When a Hobby Becomes a Passion

Posted on August 30th, by Danny Santos II in Personal Rambling, Tips. 15 comments

Danny Santos II

Everybody needs a hobby. It gives you a chance to do something care-free in your leisure time, helps you relax and get your mind off work. It’s pretty much play time for grown ups. In my case, I started taking pictures as a hobby. Photography was something I’ve always wanted to do for so long and I finally got to dabble in it when I moved here in Singapore 4 years ago.

So there I was, walking around Orchard Road on weekends trying to get good pictures. I was fanatically shooting as much as I can, relentlessly looking for inspiration, and eventually pushed myself to get better and better shots. I later realized with the amount of time and effort I was pouring, this was turning out to be far from the care-free relaxing avenue it was supposed to be. It started to feel like more than just a hobby.

A few months ago, I was invited to be a guest speaker in a session called Oblation Talks by the UPAAS (University of the Philippines Alumni Association) here in Singapore. The topic was about finding your passion. The keynote speaker, VJ Yamat, was a medical doctor who eventually found himself working as a PR specialist for an ad agency. He mentioned something that struck a chord… he believes that passion exists when attraction is coupled with friction.

Of course. When I started photography out of interest, it was all hunky dory. I was a kid with a new toy discovering new possibilities. But pretty quickly, I’ve grown easily unimpressed with my own shots. I guess that’s what happens when you constantly look at works of the classic and contemporary masters. From then on, it was a tough grind. I’d spend 3 to 4 hours walking in the street looking to capture that perfect moment. On normal days, I’d get zero keeper shots. On good days I’d get 1 or 2.

I always found it curious when some of my peers said how amazed they were at how ‘disciplined’ I was to do what I do. I never thought it about it that way. I just really wanted to do it. It wasn’t easy in account of the overwhelming randomness of the street, and the huge possibility of people thinking I was an inappropriate weirdo taking photos of strangers without permission. In many instances, I’ve seriously asked myself “why am I doing this again?” It was hard work. But I still kept at it. And kept loving it. I guess that’s where passion comes in.

Passion will push you to your limits. It will demand sacrifices and make it hard on you. But you won’t mind the hard work, because you know it will make you better. And when it pays off, it will surprise you with opportunities you’ve never even dreamed of. Trust me.

When I started this hobby, I just wanted to take good pictures. Getting paid for it didn’t really cross my mind. In fact, there was a point when I started to consider being a ‘poor artist’. This didn’t sit well with my girlfriend. I snapped out of it :)

Ultimately, for me, when you’re doing something that you really like, you might as well try to be very good at it. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?

15 thoughts on “When a Hobby Becomes a Passion

  1. Hi Danny
    What a great post/update from you here today.

    Yes, I also get annoyed with myself sometimes because I want to shoot with success and consistency ALL the time!!
    But when I try to look at it realistically I actually understand that not even “the great” in photography are/were able to achieve that.

    However, this situation genuinely DOES generate lots of frustration anyway…. both for you and for me it seems :-)

    But thanks again for your honesty that I think all self analytical photographers are able to relate to… spending lots of time on a location and then get zero keeper shots (or just 1 or 2 on good days).

    If it is of any help/comfort to you, I think your shots are stunning and you are one of very few and highly selected individuals I actually do follow on the internet :-)

    Take care and continue sharing + keep up the good work,

  2. Thank you for the comment and for following my work, Morgan! Looking at the works of really great photographers out there, they make it look so easy! But I guess that’s the trick, right? :)

  3. Hi Danny –

    I really like this honest and raw article about your thoughts on what you’ve accomplished and where it all started for you with photography. I think the only element that may be missing and that I’m equally as interested in is reading more about the steps you took to beginning monetizing your passion and how paid work started to approach you.

    I actually wrote a bit about this same topic entitled Do You Really Want to Make a Living Out of Your Passion. Continue the great work and you’re definitely one of those handful of photographers that I’m continuously on the lookout to see what they do next.

  4. My primary school teacher told me to remember one thing in life: “In whatever you do, give it your best shot.”

    I guess that is kinda why I’m passionate about all my hobbies.

    Nowadays, many photographers think about the money involved and end up forgetting why they first started out. Some do it simply for the money and not because of the passion.

    Keep the passion burning bro. I haven’t been in Orchard for the past few weeks due to my commitments. Can’t wait to be back in the streets.

  5. Thank you, Jorge! Regarding my experience on making a living out of photography, I haven’t really gone full time yet so I only have a rough idea about it. But that’s a good topic for another blog post in the future. I’ll keep that in mind :)

    I just read your blog on making a living out of your passion. That’s a good read. I agree with you… coz working for clients is totally different with shooting for yourself. It’s very challenging, but not all client work is as exciting. However, each engagement does give you an opportunity to learn and experience new things. That’s my take, at least with what I’ve experienced so far :)

    I do wish to be able to do photography full time someday :)

  6. Pingback: thef8blog: Life, cameras, passion

  7. Danny,

    I have been following your work since the very beginning. I have watched you grow into this amazing photographer and it has inspired me to try and become one myself. I am far from where you are today but hopefully with practice and enough patience my day will come. Good luck with your future assignments, however; I dont feel like you will need it.


  8. I am another weirdo who likes to take pictures on the street, so glad that I find your blog, so that I know I am not alone. I just get started and really into street candid, I have browse through your galleries and I really love your “bad weather” series, that inspire me.

    Hean Kuan

  9. Thank you for this Danny, there are several points you made “that struck a chord” with me, like VJ Yamat did for you.

    I’ve had a similarly short hobby-turned-career over the past 4 years and sincerely admire what you’ve done with yours. Your portraits are always stunning as viewed from this side of the lens, though I understand some of the frustration you talk about in this entry. My own has nearly snuffed out the passion and excitement I had in the beginning.

    Thankfully I am merely in the middle of the grinding stage you wrote about here, and I just need to get up and get back out there in order to push through and come out the other side. Thanks again.

  10. Hello :) I just wanted to say thank you for all your inspiring pics and posts, especially this one. I’m 13 and i’ve always loved photography and i really loved what you said in the post, about the passion behind it. I’ve always been pushing myself but never satisfied, this reminded me why i wanted to do all that i do in the first place. Thanks for the inspiration and awesome pictures :)

  11. Good post. I learn one thing more challenging on totally different blogs everyday.
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  12. Hey man, great entry right there!

    I have been shooting since 3 years ago for the sake of it and I really like it. I am interested in at some point start doing it for a living. I tried working for a Magazine as volunteer for photography in order to learn a couple of deals, tricks, and perspective and I got severely disappointed since they had specific needs and creativity was a little unnecessary.

    Did you have moments like this in your transition or is it just me being immature about it? What has been the most challenging part on trascending to professional?

    I really admire all your work,


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