In an area saturated with photographers, I have had to ask myself this question a lot. I think I know and then I change it again and again. The point is, I am asking myself this question and seeking the answer. Those answers are what sets me apart.
I have had some say that without a degree in photography or graphic design, how can you call yourself a photographer? The answer is simple. I take great photo's. Clients like my pictures, so they hire me. I have a legit company. So I am a photographer. It took me awhile to own that last statement because I let the masses define my qualifications instead of my work. And then I was like "NOPE. Today I chose to own my abilities and talent because they exist and I will be what I want to be".
Someone once said that Joanna Gaines shouldn't call herself a designer because she didn't have a design degree. She designs cool shit. She is really good at it. She found her target market and sold to them. She is most definitely a designer, business woman, and is super rich doing what she loves. She is happy and it shows. She didn't need a degree in design to make that happen. She just had a gift and made a living off of it. YOU OWN THAT DESIGNER TITLE JO!
My husband is a lawyer and I would say that as much as he talks about lawyer stuff (all the time. It is all the time folks), I have a fake law degree just from listening to it. I can certainly speak the lingo and sound like I know what I am talking about!
Point is, he loves lawyering and he doesn't think of being a lawyer as a job. It is a part of who he is. He loves it. And he is good at it. And he has found a way to make money doing it. (Which is good for both of us! Yay, Husband!)
Here is the deal. Some of the most successful and happiest people I know do something other than what they went to college for. They are doing what makes them happy and what they found themselves to be great at. They found a way to make money doing it . They never complain about going to work.
So Back to me.
What sets me apart? I am always learning, practicing, and trying new things to hone my craft. (PS- google, Youtube, and practice has taught me more than sitting in a classroom reading about photography.) I took a lot of "okay" pictures before I took one great picture and I learned a lot in that time.
I am creative. I see things my own way and make sure it is reflected in my pictures. I am passionate about it and never dread the hours I pour into it or a day that I work because it isn't work. I am driven to find success doing what I love. I market to the customers that like what I like. And I try and see around the curve for my industry and be one of the first ones out. I stick to what I am passionate about and leave the rest for what others are passionate about. (as in, you won't see pictures of snakes and bugs from this girl!)
Because of that, I own my title and everyone that disagrees can suck it.
Now for you.
What are you so passionate about that you could talk about or do all day everyday? How can you make a living doing it? Who needs it? And how are you going to give it to them?
Answer and re-answer those questions for yourself. Never stop asking the questions and keep adjusting your answers.
Whether you work for a company or yourself, you will never dread a workday because you will OWN your workday and everything that comes from it.