Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
al_in_philly
Regular MemberPosts: 442Gear list
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No. But that doesn't mean you should take it up as a business.
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 29, 2013

Back in a previous life, a famous film director (if I dropped his name you all would know him) who I had gone to school wiith once said to me "if anybody can talk you out of going into the film business, they're doing you a favor; because if you can be at all deterred, you'll never make it."  He was right, at least in my case.  The same goes for a career in photography.  It is a tough business to break into.  It always has been--at least for the 40 years which I've hung around with professional photographers.  You not only need talent and a sizable investment in gear, but you need great business sense and tremendous perseverance.

Most of the successful photographers I know worked as photo assistants for the first few years.  The pay is terrible.  The work is as unglamorous as anyone could possibly imagine.  But being around to see and learn all of the non-photographic aspects of the business is priceless.  They also enmeshed themselves into the local photographic network, which was just as important.  When they decided to try to make a go of it on their own, they were ready.  Yet a lot of them still didn't make it--fortunately, for me, they still made some darn good friends.

It is worse now than it used to be, but not for the obvious reasons, like a slumping economy.  Back in the days of film photography, it was a lot harder to get a pristine image, so that alone washed out lots of guys who might have harbored dreams of becoming the next Richard Avedon.  You also had to be willing to assemble a permament darkroom, which if you're doing anything larger than 8x10 black and white prints, is a sizable, and very costly, undertaking; again weeding out even more potential professional photographers.  But those who were left certainly had the requisite drive.

What I'm trying to say here is that not everyone is cut out to be a professional photographer, even when you might have tremendous visual and technical skills.

One thing I was able to gleen from your discussion of your personal situation is that you live 100 miles from a major city.  Oh my God.  If you wanted to stack the deck against yourself, that alone would do it.

Whatever you choose to do, best of luck with it.  Honest.

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