Months ago I wrote a post called Photographers and Money, We Should Talk. The blog post seemed to get a lot of traction and generated a lot of comments and questions.
Since then I’ve wanted to get my friend Zack Arias on the line and record a conversation about this stuff, because Zack’s made almost as many mistakes as I have, and has learned from them and spends his days making a living with the thing he loves. He is a man of integrity and, like me, a fan of the amateurs and anyone trying to do this for a living, whether that’s full-time, part-time, or some time in between. Between his chaotic schedule and my travels it’s taken 5 months to make this happen, but sat down this morning and had a conversation. I recorded it. Skype dropped us a couple times and the sound has some flaws, but I hope you’ll sit down with us and listen to this 55 minute conversation about money. Even more, I hope you’ll learn something, or be encouraged to make some changes. Getting your house in order financially, running a business, trying to do this for a living, it’s not easy – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To download the MP3 file, instead of streaming, click on this link.
Zack Arias is a full-time photographer from Atlanta, Georgia, the author of Photography Q&A, and his blog can be found at DEDPXL.com
If this conversation stirs something in you, I’ve written two books – VisionMongers, Making a Life and a Living in Photography, and How To Feed A Starving Artist – I wrote both to serve photographers wrestling with the business and financial stuff. I hope they help.
We’re all in this together. I might not have the answers, but I can try and I’d love to help if I can – comments are open if you’ve got a question about what Zack and I talked about, or perhaps something that never made it into the coversation.
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Loved the perspective, the straight-shooting, the common sense. You both are a breath of fresh air. Thank you.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to do this and share this! This is all so important and I really hope people take it to heart as I think there would be so many more amazing photographers around the world if they would put an importance on photography as a business from the start. Thank you both and great advice!
Thank you for the honest conversation. You’ve hit a lot of issues that challenge us when trying to figure out “what we’re worth.”
Do many photographers and photo studios publish their rates? When I started in music, everyone knew the going rates for studios, session musicians & teachers because the rates were public knowledge. Though now, with a shrinking industry, most don’t publish their rates.
When I started in photography, it was hard to find enough rates to be able to benchmark my offering.
Hey Fernando – I think very few people post rates, which on hand makes it challenging for others, but for those who would otherwise do so it allows for actual negotiation. I’ve always found, in no matter what I was involved, that the moment rates are posted I lose my ability to negotiate. Perhaps this is where professional associations are of help in giving others a sense of what industry standards look like ( a continuum more than a standard, I think) and give, as you point out, a place to begin benchmarking. On the other hand, if we weren’t all such lone-rangers we’d have friends and collegues and we’d learn this all in context of community. But then what do I know? I’m a bit of a lone-ranger too… 🙂
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Great conversation. One of the things that seems to be a common thread with successful people, such as yourself, is a strong work ethic. One that comes from having jobs as one grows up and realizing where money comes from. Whether it’s washing pots and pans at 12 years old in a local bakery, shacking groceries, etc… It’s that hard work for very little return that teaches a person how to be responsible with their money, live within their means, live a full but modest life in order to sustain that thing or things that they absolutely love to do. If one of those is photography then so be it!
Work ethic is a VERY strong indicator of success in whatever occupation one pursues!
Great insights here as usual! Thank you David and Zack.
Wonderful conversation David, thank you for sharing.
“just go plow your damn field” – Zack 2015
damn. awesome as ever. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing David. This was greatly insightful, and always love hearing from Zack’s experience.
Excellent discussion, and i think sound advice.
This was excellent and so good to hear two up front and honest people discuss a topic that often seems to be taboo subject. A wonderful addition to your recent book David. Thanks again.
Great talk. Not a lot of photography money talk going on out there, so much appreciated. Most helpful topics for me were the endless gear acquisitions and income streaming. Great stuff. Thank you.
This was very helpful, not to mention honest and straight forward, which I enjoy and connect with when I listen to both of you. I am building a business and money has always been a tough topic for me to get control of. Feeling a little better about it hearing your accounts of working through it. I really like the overall theme of “who gives a shit what you do, it is your business and you are being creative” Thank you again.
Using a Macbook can’t seem to download this file – just get a “save page as” message when I right-click?
I was able to download the mp3 to my Mac using this URL:
Me, too, Bob. :/