Make it a living...

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by JasonLambert, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. JasonLambert

    JasonLambert TPF Noob!

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    I was wondering how many of you on here are photographers full time. No other job but photography paying the bills. I'm asking because I am in a good place right now. I was laid off from a trucking company about four months ago. My wife is an RN and makes enough money for us to "make it" and I thought this would be a good time to put my truck driving keys away for good and go back to school. I was thinking of going to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh On-Line for a bachelors in Photography.

    I love portrait photography and would like to have a studio someday. I would also like to teach on the collage level and if I am feeling crazy I'd even like to teach at a university (Me? Doctorate? :confused: ). But what I want most is to be able to make a living doing something I love.

    Any advice? Any warnings? Anything?

    Thanks in advance,
    Jason
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Portrait photogaphy is retail photography. The retail photography market is saturated and gets more saturated every day with people just like yourself so competition is fierce. You're the third person so far this week here on TPF to start a thread on this very subject and it's only tuesday.

    With the digital camera explosion the bar to starting a photography business has never been lower.

    It would be more worthwhile to study business/marketing than to study photography, because that's what makes or breaks a retail portrait photography businesss.

    That would give you a real advantage over most other retail photography businesses. Another big plus could be your personality, because in the retail phhotography world it's all about selling the photographer, not the photograph.

    Consider some retail studio portrait photography business numbers:

    Check out - NPPA: Cost of Doing Business Calculator

    That's $89,850 for your business to break even and that last number shows 100 days per year you expect to bill for shooting which means each day you shoot you have to have $898.50 (or $246.16 every single day of the year) coming in or your business is losing money and you won't be able to sustain it.

    Costs always go up, never down which is why you need to do more than just break even. Plus the more people you can hire and delegate the menial stuff to the more you can shoot, which means the more salary you can pay yourself.

    Study business, not photography.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2010
  3. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Dream, dream and dream some more. There should be no limits in your mind.
    As Keith said, there are more and more people sticking their toes in the water, so to say.

    Someone may need someone to teach them.
    Photographer/teacher may work.
    You will need to do some homework...you really have multiple options open to you.
     
  4. Sbuxo

    Sbuxo TPF Noob!

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    I'm majoring in Photography, but pairing it with Journalism. My ultimate goal is to have my own magazine, but with both of these majors I'd like to work for a magazine as a photographer and/or writer. :)
    And I'd like to make it big, in the fashion [photography] world. But I'll see.
     
  5. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    this is not a very positive statement




    PMA
    Positive Mental Attitude




    Without PMA, it will be nearly impossible to "make it big" doing anything. It is one of the forces that helps those who succeed, to succeed.
    It can be developed if you do not already have it.
    You are young, one of the ways to help you develop this, is to tell yourself ten times a day how good you are and your success is in the future.

    Telling yourself this feeds your subconscious. The subconscious the tells your conscious how good you are. Try it for at least 30 days and see if you do not notice a difference in yourself.
    This can work in many different ways.



    *it takes an average human 30 days to develop a new habit*
     
  6. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I made my living for over 20 years with it and I'm about to start again. So yes, you can make a living. But as KmH said, digital made it easy for people to think they are photographers and most of them end up in the retail part of it because that is what seems the easiest.

    So yes, they will be a lot of competition for a while. The same thing happened with graphic design when home computers started showing up. But it was just for a while because most of those people could not find work past the first few projects when clients realized they had no idea what they were doing...

    I think the same thing will happen with photography. So if you are serious about it and are willing to learn, I believe it is possible to make it. Just don't forget the business side. Most new businesses fail because the owners don't have much business sense. Can you sell? Retail photography is primarily a sales job.

    However, I don't know if you can make a living with just portraits. Are you willing to do weddings? They are rough and, it seems, getting worse. Commercial photography may not be as bad to get into in some ways, harder in others, but it can take a while to develop a clientele and make a name. Some people never do.

    And honestly, I doubt there is much demand or big accounts in Hermitage. But, how many portrait studios are there in Hermitage already? It's a very small city. Would you open a place in Youngstown?

    You say your wife can pay the bills and that's good but do you have the finances to start the business? There is a lot of expensive gear needed, retail spaces in high money area are not cheap, there is insurance, promotion, etc, etc. Some of those costs are monthly expenses no matter how much or how little work you book.

    And there is the second biggest problem with new businesses. They are under financed. Usually they don't have the funds to keep going while the business develops.

    I am not trying to scare you but there is much more to it than owning a camera and the more you know what you are getting into, the better your chances.
     
  7. Tee

    Tee Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I strongly suggest researching the above. The online program has gotten A LOT of negative reviews which is a shame because my old roommates attended the actual school. Be very weary of giving so much as an email address. It's like the online school is a totally different entity. Food for thought... (Mmmm...Primanti Brother's).
     
  8. JasonLambert

    JasonLambert TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for giving me some things to think about. And damn you Tee for making me hungry!
     
  9. AnneRiceBowl

    AnneRiceBowl TPF Noob!

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    YES!! THIS!!!


    This is the most awesome advice anyone can ever receive and get for anything!!!!!

    This same advice has completely changed my outlook on life and all aspects of my life. The last 2.5 years have been phenomenal!
     
  10. bennielou

    bennielou TPF Noob!

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    When I opened my business, I quit my job, we sold some autos, had a giant garage sale and went to town. We even moved from a house that we owned to an apartment.

    It's all about how serious you are.
     

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