Theory vs. Reality: How Photographers Actually Spend Their Time

The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers did a study a couple years ago on how photographers spend their time, and published these two charts showing the difference between what the general public thinks and what is actually the case. Here’s a larger version.

(via ISPWP via Scott Kelby)

  • Raymond Wong

    That’s what people think about tech reporters too like me who get to play with new gadgets. It’s not all fun and games going to CES in Las Vegas. It’s 20+ work hours. 

  • Anthony Burokas

    Yea, what Raymond said… it looks like a ton of work and it is. You freelance? You work till the work is done because there isn’t anyone else going to finish it for you. :)

    Oh, and it applies to video as well… except I think we spend a lot more time on camera & computer upkeep & maintenance than 3%.

  • Rish

    Haha.. this is so true :)

  • Dennis Marciniak

    It should be noted that the second pie chart represents our sleeping schedule quite dead on.. nonexistent. 

  • Anonymous

    I mean, the first chart could be you, if you hire people do do everything in the second.

  • Anonymous

    As a hobbiest the first chart does represent the life style photography has to offer. Of course my picture quality is sorely lacking. Having fun though.

  • Anonymous

    As a hobbiest the first chart does represent the life style photography has to offer. Of course my picture quality is sorely lacking. Having fun though.

  • Michael

    This applies to almost all the professionals in different fields of work except for Tim Ferris.

  • Kyle Grantham

    Now see, if you work at a newspaper, the pie chart looks much like the one on the left, but it reads more like this:  5% traveling to locations inundated with fluorescent light, 15% taking pictures and editing pictures, 80% waiting for metro staff to decide what they actually want you to cover and/or put a photo request in.

  • Dumitru Tira

    I see what you did there. nice.

  • Travis

    Don’t forget %18 surfing photoblogs like petapixel. ;-)

  • Reggie Banks, Sr.

    Been there DONE THAT and TOTALLY AGREE, on the hours spent for photography/videography, especially edit time!!!!!

  • Tim

    This is a great visual illustration. As an hobby, I could see graph #1 be predominant, but as you start working towards an actual business and work with clients #2 is much more obvious.  Most people think wedding photographers make a lot of money, but I read somewhere the average yearly income for business photographers is $35,000 which isn’t that great.

  • Josh

    I’m an advertising photographer and most of the established advertising photographers I know make between $60-$150k……

  • Felix Karlsson

    Shit I spend 80% on partying like a rockstar…

    Thats why business is bad! Duh! Should have known.

  • Daniel Yu Suzuki

    Does studying new photo techniques fall under Social Media and Blogging? I mean you don’t just stop studying photography after graduating from school.

  • Quinn

    You forgot “seducing models,” featuring prominently on both charts.

  • David Girolami

    I think you want the first chart to be your gauge of success! 

  • RB

    As a hobbyist, photography is general not supporting your lifestyle (or your photography for that matter), but is part of a lifestyle that some other means is allowing you to do.  If you want pie chart one and are funding it with your photography, then I suggest becoming a high-end commercial or fashion photographer with a good sized staff or team that does everything involved other than taking the shots.