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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-30-2009, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Need some advice.

Hi everyone. so i have a few friends, including myself, are wondering if we should get into photography as a profession. We're not sure if we should just keep it as a hobby or to purse it.

I guess my question is if we should just keep it as a hobby or go to school for it and pursue it as a career. i know most of you here take some incredible photos and i was wondering if any of you do it as a career and what do you suggest for someone who is just starting out.

thanks for all your help!


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-30-2009, 10:47 AM
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Re: Need some advice.

Up front decide what you would want to do in photography as a career. Its like writting, there are many, many different types of writing. There is wedding photography, sports photography, wildlife photography, portrait, event photography, etc, etc. Wedding/event is probably one of the easier fields to get in to.

You can certainly go to school for photography...but that won't really help you much. Its a skill you can learn on your own and/or with a mentor (that certainly helps). School can be useful to help out, but not something I would persue unless returning to school while already earning an income from it or you are already practiced and looking to do it as a career. A better path to take would be to focus on business with a minor in photography. Very, VERY few photographers understand business well and it screws over lots of them all the time.

For just starting out, read as many tutorials as you possibly can, pick up an inexpensive dSLR or film SLR and use it as much as possible, use the manual settings as much as possible as well to actually learn what everything does. Start training your eye to see photographic possibilities and how of a photo would turn out. Talk to local photographers after a bit and find out if you can work as an assitant (generally unpaid) as they will often give you tips and you can get a bit of a feel for some of the photographic work. They might also take you under their wing as a mentor.

As a profession...most people fail as photographers for a career and many make very little money. The most 'lucrative' are often those who do things like portrait/event/wedding photography part time on the side and have a day job. Of course its nice to be good at it as well. Few turn in to an Annie Liebowitz.
-Matt
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-30-2009, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need some advice.

thank you so much for the insight. ive kinda been thinking along the same lines. going to school is good, but it's a 2 year program and i dont want to waste 2 years learning something and paying money when the job opportunity is slim.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2009, 01:45 PM
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Re: Need some advice.

the photography as a side job thing is what i currently do. with it being such a competitive market out there, and until you become a super huge-name photographer, you're living off of scraps if you try and jump into it full time, not to mention the amount of time and organization it takes just to get a business started, it can be intimidating.

so, i have my day job, and i have my late evening job doing product photography and the occasional events. as regular as it is, i've been able to have it bring it about a quarter of my total annual income, but that's after a few years of hard work and tons of money in the deep for equipment and time.

in the end, if you plan on doing photography, i'd just say to take it lightly and one step at a time, because it's real easy for you to get sick of it, if it becomes a boon for you.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2009, 02:11 PM
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Re: Need some advice.

even a full time wedding photog wont rake in mad money.

say you get "known" and pull in 3000/wedding.
the wedding season is may-october, 5 months ~20 weekends.
if you're charging 3000, you're bringing a 2nd. pay them 750-1000 for the day.
cost of materials and prints included in the package ~150$
@ 1000 actuations per wedding you're looking at a new camera every year, so, let's round it to about 2500 a year on "gear" (camera, batteries, CF cards, etc)
add insurance for all your equipment at 500/year.
the total is now 1950 per wedding = $39 000 a year before taxes.

chances are you're not going to scarifice all you summer weekends, so let's say you take 5 weekends off. or 1 per month. you're now at 15 weddings = 29 250 a year before taxes.

that's under 15/hr at your average 9-5 40 hrs per week job.

and that's at 3000/wedding. most entry level wedding photogs charge quite a bit less.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2009, 09:23 AM
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Re: Need some advice.

[quote author=blam link=topic=140385.msg3029568#msg3029568 date=1238523071]
even a full time wedding photog wont rake in mad money.

say you get "known" and pull in 3000/wedding.
the wedding season is may-october, 5 months ~20 weekends.
if you're charging 3000, you're bringing a 2nd. pay them 750-1000 for the day.
cost of materials and prints included in the package ~150$
@ 1000 actuations per wedding you're looking at a new camera every year, so, let's round it to about 2500 a year on "gear" (camera, batteries, CF cards, etc)
add insurance for all your equipment at 500/year.
the total is now 1950 per wedding = $39 000 a year before taxes.

chances are you're not going to scarifice all you summer weekends, so let's say you take 5 weekends off. or 1 per month. you're now at 15 weddings = 29 250 a year before taxes.

that's under 15/hr at your average 9-5 40 hrs per week job.

and that's at 3000/wedding. most entry level wedding photogs charge quite a bit less.
[/quote]

+1.

Of course, there are also many very succesful wedding photogs who do around double the number of weddings because they are well known enough that they get strong bookings year round. Also some charge a lot more because they are very, very good and very, very well known. Some of the really high end ones charge $10-20k a wedding...but you could probably count that number on your hands and toes unlike the 95% that do a few weddings a year and aren't charging more then 2-3k a wedding...because the market won't bear it for their services.

One of these days I still want to try to get in to 2nd shooting weddings just to do it once in a great while (IE 2-5 times a year). My biggest problem is I shoot film and so few wedding photogs still do. Maybe when I go digital.
-Matt
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need some advice.

All very great input. seems like the general consensus here is wedding photography. what about working for magazines or newspapers? i know its very competitive out there. most people pick up a camera and say they're amazing at it. and with cameras being more and more easy to use these days, its not hard taking a good picture. but i will definitely work on getting better as a hobby for now. i dont think im good enough yet to be paid for anything lol.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 09:40 AM
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Re: Need some advice.

Nope still hard. Even looking at people on this site or photography forums...maybe 1 in 10 of them are capable of producing images that any magazine would consider reproducing...and the people participating on these sites represent maybe 1 in 10 or probably more like 1 in 100 of the general populace who use a camera. Oh, of the 1 in 10 who are capable of producing images that a magazine would consider reproducing, maybe only 1 in 5 of those are capable of producing such images regularly (instead of a once in a while type deal). That gets you around .02-.2% of the general populace who use cameras are maybe capable of doing magazine level work...and then you get in to how many jobs there are and that still means that there is maybe 1 job for every 4 or 5 joes or janes who are capable of doing the work.

Its easier to take a picture these days, its not really easier to learn or be able to take good pictures. Easier to learn the process maybe.

With magazines and especially newspapers cutting back these days it is very hard to find work with them either writing or photography unless you are very good, and probably very good and established. Your best bet, at least for photojournalism work (PJ) is to try to get either a job, a freelance job or interning for a local newspaper. Doing some work for a local paper for a few years, if you are good at it might get you a staff position for the paper or maybe be able to get you to catch the eye of a larger regional paper. Magazine photography tends to differ from PJ work unless it is a news magazine. Magazines tend to focus more on product, portrait, landscape or sports photography depending on the bent of the magazine. All hard to break in to. Again, never hurts, especially if you've got some basic (or even advanced) practice under your belt to try to contact some newspapers or magazines or even some of the photograpers directly and ask if they'd take you on as an assitant/apprentice.
-Matt
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 01:29 PM
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Re: Need some advice.

[quote author=azazel1024 link=topic=140385.msg3036450#msg3036450 date=1238766024]
Nope still hard. Even looking at people on this site or photography forums...maybe 1 in 10 of them are capable of producing images that any magazine would consider reproducing...and the people participating on these sites represent maybe 1 in 10 or probably more like 1 in 100 of the general populace who use a camera. Oh, of the 1 in 10 who are capable of producing images that a magazine would consider reproducing, maybe only 1 in 5 of those are capable of producing such images regularly (instead of a once in a while type deal). That gets you around .02-.2% of the general populace who use cameras are maybe capable of doing magazine level work...and then you get in to how many jobs there are and that still means that there is maybe 1 job for every 4 or 5 joes or janes who are capable of doing the work.

Its easier to take a picture these days, its not really easier to learn or be able to take good pictures. Easier to learn the process maybe.

With magazines and especially newspapers cutting back these days it is very hard to find work with them either writing or photography unless you are very good, and probably very good and established. Your best bet, at least for photojournalism work (PJ) is to try to get either a job, a freelance job or interning for a local newspaper. Doing some work for a local paper for a few years, if you are good at it might get you a staff position for the paper or maybe be able to get you to catch the eye of a larger regional paper. Magazine photography tends to differ from PJ work unless it is a news magazine. Magazines tend to focus more on product, portrait, landscape or sports photography depending on the bent of the magazine. All hard to break in to. Again, never hurts, especially if you've got some basic (or even advanced) practice under your belt to try to contact some newspapers or magazines or even some of the photograpers directly and ask if they'd take you on as an assitant/apprentice.
-Matt
[/quote]

he speaks the truth.

you also have to have very good networking skills to get in on most assignments.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2009, 07:23 PM
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Re: Need some advice.

networking is huge if you want to get work in the photo business. with DSLRs becoming common place and selling for the price a high end PnS would sell for 3 years ago, everyone thinks they are a "photographer"

I've seen absolutely stunning photos by people using "ancient" canon rebels with the kits lens and they would not even think of going "pro"

even if you can take a "good shot" can you go out on assignment and take 300? what about with clients that can't pose? shooting in the rain? the cold? can your equipment handle it? what happens when your equipment fails?

sure there are other forms of photography where you can make money, IE: sports, modeling, family portraits, and journalism but how easy is it to get your foot in the door?

a sports photographer definitely makes killer money. but what has he invested? you're looking at multiple bodies such as the 3500$ 1dMKIII so you're already 10k in the hole for bodies....then you look at lenses. look up the price of a fast 600mm prime with stabilizer along with 400mm and maybe 70-200 and perhaps even more. this is obviously TOP END gear, but an idea....

Canon EOS-1D Mark III
$13,499.16

Canon EF 400mm F2.8L IS U.S.M
$8,981.60

Canon EF 300mm F2.8L IS USM
$5,224.23

Canon EF 600 mm F4 IS USM (x3)
$10,248.46

Subtotal: $37,953.45

looking at modeling for someone like maxim, playboy, etc. good luck getting into the industry.

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