This week I indulge in a passionate rant about what it takes to be a so-called Professional Photographer. Join me as I discuss value and the need to serve an audience. Is it realistic to expect to make a living as a professional photographer? It is. But you better enjoy the struggle and you better be willing to become an entrepreneur because it’s so much more than just making photographs.
In this episode I mention two of my books, the first is VisionMongers, Making a Life and a Living in Photography – available on Amazon here
I also mention How To Feed a Starving Artist, available from Craft & Vision here.
Got questions about this video or ideas related to making a living in photography, leave them in the blog comments, I’d love to discuss them.
As I watched your video, I noticed you had an apple computer in the background. What sort of editing programs would you recommend to someone who knows little about editing. I manage to get around the package that came with my computer but want a bit more.
I am new to your photography & website and really enjoy your thoughts and discussions.
Hi Lynn – Sorry for the delay, I got away from the office for a few days. Yes, I use a Mac. I would happily recommend what I and almost every other photographer – professional or amateur – that I know uses: Adobe Lightroom. It’s great for organizing your images, and is a powerful image editor, but I think much simpler than Photoshop. In fact I almost never use Photoshop now. And Lightroom is much cheaper than Photoshop. I hope this helps.
Thanks for the video David. It’s enlightening. I jumped in a little soon , flew too close to the sun and got burnt for it for some of the reasons you said in the video, but here I am a few years down the line and you know what , I don’t regret it as looking back I’ve made a number of beautiful contributions to other people’s lives and businesses on the way. And that’s what matters – it’s taken me a while to realise it through life experience outside the college bubble (in the UK) and working for a few years (unrelated day job). I’m getting there slowly but surely and rebuilding my confidence as I learn about more ways I can give through my vision and craft and find ways of getting that message across to people who would use it.
Self-expression is important and healthy. But it’s not something which helps other people per se and it’s easy to get lost in that especially if it’s quite cathartic as it was with me dealing with some issues. It’s about perspective really . Not just photography this applies to either but practically any creative endeavour – perhaps because cameras are fun and something the general public use for self-expression many fall into the trap that you can “get” money for it.
Interesting discussion. I’m wondering about the terminology used. is there an accepted or assumed relationship between the word “professional” when used for a photographer and the quality of the photos made? When it comes to money , as you rightly pointed out, isn’t “commercial photographer” a better term?
With today’s technology and cameras, anyone can make beautiful photos. Everyone does! But only the commercial people will be able to “sell” these and actually make money.
Anyway, thanks for your Vision is Better series!
Hi Patrick – Ultimately this could be a discussion about words and definitions , which was not my point. Yes, professional could, and does, mean the standard we bring to our work and the way we interact with the world. However in this context, as a category, it means making a living with our work. To use the commercial designation would confuse things only because we now take that term to mean photographers who serve others in the realm of commerce – marketing images for the auto industry, or lifestyle ads for soap companies or travel bureaus. There are many more of course, but generally we mean commercial as a specific subset of professional photography, like wedding photography or journalism. Ultimately I don’t care what you call yourself – if you know your audience and know how to serve them, that’s probably all that matters. It’s photographers that argue over the words, not the paying clients. 🙂
Good point. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Loved the “air quotes” and Freudian’s in this episode David!
I am very serious about raising the game in my photography in the next couple of years. I love the challenge of increasing my vision and skill at telling a story. That is why, although I respect people that make their living making photo’s, I fear that if it ever became my “job” that love affair would end.
I’m looking to retire after decades in EMS. DO YOU RESPOND to these comments? I pray so. Thanks
Hi Chuck – This message feels a little spammy to me so on the off chance it’s sincere, I do reply, so let me know how I can help. (but I removed your weblink, just in case I’m right about the spam-ish-ness of this one. )
Wow David ! Thank You. Its entirely real and I’m on light duty as a paramedic and it’s been since 1982 I’ve been loyal to the same company … I’ve never commented before and was concerned who’d read a comment and get my info but pray’d for and answer from you. Thanks again. I’m ready to retire but a little scared of what’s next on my journey. Some of my pictures are okay , and I’m intimidated by the complexity of the technologies at my disposal.
So, how can I help you, Chuck? 🙂