Is Photography Profitable?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ZunePod, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. ZunePod macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #1
    I really don't know what to do, my job is driving me crazy, it's boring, and I don't actually do anything. The only good thing is that I'm on a decent salary for a 17 Year-old.

    But I want to go into something that is both interesting and gets me more than £700 per month.

    Is Photography the correct way to go?

    PS: I have a starting budget (to get a camera) of about £400.
     
  2. wheelhot macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #2
    Hmm, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but photography is mostly not profitable cause to be a pro (as in paid professionally) you will need to have the skills and the equipment to get the job done. And if you do not have connections and nobody know who you are, it's likely no one will be hiring you.

    Most of us do photography as a hobby, cause we love taking photos, for those of us who get paid for our passion, good for you all but most photographers aren't paid for their passion sadly.

    Unless you get a job as a photojournalist or something then that is a different story, though I do not know how much is a photojournalist paid.

    I bet more experience photographers can shed more light in this matter more then me :(
     
  3. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Location:
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    #3
    From what I have heard, it can take 5 years to get "going" or have contacts and the such. To be able to live on what you make, can take up to 10 years though. This was for a freelance photojournalist by the way. I takes time like anything else and you really have to like photography as it will be hard work to get successful.
     
  4. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #4
    Is photography the correct way to go? How long is a piece of string??

    Whatever you decide to shoot with your new camera, you will be spending - rather than earning - money for months, maybe years.

    Start photography as a hobby; there's a lot to learn (in fact you never stop learning). Your "decent salary" will help you to get a basic kit.

    What kind of photography interests you?
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Why not get into painting. Paint is cheaper than a camera and some artist sell their work for large sums. Or be a rock star or concert pianist.

    Seriously you can't just buy a camera an be a photographer any more then you can buy a set of oil paints and be a painter. It takes some amount of study, a few years of practice and like any business it will be unprofitable for the first year or so while you build up a base of customers and clients.

    There are basically two ways to go in the photo business. (1) you sell to the general public or (2) you sell you corporate art directors who work (mostly) for ad agencies. The trouble with #1 is that you sell photos for peanuts and with #2 you have to be very, very good at what you do but you can make $50K per assignment.

    The best way t get into the field is to go to school. A four year arts degree is the best route. They will cover not only technical aspects but the much more important "art" end and also the business end of budgets, insurance and taxes. So YES you can make a living but it is very competitive. At the bottom end when you start you will not make much and you will need to keep your current job for a few years.

    The trouble is that right now, at first the only thing you can offer a customer is that you will work cheaper then a "real" professional photographer. You may actually get work this way. There are always people looking to save money. But while you may get work you can't earn a living by working at 1/3rd the going rate. Worse then that, you do your business no good by developing a reputation of just being cheap. You 'd be better off working for free and telling people you are doing it "for the art".

    Your first goal should be to develop a portfolio of work of varied styles and genre so that you can use that portfolio to get admitted to a good school. Most schools will want to see your work as part of the admissions process. Even if you don't go to school you will need a portfolio of work to show prospective clients.
     
  6. pprior macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #6
    No.

    As entry requirements (both cost and talent) have plumeted with modern digital equipment, supply of "photographers" (most with no training) has skyrocketed. Accordingly prices have plummeted. Econ 101.
     
  7. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
  8. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    is a state of mind.
    #8
    I think the only way to find out if it will be profitable for *you* is by pursuing it, but I wouldn't quit your job to do it. It will take years and long hours to build a reputation good enough to waste your life at other people's weddings!
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    Are you very good at sales?
    Can you produce professional results?
    Do you have the equipment to do so?
    Do you have the money for insurance, replacments, etc?
    Are you good at long-term commercial relationships?
    Is there a thriving market for the type(s) of photography you want to persue?
    Is there a way for you to get in front of potential clients and differentiate yourself?
    Do you have the equipment to light well, and do you know how to use it?

    Professional photography is an increasingly hard sell now that everyone and their mom has a DSLR and thinks taking pictures is the same as photography.
     
  10. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Location:
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    #10
    I don't dispute that schooling can provide valuable knowledge, however I recently talked to a former journalist who worked for a news corporation in Afghanistan and he had some pretty interesting things to say about the profession. If your going into the art side of photography this might not help but if photojournalism is where you would like to go he says that going to schools for a few years is not worth it.

    For example he said that most of the journalist and photojournalist that he worked with had little if no schooling or degrees in any field. Now this does probably have a bit to do with where/what he was reporting, being Afghanistan, but it was sort of a surprise to me.

    What he believes the best way to get into international photojournalism, something I'm looking into, is to work, study, purchase gear and save up for about a year or two, and then go to places that no one really else goes, take pictures, write a brief background story, submit them to editors at news and print organizations and see what happens. Like any other job it takes time and you have to be good at it but by spending less time in a class room and more out in the field, you'll both learn what you would in a class room while at the same time creating connections and forging a career path.

    If there are any journalists here who can expand or add to this I'd like to hear from you.
     
  11. ZunePod thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #11
    Okay guys, thanks for the useful input. I might just start this as a hobby, and see how it pans out.

    Does anyone know of something that doesn't require schooling, and isn't coding. I really wanna make some money oustide of my job.
     
  12. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    #12
    The only way to make money as a photographer is to treat it like any other real business. You need a significant amount of start-up capital to buy equipment, advertise, and live off of while you build clients. If your plan for starting a "business" is to buy a few hundred dollars worth of equipment, then you're fooling yourself into thinking it's anything more than a hobby.

    pprior hit the nail on the head. The proliferation of affordable digital SLRs and other equipment means that you're going to be one of a million people competing to make money with their photography.

    I feel like the road to becoming a well paid photographer isn't much different than the road to become well paid at any profession. Much of the time, it isn't what you know, it's who you know, combined with a lot of luck/right circumstances.

    One day, I would like to make as much money at wedding photography as I do in my current job. But I know that will take a very long time, if it ever happens at all. My plan is to continue working at my regular job to finance my regular life, while doing photography as a hobby on the side. It will take me many years to build up the skills required to earn a living from it. Even that is no guarantee.

    You are very young. Your best option is to buy your dSLR kit, and invest time and effort practicing on your own until your talents reach the level where you can sell your work. Clearly you're at the exact perfect age to consider going to art college if it's something you're really serious about doing.
     
  13. Malfoy macrumors 6502a

    Malfoy

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2005
    #13
    graphic design. I think there is more money to be made in coding though.

    If you know a lot about cars(as in the mechanics of it) there is money to be made but you have to know people to get the good gigs.
     
  14. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #14
    That depends. If you're just the type of guy who, according to your friends, takes great pictures, you should very, very seriously reconsider. Even if you have a good, proper education as a photographer (e. g. via art school or apprenticeships or both), only very few will actually make a living off it. Kind of like musicians. But as others have pointed out, there is a rather big supply of `photographers' these days. Traditional venues of photographers are now taken over by non-professionals or semi-professionals (e. g. wedding photography).

    My cousin is a pro photographer and now he makes a living off it (well, I suppose he makes most his money as a director now, but photography is what got him into the business). He started out as a sports photographer. The reason he could start is because my uncle bought him his equipment (the first `affordable' dslr, a Canon D30 plus some ray gun lenses). But even then, he drove 85-120,000 km/year, slept very little, immediately rushed to his laptop and used a very slow modem to transmit his images. If he's second and doesn't sell a photo, too bad!

    He also photographed real estate for my uncle and used his contacts to make a network. After a while he started shooting bands (cd covers/album art, promo shots for magazines) and did a few modelling jobs in a studio. He then started and finished an apprenticeship as a media designer (a lot of work and almost no money). Somehow he met a friend who wanted to make a documentary and he wanted him to do the stills. So he worked for a few productions and at one point ended up working for a big German car manufacturer as a director for ads and commercials. He still works as a photographer, but that's probably just the icing on the cake.

    This is a very condensed story, it took him 12 years or so to get where he is. As you can imagine, he had to upgrade his equipment along the way -- very expensive. He had to work very hard, but he was also lucky in that he had support (I don't want to take away any of his achievements, but it would have been much harder without his father's support in the beginning). It's very helpful if you're a people person, because you live off networks. The `I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who could do that job' is your life source.

    One obvious thing is that in most cases, you will not make art. You will make pictures of condos, perhaps vases, sports stars on the field and most people (read: clients) don't like artsy stuff and experiments. Think of shovelling snow: somebody's got to do it. It's very hard, because there is an abundance of genuinely good people. You have to love what you're doing.

    If you're interested, I'd recommend you start an apprenticeship somewhere and help a photographer.
     
  15. ZunePod thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #15
    Would the fact: "I can design GREAT websites," come into it? Because most Photographers either don't have websites, or have very poor websites. I can also use Google Adsense to my advantage.

    I'm just going to look on a few sites, to look at Cameras.

    EDIT: Is this any good?
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    So you are saying that with no school or training you can find work in Afghanistan.

    What if you want to work in Los Angeles or London?
     
  17. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #17
    No.
    You don't want ads on your own page, any prospect will think of it as unprofessional.
     
  18. ZunePod thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #18
    Lol at the last bit. I actually do know a London-Based Photographer called Eyder (He's Brazillian) who took the photos at my uncle's 50th.
     
  19. ZunePod thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #19
    Not ads on my page, I mean you pay google and you go up in the searches. Wait, it isn't adsense is it? lol.
     
  20. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #20
    I misunderstood. But I don't think ads over the internet are going to help you at all, you need to find jobs locally. The best way is through word of mouth and personal contacts.
     
  21. ZunePod thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #21
    Good point.
     
  22. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Location:
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    #22
    No. I just saying that you don't have to have schooling or degrees to be successful. I personally think that too much emphasis is put on classroom schooling and more should be but on practical, hands-on, in the field learning.

    This is after all where you will be spending your time.
     
  23. ZunePod thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #23
    This is true, theory isn't practice.
     
  24. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #24
    This is from the point of view as a student photographer who is just about to graduate from his BA, the prospect of making money and having a career is very slim. It was recently said, that the UK by itself churns out more photographers than the whole of Europe needs. I could end up with nothing at the end of it all, you don't even need to go to school to learn photography, it was one of the few arts which has a very level entry requirement.

    There is an oversupply of photographers entering into a market which is now changing from how it was even 15 years ago. The current economy doesn't help matters either. Commissions are drying up. 50 years ago, there were more publications than photographers, a golden era of photography really. Now there are far more photographers than publications.

    My reaction has been to start making plans to do an MA in order to further my skills, even after that I will have to take a job like working in a retail job.
     
  25. diemos macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    #25
    I'd suggest get a regular digital camera and learn Photoshop first, see how you like it and go from there.
     

Share This Page