound lessons it taught me.

My Love for Photography Began

Around 12 years ago, I found myself gravitating towards photography in a way I couldn't fully explain at the time. My girlfriend (now wife) became my muse as I obsessively took photos of her from every angle and setting imaginable. Eventually, she gave me the push I needed to get out and explore my creativity beyond just her as my subject.

It was an incredible period of tapping into my imagination and developing an artist's eye. I read, practiced, and went out to hunt for interesting shots constantly, working solely with my Nikon D60 for a couple more years despite the temptation to buy new gear. It taught me that great photographs came from vision - not equipment.

The Magic of the Creative Process

That process of simply going out to shoot, staying present in the moment, and looking at the world through a creative lens was pure magic. Some of my all-time favorite photos, like one of a panned Porsche shot, came from immersing myself in the streets and scenes around me.

Photography awakened a new way of seeing and appreciation for artistic expression within me. It was never about just capturing technically perfect images, but allowing my perspective and emotions to flow through the lens.

Turning Photography into a Business

Inevitably, I began to entertain the idea of turning my passion into a business. And while the extra income was nice, this came with its own set of pressures and lessons. Dealing with clients' demands, negotiating pricing, hauling around heavy gear - it added a transactional element that took away some of the magic.

I remember people questioning the pricing for my skills and art. It forced me to constantly justify and "prove" the value of my work. While navigating those aspects was insightful, it did start draining my artistic energy over time.

Reflections on a Perceived Failure

Despite enjoying some successes in the photography business realm, I ultimately didn't achieve the lofty goals I had set out. From a certain lens, it could be viewed as a "failure" on my part.

However, with years of hindsight and self-reflection, I don't see it that way at all. My season of being obsessed with photography provided invaluable gifts that dissolve any notion of failure:

It opened up my creative consciousness and gratitude for artistic self-expression. It taught me to not just observe, but truly see the world with a new perspective. It allowed me to connect with others and myself in a more authentic way.

The actual photographs I created, while special, almost become secondary to the mindset shifts and life lessons that emerged from the journey.

The Importance of Failing

This is why I don't beat myself up over the fact that I "failed" at turning photography into a sustainable business in the way I envisioned. The real successes cannot be defined by that narrow goal.

We are human beings, not static outcomes or bezier curves to remain on. We iterate, explore paths, evolve. So-called "failures" are simply course corrections that shape us into who we are meant to become.

My dive into photography is etched into the fabric of my being. It stretched my imagination, built up resilience, and gave me a vehicle to find purpose in creating during that season of life.

Even now, those perspectives still influence how I approach my passions like coffee, content creation, and connecting with others in an authentic way. The core skills of photographic artistry - using tools as a conduit for your vision rather than an end in themselves - are highly applicable to any creative pursuit.

My appreciation for that period hasn't waned; in fact, it's been a catalyst to keep evolving rather than staying stagnant out of fear. I failed at turning photography into a business in a conventional sense, sure. But the profundity of what I actually gained from the journey is truly immeasurable.


At the end of the day, the magic is never in the fixed outcome or achieving a specific level of success as defined by others. It's in the actual process of honing your interests into sources of creative expression and self-discovery.

While photography may not be my central focus anymore, I'm forever indebted to how it opened me up and redefined what it means to truly experience the world and share that with others. That's the real measure of success.

So if you've been hardest on yourself for not achieving certain milestones or letting perceived "failures" cloud your self-worth, hopefully, my experience provides a shift in perspective. Embrace those moments not as shortcomings, but as fuel to keep uncovering new facets of your authentic voice and truth. The journey is everything.

Now I want to hear from you - what's one passion or avenue you've explored that redirected your life in powerful ways, despite the end result? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!

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