Making a living as a photographer has never been more challenging. We’re being asked to deliver more work for less money. Expectations for transfer of copyright are being demanded in the form of a buyout or work for hire agreement. Newspapers are letting go of their photo departments and transferring the picture responsibility to a writer, toting nothing more than a smartphone. And new photographers are entering the competitive arena who are willing to work for far less than a seasoned professional would ever consider fair.
Yet, despite all these external challenges, the greatest obstacles lay not with others but with ourselves. It is often the choices that we make not just as photographers, but as business people the reduce the viability of making a living as a photographer. Here are some common ways that many photographers self-sabotage their work and their careers and some remedies to combat them.
If we can believe the statistics, then the professional photographer is a dying species. With “professional” gear being available even to the amateur, less and less professionals are being hired. And with the ever growing inventory of stock photography, fewer and fewer companies are willing to pay the price for individual photographic jobs. The guys from ImageBrief, a website that uses crowdsourcing as a means to deliver imagery to paying customers, have created above infographic exploring the various forces that are driving the professional photographer towards extinction. If you look at the trends, it becomes clear that it’s increasingly difficult to make a living from photography.
We all know that the Japanese can be highly effective at what they do. But watching Kodai Matsumoto from Nikon Professional Services diagnose and repair a Nikon D4 in just over twenty minutes is simply mind-blowing. Granted, the video is a time-lapse, so everything seems super-quick, but still. Twenty minutes to disassemble, diagnose, repair and reassamble a beast of a camera that the D4 is, that’s pretty awesome. Probably the reason why Kodai has this job. NPS provides support services like check and clean, running repairs and equipment loans to accredited Nikon photographers at major events–this video (which you can find after the break) was taken at the FINA World Swimming Championships, BCN2013, in Barcelona, Spain.
When it comes to photo education, the industry has adopted a lot of the ideas and practices of the self-help movement. Whether it’s in a book or at a big photo event, there are people that get you psyched up about making the choice to “live the dream” and to become a professional photographer.
Some of these people are sincere in their encouragements, while others seem more interested in pushing a product or a service. In any case, they tap into a desire that many people have to lead a more creative and satisfying life.
According to an article over at TechCrunch, the Associated Press–one of the world’s leading press agencies and news distributors–has acquired a stake of the video crowdsourcing platform Bambuser. Bambuser allows ‘citizen journalists’ to upload live video footage of current events, which can then be licensed to news agencies worldwide. AP has been using Bambuser as a platform for their internal reporters for a while already, but now aims to more aggressively make use of crowdsourced news footage, to remain “the foremost global provider of live video news“. It seems outsourcing and crowdsourcing news footage seem to be the latest trend. CNN were the first to lay off a significant number of photographers, and just recently the Chicago Sun-Times laid off their entire staff–and both times the argument was that iPhone footage is just as good but much cheaper to obtain. So does AP’s deal with Bambuser mean the same will happen to their staff as well? Let us know what you think about this in your comments below!
Many people consider becoming a professional photographer. So, there are no shortage of tips and suggestions for making such a leap. However, here is a list of 5 reasons you shouldn’t use as impetus for going pro.