There is a huge amount of smoke and mirrors in photography, and how much people earn and the relationship between earnings and success, and the necessity to be perceived as successful and the image of financial security as an element of self-marketing are all central to very many photographers’ lives.

via Colin Pantall’s blog.

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  1. This is true to the image-related industry, where perception is, or can be – reality. At the end of the day is your ability to deliver, is all that counts.

  2. “There are easier ways to make money than shooting long-term personal projects (waitressing for example)”

    I’m curious: In what other careers (other than photography or other artistic media), are you able to make any money off of “long-term personal projects”?

    Do lawyers, doctors, firemen, teachers pursue money-making personal projects in their career fields?

  3. I think the only people who pursue part of their craft without thought of money are photographers, painters (not the house or car kind), writers – oops I’d get my hand slapped for that one- Authors, play writes, and screen writers. I think most have hopes but as Collin sated most do it because they love what they do. Ask my wife….

    I look at it this way, if the monthly overhead is covered, I am good. If there is a bumper crop so to speak then I am elated. If I become famous after I die, well may be it will make my kids happy. May be they can start another foundation like Ansel Adams family did. I have a feeling though that wont be the case. That’s quite okay.

  4. music, acting, film making, any visual art (painting, sculpture, media art), fashion, writing, anything fun.

  5. only picked up a camera 4 years ago for fun and don’t give a rat’s ass about the earning of lucrative amounts of money. I just look forward to recouping my costs to produce an exhibit with sales. Anything over that goes to my kids hockey equipment and more MΓ©doc for me.

    Would have been nice if I picked up painting or found object installation art instead of photography though. Just 10 prints & frames typically run @ $4-6K or more, but a stack of garbage bags covered in glitter and a black and white TV showing static costs nothing.

  6. correction: I shouldn’t have said I don’t give a rat’s ass, because obviously recouping my investment for an exhibit is high priority to continue on in this adventure.

  7. The sad thing is that a photography career has become one of “those jobs.” Actor, Musician, Author, Photographer. Is it just me, or does being an actor (I mean a working actor, the type who does commercials, etc) seem easier to make a living at? Granted, I live in a movie/TV friendly town where one can always pick up extras work.

  8. Haha. Indeed…. Most people have no idea.

  9. Scrapes a living?…I’d be happy scraping a death.

  10. I think half the problem is that people assume its OK to just scrape by, so they low ball every job that comes by. Grant it, you do what you have to get by (especially in tough times) but if you are looking to make money off of photography you should have at least some business sense.

    In all fairness, I saying this after having the most up and down year of career.

  11. Struggling photographer writes blog about how he can’t imagine anyone making money at this…

    Cue roll eyes.

    As with any self employed pursuit, you need a business plan and organizational skills. Oh and actually produce good work…preferably unique. The jobs that pay the most are the ones that require the most production work. Putting all the pieces together is a skill unto itself and the one I find that clients will pay for.

    • @craig,
      If you can’t pull a production together and show a client what you’re worth. Yes, you will be a starving…err…artist?
      If you have the ability to run a business, pull together a complex production, be more prepared than a boyscout, and can solve problems on the run…then you’ll likely not “starve” for your efforts.
      Then again, so many people want to make money shooting street photography, sports coverage, goofy pictures of half nude friends in a run down NY apt AND have someone pay them. Get real!
      Sorry for the rant, I’m just sick of the whining.

  12. The high tax and inflation environment caued by the current political banking establishment means that photographers fortunate enough to bill 200k per year are still “just scraping by.”

  13. Let’s be honest here. There’s a reason this guy’s feeling a little bitter and resentful about not making money with his photography: his pictures are not very good, objectively or subjectively. ‘Nough said.

  14. Talent has nothing to due with success. Business is business. This one (photography) is just really hard! It’s a shame, b/c I don’t know a soul that isn’t moved by great images.

  15. I know a lot of people who are doing very well.

  16. I know a lot of people who are doing very well.

  17. The art of photography attracts many people for just as many different reasons. Field of interest will give you personal satisfaction which is more important than money…that is what I believe.

  18. Well, I know about someone who solved that very well.The trick is to start with having money from elsewhere and then you can make money on photography. The guy I am speaking about, runs a company offering some services, which makes him a lot of money and he is doing photography sort of on the side, but he is a very famous photographer, gets awards, 10 exhibitions a year, honoris causa diplomas and so on… All because he can afford to donate his large format prints to every, even most crappy, gallery that wants to accept them. He doesn’t get paid for the works themselves but of course everybody is grateful and will organize him an exhibition or nominate him to some award (and award is money). And the tax receipt is good as well, that way he doesn’t pay taxes for the income of his company. And then people see his impressive list of collections and think: ‘maybe I should buy something from this guy’, because they don’t know what’s behind the scene, and I suppose often they do buy. A perfect set up. (By the way he is a good photographer, I don’t deny it.)

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