September 15, 2013 at 10:42 am #13010SharraParticipant
The October 2013 issue of Popular Photography stated that the median annual income for US photographers in 2002 was $24,040. In 2012, it was $28,490, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. I’m not sure how much stock I’d put into these numbers, but perhaps it’s a wake-up call for all the fauxs out there looking to make it big shooting weddings with their entry-level DSLRs and kit lenses.
It’s numbers like these, however, that make me think that if I were ever to change careers from IT and maintain the same style of living, I would most certainly need the business sense and photographic WOW factor to attract clients that know the value of excellent photography as opposed to those with the mindset, “My sister-in-law can shoot my wedding for a quarter of that!” I’m nowhere near that level yet, but I certainly have the respect and admiration of those that are.September 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm #13014
The market that I live in is overly saturated with photographers. It isn’t possible for all of us to make a living at it. I know quite a few who have other jobs, aside from working as photo assistants. I made more money as a digital tech in my worst year than I did in my first year of solely making photographs for a living. As an IT person, you might find that you could gain more on set experience while doing the digital work (which largely involves keeping the computer working and troubleshooting it when it goes down) and making a killer living. At the best of times, I was pulling down six figures and traveling the world.September 15, 2013 at 9:13 pm #13023SharraParticipant
I’m more into the software side as a developer rather than hardware, but I have a couple friends who are doing quite well supporting both corporate and personal IT infrastructure. For me, I think it would be cool to be on the core development team for Photoshop or Lightroom or even the software behind hardware that every serious photographer uses, like calibrators.
Six figures and world travel? I could definitely handle that! 🙂September 15, 2013 at 11:04 pm #13028
most of the issues are software related. hardly ever hardware, except when cameras go down…the only fix for that is to have another camera. Then its all just technical, file management, color management. for a tech person, it’s pretty easy but you have to also have an agreeable personality. You work with lots of different people, different personalities, egos, and you work closer with them then most people do. It takes some getting used to. So, if you don’t live in NYC, LA, or Miami, get here now get started…September 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm #13046JustAndyParticipant
L.A. HAS NO MARKET – STAY AWAY!!! EVERYONE STAY AWAY!!! BETTER YET IF YOU ARE IN L.A. (805) AREA LEAVE – LEAVE NOW!!!!!!!
Ok, I’m in L.A. as you can probably tell, and it’s ok. Overstated, but there is still some money to be made, problem is we are cutting our own throats by offering more and more for less and less, it’s a joke and one being told all across America…
I’m actually getting my MFA so I can teach, as the market has changed I’ve grown tired of attitudes and flux between months, I’m getting a little older (mid thirties) and am becoming more attracted to a steady paycheck and benefits… lame, I know, but it happens…September 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm #13088LiseAnnParticipant
This is a nationwide issue within all creative fields, not just photography. You have people trying to build their books, get out there, get experience and then you have people that want to get paid for all of that work. Its a tough situation, but i think that it would help if we as freelancers weren’t so hell-bent on undercutting one another to get the damn job. if there was some kind on industry standard that needed to be paid to get quality work people with the means would pay it and we would have enough for everyone, However, a lot of us feel that they need to compete financially with every idiot with an DSLR and its killing the industry for everyone. It’s the same in graphic design and its maddening to spend years honing skills only to have some kid right out of design school who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground set up shop and drive market value down. High tide raises all ships, folks.September 19, 2013 at 1:52 am #13089
Post 9/11 kind of ruined it for everyone. The inkwell dried up and everyone was climbing over each other for the very few jobs that were out there. Then things got really good and then the recession hit. I was assisting at the time with some fashion guys that were working non stop so I didn’t feel it at all. About the time that it started to get a little bit better is when I decided to stop assisting and start shooting. It was very scary. I took jobs that many would consider undercutting the competition but I had no idea what I was worth. I was still under the impression that I was making really good money considering my rates were double, sometimes triple, that of what I was making as an assistant. Now the people that are really badly undercutting the work is stuff i’m not interested in doing anymore. I’m not interested in being competitive with my rate. This is a career I intend to have until I bite it, so it’s going to have to be sustainable. When you aren’t compensated well for your work, you tend to resent it more.September 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm #13091sceeParticipant
I would LOVE to be able to pay myself $28 K, and I run a high end boutique studio (which compared to the same in a metropolitan area would be considered “low priced”, but here I am at the top of the price point scale). All the professional studios like mine in my area have taken a huge hit in the past 10 years. Several are closing down as the newbies open their garage studios with a $100 lighting kit, a Rebel XT and a wrinkled sheet….and get rave reviews on facebook. But I keep 0n keeping on – continually trying to step up my game and get the really good clients with cash and an appreciation of quality work. It’s disappointing to work this hard and keep seeing the opportunity for success circle the drain, but I am going to keep it up a few more years until it really becomes stupid to continue.September 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm #13092Worst Case ScenarioParticipant
Yep, that’s pretty much my story as well.September 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm #13096fstopper89Participant
I know I can’t fully support myself on photography alone. It works really well for those who have businesses who can hire several assistant photographers and/or editors who are all really good. It also works if it’s not the only income in the household.
The photographer I used to work for did it full-time out of her home studio and on-location. She hired me on as her assistant/editor so she could still have time with her family. Her husband had a REALLY high-paying job, so her photography income was more or less for groceries and maintaining the household. They had 3 kids and she made mostly home-cooked meals and was involved in her kids’ school activities. It worked great for them. She did also charge higher prices for prints so she’d make a killing on just one order. One shoot would usually bring in a total of at least $800. Subtract taxes and stuff but she still made a lot. She had usually 3 sessions a week. Her clients were mostly of a higher socioeconomic group too because they sent their kids to a private school so they networked and were friends with people of higher income levels. It just worked really well for their family. It doesn’t work that well for everyone though, and it’s hard to break into the right market where people will pay really high prices like that.
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