How Personal Projects Impact Your Photography Business

Often, the best decision for your business is to do something totally unrelated to it—so, put down the camera and see the world differently.

When photographers decide to turn this hobby into a career, all their energy is placed on money-making ideas. You want to focus on building a photography business, then growing it. You want to figure out how to always have paying gigs and what other avenues you can monetize your photography.

Young Photographer
Image via CK Foto.

We get it. And, it’s important. In order for a hobby to turn into a successful business, you need persistence and dedication. However, one element that many miss is passion. Sure, you may be passionate about it now, but you won’t be in the next coming months because you’ve been so focused on the dollar sign.

This is where personal projects come in. They may not bring in money, but they keep everything balanced. A lot of creatives, especially those who work full-time—be it as a photographer, visual artist, you name it—skip on personal projects. Some think it’s a waste of time and energy. Others think it’s pointless because creativity means money, right?

Nope. Not really.

So, let’s dive into why personal projects matter and how they will impact your photography business.


Keeps the Passion Thriving

You can only work so much until you can’t anymore. At the beginning stages of building a business, creatives are prone to assumptions, like they’ll never run out of ideas or they’ll never run out of energy to do what they do because they love it.

Music Workshop
Spend some me-time with other interests in your wheelhouse. Image via viviana loza.

Thing is, when you’re photographing for money week after week, month after month, you find yourself bored and disinterested. Boredom and lack of interest, obviously, aren’t good for the business.

Divert your energy and attention to other pursuits that have nothing to do with photography and notice how it’ll keep your passion going. Notice how spending time away from photography for a while will make you love it even more.


Look at Things from a Different Perspective

One of the most common things we hear about growing a business is that you need to stand out. Don’t get us wrong, we do believe in this. But, how can you stand out if you’re stuck doing the same thing over and over again? How can you differentiate yourself and identify what makes your business unique if you’re doing the same thing ad infinitum.

Graffiti Artist
Explore new ideas by engaging in personal projects. Image via sashafolly.

Growth happens when you explore. And, personal projects are perfect for exploration. Spending some time doing things that aren’t related to photography will allow you to look at things from a different perspective. And, sooner than you know, this will spark new ideas, and encourage you to try a different, and perhaps more fun, approach to scaling your business.


Bring out that Inner Child

Personal projects allow us to create without pressure—that’s the fun part! The idea of being able to just create without thinking of money, without having any pressure. Many creatives tend to forget how blissful that is because they’ve spent so much time focused on making X dollars or securing more projects.

Hand Paint
Keep life fresh by finding that inner child. Image via sashafolly.

Bringing out your inner child allows you to keep things fresh. It encourages you to approach your business with wide-eyed wonder, open to all possibilities, and unafraid to play, be messy, or even fail. Most importantly, it shows you the beauty of trying again.


Ease up on Life

Seriously, who doesn’t want an easy life? Who doesn’t want a smooth-sailing business? Thing is, it’s never always smooth-sailing. Your overflowing passion for photography isn’t an insurance policy that things will be relaxed. And, if you don’t take care of your mental and emotional health, you’ll exhaust yourself faster than you think.

Friends Relaxing
Take a load off! Have some fun! Image via Olena Yakobchuk.

Passion projects are the things that save creatives from burning out. You may not realize, it but when you let yourself spend some time on other activities outside your business just because you love it, you’re reminding yourself of ease and comfort. You’re reminding yourself life doesn’t always have to be about pressure and deadlines and meeting quotas.



Passion projects ease things, even when your passion project isn’t so easy in itself—like cooking a complicated dish or building a surfboard from scratch. Whatever that is, as long as you’re enjoying it.


Open Doors You Never Thought Existed

Every creative pursuit has the power to open doors. When things are done out of love and passion, people will take notice. What you’re working on will have a different kind of energy, no matter how woo-woo that sounds. What’s more, you’ll transmit that energy to those around you, allowing you to grow as a creative.

Nature Photographer
The passion you feel for a project will show in its end result. Image via Pakorn Khantiyaporn.

Opening doors doesn’t always mean having a breakthrough project or another means of income. It doesn’t always mean money. Sometimes, opening doors simply means being able to realize the important things you’re missing. These things could be important puzzle pieces for your business.


Things to Note When Pursuing Personal Projects

Keep Work and Play Balanced

Pottery Workshop
Figure out a nice balance between work and play. Image via ImYanis.

When you allow yourself to follow your curiosity or do other things you love, make it a point that you keep things balanced. Just as it’s not good to focus on work, work, work, it’s also not good to spend all your time and energy on play. The two are important in the sense that they compliment each other. Thus, keep them balanced.

Be Open to Collaboration

Remember the opening of doors? It may also mean collaboration. So, make sure you’re always open to collaborate, even when it’s not a photography-related pursuit. You never know where it’ll lead. You never know what this person you’re collaborating with will bring out in you.

Photographers Collaborating
Try collaborating with fellow photographers. Image via GaudiLab.

Collaboration of personal pursuits is always a fun way to discover more of who you are, not just as a photographer, but also as a team player. Who knows, maybe this collaboration will lead to something bigger.

Don’t Pressure Yourself to Make Money Off It

This is probably the most important thing to note when it comes to personal projects. Just because they have so much positive impact in your current photography business doesn’t mean you now have to make money off of it, too. Please don’t. Please give yourself the luxury of being creative simply because you love it.

Happy Couple Working
Be creative for the enjoyment of it. Image via Rawpixel.com.

No pressure, no dollar signs, just you and your craft. You’re not taking away time that you could’ve spent building your career. With passion projects, you’re investing in your mental and emotional health, both of which are important in having a steady business. So instead, just be.


Up for more creative inspiration?

Cover image via Pakorn Khantiyaporn.

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