Career in Photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SimonDK, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. SimonDK macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #1
    Insane or just plain stupid...

    So I have run my own business for 12 years, truth be told I have become bored and restless.

    I am going to close up shop, buy some gear and doing something I have wanted to do full time for so long.

    So what do you guys think?
     
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #2
    Well, you've been running your own business for 12 years, so that's a plus (a lot of photographers know about cameras... but have no business sense!). Are you an experienced photographer (your plan to "buy some gear" suggests you may not be)? I couldn't offer any advice till I knew more about your hopes and plans...
     
  3. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #3
    Hi Doylem,

    I haven't been paid for any photography, I have had a few things published though.

    Over the years I have shot with Canon, Sony and Leica.

    Im more of a natural light kind of guy, I like to shoot street, travel and concert photography... All the ones that don't pay lol.

    So I am planning on continuing that but taking on Portrait and perhaps wedding photography to pay the bills.
     
  4. smirking, Mar 8, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017

    smirking macrumors 65816

    smirking

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #4
    As someone who also runs his own business and has a penchant for getting bored and restless and who also developed a passion for photography along the way, I can relate. I'm on my third career, but I haven't felt the urge to jump the track to a fourth career. I have however, found ways to integrate photography into my work to make it more stimulating. I was lucky that I could blend the two together. I know that's not a realistic option for most people.

    But I digress... if you've had a business for 12 years and have seen people on similar paths go down in flames, you don't need me to say that surviving in small business is more art than science and it's pretty hard to give you any kind of reliable advice because being good at one kind of small business is not a strong indication that you'll be just as good at another type.

    Perhaps you can lay out your case for why you think it might work. What have you been doing to prepare yourself for making this change?

    From what I hear though, it's a pretty brutal time to be entering the photography industry. It's like buying a taxi medallion when your neighbor is a Lyft driver. Life is short, but I wouldn't want to take this larger than usual risk without having a large cash cushion.
     
  5. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #5
    Hey Smirkling,

    This will be the forth business type that I have embarked on, basically since leaving school.

    First I had an independent record shop and ran nights (DJ and such) Then I opened a bar where I live, finally the last 12 years as an art publisher.

    Im in the position where I can move forward with photography, I have a budget for equipment and enough funds to live for 2 years whilst pursuing 'The dream'

    This may sound strange but I have always had an idea, then gone for it. Thus far it has worked...

    I haven't prepared myself in any way shape or form for this transition, I am hoping my passion for photography will carry me through the trials and tribulations.

    I feel like I have to dive in, I don't want to multitask. To be brutally honest with myself when I am comfortable finacally I am a bit of a plodder, far to safe with my existence.
     
  6. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #6
    You want to "dive in"... though I'd be thinking along the opposite lines: trying to find photographic work alongside your 'regular' work. Sorry, your "passion for photography" won't compensate for a lack of a business plan. Of course, if you have enough $$$ to survive a couple of years of mixed fortunes, you can afford a few mistakes. I wish you all the best with your venture... but more head, please, less heart. :)
     
  7. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #7

    Thanks, trust me I agree with you fully.

    Don't worry this is not something I will not structure before, I plan on finding the right pair of trunks before diving...
     
  8. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #8



    Actually, while my own background is public sector rather than the private sector, I, too have had a number of careers, and have also experienced boredom, lack of stimulation, and itchy feet.

    And, I like photography, but wonder about making a financially stable - or rewarding - career from it, except in somewhat sleazy circumstances which would might involve selling of souls.

    Having said that, two thoughts occur. The first is that I am with both @smirking and - very much with - @Doylem in wondering whether you can blend your existing career (art publishing - there must be some overlap with the creative side of photography) with photography. At the very least, it would firstly, ensure bills get paid, but, secondly, would ensure that you could afford a degree of artistic integrity in your photography.

    The second is whether you have asked yourself what type of photography you want to do, and whether it is possible to make a living from that.

    After all, there is a difference between the personally satisfying stuff that hobbyists and enthusiastic amateurs can spend their time doing, and demanding clients who may wish to dramatically alter your own creative vision.

    But, great thread - thank you for starting it - and a terrific topic for discussion.
     
  9. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #9

    Seedy you say :rolleyes:

    My main issue with business is I don't switch off from it, thats lead to a kind of burnout.

    I think most people may suffer with that in business, the constant internalising...

    Pardon the hippyesque nature of this following comment. "I cant see myself being free enough to become what I want" with running a business that I just don't have the passion for anymore.

    Regarding the type of photography I want to do, I have to be realistic with this. Simply going out and buying gear does not make me a great photographer and a divine right to pay my bills from it.

    Being an enthusiast you do get to just take a shot and enjoy it for what it is, perhaps a landscape, a portrait, a drunk in the crowd.

    I basically just want to out there and doing it, ride the crest of a wave and in some way see where it takes me.

    I am planning on shooting some weddings for free the first year, continuing to do concert shots with a friend who is a DJ on medium notoriety (Hope he doesn't see this)

    I also plan on taking a UAV course to get a commercial licence to get paid drone work.

    Once I have a portfolio I am proud of, I will launch a website and market it.

    I have other ideas swirling around, I don't want to bore anyone!

    I do have a 500px account with a few followers but I don't want to post the URL in this thread because Im not looking to say "Hey check me out" If anyone want to critique perhaps we could do this over PM.
     
  10. Scepticalscribe, Mar 8, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #10
    I understand the sense of burnout, the need for a fresh challenge, and the desire to master new skills and interest yourself in fresh enterprises. And I understand the need to want to be your own boss - that is the advantage of owning your own business - rather than having to adapt to the hierarchies and office politics of other - perhaps more secure - positions.

    What I meant by "sleazy" (and yes, 'seedy', although I didn't write that) - to be quite specific - is that some of the photography which pays best, and is most remunerative, is that of photographing models, and - to do that successfully - one almost inevitably acquires a way of viewing the world, and the people you photograph.

    Now - as a woman - I have long disliked these pictures, not just for their objectivisation of women as mediated by the "male gaze", but even more so, for the dead-eyed expression you get in otherwise flawless features, as the models in question protect themselves behind their eyes.

    However, the question posed by @Doylem - a question with which I agree - still stands: Is there no way of marrying a career in art publishing with that of photography?

    The one can inform the other - and there was a period in my life when I was able to straddle two career paths - which each did inform my mastery of and understanding of and appreciation of - the other - for around a decade.
     
  11. smirking macrumors 65816

    smirking

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #11
    If you've got the cushion and you can afford to lose it all, I'd probably just shrug and tell you to do whatever you want. It's your money and your business, but if you're asking this forum, going back to square one might not be such an innocent outcome.

    I'm a freelance full stack developer in Silicon Valley. When I have availability, I rub elbows with entrepreneurial types. I'm one myself and I've learned a lot by having the privilege to watch other people's mistakes... a few times from the front row. I would sum up my exeriences in that phrase that financial advisers like to throw around. Past performance is not an indication of future returns.

    Until it doesn't. Ideas are cheap. If you succeeded on ideas alone, you either got lucky or you're discounting your less romantic skills that made your ideas work. I've been approached many times by people with ideas to help them create their start-up idea. I've learned to dismiss anyone who wants me to sign an NDA just to talk about ideas. It's a dead giveaway that they're new to the rodeo.

    I can totally understand the desire to immerse yourself to see if you've got what it takes and if you find out that you don't, you'll be able to move on sooner. That said, I think the cavalier tone you're striking about not really preparing yourself to make this change is what's setting off alarm bells with Scepticalscribe and Doylem as well.

    If you're an art publisher, you're in a better position than most people to at least maneuver yourself into a shorter jump and if you're able to bring your previous career(s) into your photography interest, you'll have an angle that other photographers can't match. If you want to go into a crowded and fading profession like photography, those special skills might be your meal ticket.
     
  12. SimonDK, Mar 8, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017

    SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #12
    --- Post Merged, Mar 8, 2017 ---

    My art publishing is in a very specific and niche market, the subject matter and connections do not really cross over to photography unfortunately.

    I do however have the knowledge to launch a business and build relationships with companies with 10 digit turnovers.

    Perhaps you are right an I do have a cavalier attitude towards what is a huge turning point in my life, however the scrambled picture of people I have admired over the years has created a loud din of "Go for it" in my head.

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
     
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #13
    I've made a living (OK, just 'scraped' a living...) out of writing and photography these past 30-odd years, often by combining the two (books, magazine articles, etc). I have a big collection of stock pix, which now provides most of my income (no website sales; I let the agency do the selling/invoicing, and they take their cut). Stock, however, is a long-term project... very much not a 'get rich quick' scheme! I have made a lot of mistakes, over the years, and never made as much $$$ as I should have, but it's been fun... most of the time.
     
  14. smirking macrumors 65816

    smirking

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #14
    Sure, fortune favors the bold, but not everything is worth that kind of risk.

    You always hear about the people who succeeded with nothing but heart and it sure sounds like the path to follow until you consider that probably there are hundreds of thousands of other people who made similar jumps and ended up forgotten.

    Here's a terrific article about this very topic.
    Survivorship Bias (You Are Not So Smart)

    If you read nothing else, skip to the part about how the US learned to build better warplanes in WWII. The engineers fell into a predictable trap in thinking and almost made a disastrous mistake that would have ensured many more dead pilots. They studied the survivors when they should have been studying the ones who didn't make it back.
     
  15. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #15

    I would be happy to provide a comment like this 30 years down the line.
     
  16. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #16
    I hope I'll hear that comment; I'd be 95 years young...
     
  17. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #17
    Some excellent posts.

    I am not saying "don't go for your dream" - for my professional life, I have done little else but pursue versions of this.

    However, there are possible costs and penalties, - especially in the creative world, and I am simply saying factor them in, when making such calculations. The satisfaction from doing something that you like - especially if it involves learning a new skill set - will far outweigh anything else - especially if it goes well for you.

    More to the point, I would ask - again - whether there is no way - or no interest - in attempting to marry and blend the world of art publishing (which must have given you contacts, artistic awareness - or a finely honed artistic sensibility, a sense for what works artistically, what areas you may want to explore as a creative photographer, what the market might want, and whether you wish to supply that) and photography.

    And, I would argue that there are two sets of questions you might want to ask yourself: One is the obvious business stuff - will this work financially, and will I be able to make a living from it?

    Oddly enough, in this field, I don't think that this is as important as the second question, which is what sort of pictures do you want to take and what degree will trying to sell these make you compromise - if at all - your vision.

    Put another way - a question to ask yourself is what can you bring to wedding photography that the professionals (many of whom are nowhere nearly as good as they think they are - I have rarely seen wedding photographs which impressed me) - cannot?
     
  18. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #18
    I will buy you a drink of your choice, just hope I can afford to get there :)

    I must say to you an the others that have taken the time to post, thank you for providing me with food for thought.

    Ive never been a trumpet player, I have had very encouraging feedback of my photography over the years (Not just from my Mum) Without trying to sound bombastic I have taken the time to view my competitors in the area I live and believe I could produce a far better quality of work. Some are obviously great at what they do, others not so much.

    Now I know my way around a camera, that I know is simply not enough an I am certainly not brash enough to think I can purely just show up.

    I will have to perfect and hone my craft, I want to be free to shoot everyday. Clear in the mind that I don't have to go to a trade show, answer an email or find out what UPS have done with a parcel I forgot to ship.

    I also have other plans to create video content, although I have only made short interview pieces will be trying my hand at a music video :eek:

    I feel once I am free of the routine I am in, my creative side will flourish. this has been stunted by the grind of running a business. When I am relaxed ideas flow.
     
  19. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #19
    As they say in the music business, "don't give up your day job!"

    At least until you KNOW you can make the new career "pay"...

    ... And all your current bills are paid up!
     
  20. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #20
    Like Doylem I shoot some stock photography while it would not be enough to support me, it does provide enough income to buy most of my Photography gear..

    ...Perhaps this is a good place to start, it will give you a good idea of the commercial quality expected in pics. It would also provide some a steady income (once you have a decent sized port) should you decide to ditch the day job.
     
  21. SimonDK thread starter macrumors member

    SimonDK

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    #21
    I hadn't thought of stock photography, does anyone have any links with information on how to get started?

    This is food for thought!

    I have had an update as well, someone is interested in purchasing my business and my house has been valued higher than expected!
     
  22. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #22
    I supply pix via Alamy, the biggest photo agency on the planet. Currently have 17,000+ pix online, and licence pix every day. The 'golden age' of stock photography has gone, and - thanks to everyone having a digital camera these days - it ain't coming back. The best part is being able to focus on pix (not sales, or invoicing, or chasing payment. The worst part: the price per license these days. I can't say I'd recommend stock in 2017 (and certainly not microstock). I only make a living because I have a fair-sized portfolio of pix...
     
  23. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    In Hell
    #23
    Being a photographer is a notoriously difficult industry. Hyper competitive. Easiest way to make a living is become a commercial / corporate photographer. Once you have a client base, it's just do work for your existing clients. You're not looking for new clients all the time.
     

Share This Page