I’ve noticed a common situation among creatives, specifically those in the video production space, and more specifically those who are on the early end of their career.

On the one hand there’s client work. This is what you’ve done before. Tried and true, it’s what people pay you for because they know you can knock it out of the park. You’ve already shown that. Maybe it’s weddings, maybe it’s corporate work, maybe it’s real estate videos.

On the other hand there’s creative work. This is the stuff you make without any promise of payment. This is the reason you got into the creative field in the first place. The process feels less like work and more like play, though it can be strenuous when you really care about doing it right.

The prototypical goal for creatives is to combine these two circles – IE to get paid to do the work you want to do anyways.

Before you get paid to make the work you want to make, you have to go ahead and make it for free to demonstrate the value you can create. Otherwise you’re pitching thin air. If you want to do car commercials, nobody will hire you unless they can first see a car commercial you’ve done that they like.

This image is from a video I am most proud of (here’s the link if you’re curious). I made it in Brazil last year for fun. There isn’t a clear story – it came together somewhat unexpectedly. I had no intention of even creating a video going into it, but at the end of the trip I had played with my camera enough to have some cool footage, so I randomly dove into the edit one day and came up with one of my favorite pieces of work.

It’s funny to me how some projects come to life like this, unplanned and organic, like a creative explosion. What’s also funny is that despite how organically these things arise, the environment in which they happen isn’t always totally organic. Most people I’ve discussed this with have agreed that the time for passion projects must be set aside or else it won’t happen. We get caught up in feedback loops doing client work that pays the bills, adding that kind of work to our portfolio and attracting more of it as a result. It takes conscious effort to step out of the loop and do something different, something creative, something fun.

In my experience, the ones that break the pattern are the ones that are most cherished. This is a reminder to myself to step out of the loop.

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