April 19, 2014, 03:44:43 AM

Author Topic: Should I get into this industry?  (Read 5640 times)

PVS

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2013, 12:55:09 AM »
You can always try with stock sites such as stocksy or gettimages. It is better than being wedding photog.

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2013, 12:55:09 AM »

Haydn1971

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2013, 02:33:26 AM »
Weddings, kids, portraits and dogs is the way to making a living in my opinion... If you aren't brave enough to do a wedding, you won't make enough to pay the mortgage :-/

Many Internet pundits say that making money at photography is easy, but making a good living is easier elsewhere.  I worked up a business plan a few years ago and it scared me silly how much I'd have to charge and how much work I'd need to do to earn a similar amount to what I did at the time as a freelance civil engineer.  I now work for a big "services" firm in the UK as a Senior Consultant (traffic engineering) earning slightly less, but with almost an assured future workload, so I don't have to spend time marketing myself as much, which is nice because I don't really like the networking aspect of my industry.

If your a good networker, photography as a career might work for you, if you see it as just a way of getting lots of cool new kit, it won't, but there is a lot of ground inbetween - sit down, work out your costs and by that I don't just mean the camera, lenses and lighting, I mean cost of running transport - fuel, tires, servicing, finance, cost of living, mortgage, food, utilities, socialising, cost of marketing, website, portfolio, trade shows, then look at what you need to fund holidays, how much tax you will pay, liability insurance, personal injury protection (you are the main business asset), then look at how much you think you can charge locally and a reasonable estimate of workload - most people get married on Saturdays in the UK, so you might expect a maximum of 40 weddings a year, you might expect a might expect a couple of portrait sessions a week over say 40 weeks, maybe a outside shoot every other week, then there is the business stuff, product photos of anything from cakes to Diesel engines depending on what's close by...

Seriously, I'd look at your current skill set and think, what's the market value vs what I'd need to learn new with photography - I stayed in Civil Engineering myself
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aj1575

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2013, 03:59:19 AM »
I think that with the right ideas and some understanding how bussines is done you could make it a career. Unfortunalty I think you won't make enough money with landscape photography, there are just too many people doing this for a rather small market.
What I would do is events, not only weddings (also crowded), but there are many other events you could think of. At most of these events there are people taking photos, mostly dads, moms, friends, partners and so on. Their pictures are maybe okay, but as a photographer you can do better, and this is worth something.
I'm not a pro, but I like to show you what I mean. I was asked by a friend of a friend who saw me taking pictures at kids birthday party, if I'm interested to take pictures at the show of their sportsclub (some kind of gymnastics). I said yes, I just can't guarantee anything, because I never did anything like this before. The event was indoors with colorfull lighting; I shoot the whole thing with my 350D and a 50mm f1.4 (the only thing fast enough I had back then). The pictures turne out quite good; I asked them If I should make calenders from the best shots; they agreed, and I organised everything, sent the calenders directly to them they paid them. And even though I did it because they were friends of friends, they paid me, it was 200$. I did this 2 more times, until they reorganized the event, and somebody else took care of a photographer. They just asked a friend of them with a camera, but the pictures didn't turn out well, so after one event they asked me again to do it.

I think there are many events you can shoot, and there are many people willing to pay some money for that. There are pet shows, car meetings, dance events, many kinds of sports. There are a few important points you should look for:
-your pictures must be good (not perfect, you need many good pictures in a short time)
-sell yourself; go out to an event, ask if you can take pictures, show them some, and sell the rest (it is not analog time anymore, where film and printing cost money, If you can't sell them, throw them away)
-be creative with your ideas about things / events you could photograph
-good service, react fast to the wishes of customers, offer them many things (nowadays you can print pictures on almost anything), show them what you could organize them, and do not wait until they ask
-organize your workflow; time is money, and as a pro you don't have time for a lot of PP and organizing, do it once and to it right.

I know, it is a big decission to start a new bussines, but photography is something you can start small; you basically need only a small kit (with some quality in it), good photographic skills, some idea and a bussines card. If you have some free time just go out and try it.

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2013, 12:21:30 PM »
Hi Dave
First I'm an amateur so not worried about you as competition.
You say you want to do something you love, my personal experience is don't turn your hobby in to a career/profession, you could find it takes the fun and enjoyment out of it!

+1

I personally think that being a professional photographer is a tough way to make a living and an easy way to ruin a hobby.

But best of luck to you!!
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Grumbaki

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2013, 02:37:31 AM »
I personally think that being a professional photographer is a tough way to make a living and an easy way to ruin a hobby.

Best post thus far. I don't want to ruin my hobby by trying to cash from it. "don't sh!t were you eat"

paul13walnut5

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2013, 05:35:35 AM »
Hi Dave
First I'm an amateur so not worried about you as competition.
You say you want to do something you love, my personal experience is don't turn your hobby in to a career/profession, you could find it takes the fun and enjoyment out of it!

+1

I personally think that being a professional photographer is a tough way to make a living and an easy way to ruin a hobby.

But best of luck to you!!

Word to that!

The worst bit is (speaking as a video guy) that because folk still presume it's a hobby they want 'mates rates' or a freebie, because they think you'll do it because you enjoy it.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part I do.  But it also needs to pay the bills.

Away from the video day job I'm a fairly competent photographer, and I really really enjoy my hobby, I hate hate hate it when I'm asked to take photos for somebody else, really riles me big time.  I don't do my hobby for other folk I do it for me.
I've never done any photography I'm happy with for other people.

I've had folk license images I've taken in pursuit of my hobby that have happened to be fairly good, but I really struggle to think of a time when I've enjoyed doing photography to a brief, or been happy with the results.

Don't get me wrong, I volunteer my video services when an occassion arises that I think I can have fun with something, or if I support a cause, and I'll do that to the same standard as a paid job, usually for expenses (no I can't just burn and print you 50DVDs for free as well, sorreeee) but I'm very precious about my photography and that it remains absolutely mine.

I work with full time press photographers frequently, and I've never met one who is doing as well as you might think... a pro having a 1DmkIV isn't the same thing as a hobbyist having a 1DmkIV,  don't assume wealth or brilliant pay because a pro has the (often hired in) tools for a job.

The amateur with all the gear has a well paid day job.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 05:38:30 AM by paul13walnut5 »

Hillsilly

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2013, 08:16:29 AM »
Hi Dave, I like your site.  Your work is as good as a lot of other professionals.  But is that enough?  Through my association with camera clubs, competitions and via my own work, I come across a lot of professional photographers (I'm not one myself, so take my comments as those of a mere bystander).  Many have backgrounds similar to yourself - in between jobs, love photography and think they'll give it a go.  Unfortunately, most don't do well financially and move on within a year or so.  But some do very well. 

The ones that do well financially tend to have extremely high photographic skills (you look at their work and go "WOW!"), great interpersonal skills (people enjoy doing business with them), focus on a particular market (they get known for doing something well), do good marketing (because you always need more clients) and are very business/profit orientated.  Nobody would expect you to be an expert at all of these on day one.  So the real question is whether you want to spend the next five years trying to develop these skills and grow a business knowing that there is a very high risk that you won't be successful and will probably eventually throw the towel in anyway.  As others have said above, there are easier things to make money at.
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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2013, 08:16:29 AM »

RLPhoto

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2013, 08:18:52 AM »
Hi there, my name is Dave. I need a little advice if possible. I was in the computer graphics industry for 20 years. I lost my job last December. I've been having a hard time finding work. So, with that said I'm kind of find myself at a crossroads in my life/career. I have been a hobby photographer for about 10 years and thought maybe now is the time to change career paths. What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to get into this career. I dont have any buisness or marketing education, so I am willing to take some classes. I love to shoot landscapes, cars, old buildings, abstract things. I know this industry is competitive and probably oversaturated but I want to do something I love. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!

Thanks,
My website is below
www.davedwire.com

Dave


Wow. With a portfolio of work like that, I don't see why it would be difficult to find work at another similar company. You'll be better off doing that than being a photographer. It's very difficult to make it work out.
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adebrophy

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2013, 03:36:44 PM »
I also considered doing photography commercially when I turned freelance in my PR business and have managed to do some photography work for paying clients that has paid pretty well on a day rate basis. However, primarily as I've been more busy doing the PR, which grew to 95% of my time, I've simply not had the time to scale up the photography and wonder honestly if I'd have been able to do so to fill the same degree of time given the amount of work you'd need to stay booked up and busy. The work involves lots of hours here and half days there and all the time in between when marketing yourself isn't earning.

So, it is tough. But by being a freelance at the business I know, I have been able to work to get better at the photography and that's been the best of both worlds. So don't abandon your experience and current trade, but find a freelance model that lets you strike out in the void with a safety net beneath you.

One key decision I took was to assess the day rates of people working in my area and market (I do PR photos and events) and aim to match that pricing rather than undercut other pros. Why dilute the value of the very business you want to pay your bills in future? Aim to the lower end of the scale to acknowledge your relative inexperience for sure, but don't kill off the profession!

Another suggestion - while doing something else that pays the bills - is to volunteer. Find charities and causes that need a professional to do a job pro bono and give them your time. I did two years of working with some brilliant local groups in this way and got lots of real world experience. When the photos need to be as good as any other pros and when the time and people challenges are the same, you learn awfully fast. The crucial thing is that you're not (potentially) making mistakes on someone's budget so you have the leeway to learn by mistakes, which is really the only way to do it. Volunteering in this way is also a better alternative to working for rock bottom rates that kill the market.

I also strongly echo the advice about finding a niche. Working in PR and having contacts from my past agencies I have a client perspective on what's needed that's really helped me deliver work that's kept clients happy. Are there fields of image capture that could complement your brilliant digital art that could give you an edge? Possibly...

A couple of years on, the photography is still a sideline due to the rest of the business but its one that pays for itself, funds new photographic toys and helps towards paying the bills. I used to want to leave behind PR to a greater extent, but doing a bit of two careers has made me love both more. Creating a portfolio of saleable skills and developing your own flexible, hybrid career is very much a possibility these days. Why choose?
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dswtan

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2013, 02:27:59 PM »
Some great advice here - it's all been said really, but with a 30-yr professional in my family, I feel bound to re-emphasize something.

"I don't have any business or marketing education" <-- there's your problem, as they say.

Most of *any* business is business and marketing.
 
Check out this chart -- there are similar ones around:
http://blog.stanleyleary.com/2012/01/where-my-time-goes-as-full-time-pro.html

But there is hope - you now also understand why you are probably having trouble getting something in your existing profession too!

Clearly you have the skills and experience as a great graphics designer. All that's likely missing is the business and marketing skills to sell yourself to potential employers - or even to make it yourself in your own business in the same field.

Go for it. Get that education. Find free or low-cost classes - fantastic MOOCs like Coursera/Udacity/EdX, etc. Even just YouTube. Also your public library. Use that time you now have as an investment - in you.
 
Good luck! But heed the advice in this very fair thread carefully and "seize the day"!

e17paul

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2013, 04:02:04 PM »
Hi Dave
First I'm an amateur so not worried about you as competition.
You say you want to do something you love, my personal experience is don't turn your hobby in to a career/profession, you could find it takes the fun and enjoyment out of it! Ambling round taking some pics of this or that whatever takes your fancy, a bit of post processing if or when it takes your fancy is a lot different from shoot this crappy product and make it look good, and by the way I want it yesterday, then having the customer trying to move the goal posts when they are unhappy.

I trained at college as an engineer and couldn't find work in that field so I thought I'm a good vehicle mechanic, I love doing it for a hobby, I'll get a job in a garage, some vacancies for that available.
Trouble is when you have spent all day under a car the last place appealing for r and r is under another bloody car.
I was in the garage a year before the opportunity to work in a tool room arose, it then took about a year before I wanted to be under a car again.

I'm sure there will be some who say go for it, and if you do it may work for you but do you want to take the risk of ruining your hobby.

I would say if you do go for it try to not end up doing landscape, cars and the other things you like.

Good luck finding work it is a real low point finding yourself unemployed.

Cheers Graham.

++++1

I enjoy messing around with cars and cameras, and I'm so glad that neither is my occupation. I design shopping centres for a living, and really don't feel like thinking through the redesign of my own house and garage when I get home. It's just so tempting to take the car or camera out instead.

Whichever you do for a living, it will detract from your enjoyment. But it's also worth doing something you do for a living. Good luck in whichever direction you choose to go.
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LeifHurst

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2013, 02:32:17 PM »
An interesting read for sure.

I don't think anyone can talk you into or out of this decision. Making the jump to pro as a full-time gig is a tough one and one that I know most people can't do. I don't know what your situation is at home (much easier to do as a single guy instead of someone with a wife and 3 kids) but if you want to make the jump, then jump. Give it a finite amount of time before you realize you're going to need to cut your losses and move onto something else.

"I need to be making X a month in six months."

Whatever X is a month, work backwards. Who is paying you? How are you going to get them to find you? Why would they pick you over someone else? You're going to find out it's marketing. It's probably 50% marketing in making it a full time gig. It's tough. It's really, really tough. It's been tough to me even as a part-timer with a background in marketing.

With all of that said, Jeremy Cowart was a graphic artist before grabbing a camera and made it big, pretty quick. I only bring that up because he has shared his story and it's pretty accessible online. Granted I would bet there are probably hundreds or thousands of crushed former graphic artists for every one Cowart.

With all of that said, I personally don't know any full-time pro photographers shooting what you shoot. I know dozens of portrait, children, wedding, and commercial photographers that are all enjoying being a full-time pro though.

Either way, keep us updated and best wishes!
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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2013, 02:45:10 PM »
I used to be a semi pro musician and can tell you that anything outside the "norm" or where you employ yourself is a tough way to make money. It requires skill, a bit of luck, and a lot of perseverance and networking within your industry. You can money photography but if you are starting out, don't rely on it to pay the rent.

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2013, 02:45:10 PM »

Valvebounce

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2013, 08:09:37 PM »
Hi Chauncey.
My father used to work maintenance in a local hospital. One day after a particularly upset surgeon tried to "tear him a new one" following an equipment failure my father replied with "my mistakes are there for all to see, you bury yours". I'm not saying the equipment failure didn't cause the surgeon additional stress, as I'm pretty sure having the flood light loose half it's light would have stressed a saint. My point is to reinforce what you said about no back button.
One of my friends is an anaestheologist, he unwinds by driving a TR6 or a TVR FAST.

I for one really appreciate that there are people like yourself out there willing to deal with the STRESS of keeping us alive yet unaware of the surgeon chiseling a bone for a new joint, or fiddling with the fleshy bit that stopped working.

Thanks, cheers Graham.


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David_in_Seattle

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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2013, 01:08:09 PM »
Hi there, my name is Dave. I need a little advice if possible. I was in the computer graphics industry for 20 years. I lost my job last December. I've been having a hard time finding work. So, with that said I'm kind of find myself at a crossroads in my life/career. I have been a hobby photographer for about 10 years and thought maybe now is the time to change career paths. What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to get into this career. I dont have any buisness or marketing education, so I am willing to take some classes. I love to shoot landscapes, cars, old buildings, abstract things. I know this industry is competitive and probably oversaturated but I want to do something I love. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!

Thanks,
My website is below
www.davedwire.com

Dave


Dave,

I also faced a similar situation.  In 2010 I was a web & graphic designer for a non-profit that was on the verge of going under by the year's end.  I didn't have a formal college education in web development or graphic design and my portfolio solely consisted of work I did for the non-profit.  So I figured it would be hard to market my skill set in an over saturated industry (there are literally over 200,000 web developers in the Pacific Northwest).

With that in mind I decided to go back to college and earn a degree in business marketing with a focus in online advertising and social media.  I don't have any kids and I'm not married so it was a pretty easy decision.  While pursuing my degree I actively sought out internships with online retail companies (Amazon, REI, Google, and eventually Expedia) along with expanding my personal portfolio of photography, websites, and videos.  Luckily, by the time I graduated I was offered full-time jobs with all of them (I accepted the offer from Expedia where I'm currently employed).

In my current role at Expedia, I'm responsible for transitioning the company's digital portfolio of activities to a new platform that supports mobile and tablet devices.  That basically means acquiring new photos and videos whether that involves purchasing stock photos, hiring photographers/videographers, or doing it myself.  It's a fun job and I'm certainly doing what I love as a career, but it does have its ups and downs.

Here's a my 2 cents on pursuing a career in photography/videography:
  • Graphic design, web development, photography, and videography go hand-in-hand.  There are A LOT of opportunities out there for people that have extensive knowledge of all four.  In the corporate world, everyone is focusing on retooling their online presence to accommodate Android, iOS, and social media platforms.  That means better images, better video, and better interfaces that incorporate online touchscreen devices for the global consumer.  This also leads to opportunities for small business/self-employed consultants because these large corporations may decide to contract out parts of this work to those that specialize in specific tasks.
  • Decide whether you want to be your own boss.  While in college I expanded my personal portfolio by photographing or video recording weddings, events, and indie projects.  Within a year I was able to establish a healthy living, but I didn't feel ready to fully pursue my own business.  Even though it's great being my own boss, at the end of the day I don't get paid unless I meet my client's expectations.  So in essence my clients became my boss.
  • Decide if you need to go back to school.  Amazon, Google, REI, and Expedia all gave me pending offers based on whether I earned a college degree with a 3.5 GPA or higher in Business or Computer Science Engineering.  May sound crazy, but there's a lot of stiff competition out there.  I later learned that the degree is a form of collateral for hiring managers and recruiters.
  • Pursuing your hobby as a career will definitely change your viewpoint on said hobby.  Graphic design, photography, and videography have been life long hobbies.  Doing them as a profession means less time doing them as a hobby.  There have been several moments where I've been on weeklong photo shoots or video productions and by the time they're complete the last thing I want to do is pick up a camera and work on a personal project.  To continue them as I hobby I've lately made sure I have time on the weekends to get out of the house and take a few photos/videos.

Hope this info helps.

Cheers,
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 01:17:16 PM by David_in_Seattle »
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Re: Should I get into this industry?
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2013, 01:08:09 PM »