Why you shouldn't become a professional

Started Oct 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
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SomebodyFamous
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Why you shouldn't become a professional
Oct 7, 2013

This is something I know a lot about anyway. I get poo-pooed a lot for saying that professional photography is more of a joke job than anything else. A lot of people like to say "if your photos don't sell, they're bad". It's not quite that simple. Photography is so easy - anybody can spend $400 or less and buy a camera and a lens and get some nice pictures together and some business cards. They can even throw a website together. Let's look at the costs...

Website (use a freebie site) - cost $0.00

Domain name (not essential) - cost $3.99

Camera - I've seen a 30D going for less than $100 on KEH.

Lens - I've seen a Quantaray 18 - 125 going for $125 on KEH.

Business Cards - Vistaprint is about $10 plus about $8 shipping.

Business license - $50 for the state.

Town license and rezoning - $50 maybe.

Total expenditure to set up as a photographer $346.99 plus tax if applicable.

No flash? No problem - I've seen budget professionals using the built-in flash on a Canon XT with the 18-55 kit lens.

So.. just about anybody and their dog can afford that. The sad thing is too many people do.

Let me give you some articles now:

http://laurencekim.com/2011/04/28/the-photography-business-and-the-american-dream/

http://youarenotaphotographer.com

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2011/05/26/sobering-truths-about-making-a-career-out-of-photography/

http://www.potsc.com/potsc/how-i-ruined-my-career/

My story is a bit different but I never made photography pay despite quite an investment in gear - some of which I managed to sell at a massive loss and some of which I just couldn't get a buyer for and tossed in the dumpster. Sure - I had a few paying clients but that kind of thing doesn't work. There's a critical mass of happy clients that needs to be reached and I found that aside from official functions, nobody wanted a photographer for anything. I keep going one way and then the other about domain names - as to whether they're worth buying or renewing.

My problem was an almost total lack of interest in photography from everybody I approached about it. Everybody had a phone camera they were very happy with or a relative with a camera. They'd say that and then they'd lose interest totally and wander away. I can't sell to disinterested people. My day job is in sales and I know when I'm flogging a dead horse. Photography is a dead horse.

I never could make photography pay. My day job does quite reasonably. My book sales do quite reasonably. Adsense on my blogs does quite reasonably. I could never live off any of that but it gets me in money that I didn't have before and I don't have to do any work to get it other than updating my blogs which is an interest anyway. Photography - that makes me no money whatsoever. It's more of a money pit than anything else which is one reason I have been thinking of dumping the big SLRs and getting the J1 instead. Release the money tied up in the non-profit-making SLR stuff and have a smaller amount spent on the Nikon 1 system instead. The only things that concern me about the J1 are the high-contrast fringing I sometimes see from the 10 - 30 lens and the fact it could end up being another Pronea debacle. The big thing with technology is never to be an early adopter.

How many people does it take to say that photography doesn't work as a main earner? I know photographer who've gone bankrupt, photographers with main jobs, photographers who are quitting too. Many of the top names like Gary Fong quit being photographers years ago.

-- hide signature --

I take photos for my own pleasure. I write books for my own pleasure too. If people buy them then fine. If not then I don't really care. The fun was in writing them. Income is just icing on top of the cake.

Canon EOS 30D Nikon 1 J1
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