August 27, 2014, 05:23:40 PM


What is your total income percentage that you make out of photography?

I don't make money out of photography
86 (50.9%)
Less than 25%
48 (28.4%)
Between 25-50%
7 (4.1%)
More than 50%
5 (3%)
All my income came out of photography
23 (13.6%)

Total Members Voted: 169

Voting closed: October 19, 2012, 05:55:35 AM

Author Topic: How many of us are making money out of photography ?  (Read 14618 times)


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #60 on: September 20, 2012, 02:58:08 PM »
The thing now is that with modern SLR digital cameras & knowledge of computer editing software almost anyone can take a reasonable photo.
BUT almost everyone I know never ever prints anything or vary rarely.
For me photography has always been & always will be about handling real prints & bits of paper.
Show anyone a photo on a computer screen & 99.99% of the time they will never ever buy it (wedding photography being the exception). BUT show them a real print something tactile that they can handle & then you have a more that reasonable chance of selling it.
I have a reasonable portfolio of old stuff from the 60’s & 70’s that continually sells very well. Also my more modern stuff sells quite well, simply because as I said its actually printed & mounted.
But hay ho what do I know, I’m just an old git of 66.
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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #61 on: September 20, 2012, 03:55:54 PM »
Today was my first day getting paid, doing contract work for a local portrait company (yay me!).
Mostly I've been lucky that through friends and networking, I've been able to do get my kids summer camp covered (by doing a photo trade with the camp), products for the family and toys for my kids with small vendors, some nice meals from friends who own restaurants and need food shots.  No real money yet, but small things that we wouldn't normally be able to afford and that I can put into a portfolio.  I'm a stay at home mom and am happy with this for now, once my youngest is in school fulltime am looking forward to transitioning into more paid work


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #62 on: September 20, 2012, 04:07:54 PM »
I make some cash here and there with editorial work - it's all about building relationships. There are literally ten thousand photographers out there who are as good or better than you. All that matters is your personality, work ethic, and networking skills. Sometimes, I find, even less than ideal composition or quality can be sold if you're dealing with someone you have a good relationship with.

Also don't be afraid to pitch to strangers. A friend of mine shot a pic of the Trump Tower for kicks a week ago and e-mailed their building manager with an offer to sell a set of postcards, and the manager accepted. You never know when you're going to get a hit with that kind of stuff.

One thing I've never done are weddings, and I know there's money to be made there. When I think of "professional" photographers, I usually think of the guys that shoot weddings, headshots, family portaits, etc. It's lucrative work if you can build up to it, but it's not for everyone.


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #63 on: September 20, 2012, 04:08:34 PM »
Great Topic

As others have already mentioned - in today's reality - with all the PP software and low cost equipment - almost anybody can produce decent images. Most people are very happy with their own p&s results of family events and children.

The primary source of income for still seems to be either wedding photography, or if you become one of the elite chosen few who hit the top of the ladder as celebrity fashion photographers.

I unfortunately do not see myself as either of the above 2.


So, no money, but lots of personal pleasure.
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Chris Geiger

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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #64 on: September 20, 2012, 04:08:59 PM »
My only income is from wedding video and photography, it's full time gig for me.


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #65 on: September 20, 2012, 05:04:43 PM »
This is a total guess, but I'll bet the majority of people on gear forums who can afford the best gear, can't afford to leave their existing job to do photography.  I don't think many photographers are gainfully employed.

That only makes sense.  Who has more money, on average?  A full-time photographer or someone with a day job making $80k/year and doing photography as a second job?  Even $60k/year and photog as 2nd job.  This is the best way to make a lot of money to buy gear, unless you shoot for SI, NG, or some photojournalism Paparazzi type gig.  The other jobs are too far and between.
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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #66 on: September 20, 2012, 06:03:20 PM »
A few reasons I don't do it full time is that in the U.S., most photography jobs are your own business.  At least the ones that make money.  So then I lose health care and 401k.  I'm too scared to lose those I suppose.  I can't get the math to work out to make as much money or more, factoring this in, with just doing photography vs. a full-time job with benefits and 401k, and doing photography as a second job.  I'm sure it's done, I just don't know how and perhaps I don't have the "guts" to do it.

Just a bit of unsolicited advice....if you're making money from it at all....Incorporate yourself!!

I've done contracting work for my real job for quite stuff, database, coding, etc.
I incorporated myself in my state, and for federal, I applied for a "S" corporation.

Incorporating, allows you to keep a LOT of your own money. Yes, there is extra paperwork, but I find the trade off is worth it. Get a CPA to work with you, but keep records, log books (a small one in my car for recording odometer settings when I drive to/from work related gigs is invaluable) can write off mileage, you can write off equipment purchases (lenses, bodies, memory, computers and software for PP, etc...).

This alone will help you keep more of your hard earned money from the tax man. Don't go crazy, you don't have to, just record your stuff, and put it on your forms at EOY...that's what deductions are for.

If you go all on your own, your benefits and retirement are yours to manage. A little scary sure, but being in charge of your own destiny is a good thing.

First for health care, you can do what I have done in the past...especially if you are in decent health and this is FANTASTIC if you are young. You get a high deductible medical insurance policy, say around $1200 deductible. In the old days, they called this "Major Medical" is there only in case you get hit by a bus, or have a heart attack...something catastrophic.

If you have a high deductible insurance policy...that qualifies you to open up a HSA (Health Savings Account) can do this at your bank (oh, open a business account to keep $$ separate from you personal stuff). The HSA is NOT like a FSA you get it at work. It is NOT use it or lose rolls over annually.

You can stuff as much as the limits each year (forgot what it is off hand this year) with PRE-tax money. You use this for your routine medical expenses (meds, checkups, office visits). This allows YOu to shop around for your health care.  This money grows with you...and it can even be invested to grow in the market...but some risk with that). Money left over at retirement...can be converted to retirement funds.

When I was doing this a couple years ago (still have company, but current gig is W2) I found that often when I went to a Dr...even once for a MRI, I told them I was paying for it, and they usually knocked off like 15% of the bill right there.

Also, do a little research. Often people will try to steer you into doing a LLC. I did the full corp thing filed as a "S" corp as mentioned above. This has tax benefits. Quickly for an saves you on employment taxation (SS and medicare). Let's say you bill out for $100K for a year.
According to the IRS, you have to pay yourself a 'reasonable' salary. Let's say you pay yourself a salary of $40K. You pay state, federal and SS and medicare on that $40K. At EOY, the rest of the total, the $60K falls through on your personal only have to pay fed and state on that, but none of the employment taxes on it. Of course, that $60K is whittled down by all your deductions for expenses (mileage, purchases, any legitimate business expenses).

Again, get a can write that off too, and they will help you to do a lot of this. Also, invest in one piece of software...Quickbooks. It makes it easy to track expenses, your payroll to yourself, dividends your write to yourself, and at EOY, you dump a file out to send to your CPA.

I started with a local lawyer, paid him about $200 and gave a name for a a couple weeks, he handed me all the forms filled out, state paperwork and I had a company. You can do this on your own...I went the easy way. I didn't make squat for the first 3x years of the company, but I did write a lot off. I started making money through it after that.

Yes, it is more paperwork, but once you learn becomes routine, and you can reap the benefits.

Do a little investigation...and start today if you are earning ANY money on the side. You can start writing things off...AND, if nothing else, it gives your personal assets protection, in case something happens while you are on a shoot and something goes wrong.

I hope that helps a bit....your mileage may vary, but IMHO...incorporating and doing a bit of paperwork is about the ONLY way you can keep as much of your hard earned dollars to yourself. Those laws are on the books....take advantage of them.




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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #67 on: September 20, 2012, 08:37:02 PM »
Currently 21 years old and barely started to try to throw my name out there by any means. Spent over 10k on equiptment thus far (student loans). Shot a couple TV actors, one wedding, and a few musicians which has brought me SOME money. Living off student loans at the moment, so any money earned off shooting is like a luxury.

Yes, I go to photo school too. If I mess up really bad, I'm screwed :o ! But still giving 110%; handing out flyers tomorrow and have some Model Mayhem models lined up to get some decent portfolio work. After portfolio is solid, internship hunting! :)

In other words.... Ten-ish years to go!  :P

Any pros out there, Advice would be wonderful, but the good kind.. No, "just give up and study accounting", because I'm not the quitting type  ;)

My advice is that the moment or soon after your pictures are worth every penny and more that you ask from your future clients you have work. It won't be ten-ish years if your 1. Believe in your self, 2. Have talent, 3. Develope that talent. I started photography about 5 years ago and i have been pro for 2 years now.

I often recieve job applications from photogs and i have not been happy with any of their photos, although they have been to photography schools and i haven't. I am still a "fresh/young" photographer but i am constantly improving.

Last thing: don't quit. (Like you said) Nothing will happen unless you make it happen.

5 years shooting and two years pro, that makes me much more comfortable! Like you said, just gotta learn my style, develop it, and most importantly, believe in myself. Thanks for the ego boost and advice!  ;D

Any pros out there, Advice would be wonderful, but the good kind.. No, "just give up and study accounting", because I'm not the quitting type

Arrive Early.
Be prepared to stay late.

If you don't know, say so. 
If you don't know, not only say so, but make it your mission to find out for next time.

Use as much gear as you can.  Hire.  Borrow. 

There are some great books written 30 years ago.  Apertures and shutters are still the same.  Read.  Your manual.  Magazines.  Books.  Forums.

Don't believe everything you read.

Research.  Location?  Get on Google Earth.  Google Streetview.  Use The Photographers Ephemeris.  Where will the sun be?  When?  How high in the sky?  Get on flickr.  See how other folk have tackled it, work out how you are going to tackle it.

Plan plan plan.  Don't carry every bit of kit you own.  Know what you'll need.  No more, no less.  Except for batteries and memory.  How much will you need?  Take double.

Be nice.

Make sure every job has a benefit for you.  Sometimes this is only money.  Sometimes it will be a notable face that will enhance your portfolio.  Sometimes it will be a tricky situation or technical set up.  Sometimes it will be all three.

Charge a rate.  ALWAYS charge a rate.  ALWAYS charge a rate.  Be it mates rates for mates.  Be it charity rates for charities.  Be it the union rate.  Always charge for your time, that way it's worth something to your client.  People don't properly attribute value or worth to folk doing freebies.  As soon as you are charging then folk will take your calls, will be there when they say they will, will go in with a plan.

This last point is the last single most important lesson somebody new to creative work can learn.  Your time is worth something.  Make the material good and they'll come back.  You want repeat work.  Do it free or cheap the first time and you've set your rate for the relationship.

I'm definitely going to be looking into the Google Earth idea, specifically for a couple places I've been wanting to see but haven't physically been there. I've read a couple of history of photo books and they definitely taught me a lot of things, looking into buying a couple wedding photography books as well since I'm trying to get into that type of work.

As for charging rates, the only thing I have NOT charged was for collaborating with models on Model Mayhem in order to 'up' my portfolio. I've only shot two models from there thus far, but would love to read your view on doing it free for portfolio use (And to gain experience as well). Thank you very much for the helpful advice!  ;D

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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #68 on: September 20, 2012, 09:47:29 PM »
I sold a photo.  Once.  For a charity.  Wish I could figure out a way to make a living with astrophotography (big demand for that, eh?!)  My hat's off to you wedding photogs - I couldn't do it, too much of a cynic with an overactive jawbone.


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #69 on: September 20, 2012, 10:49:40 PM »
All my income comes from, or is directly related to, photography. I'm not big on giving advice because it can come off as elitist, but freelance work, whether its for editorial or commercial clients, is a cut-throat world. Every staff photographer that gets laid off in the publishing business becomes your competition. Combine that with dwindling freelance budgets, and there's less pie to go around than ever before, and more people that want a piece of it.

When I first started out, I vowed that if I ever got beat, I'd get beat on talent, not work ethic. If someone has more natural talent than I do, there isn't much I can do about that, but no one's going to work harder at my trade than I do :)

Interestingly, I hate spending money on gear. I'd rather spend it on my race cars  ;D And ho's :o
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 10:52:28 PM by V8Beast »


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #70 on: September 24, 2012, 12:30:09 AM »
Dr. Croubie and Sheedoe..I, like you, dropped about 15k or even 16k on gear in 2.25 years after my band mate brought over his 50D..I was hooked once again.  I had given up on film photog for about 10 years and shy'd away from digital until summer 2010.  Sold a lot of personal assets to buy such gear (records, restored '67 GTO ragtop and play the market).  I try never to touch the paycheck when buying gear.  I've made about $500 so far in the 3 weeks I've been trying so its out there.

Bdunbar79..I know your feeling all too well and gave up a 125K+ a year job to pursue a hobby..rather scary.  I ate crow for 2-3 years but invested my time wisely.  Now 10 years later the business is deemed successful doing IT support for a few hundred clients.  Currently pursuing that existing client base with far so good.  Follow your dreams..just do the research, network yourself and read.

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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #71 on: September 30, 2012, 02:04:46 PM »
I live 100% out of photography but to be honest is not as easy as some years ago :-)


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Re: How many of us are making money out of photography ?
« Reply #72 on: October 04, 2012, 08:04:57 PM »
Boy it seems like no ones making money lol! Stupid cell phones and point and shoots ruining everything lol