From Steve McCurry’s India to Robert Frank’s The Americans, the masters of photography have sold millions of photobooks worldwide. Their work is seen not only as a source of pleasure but also vital for education. Famous photographers do well in the print market too, with some of their finest work selling for thousands of dollars. The cream of the crop is not shy of a penny or two. And although it makes sense to spend hard-earned money on those perceived to be the best, with everything that’s going on in the world, we need to start supporting all the other talented photographers that make up our industry.
Photographers Are Struggling
In these times of uncertainty, many photographers have had their income completely taken away. With the world pretty much in quarantine, it has become almost impossible for many photographers to earn a living. From photojournalists to event photographers, everyone is feeling the brunt of the situation. To remain sustainable, or at very least remain fed, many photographers are looking at other avenues to earn money.
Thankfully, the digital space makes it much easier to find alternative ways of making some extra cash. Selling zines, prints, postcards, and even holding webinars are all ways a photographer can aim to get some income. But competition is fierce. The reality is, when it comes to selling art and expertise, it’s those that have had their moment in the spotlight who tend to dominate the market.
The Reality of the Situation
We spoke to full-time street photographer, Dimpy Bhalotia, about the impact the current situation with COVID-19 has had on her livelihood. She told The Phoblographer:
“As a street photographer whose craft is built out of frames from streets, all I can do is just wait. To survive I need to keep producing photos, and this lockdown is hugely impacting my work life. If I don’t have enough content this year to pitch, I won’t get any work. It seems worst than the recession because I can’t even go out to produce work. Everything has come to a standstill.”
“I was supposed to fly to Calcutta to finish off one of my series that I was supposed to pitch at the end of this month hoping to get the assignment, but given the travel ban, it has become obvious I have lost that work. As a freelancer, the future looks very bleak and scary to me.”
Let’s Support Our Photographers
This is just one of the many examples of photographers who are struggling right now. That’s why so many, including Bhalotia, are turning to selling their images in order to survive.
One way or another, the current situation impacts us all. These are strange times. And I know many people are not in a position to support artists due to currently having their own financial issues. But, if you are thinking of adding a photobook to your collection or putting a print on your wall, maybe save investing in a famous photographer for a later date. There are many other talented photographs whose work you can enjoy and invest in, and they could really do with the support right now.
All images by Dimpy Bhalotia. Used with permission.