5 things I did to pursue my dream job

Sometimes, when I look back and think, I’ve always felt that it was my destiny to become a photographer. 1) As an ENFP personality, I’ve always loved making people smile and cheering them on 2) I’ve always wanted a job where I can make a positive impact on peoples’ lives 3) I love embarrassing my family and friends by taking hundreds of photos of them and telling them how beautiful they are. So yes, it made sense that becoming a photographer would be my dream job.

But being an artist is not easy. Especially now, during a once-in-a-generation global pandemic like the coronavirus. My job/life is currently placed on hold and yes, things are uncertain. But this is only a blip on the bigger picture of life.

In spite of all this, I’m still constantly in love with what I do. I can rest knowing that, 100-something-year-old Moni on her deathbed can go peacefully, knowing that at least she went for it. And now I get to do something that continues to challenge and excite me every day, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

This is why I am the biggest cheerleader, when it comes to encouraging people to pursue creative passions. Because I know what it feels like to not believe in yourself. If you had told me 10 years ago, that I would eventually become a full-time photographer, I probably would have laughed. It’s not that I feared I would fail, because I know I would work hard. It was because I didn’t think I’d have the guts to try in the first place. And yet, here we are.

So if you’re reading this because you’ve been thinking about your dream job and how to get there, I hope you’ll find this post useful!

1. Dream

A bit obvious considering the title of this blog post, but you get my point. YES girl, dream! A decision to pursue your dream job doesn’t come easily or happens overnight. Sometimes you need to will it into existence. If you want to pursue your dream job, you have to do everything you can do to remind yourself of that fact. The best part is, dreaming is free! Let your mind wander and consider all the possibilities. In gardening terms, before we grow the flowers, we have to plant the seeds. Follow your role models on Instagram. Discover other artists through Instagram hashtags. Build an inspiration wall. Write it in your journal. Tell your close friends and family. Saying it out loud makes it real and keeps it real. Most importantly, the people that you love will help find/create opportunities for you to get there!

Summer 2016 when I was still dreaming of living that glamorous photographer life

2. Do your homework

Alright, by now you’re at the point of, “Cool. Totally incepted. What’s next?” Well, I can’t tell you exactly. Because I don’t know what your dream job is! But the experts in your field do and there’s a wealth of information out there. When I first started, I had already picked up photography as a hobby. But I wanted to make photography my full-time job so I decided that I wanted to get better, faster. So I did some homework! I watched Youtube videos, googled a few photographers, and read a few blogs before I landed on photography courses by a wedding photographer couple named, Amy & Jordan. After checking them out on Instagram, attending a webinar, and reading every single Facebook comment on their ads, I decided to purchase the shooting & editing course. And I loved it! It was easy, simple to digest, and it gave me SO much more confidence in my skills.

3. Join Facebook groups

At some point, you’re going to feel a bit crazy and alone in your journey, which is totally normal. And it may surprise you as it surprised me, but the internet can actually be a wonderful place. Fake news and questionable privacy policies aside, Facebook has been a useful tool to discover and connect with other creatives who might inspire you/motivate you to take the next step. It’s also a great way to connect with other artists that you might end up working with. Some Facebook groups I’m apart of include: Asian Creative Network, The Rising Tide Society, Tuesday’s Together, SF Bay Area Photographers and Models, Second Shooters, Promptography, etc. Everyone on these groups all have a varied level of experience but everyone is super friendly and down to help, especially if you’re just starting out! I’ve met models, makeup artists, photographers, florists, videographers, etc on these groups that have helped me build my portfolio when I was first starting out. But of course, remember to always use your better judgment! Scope out the person on Facebook first (if you have mutual friends, make sure to ask them!), check out their website, and meet in a public place before you start collaborating.

4. Coffee Dates (er, virtual coffee dates)

Now that you’ve made a few friends, great! Shoot them a quick email, slide into their DMs, whatever it takes! Tell them how much you love their work, and offer to buy them coffee (one day) in exchange for some of their time. Ask them about their experience and how they got started in that industry. Tell them about what your goal is and ask for some advice. As I said, you’d be surprised how friendly people can be. I’ve been really lucky in that people I’ve met on coffee dates have turned into friends, that have also referred clients to me, which is a huge bonus! You never know who could end up being a mentor to you.

5. Get to workin’ girl

Whether you decide to announce it to the world that you’re pursuing your dreams or you just want to quietly start showcasing your work online, it doesn’t matter. Just do it. The key thing to remember is that no one is perfect and talented right from the get-go. It takes time to hone in on your craft and everyone’s on their own personal journey. Whether its producing music, designing clothes, acting, painting, dancing, singing, calligraphy, graphic design, comedy, cooking, baking, or photography, just go for it! Go sign up for an open mic night. Go audition for indie film roles. Start selling your art on Etsy. You don’t have to quit your job tomorrow, but you can start pursuing your passion today. It’s never too late to find your calling. Just ask Vera Wang, who didn’t start designing wedding dresses until she was 40 years old. Don’t be afraid to showcase your work. Because when you do, I’m right here cheering you on!

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