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Roger Hicks
05-08-2011, 13:59
All counterfactual conditionals are true. But here are three questions.

1 For those who earn(ed) a living partly or wholly from photography, how many of you reckon you could earn/have earned more from something else? For example, I have a law degree; studied accountancy; and am a qualified teacher. Even teaching would probably have paid more than what I chose. Then again, "what I chose" embraces, to a large extent, "what I damn' well feel like doing, which doesn't include working hard at things I don't like doing."

2 For those who earn/have earned their living elsewhere, how many of you reckon you could earn/have earned more from photography?

3 Do you regret your choice?

Number 3 is of course the kicker. And for what it's worth, my answers are 1, Yes, 2, Not applicable (at least since the age of 31, which answers the question), and 3, No. At least, not usually.

Cheers,

R.

srtiwari
05-08-2011, 14:07
In my case, I thought often about not going into my current profession, and instead choosing whatever happened to be my passion du jour - Photography, Golf, Music ,etc. Luckily for me, I did not give up my day job for any of these. But do I regret it anyway ? Of course, I do !

SciAggie
05-08-2011, 14:19
My point of view is that making my primary income at something other than photography is what allows me to be serious about MY photography. I do make a fraction of my annual income from photography, but that involves work that I WANT to do and I am interested in doing.
My answer to your second question reflects the first; I could make more money from photography, but I would have to do work I don't want to do and put up with people and situations I had rather not deal with. I have found a sort of niche of clients that like what I do and that, in general I enjoy working for.
Lastly, I am happy with the situation. When work is aligned with my goals, that's good - when it isn't I am content as a serious hobbiest.

Roger Hicks
05-08-2011, 14:22
In my case, I thought often about not going into my current profession, and instead choosing whatever happened to be my passion du jour - Photography, Golf, Music ,etc. Luckily for me, I did not give up my day job for any of these. But do I regret it anyway ? Of course, I do !

Well, there are degrees of regret. The fact that you say "luckily for me" suggests to me that you don't really regret it all that much.

But of course there's always the regret that you'll never know.

Come to think of it, I'd add that some of the really great photographers of my acquaintance are/were so obsessed that I have never regretted not being as serious as they are/were about photography. The list includes at least two suicides, plus the only living person I know, or have ever heard of (a war photographer), who has ever been prononced DoA (Dead on Arrival at a hospital) twice...

Cheers,

R..

Roger Hicks
05-08-2011, 14:24
My point of view is that making my primary income at something other than photography is what allows me to be serious about MY photography. I do make a fraction of my annual income from photography, but that involves work that I WANT to do and I am interested in doing.
My answer to your second question reflects the first; I could make more money from photography, but I would have to do work I don't want to do and put up with people and situations I had rather not deal with. I have found a sort of niche of clients that like what I do and that, in general I enjoy working for.
Lastly, I am happy with the situation. When work is aligned with my goals, that's good - when it isn't I am content as a serious hobbiest.

Makes eminent sense, but too hard to incorporate into the original question! Thanks!

Cheers,

R.

rbiemer
05-08-2011, 16:25
#1 doesn't apply to me.

#2, though is interesting to think about. I know I could have made more money in several other careers than the one I chose.
I'm a chef, have been working in commercial kitchens of one kind or another for most of the last 35 years.

At the beginning of the path I've taken, I did make some detours into fields where I made significantly more money. At the cost of being very quickly bored and then miserable. (If I had been supporting a family instead of just me, I would have made different choices.) So, back to the kitchen I went.

Would photography as a career have been a better choice for me? Don't know but I do know that what I love and rely on about being the amateur that I am is that it never feels like a job.

#3, No.

Rob

Doug
05-08-2011, 23:02
I've dabbled at earning a living in photography (retail photo, portraits, weddings, architecture, document highway accidents, sold some "art" prints) but like SciAggie never made the move to give up "day jobs" (meteorology, engineering, aerodynamics, law enforcement, rental property management).

I'm sure I would not have had more income from full-time photography. Though I studied photography later at university, it was from an intense interest, not an obsession... which would probably have been necessary for it to have been successful as a main profession. I don't regret it, as my life has been rich with varied experiences, and work that I've enjoyed... especially after I became my own boss. :)

Chriscrawfordphoto
05-08-2011, 23:26
I have no other marketable skills, so it has to be photography for me. Fortunately, I love photography

shimokita
05-08-2011, 23:27
1) Did earn my living from photography and photography related activities... moved on from that opertunity and did make more money elsewhere.

2) Since the move to "elsewhere", no chance that I would earn as much money back in P/P-related activities. Which is okay...

3) Regret, not really. Since I did both and still do photography (having moved on from "elsewhere" in the last few years...)

Elsewhere isn't a good place or a bad place, just a different place. I count myself fortunate to have had the opertunity to live in multiple places.

and it never has been about the money...

Casey

Roger Hicks
05-08-2011, 23:42
Then there's the late Brian Gould, who bought the Gandolfi camera firm. I knew he had a background in manufacturing, so I asked, "What did you make before you made cameras?"

He replied, "Money."

He didn't regret the switch either.

Cheers,

R.

maddoc
05-09-2011, 00:23
1) does not apply for me

2) If being one of the very few succesful photographer, I would have easily made more money than "elsewhere". However "elsewhere" allowed me to receive my monthly pay-check, to live in a foreign country and take photos of what I want.

3) No because I know that I don`t have the talent to promote myself to such a degree that I could easily make money in the photography business.

Ade-oh
05-09-2011, 02:17
1. Not really applicable. I've earned a little from photography over the years but mostly when I do photography 'professionally' it's to illustrate my own writing.

2. I doubt it.

3. Categorically no. Most of my photography is for my own enjoyment and I doubt I would enjoy producing pictures to someone else's requirements on a regular basis. For the same reason, I've never wanted to be a staff writer or journalist. As a freelance I can focus on subjects which interest me.

FrankS
05-09-2011, 04:11
My parents went through turbulent times during the war, moved to Canada with nothing, and worked hard to establish a life here. I chose a safe and stable profession that I knew could support a family, and I do photography on the side as a hobby.

ruby.monkey
05-09-2011, 04:20
1) N/A.
2) No.
3) No. I enjoy photography in part because my livelihood doesn't rely on me selling the results. Working that shutter helps me let go of any worries I may have, rather than exacerbating them.

Damaso
05-09-2011, 04:30
I know for a fact I would make more money doing just about anything else. But where's the fun in that?

oftheherd
05-09-2011, 05:44
1. My professional use of photography was in law enforcement, and related to whatever crime might be under investigation, not as a full time crime scene photographer; and as an adjunct teacher. I have remained in the law enforcement and security field since. I think I am making more than I would have with photography.

2. I am pretty sure I could not have earned more as a dedicated crime scene photographer, and even more sure I could not have earned more money in other aspects of photography, including teaching.

3. No. I enjoy the field I am in. I enjoy freedom of photography as a hobby. Making more money has been beneficial to me and my family. I'm not rich, but wouldn't want to make less either.

Paddy C
05-09-2011, 05:47
All counterfactual conditionals are true. But here are three questions.

1 I've made a grand total of a few hundred bucks from a portrait I took last fall. That's all I've ever made. Thought it was kinda neat however.

2 About 12 years ago I became intensely interested in photography. At the time I was just starting a graphic design education. On a few occasions I've wondered if I should have "tried to become a photographer" or make the switch. (not saying I have the talent necessarily).

Interestingly, I've had the chance to work with photographers in my career and I see that the photography gig is a lot like the design gig:
a. bit of a tough slog
b. doesn't compensate you as much as you would like or think you should be compensated
c. has some great creative projects that remind you why you went into the field, but a lot of monotonous work for average clients

At the end of the day I came to realize I would be trading one career for a very similar one with no real improvement to my life. I also think, given some hard work, some good breaks, etc., I can probably make more money in the design racket than the photography one ultimately.

3 No. But I don't recall it ever being a real choice. A bit of a daydream yes, but not something I really ever started to ponder seriously.

Pickett Wilson
05-09-2011, 06:16
I've made a living with a camera all my adult life. About 40 years. I'm sure I could have made more money doing something else, but have never done without because of my career choice. Don't regret a minute of it. Would do things exactly the same way if given another chance.

250swb
05-09-2011, 12:33
Its difficult to answer the questions in that order and as yes or no.

I have earned my income from photography in the past, but gave it up because the cashflow was erratic while the money was good. Now I don't earn much from photography (thats a bonus) but not having photography as my income allows me to be more serious about it. I don't get camera fatigue, I never have to press the shutter for somebody else.

Steve

_larky
05-09-2011, 12:48
"2 For those who earn/have earned their living elsewhere, how many of you reckon you could earn/have earned more from photography?"


Whilst at college I did freelance press photography, I was offered continual work, and eventually a full time job. I also had the chance to go to university to get a degree in photography, looking to move toward a press type of field.

Then Princess Diana passed away, and whilst covering some of the local public reactions for a local rag, I had a tin of tomatoes thrown at my head. It missed. That had an impact on me, and I started to realise that that style of photography was not where I wanted to be. Didn't want that lifestyle either. All the guys I worked with were old and miserable.

Could I have made a living at it, yes.


"3 Do you regret your choice?"

No. Because I've discovered that something you do for the love of it, should stay clearly away from what you do for a living. Unless you are one of the very lucky ones.

functus
05-09-2011, 12:56
I fit in category number 2.

I could possibly have earned more money doing photography. But it would have meant engaging in photography as an industry rather than as a passion -- endless team photographs, formulaic brochure shots, etc. I am neither good enough nor devoted enough to be a photojournalist or art photographer. Instead, I get to work at a relatively lucrative job (don't tell my ex-wife) during the day which gives me the resources to only take photographs of things I want to take photographs of.

So -- no regrets.

Ade-oh
05-09-2011, 13:44
Roger, out of interest do you feel that you have actually earned your living (since the age of 31) from doing photography or from writing about photography? Both are equally honourable but - I would suggest - are different careers.

barnwulf
05-09-2011, 15:38
1. A long time ago I earned my living from photography. I did OK but I could have made more in some other field but I didn't care. For several of the last 10 years I made some income from doing landscape photography and selling my work in a gallery, but it was not enough to live on. I loved doing photo work and still do.

2. I have known some people that made a fair amount of money in photography but I just wasn't interested in doing what they had to do to make a substantial amount of money.

3. No I don't regret my decision about photography. I have enjoyed photography, made some money with it and have photographed most all of my adult life and I happy that I did what I did. I also worked as a motorcycle mechanic for a few years because I loved motorcycles certainly not because anyone can make much money doing it. Jim

Roger Hicks
05-10-2011, 00:00
Roger, out of interest do you feel that you have actually earned your living (since the age of 31) from doing photography or from writing about photography? Both are equally honourable but - I would suggest - are different careers.

I've often thought about this, and I've come to the conclusion that they're not really separable. I couldn't earn money from writing about it without doing it -- and, of course, I have to illustrate books and magazine articles. That's why I phrased the original question as 'partly or wholly'. Some of the books I've written and illustrated are not about photography: Hidden Tibet, or Battlefields of the [American] Civil War, or The Airbrushing Book, or cook-books. The same goes for magazine articles (e.g. on travel by Land Rover) and I've also (comparatively rarely) done purely photographic jobs, i.e. pictures, no words. The latter are a lot more like hard work as far as I am concerned.

The replies so far suggest to me that most of those who earn their living partly or wholly from photography are not much motivated by money, though some may make a reasonable amount of it. As for what 'photography' is, in this context, it's hard to ignore Geoffrey Crawley. As he once said to he, "Can you imagine giving up photography? Because I can't." He was not a great photographer -- but if he wasn't, what was he? It takes a very long time to sum up all the things he did. I think he was even an expert witness in something to do with the Kennedy assassination, never mind the Cottingly Fairies.

Finally, a quote from George Bernard Shaw, speaking to Henry Ford: "Ah, well, there is the difference between us, Mr. Ford. You think only about art, and I think only about money."

Cheers,

R.

auldbob
05-11-2011, 01:52
Like another member here, my main career was in law enforcement, and I do not for a moment believe that I could have made more money from photography, certainly not enough to pay a mortgage and raise two children. When I retired from law enforcement, photography was to have been my second career, but once again, expectations exceeded income.
However, it did open an unexpected door by making it possible to open a gallery which displayed the work of up and coming young photographers (and occasionally my own) and was in it's way more satisfying and exciting.
It also led to a wide circle of contacts within the photographic world, and when the gallery closed I found that I have been offered more work as a photographer than I can cope with, a situation that I find extremely satisfying.
I think that the journey to get here has probably been far more rewarding, both financially and artistically, than had I spent the whole time in photography alone.

rpilottx
05-11-2011, 03:05
1. I paid my way through college workiing for the yearbook and student newspaper at Indiana University as a photographer. Then I spent a couple years as a news photographer on a paper in Ohio. I enjoyed it but it did not give me the satisfaction I was looking for.

2. Then, I became a pilot in the USMC followed by a career in federal law enforcement as a Customs pilot. Frankly, photography does not hold a candle to the chase and capture of drug smugglers or other "bad guys". And I earned a pretty good salary at it as well. I have a couple friends who freelance for National Geo and I think I made about the same as a pilot. Money was nice but my primary motivation was the excitement of the "chase". Not to hijack this thread but I read somewhere that 80% of those in law enforcement, search and rescue, aviation, and fire fighting type careers are first born sons (as I am). I wonder if there is a similiar study of those who go into photography or the arts?

3. Don't regret it as I carry a camera when I want. One of the things I did not like about news photography was some of the required photos (like the mayor signing some proclamation) but those are the bread and butter of small town newspapers. I have always enjoyed taking photos of subjects that interested me.

Roger Hicks
05-11-2011, 05:07
A lot of coppers here! Again, that's not a job you go into for the money, really. And point fully taken about 'grip and grin' shots.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, Talent does what it can, Genius does what it must. I've never thought he got it quite right (or if he did, it's a somewhat generous definition of genius) but I've always felt that way about writing, and to a lesser extent about photography: if I'm going to do them anyway, I might as well make a living out of it. The phrase 'if I'm going to do them anyway' is central: I was never going to do accountancy for the fun of it. Nor did I feel any compulsion to do it. I can however see how (for example) police work could be compelling.

Auld Bob's point is important too. The ultimate counterfactual conditional is that we think we'd be the same person if we'd lived a different life.

Cheers,

R.

Benjamin Marks
05-11-2011, 05:50
I worked for a newspaper for about a year as a photographer and found that I liked photography much less when I was compelled to do it for a living. The stress of having to produce a working picture on a deadline took a lot of the pleasure out of the process. So when I decided to do something else, I experienced a very noticeable photographic sense of relief. I do feel that having experienced what I did inoculated me from the regret about which you are asking. I still love photography - I have since before I owned my first camera. When I take on "jobs" now, it is not for money, it is for pleasure. Further, in general I don't take money for photography now because I have enough to live on from my other pursuits and because I prefer the lower stress that comes from a bartered or non-commercial transaction.

Edit: I suppose one definition of luxury is being able to do that which you love without worrying about how you will eat.

Ben

MC JC86
05-11-2011, 06:16
Still (hopefully) pretty early on in my life. Attempting to earn a living in photography would have lead to starvation in fairly short order; don't have the eye, the patience, or the talent but I certainly admire those here that do.

I was heavily involved in the photo retail industry for a few years, but got in at the ground floor just as the roof was caving in; so that didn't work out either.

Working in EMS is a lot of fun, even an adrenaline rush at times, so I have no regrets. I've found that keeping photography as a passion the course of which is dictated only by my time and whims makes it far more fun (for me).

haempe
05-11-2011, 11:28
I got my 1989 photographers journeyman and worked since as a photographer and lab technician. For me, it was never a passion, always just a job.
Sometimes I hated it really. The way the photographer is viewed by society and the way that photographers see the society, or how photographers deal with each other, I was often contrary.
But a few years ago, after I gave up the drugs and become settled, I found that I need a hobby. And why learn something new when I am firm with analog photography already?
Now I have much joy with my new hobby, even less job satisfaction. I think I'm going to find something else to pay my bills, and I'd rather keep the joy of photography.

Regarding your questions:
I would never again want to become a professional photographer. :)

Paul Luscher
05-11-2011, 12:19
No, not sorry I didn't try to make a living from photography.

Had to face up to the fact my talent level is such that I'd have a hard time trying to make it as a photog--way too many folks much better at it than me.

Thing is, photography is one of those glamor professions--like rock star--which everybody wants to do. And because so many really talented people want to do it, competition is brutal, and very few ever make it...just like all the really talented musicians who never make the big time.

As it is, my chosen profession allows me to live fairly comfortably, buy cameras, and noodle in photography to the best of my ability. Anyway....I got into photography by accident, more or less, after making my career choice, and going through the long and expensive training for it. That's my excuse....

Also, I have the discouraging example of a friend who is a pro photog. She and her significant other (who also makes his living in photography ) are having a terrible time right now--almost lost their house three times to foreclosure, because of financial difficulties. And it's been that way for them for quite a while, which leads me to believe that trying to make a living purely from art can be a very shaky proposition...

Sure, I would love to have made a living in photography.....and maybe even reached the exalted status of a David Douglas Duncan. But I guess I'll go with Elliot Erwitt when he was asked about going into photography as a career these days: "Don't."

Roger Hicks
05-11-2011, 12:27
Probably, most people who dream of earning a living from photography underestimate the talent, dedication, hard work and sheer luck that is necessary even to survive. Paul's parallel with rock stars is exact -- unless, perhaps, you're prepared to concentrate on a particular aspect of commercial or advertising photography where chartered accountancy is a closer match; or, as others have said, to do 'grip and grin' pics for the local rag. The glamorous, jet-setting, cutting-edge side of it is very hard indeed to achieve, and many 'big names' who shoot internationally must needs live remarkably modestly in order to feed their photojournalistic habit.

Cheers,

R.

johannielscom
05-11-2011, 12:40
Dear Roger,

my encounter with photography only happened some seven, eight years ago, by chance. I got divorced and decided to get a camera so I could at least document my children growing up while not being around all the time.

Things evolved unexpectedly. I took on a teaching job, my kids came to live with me and I got into photography big time. But, always as a (seriously out of proportions) hobby.

Had I started in my twenties, I would have had a shot at doing whatever I felt like in photography and make a living off it. As kids, bills and responsibilities entered the equasion I probably would have gotten stuck in portraits, weddings and the likes and it would have gotten the best of my motivation for photography very quickly I reckon.

So, I do not regret not having worked in photography and I would not have made more money.

Yet, I do consider turning to photography in the future once the kids have left the house and my focus can be less on income.

Roger Hicks
05-11-2011, 12:46
Dear Roger,

my encounter with photography only happened some seven, eight years ago, by chance. I got divorced and decided to get a camera so I could at least document my children growing up while not being around all the time.

Things evolved unexpectedly. I took on a teaching job, my kids came to live with me and I got into photography big time. But, always as a (seriously out of proportions) hobby.

Had I started in my twenties, I would have had a shot at doing whatever I felt like in photography and make a living off it. As kids, bills and responsibilities entered the equasion I probably would have gotten stuck in portraits, weddings and the likes and it would have gotten the best of my motivation for photography very quickly I reckon.

So, I do not regret not having worked in photography and I would not have made more money.

Yet, I do consider turning to photography in the future once the kids have left the house and my focus can be less on income.

Dear Johan,

Thanks for your reply (and thanks to many others, too, whom I have not thanked enough). Surprisingly (distressingly?) few of the photographers I know have children, or at least, earned a living from photography while their children were growing up. Quite a few have been divorced at least once. I don't think that photography as a career is necessarily good for family life, even for a 2-person family.

Cheers,

R.

johannielscom
05-11-2011, 13:01
Dear Johan,

Thanks for your reply (and thanks to many others, too, whom I have not thanked enough). Surprisingly (distressingly?) few of the photographers I know have children, or at least, earned a living from photography while their children were growing up. Quite a few have been divorced at least once. I don't think that photography as a career is necessarily good for family life, even for a 2-person family.

Cheers,

R.

Gotta add that a career in journalism is probably the same with regards to that! Which kind of explains my choices regarding photography, I started out being educated as a broadcast journalist but once my oldest arrived I gave up on journalism because a more solid way of life and income were in order. Guess that made me aware of the fact that photography would be the same thing all over again.

Tompas
05-11-2011, 14:22
1 - not applicable (anymore)
2 - yes. I worked as a PJ/sports photographer for a local newspaper while going to school; had lots of very different jobs while at and after university, including being assistant political scientist and senior Unix guru and other completely unrelated things; finally going home and succeeding my father in the family business.
3 - no, no regrets. Photography is such a wonderful hobby for me, I'm glad it is not my job.

ferider
05-11-2011, 14:53
FWIW:

1 Not applicable.
2 No way.
3 No - I love what I do for a living.

Still I do take photography "seriously". Like cooking, for example, it's fun, complicated and rewarding enough to give me a break from my day job.

Roland.

f/1,4
05-11-2011, 16:06
1) No. Did consider it seriously at high school though. And in early university days. Way back in the 1960'. Spent weekends walking the streets with a B/W camera. And countless nights in the darkroom. All the way until sunrise.
2) No. My daytime jobs over the years in larger telecom corporations has provided more income.
3) Not any more. Have photographed all the time and have slowly built up a kit of fairly professional equipment. Analog for 40 years and now digital in parallel. With livelihood and equipment issues out of the way this has left time to focus on my own B/W projects, - for whatever the results might be worth artistically. And time to follow other peoples' work through their exhibitions and books. With hindsight probably the best of both worlds in my case.

KM-25
05-11-2011, 19:43
If you would have asked me this about 3 months ago, I would have given a different answer, but times are not only quickly getting back to normal, they are starting to be on par to pre-economic crash levels. Magazine and newspapers assignments up as well as advertising and even stock sales.

So here it goes:

1. There is most likely not any way I could ever know if I could have made more money in another profession other than photography because it is not a job for me, it is a life and lifestyle choice that pays me full time. Asking me this is like asking me if I could have made more money being another person. In the past 7 years of my 20+ year career, I have made a *very* good income, on par with those with masters and PHD degrees in well paid fields.

2. Does not apply to me.

3. No regrets at all, I get to shoot any time I want, what I want in the style I want, even use film and bill it if I want. I get to do photography for my self and never get bored or tired of it. Add to that I *LOVE* the challenge of an assignment, being taken out of my comfort zone, competition, budget challenges, tough to tame people, making stressed clients feel great, getting it right in a team environment and seeing it all from a client's perspective. I like the bidding war, the second guessing who is low balling the job or sale and saying no if it is out of my range, the standing up for my work and the fee it commands, it all just rocks!

I just spent a week in my hi tech 4x4 camper with my wife and even my cat miles away from anyone shooting for my next book project. We actually had 3G reception so we got to take care of business on our iPad-2 out in the boonies, even made a nice stock sale, a solar system charges the pad and our phones.

The Kodachrome Project was great and rough for me at the same time, it nearly killed me financially and I wondered what clients I would have left after I was done. But life is good again and work is great, all my clients are proud of what I did and are happy to see me back.

I would not be nearly as happy doing photography as a hobby and having another job, I simply would have never lived the life I have in doing photography in the first place.

kipkeston
05-11-2011, 20:21
Cool thread.

1: I think on a per hour rate, I earn much more as a photog than as a scientist (at the level I'm at) but a lot of paid work can be kind of stressful so I prefer science.

2: Questions one and two are confusing. They are kind of the same question to me.

3: I don't regret science vs photography. I only wish I had more time for personal projects. But don't we all?

Roger Hicks
05-11-2011, 23:23
1. There is most likely not any way I could ever know if I could have made more money in another profession other than photography because it is not a job for me, it is a life and lifestyle choice that pays me full time. Asking me this is like asking me if I could have made more money being another person.

. . .

I would not be nearly as happy doing photography as a hobby and having another job, I simply would have never lived the life I have in doing photography in the first place.

That's pretty much how I feel, and is perhaps one definition of 'serious'. Far from the only one -- sure, an amateur can be 'serious' too -- but I was (and still am) interested in how others view it.

It sounds as though you've earned more out of it than I, but then, it sounds like you work harder too. As you say, a lifestyle choice. Once I have enough to live on, my motivation to do things I don't want to do (including trying to peddle my work) declines rapidly.

Cheers,

R.

Mister E
06-05-2011, 01:15
I certainly earn more from what I do than I think I could from photography, but I'd love to be able to earn a living doing something I enjoyed.

_larky
06-05-2011, 12:52
I wish I could earn money as a photographer, but I'm not interested in taking pictures of the stuff people want to pay for. So, coding pays for my hobby. And as a hobby I get to enjoy it at my own pace.

Ariefb
06-06-2011, 17:36
I've been working with camera in all my adult life althou i have degree in life science and MBA. The brutal competition in photography is killing me, and finally made a switch to video-related industry. Last year i moved on to fully digital workflow, shooting VDSLR for music videos, wedding cinemas, and training DVDs. The money i made went into several investments in organic farming. So far it seems like a sustainable scheme, at least for me, my wife and son.

I reserve film photography as pure hobby now.

emraphoto
06-06-2011, 18:38
I wish I could earn money as a photographer, but I'm not interested in taking pictures of the stuff people want to pay for. So, coding pays for my hobby. And as a hobby I get to enjoy it at my own pace.

you have no idea how similar that whole statement is for me. i have ZERO interest in taking pictures of what pays. it's a bit of a bugger right now. i find it just gets in the way of shooting the way and subject matter i am committed to. it isn't meant as a criticism of news work... those folks work hard in a pool of sharks where collecting payment owed can be a full time job unto itself. but man, i am not into it these days.

i am (possibly naively) focused on a book and a body of work (few complete stories) in the belief that sticking it out will serve me well. developing a respectable list of exhibitions... that sort of thing. in the end i may just go down in a big financial ball of flames but, i am pretty serious.

emraphoto
06-06-2011, 18:51
I've been working with camera in all my adult life althou i have degree in life science and MBA. The brutal competition in photography is killing me, and finally made a switch to video-related industry. Last year i moved on to fully digital workflow, shooting VDSLR for music videos, wedding cinemas, and training DVDs. The money i made went into several investments in organic farming. So far it seems like a sustainable scheme, at least for me, my wife and son.

I reserve film photography as pure hobby now.

the competition AND (should you be in a freelance/agency sort of thing) the editors and outlets that have abandoned the photographers in the process. not all but way too many. i have had people take a damn YEAR to pay me. i sent a complete reportage (photo/text/research) to a magazine that asked me a year later, after a few emails, to 're-file it'?!?! i was asked to put together a portfolio for a BIG outlet. spent days going over it, sent it over and the fella just stopped calling me back or answering my emails

so not only is there THICK competition, the folks that you would assume should be standing in your corner are content to ignore you. even the ones who owe you.

this isn't 'John' beefing, i beefed about 6 months ago. just a 'heads up' i reckon.

Chris101
06-06-2011, 19:10
I was a professional photographer in the 1980s. It was exactly like being a rock star except for the drugs, the sex and the money. The rock & roll was the same though, because we had some killer speakers in the studio.

Ariefb
06-06-2011, 19:55
so not only is there THICK competition, the folks that you would assume should be standing in your corner are content to ignore you. even the ones who owe you.

True, i found similar ethics problem here and there. Are photographers too abundant that agency people can simply ignore our value/existence?

emraphoto
06-06-2011, 20:11
well, i have had great relations with one of the big wire/image bank groups here. it has been timely and easy. wish i could say that was the norm.

Bob Ross
06-08-2011, 13:47
The few times that I got serious and thought about doing photography as a profession, it came down to the fact that I liked the whole process wet and dry and on the professional/commercial side the advice was usually "get a good lab" and don't try to do it yourself kid. The other advice was "if you don't like pleasing others, rather than doing your own thing, go elswhere". I also heard that it was a great way to ruin a perfectly good hobby.
For me it was a good choice to not get involved in the business side of the craft. The scholar side suites me the best and I think it was a good place to be during the digital emergence.
Well, this is the way I see it in my rear view mirror......;)
Bob

jsrockit
07-14-2011, 03:48
Maybe I just missed the boat - but maybe I just realised I wasn't good enough anyway.........

Ah, a feeling many of us probably have...

Roger Hicks
07-14-2011, 10:49
Take what you want, and pay for it, saieth the LORD.

Old Spanish proverb.

Cheers,

R.

kossi008
07-14-2011, 12:32
1 does not apply
2 hell no: I'm earning good money, and I wouldn't have the patience to be a good enough photographer to make more
3 Only in those moods where I regret everything...

swoop
07-14-2011, 13:47
I've had a few career goals, the last one I was serious about and was encouraged by others to pursue was being a pilot. I went to flight school and got my private certificate. Then I discovered photojournalism. And I wanted to go to college to pursue that goal. I could no longer afford the time or the money for flight school.

I've made a living as a photographer. Enough to get by and it has been great. I was laid off 3 months ago due to budget issues. And now I find myself with a resume very specific to photojournalism and there is no one hiring. And for me to apply to anything else with my resume would be a joke.

I think I would be happy in either field but I've made my choices and this is how it has panned out. There are a lot of jobs outside of flying for airlines. Delivery companies, charter companies, law enforcement, corporate/private jets. If you get a helicopter rating you can fly tours. I don't think I would have made more money, but there would definitely be more job security.

Roger Hicks
07-15-2011, 01:47
"Job security" - what a wonderful concept. Truth is that you are as safe as management's last bad decision. I'm struggling, aside from plumbers and hairdressers, to think of a trade or profession that hasn't consolidated to a major extent over the past 30 years. It's incredibly difficult not to become hyper-cynical when you hear top brass trotting out the line about "cutting jobs and generating cost efficiencies that will lead to improved customer service". I'm sorry to say that I cannot think of any significant business that's shrunk its workforce and simultaneously improved its bottom line and its customer service.

'Management', by the sort of person who reckons that 'managing' a hospital is the same as 'managing' a widget manufacturing department or a warship.

And probably accountancy.

Cheers,

R.

print44
07-15-2011, 04:23
I'm going to answer your questions but first a little context.
I loved photography when I was a teenager so I took a degree course in it and then worked briefly in commercial studios. But my idea of what I wanted to take pictures of and those of the commercial clients I was working with were far apart.
There are lots of contradictions in my experience of photography. Like I learned more in my first 6 weeks working with a pro than in 3 years on my degree. Like I was full of motivation to study it - but the college tutors only asked me what every single image I took meant. 'Yes, yes it looks very nice, but what does it MEAN?'
Having studied Bill Brandt and Walker Evans and Martin Parr & co my first real photography job offer was to shoot hardcore porn in Spain! I fancied the romance of the photojournalist til I met a few of them and they told me life was SH*T! And on and on. The guy I worked for earned 36k in one week of furniture store promo work we did back in 89. So...

1 If I'd wanted to continue advertising work in the studio/in the field I don't think I could have earned more. I'm no medic/architect/lawyer. But I really didn't want it. So earning potential and money wasn't the motivator for giving it up.

2. I'm now a film editor which is not terribly badly paid and has a strong link to photography/imagery and the art of composition (can I say pacing?) within an image. I love editing way more than I ever loved commercial photography. And no one has ever seriously asked me what my editing means... ha ha let them try it!

3. I got a kind of writers block - photographer style as a result of my degree course. I couldn't work creatively because there was always this sniping voice within asking me whether what I was doing was 'meaningful'. and whether I was conveying that meaning. It's a bogeyman I only just decided to shrug off, and still fear if I'm honest. So if I regret anything it's that for the last 23 years - until now - I haven't taken a single photograph in anger.

Discovering film again has been a bloody revelation! And being able to post images on here and actually have people saying they like them is great. I chose the relatively boring life of a film editor (sitting in a small darkened room going over and over someone else's film day after day) and one divorce down I'm not massively keen on dominant career paths - my children are going to grow up and I'm going to be there with them. So I reckon I'm as 'embedded' in family life as any photo reporter so that's where my new photographic career should begin.

click
07-19-2011, 20:47
I have a "fallback degree" and I tried to be a sheep but I just couldn't do it. People in companies are unhappy and only seem to want to argue about the fact that they don't feel coddled. I've zero patience for other people's emotional problems, those corporate types seem to just want to argue about things that don't matter. I also recognized that I would work ten times harder for myself. I completely don't care about how much quantity I have, I care about the quality I have so more money means nothing to me. I live simply and I do my best to save for the lulls in business.

I don't regret photography as a choice one bit. Photography is to me the perfect profession where I get to blend all different talents to produce a product. I have no problem whatsoever taking shots of anything I'm asked to, I consider it a challenge to make it interesting. Photography is pretty much all I care about, all I think about on an everyday basis and can't imagine working for or doing anything else. I'm just hardheaded enough to never give up and I'm going to keep doing it until I make a name for myself. I can't even imagine giving up on my dream.

Teuthida
08-19-2011, 11:40
I went the opposite way than you did, Roger.

I studied FA Photography in NYC in my late teens, and later at "elite" universities both here and abroad, but could NEVER envision myself doing it to earn a living. That would have taken all the joy out of it.

Instead I went to law school and became a lawyer, but my first love has always been my photgraphy. I'm good with that, as I probably couldn't earn what I do as an artorney, and practicing as a pro would have killed the love I have for the process.

Roger Hicks
08-19-2011, 11:44
I went the opposite way than you did, Roger.

I studied FA Photography in NYC in my late teens, and later at "elite" universities both here and abroad, but could NEVER envision myself doing it to earn a living. That would have taken all the joy out of it.

Instead I went to law school and became a lawyer, but my first love has always been my photgraphy. I'm good with that, as I probably couldn't earn what I do as an artorney, and practicing as a pro would have killed the love I have for the process.


I can understand that -- for you, and possibly for any rational person who can get an LL.B. But equally, it's not so much that I want to earn a living the way I do, as that I prefer it to earning a living the way you do. (That is far from being an insult, by the way).

There's a old saying that talent does what it can, while genius does what it must. I completely agree that there are people who 'must' do certain things -- their personal make-up allows no real alternative -- but I am less than convinced that 'genius' is the word for them.

Cheers,

R..

zauhar
08-19-2011, 11:52
'Management', by the sort of person who reckons that 'managing' a hospital is the same as 'managing' a widget manufacturing department or a warship.

And probably accountancy.

Cheers,

R.

Well put, gentlemen.

Teuthida
08-19-2011, 12:13
I can understand that -- for you, and possibly for any rational person who can get an LL.B. But equally, it's not so much that I want to earn a living the way I do, as that I prefer it to earning a living the way you do.
R..

LOL. Yes, the practice of law can be a bitch. Luckily, I've always worked for myself and have been able to carve out a nice little niche without working too hard. This is not the norm, however. Most attorneys I know are massively unhappy with what they do. Me, I see it merely as q means to an end and try not to identify myself with my job. My identity comes more from my artistic pursuits (painting and photography...although it pains me to call my photogeaphy "art.")

boffen
08-19-2011, 12:45
I'm in the middle of studying to become a teacher, and I'll more than likely end up as a teacher. I am not interested in standard, commercial photography at all, and the only kind of photography I would be interested in working with would be photojournalism/documenting, and I'm sure that I'd end up like Kevin Carter after a short time of doing war photography, minus the excellent photographs. Sure, there are some fashion photographers who make wonderful photographs, but they are scarcer than alive Magnum photographers. Because of this and the fact that I have taken no incredible photographs as of yet, I don't regard photography as a career I could make a living doing. I do plan on studying photography after I've completed my current education, and who knows, maybe I turn out good enough to be able to do photography at least part-time. That's just hopeful wishing though.