What is the current state of the professional photography industry in the United States? Back in April 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released statistics about the photography profession from May 2013. The data offers an interesting look into where photographers are living and how much they’re earning.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how best to succeed as a professional photographer, now that “everybody is a photographer.” A recent post here by Alex Ignacio emphasized how important it is to “specialize and focus” — Ignacio believes that if we don’t, we’ll “perish”.
As someone who trains aspiring commercial photographers, I agree that some doors may shut if you don’t specialize, but many more will open if you’re versatile.
Photographers often grumble about the rise of hobbyist photographers who charge little to no money across all kinds of photographic niches, robbing hard working professionals of clients and flooding the market with subpar results.
Instead of simply being discontent about how the industry has been changing, photographers Geoff Johnson and Kameron Bayne decided to do something about it. They’ve created Fotoseeds, a business that aims to make professional photography a sustainable profession by educating photographers, helping them grow their businesses, and doing away with insecurity and ignorance.
A brief exchange during a passing conversation a few days ago got me thinking. Someone said something about how lucky I was to make a living as an artist. I immediately corrected them; while immensely thankful for my career, a job where I get to wake up every day and make images, I felt obligated to point out that most of the time I am not, in fact, an artist at all.
At best, assignment photographers are craftsmen, not artists, solving other people’s problems and putting other people’s ideas into effect in the most timely and cost-effective way possible; to think otherwise is delusional.
Every year I meet with lots of students, assistants, young photographers, and photography educators and discuss the business of photography. Over the years I have complied a list of the biggest mistakes that most young photographers make when trying to become full-time money-making commercial photographers. I want to share those with you in the hope that people stop making the same mistakes.
Parisian photographer Malo has fun portrait series titled “Un jour, mon enfant tu seras” (One Day You Will Be My Child) that imagines what a baby’s future career might be.
Job portal careercast recently released a ranking of 200 jobs from best to worst for 2010. The Wall Street Journal republished the data in a nice, sortable chart as its Best and Worst Jobs 2010 list. Since you’re reading this, you probably want to know how jobs involving photography rank on the list. The answer: pretty low.
The job “photographer” ranks 126th on the list, right below “waiter/waitress” and right above “advertising salesperson”. “Photojournalist” is near the bottom of the list, ranked #189 below “firefighter” and above “butcher”.
In terms of the methodology used, five categories are evaluated and summed up: environment, income, outlook, stress and physical demands.
I think the methodology is flawed because of the fact that they focus primarily on tangible upsides and downsides. Many photographers I’ve spoken to chose photography as a career for reasons including a passion for photography and the opportunity to see the world. These things aren’t accounted for in the study, since they don’t have categories such as “job satisfaction”.
What do you think of these rankings? If you disagree, what should photography-related jobs actually be ranked?
(via A Photo Editor)