As you look through the various award winners, people who’s work is selected for the American Photography annual or whatever contest PDN is currently pitching, I guarantee you there’s a good percentage that are nowhere near earning a living with a camera, and more than a few are working at Starbucks to make ends meet.

That’s where we’re at.

via Mostly True.

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  1. Great article. Professionals are well aware of the circumstances everyday, while other professionals have no qualms about requesting low rates from photographers, they themselves would be insulted to be asked to work for nearly nothing. Cash in hand is key, and their are more then enough young photographers that will work for peanuts – and young creatives that will accept low quality work because they don’t know any better.

    The magazines have become purveyors of merchandise – simplistic catalogs at best. I recently had a young “creative” – hellbent on pleasing her superiors – ask me if there was a way to show the design on the front and the back of a T – Shirt in one shot. With an entire sector of the industry fearful that advertisers will jump ship if editorial coverage of their merchandise is not straight forward – who is leading the march for risk taking and creativity. Young designers are taught to cater to this principle and young photo editors are at a loss when anything outside of the guiding principle is attempted.

    I was recently at an event with Peter Arnell and I was tempted to physically shake him while begging him to save the photography and the magazine industry. He had built a career on being a visionary with the highest standards for quality and creativity. Sadly, it could be argued that those standards seem to be lost on design, photography and creativity at this point for the majority of work that is out there. Maybe I am just looking for it in the wrong places -and I would like to ask “Where is the best creative work right now?”

    • @Still life guy, Good question. I imagine it is happening in the mind of someone now functioning outside of all of this (ad world, fine art world, blogs, magazines, contests, all of it…) – with exactly that – a lot of money to play with. A seriously creative mind and unlimited resources – where is this person?

  2. As a working photographer I certainly don’t have the time or resources to focus on contest entries. After work, I often stay up all night editing so I can pretty much start the cycle the next day.

    Winning a major-contest would be great if I worked in a major market, but I don’t. I simply don’t see the upside to paying $35 a pop to give away my best content to magazines primarily-read by other photographers (albeit great magazines).


  3. It’s all about validation venues. Intermediaries control the validation apparatus.I think the best example of this in the AP contest is Chris Floyd. Straight out of Charlotte Cotton’s book. Total rip-off of Philip-Lorca DiCorcia.

  4. Yeah! You can’t say it much better than that! Rob, it’s what you have been putting out there for that last year a number of times!

    I figured out a long time ago, if you are going to work for yourself, you have to price what you do the right way or you might as well go work for Home Depot, Walmart or Micky Dees or Krispy Kreme donuts. Oops they are almost out of business.

    I have spent way too much time on a business plan and figuring out my CDB to do one photo for $225 let alone forty photos. Photogs need to do it right, have a business plan that includes the right financials to include CDB and live with it. Make sure it includes an IRA too, we’re not in the NBA well unless I can snag a reality show like someone I know.

  5. Great article. It also highlights the psychology of photographers too – you can make a living from photography, a VERY good living. I know, because I do. BUT these are usually if fields where photographers don’t want to go – microstock, weddings, etc.

    Why are these types of photograpehrs ‘bottom of the pile’ – whilst those that ‘suffer’ for their ‘art’ are seen as somehow spiritually purer, or ‘better?’

    Look at Warhol – a commercial artist that took the art world by storm. Can money and art co-exist? Damien Hirst thinks so. But it’s more romantic to be a ‘struggling artist’ suffering for your art.

    As the article says “but there’s no shame in shooting a wedding for money, and you can still make a frame that has some lasting, universal appeal”

    Why even mention ‘shame’ with wedding photography? Sure there is some bad stuff out there, but there also is in the name of ‘fine art’.

    Even on this site, under stock sites, microstock sites are listed under ‘Crap’ even though some of their top photographers earning $100k’s in profit on turnovers of millions.

    • @artormoney,

      Do you have any information to back up that some microstock top photographers earn 100k’s? PDN did an expose of this a year or two back, and the very top 10 seemed to earn a modest amount. Like 10s of K’s. In a good year.

      Think about the volume required to make back your money with microstock, especially if you’re using crew to produce it. You’re not earning 100k’s doing microstock. Even as cheap as it is, there is not utterly vast demand that will make you a millionaire.

      Unless of course, you own a microstock website and profit off the efforts of others.

      • @craig, I remember that PDN article – if it’s the survey results – that was completely voluntary, so you can’t necessarily extrapolate that the top earners.

        There are wedding photographers out there that definitely earn $10,000’s per wedding with $100,000’s in profit (not revenue)

        My point was more that photographers CAN earn money from another branch of photography if they want. That is possible.

        Also, human psychology is such that if you suffer for something, it’s worth to you increases, so if you are a broke artist, you must be producing great art. Not necessarily true, but the snobbery in being an ‘art’ photographer prevails.

        I find it very interesting the unspoken hierarchy in photographers (eg art a the top, weddings/micro at the bottom), yet you can images in each field that cross these boundaries.

  6. Value is not the same thing as price.

  7. eu quero bollars me ajuda edito na minha conta

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