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Author Topic: Job Opportunities  (Read 10056 times)
MatthewCromer
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« on: December 05, 2002, 03:23:47 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I should have elaborated more.  The only photographers I know who make enough to support a family with a reasonable lifestyle are wedding photographers, portrait photographers, and other commercial photographers.  And some who shoot stock, but very few of those.  And they aren't making much money on their nature stock photos, but rather on their on other kinds of stock that they shoot.

You can buy food and a cot doing PJ work, but I wouldn't count on supporting a family with that kind of income.

I don't know ANYONE who just does nature photography and makes a reasonable income to support a family.  

Michael's suggestion makes a lot of sense.  I'm in the same boat, working a computer job (when I would much rather be doing my photography) but it pays the bills and keeps my family fed.  I'm looking to start doing the occasional wedding to help pay my photo equipment bills.  I've shot a few for free, and am in the process of setting up to start charging.

Best of luck.[/font]
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2002, 06:44:16 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Mathew's reply, though somewhat facetious, has a large element of truth to it. Making a living doing wildlife, landscape and nature photography is somewhere between tough and impossible.

The best way to get into it is to take a non-photographic job that gives you flexability in terms of your time; locate yourself someplace in the world that is close to great locations and then spend the next 5 years or so spending every extra minute building a portfolio by shooting, shooting, shooting.

You can then approach some of the stock agencies and start making a tiny bit of money selling your work.

Also take every spare minute and study technique and the work of others that you admire.



It's a tough grind.

Michael[/font]
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Hank
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2002, 09:18:44 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Christopher-

Unless you are shooting for another photographer or a company which is already established, it's really tough to assure yourself a regular income, at least when you are first starting out. It simply takes time to develop a name for yourself and a base of clients. Weddings certainly produce income, but put yourself in the position of the bride and groom: Would you risk photos of such an event on an unknown photographer?

The photography business is inherently competitive, and lots of factors beyond your camera skills can determine success or failure. The majority of successful pro's supported themselves by other means while slowly building their photo business, first as a sideline and eventually as a sole source of income. That pathway allows you to support a family while establishing a base for your business. At some point you will have a good idea how much it takes to support your family, which you can compare with how much you are making as a "sideline" with your cameras. When the well-being of your family is on the line, you need to have accurate information with which you can make logical decisions.

It will take a lot of weddings to feed your family. In fact a successful photo business will need income from lots of income sources, at least initially. Your outdoor and wildlife interests might have to remain a sideline for some time, even while you are making your living through other types of photography. Our business is successful only because it is based upon a wide range of photo needs, a "full-service" business, if you will. While the sources add up to a "living," no single type of photography is providing enough income yet for us to specialize.

In your shoes I would pick up any photo jobs that came along, meanwhile continuing with school. Photography classes are useful, but in my experience less important to professional success than good business classes. Art classes will have more long-term impact on your artistic skills than photo classes, so don't overlook them either. Scratch the skin of many of the most successful photographers and you will discover they majored in art rather than photography while in school. Photo classes are good for basic technique, but too many of them are merely "gear head" classes and don't help you develop your skills and insights as an artist. In the end these are more likely to establish your style and your reputation, helping you stand out from the crowd in a really competitive field.

Hank[/font]
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glen gaffney
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2003, 04:27:11 AM »
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My  advice is to do weddings. Go around to portrait or wedding photographers in your area and see if they will train you in this feild. With your limited experience and not much equipment you wont get to far in wildlife and landscape. There might be some potential for selling prints of local beauty spots. But this is not going to bring you in to much money.There are to many photographers out there and not enough buyers. The supply and demand situation is totally out of wack. Stock houses require usually a massive portfolio to be accepted. Get yourself a day job and just do photography as a hobby or sideline.
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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2002, 10:10:09 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']weddings[/font]
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Christopher
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2002, 07:40:25 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I am looking for advice on what job opportunities are available in the photography field. I am 17 and have been shooting for about a year now. I started with a Canon Rebel 2000, and then got a Canon G2 (Point and Shoot).
    I love photography, especially landscape and wildlife, and am considering it as a career field, but I really do not have any idea on what types of jobs are out there, that would support a family, and let me do what I love. I am open for any information from people in the field and suggestions on where to look to find out more.
Thanks
Christopher[/font]
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neil
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2002, 07:40:17 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Weddings are no joke.  There is no way that you could coerce a person to pay you what you're worth on any other day of their lives.  But, becuase a wedding photographer is such a social norm there is a great deal of pressure to have one - and where supply intersects demand there you have price.

In an economic situation such as this, where photography spending is next to nil - diversification is a must for 80% of the shooters.  So whatever you do, don't get tunnel vision.  Keep your interests and experiences broad.  First, so that you can have some other marketable skills and second becuase it will just inform you to be a better photographer, meet different people, etc.[/font]
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Bill Goehring
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2002, 01:16:58 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Christopher--

My photo career began about 20 years ago, while I was in graduate journalism school. I was in grad school only because I was given a fellowship and had no other professional offers on my plate. Luckily I had a friend from my undergraduate years back in my home state, who was on the Governor's staff; he got me an interview and I was hired to be the Governor's personal photographer and the senior photographer for the Department of Tourism.

This allowed me to drive South Dakota from border to border, running thousands of rolls of slide film through my cameras at state expense, shooting everything from people, landscape and still life to the dreaded grip-and-grins that are the staple of political and government shooters.
 
This served as my education in applied photography, and I was paid to do it. Although my entrance to professional photography was based on both luck (relationships) and hard work (perfect undergrad record), my advice to you would be to seek an internship in a similar government tourism agency in you own state or one with a large tourist trade.

During my three years on the state payroll, I hired several interns for the summer tourist seasons to help ease the load. One of the first interns I hired eventually succeeded me when I moved to Dallas to pursue commercial/advertising assistant work. Another intern I hired went on to succeed him and currently is the senior photographer. Both of these past interns continue to be friend and push work my way.

All three of us contributed to a photo poster series produced by SD Tourism during those years and distributed state-wide and beyond at nominal prices. I insisted that our names appear in credit lines on these posters, which proved to be one of my best career moves. I was called to the Governor's office along with my immediate supervisor and dressed down for publishing this series of posters, which he deemed a colossal waste of money.

Twenty years later these posters can still be found adorning the walls of government buildings, schools, motels, restaurants, private offices and residences statewide. Not such a colossal waste of money, afterall.

That first intern is currently living in the Black Hills and runs a successful nature stock and book publishing business. I've continued to shoot advertising/commercial and editorial subjects exclusively until the last few years, when I began to dip my toe back into the fine art landscape genre.

The Governor, after serving an unequalled sixteen year run in the statehouse, has just been elected to the US House of Reps and has his eye on the Senate seat coming up for grabs in two years He is a close personal friend of the Bush dynasty.

 In recent years his staff has hired me to photograph the President on a visit to the state and just this week called to shoot a grip-and-grin session locally, which I respectfully turned down due to a turned ankle. My hopes for the future include the possibility of getting work from the federal government (Can you san the National Park Service or office of Tourism?).

My advice is this: Do whatever you can to be noticed by those with power and influence as early in your career as possible, regardless of whether that first job yields a paycheck. Settle for free materials and travel or stipend and class credit, whatever is necessary to get noticed early.

Good luck!

Bill Goehring[/font]
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robertwatcher
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2003, 06:22:15 AM »
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Just so you don't get totally discouraged Christopher I will present another alternative to the above statements - which in most cases are fairly accurate - but are laced with cynicism because experience has proven that it is challenging to make a living with the thing we love, photography.

You are young and hopefully relatively free of financial worries. This should allow you to get hustling and develop your business now (I don't think that the low income of most photographers will easily provide an opening working with them as an assistant) without the worries of making sure your 4 children and wife are fed and sheltered. Don't even pay attention to people's view of your age. This is the time to establish yourself and work hard and run your business like your a businessman, not like your only a kid.

A few valid points from my perspective:

I had a large floor covering business when I was 19 and a health food store when I was 25 - I'm now 46 and wish I had the energy now and the experience then - but business succeeds with 90% hard work and promotion and 10% talent (even in the photography business).

Your lifestyle will have to be simple (low monthly expenses and little debt) if you are to succeed in the photography business.

The generic answer weddings doesn't cut it. It may be the most socially acceptable form of spending money on photography but it is also socially acceptable to not pay much. I send out 2 to 5 quotes a day to emails raving about my work, and hear back from very few once they find out my price which is not high end but what I have to charge to make a living with the 15 weddings I accept a year. I have known many good photographers deluged with work from 45 to 50 weddings a year with a gross income of $30,000 to $35,000 per year (take out film,processing,prints,albums and not much is left). A few others I know who people in the community goggle over as "THE Town Photographer" brag about making $150 or $200 a day profit from their weddings ($200x15=$3000/year).

Be patient, charge fees that will provide a reasonable income at the end of the year, pursue work and promote yourself in all the avenues of your photography. The few landscape prints you sell each year will contribute to your overall income.

After having an expensive studio for 10 years, I recommend forget it. Develop a website (very inexpensive) and push it like crazy. I am in the middle of nowhere and within 3 months of placing my site on the net, had 30 unique visitors each day and within 9 months am now having between 125 and 150 unique visitors every day (without exception) visiting my website. It is supplying my sole living (more gross income and less expenses than with my studio) and expanded my base from the small community in which I live to all parts of Southern Ontario.

Also I built my business on 35mm equipment (I had Gary Bernstein as a mentor) not much different than yours - even though that was against the grain for a portrait photographer. The looks I used to get, and worry about, from my customers when I was using the same camera they had! Funny that the higher my prices got, the less I heard about what equipment I used.

My father always conplained that I was wasting my time at my "hobby" even after I was making a living at it. Fight for yourself and never worry too much about what others think - for that matter same goes with education, if you want a unique style learn through making tonnes of mistakes and shooting lots of film and checking the trends on tv and magazines. You will stunt your abilities if you follow the styles of schools or photographic organizations that say that their way is the proper way.

Hope there might be a little glimmer of hope in this response.
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Nop
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2003, 09:29:50 AM »
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At your age there are many ways to start out. First, you may think about going to photography school or some workshops to get an idea from how other people are doing in this business. It is tough for being a full-time wildlife photographer and trying to make a living. I've know many pro wildlife photographers who have other job to keep their regular income(and insurance benefits). This serve you as a back up as you try to start out your business. Once you establish yourself in the market(and well know) then you will have no problem doing it full-time.

I am a full-time staff photographer at the newspaper. This serve me well since I still can do what I like to do and when I have free time I still shoot a lot of wildlife and landscape(this is very possible!). Since I am specialize in wildlife photography, often time the editor will send me out to do the project related to wildlife(bald eagle, snowgeese, deer, prairie chicken, and Missouri wildhorses! ect.) So, I shoot almost 365 days/year and I can see my photographic skill improve as I learned from my daily experience. Beside, I also do a lot of freelance for other magazines and other photo agencies. You have to be flexible this will allow you to work with any publications.

Second, you might think about joining NPPA, NAPA organization. This will get your name out and some connection with other people as well. Oh, don't forget the photo contest. It give your some idea of how you are doing.

Well, there is no right or wrong way to start out. Again, there are many people out there doing wildlife/landscape photography full-time, so I can't say that you can't. It is very possible and many have done so!

www.nopnatureimages.com [/URL]
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