Today’s guest post comes from Roman M. Kurywczak, owner of Roman’ with Roman Photo Tours.
As a successful owner of a small nature photography tour company, Roamin’ with Roman Photo Tours, I am often approached by other photographers asking me how they could turn their passion of nature photography into a successful business for themselves. If I had to choose one word, it would be passion. A close second would be dedication with sacrifice rounding out the top three. After all, I am a 12-year overnight success!
The first question I always ask people is: How badly do you want it? I can see the fire/passion in the eyes of people who want to follow their dream but that isn’t often enough on its own. Nobody is going to hand you a career in nature photography. You need all 3 elements to become successful but if you don’t have passion, don’t even start and keep it as a great and fun hobby.
How hard are you willing to work at it? I kept my “real job” for the first 9 and a half years to make sure the bills were paid! I live in NJ. Can you name another independent and successful nature photographer from NJ? There is a reason for that; this state is expensive! Real world finances don’t stop just because you decide to go full time so having a reliable income helps you find your way in those early learning curve years. You need to dedicate countless hours to not only the photography portion of your business but also to al the mundane aspects no one ever sees. Do you spend time on social media? Do you go to camera clubs and shows for little or no money to promote your brand?
There is no “one size fits all” easy answer. You have to analyze what works for you or what doesn’t. After 12 years, I actually spend more time now working (booking, editing, marketing, etc.) then I did when I first started! Realize that when you first start, there are many unglamorous jobs of a nature photographer. Don’t just base your decision on the fun stuff of being out in the field.
This is the most difficult of the three. I made a decision to be home with my wife and sons when they were growing up instead of running Roamin’ with Roman full time early on. Why? That decision may have sacrificed me being more successful earlier in my career but I wouldn’t trade that for being with my family and watching my sons grow up. What are you wiling to sacrifice? Time? Social life? Husband/Wife? Friends? Sleep? House? These are not decisions you want to look back at later in life and regret. I look back at my choices with great pride. Still married after 25 years with 2 fine young men attending college…It’s a no brainer, those were the best choices I ever made.
If I haven’t scared you off yet, then I want to leave you with these final thoughts: Make a plan for yourself using the three words above. Realize that you probably will have to adapt those plans. You will definitely have naysayers and people who don’t have your best interest in mind but if you follow those words/ideas, then success will find you and we’ll be able to laugh and trade war stories over a beer. Cheers!
See more of Roman’s photography in the ProShow videos below: