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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 11 Apr 2012 (Wednesday) 19:56
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Why do a lot of people have this desperate need to make money from photography?

 
Clean ­ Gene
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Apr 14, 2012 01:41 |  #151

fotoworx wrote in post #14262851 (external link)
From a hobby, yeah I think it's a legit question.

Uh...yeah.

Since when has "photography" been exclusively classified as a "hobby"?

From the very beginning, people have been looking to make money off of this stuff, and people have been willing to pay. "Professional" photographers have existed for a long-ass time.

So yeah..."from a hobby".

IS it just a hobby?

Who says it's just a hobby?

I think we can all agree that not ALL photographers are mere "hobbyists".

So what exactly differentiates between the person who is JUSTIFIED in selling his work for a bunch of money, and the person who is GREEDY for having the nerve to charge money to the people who like his work enough to want to have it?

Photography might be a hobby for YOU. And if that's the case, there's nothing wrong with that. But who says that the "photographer" who only receives chump change from friends and coworkers is also treating photography as a "hobby"?

What EXACTLY separates the "hobbyist" from the person who's actually justified in expecting monetary compensation for the work that he does?




  
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Apr 14, 2012 02:00 as a reply to  @ post 14250775 |  #152

Turning a hobby into a career is very tempting but this can take the passion out of the hobby. This is what happened to me. I worked as a pro for about 29 years. It became only a job,, but a well paid one.

Retired from pro photography in mid 2007 and I'm enjoying photography more than ever.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Apr 14, 2012 02:41 |  #153

fotoworx wrote in post #14262948 (external link)
But the question that I have raised is that photography seems to be THE hobby that people tend to equate with making money.

Where does that come from? Have they been to weddings and thought "I can do that", seen Santa photos in dept stores at Xmas and thought "I can do that"?

Get where I'm coming from?

Isn't that likely just a consequence of photography being one of THE most obvious things that is constantly so in-demand, and that EVERYONE gets to take up as a hobby?

The demand for photographs is HUGE, and the barrier of entry is about as low as one can possibly get. As a consequence, EVERYONE has a camera, EVERYONE likes to try out taking pictures at least once or twice. And as that goes, many of the people with just a LITTLE skill actually get to try out making money off of it. Even if it's just a few bucks.

That's like asking why so many videogames revolve around killing the $*** out of everyone around you. Because it satisfies peoples' fantasies, and the barrier of entry is EXTREMELY low.

And yes, some of those crappy-ass people going into photography for the sole purpose of making money actually DO make money. For most of them, it's probably not MUCH money. But maybe enough to buy some new cool gear.

Going off on a tangent...have you ever been a fan of comic books? I'm assuming not, because comic books are stupid as hell, and I'm gonna give you the credit of assuming that you're not stupid enough to be interested in that crap (no offense to any readers here who actually like comic books). But I used to like comic books. I used to like going to the market and asking my dad to pick up the latest issue of Spider-Man or something. Hey, it was dumb and stupid fun. Just a hobby.

Now...do you remember when Superman died? I mean SUPERMAN. Freaking Superman. Do you remember when that kind of garbage actually made headlines? And was actually a topic in mainstream media? Do you remember the whole thing about speculators talking about how valuable comic books have become, how much of an investment they are?

Probably not. But I'm gonna assume that unlike me, you were never stupid enough to dabble with such a dumb-ass hobby.

But here's my point. Many of the people buying comics for like...the entire time comics have been made...were just hobbyists. Because it was impossible to make money off of buying comics. But sometime in the 90's, people (stupidly) starting looking at comic books as an INVESTMENT. It was stupid because it was clearly just a trend towards selling more comic books.

Remember goddamn SUPERMAN getting killed off, and that kind of crap actually getting mainstream coverage? Remember the assloads of people buying that issue of Superman hoping that it'd eventually be worth money? Well, it ain't worth ****, because DC comics printed so many copies of it that anyone who wants it can get it for really cheap.

And that was one of the most obvious examples of the horrible "collectors' bubble" which continued through the 90's and ultimately just resulted in a lot of speculators losing a ton of money based on bad ****ing advice and the idea that "collecting comics is the hot new investment."

AFAIK, that bubble ended up bursting, as it HAD TO. Some people probably profitted off of it, if they were smart enough to realize the stupidity of the whole thing and use that as an opportunity to buy trash and sell it quickly before the market value droppeed down to near-worthless.

Weird tangent? Maybe. But there's a point here. My point being, I think that what we're seeing here with photography is no more than an analog of the horrible "speculator's bubble" that occurred in comic books in the 90's. Peopole buying gear and lessons and etc based on the notion that photography is the hot new thing. But there's a problem with that logic. Whatever significance Superman's death had, and whatever the mainstream audiences actually cared, there remained this...DC Comics made an ASSLOAD of those comics, because they expected thm to sell. Those comics DID sell. As a result, there is no SCARCITY of Superman #75.

This might be a weird tangent, but I think you see where I'm going. The whole digital revolution is fairly new. Media and advertising has also largely been skewed towards telling people that buying those products can get them money. Look no further than ads from camera makers assuring people that buying the new product is a good investment. And just as how comic books are cheap enough that pretty much EVERYONE can afford to buy one at least once, cameras have gotten to the point where EVERYONE gets to try out photography.

So we've got the potential market right there. We've got the idea that people CAN make money off of taking pictures. That making photographs is actually a good investment.

That bubvble is going to evntrually burst. It won't be long before photography stops being "the hobby" to go to if you want to make money, because THAT CAN'T LAST. Not when EVERYONE can do it, and not when the barrier of entry is so low that the market is oversaturated.




  
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Apr 14, 2012 05:53 |  #154

fotoworx wrote in post #14262938 (external link)
I think I've brought this up numerous times in the thread. The question isn't being asked of working professionals, or people who have have earned their stripes and done the hard yards and producing something that marketable.

...I think that the big problem you are running into in this thread is that I'm not sure how true your assertion is.

I stopped to think: do I know anyone who bought a camera and decided that they wanted to make money from it? And I don't know anyone. How many do you know?

I think that you are talking about a general stereotype: I"m sure there are some people out there that fit your stereotype out there but they probably aren't as common as you think. So people are relating what you are saying to themselves simply because that is all they've got to relate to.

People that buy a camera and decide to become a photographer also buy video cameras and decide to get into the movie business or sign up for a multi-level marketing company and decide that they are in business for themselves. These people exist: but on the grand scale of things and related to the topic of photography it doesn't really matter.

You are asking people on a photography message board to explain the pathology of people looking to "get rich quick" but as photographers we can't answer that question. Nearly all of us started as guys with cameras who knew we could do something with them to make us money. Almost all of us were once hobbiests that chose to try and get something monetarily from photography. Don't expect us to be able to explain the behaviour of people who think in completely different ways.


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Apr 14, 2012 07:06 |  #155

@Cleandude -- How long did it take to write that?


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Apr 14, 2012 07:42 |  #156

fotoworx wrote in post #14262948 (external link)
But the question that I have raised is that photography seems to be THE hobby that people tend to equate with making money.

...

Get where I'm coming from?

I think part of this stems from the easy accessibility to the equipment and supplies in the digital age. With the advent of digital photography a huge expense was removed because you no longer have the expense of a frame of film, the deveoping process and so on. Now more people can afford to do it. In the past the hobbyist had to wait to see if the photo was any good and those who weren't dedicated, who wanted to make money, would lose interest by the time everything was processed. Now, with instant gratification, we (as humans, not as hobbyists) can feed on mankind's need for that photo now regardless of how it looks. IDK.

I think it is a big assumption to say that photography seems to be THE hobby that people equate with making money. I know of other "hobbies" that people have gotten involved with for the purpose of making money. I know people, like you've described yourself below, who don't necessarily need the money, but have started flipping houses because they had the financial resource to get involved, they enjoyed remodeling houses as a hobby. I'm certain they didn't do this hobby for free. My parents had a landlord once who "played" the stock markets because it was "fun". No need for the profit, he could financially afford to have a bad stock day. He enjoyed the process and if it made him some money "well, darn." My brother is a coin collector. That is his hobby. He doesn't dig through his pocket every night and put the change in a little cardboard book. His hobby is ancient coins. Yes it is a hobby to him, but it is one he wants to make money with.

Mine was gardening when I was younger. In high school I bought a small greenhouse and started bedding plants in the spring (as a hobby). I would sell them to neighbors to help pay for the winter heating, the seeds, potting soil, etc. Ultimately I used this as a springboard into my first career and studied horticulture in undergrad, but that career started with a hobby that involved an exchange of money for a product.

I share these few examples, and I could go one with more, because there is a huge assumption being made in this thread that photography is the only hobby that someone gets into to make money. That simply is not the case in my world. As a side note I think it would be an interesting thread to see how professionals got into the business. I'd imagine that many started out as a hobbyist in high school, but that is a different thread.

fotoworx wrote in post #14262972 (external link)
Everyones different of course. I have given 25 years to the Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade, 17 years to the State Emergency Services, 12 years to Meals on Wheels all voluntary and all unpaid.

I think it's really important to give back to the community and to society, but this line of discussion is probably getting way off topic now.

Admittedly I'm very well off, so maybe it's easier being philanthropic when one is?

Off-topic, but thank you for vonlunteering. I think that is a huge benefit to our world. I think you are also correct that being well off helps in that regard. Not everyone has that luxory and that does cause some to look for other ways to make money answering your initial question. As someone who has worked in the non-profit (a/k/a NGO) world for the last 14 years I recognize the importance (and dare I say value) that volunteers make.


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Apr 14, 2012 09:37 |  #157

I kinda like to eat, and after getting run out of growing tobacco because of the anti smoking activists, I needed to earn a living and have never really like a 9-5 job, as farming was never like that, and I always liked the idea of being my own boss, and being able to do things when I wanted on my schedule.

Sadly, the weekend warrior types can undercut so badly these days, due to the fact they don't really need to make a profit, as they have a 9-5 to cover the rest of their expenses.

So while you are out there undercutting, you aren't do anyone any favours, let alone the profession.


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Apr 14, 2012 10:19 |  #158

So, get a license to grow peanuts. ;)


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Apr 14, 2012 10:25 |  #159

fotoworx wrote in post #14262948 (external link)
But the question that I have raised is that photography seems to be THE hobby that people tend to equate with making money.

Where does that come from? Have they been to weddings and thought "I can do that", seen Santa photos in dept stores at Xmas and thought "I can do that"?

Get where I'm coming from?

Yeah but who cares, this isn't the only business out there people make money on. If your work is good enough you shouldn't be worried about all these people making their side jobs behind their dSLR.

Times are hellaciously tough right now I was a hobbyist until I got my pink slip and couldn't collect unemployment, it was either this or be out on the street, you know what it's like to go to bed hungry? You know what it's like to decide whether or not to pay your light bill or your water bill and lose the other? I sure as hell do.

I've had clients come pick me up from my house because I couldn't afford the gas to drive 10 miles away to go shoot. Now I'm sure I'm an anomaly and from what I've seen the majority of the people looking to make a quick buck are doing it on the side, and there isn't anything wrong with that.

Either this thread comes up or people post a topic about GWC's working for free and taking away their business, I would almost say this is a troll thread (at least on /p/ it is) it comes up once every month. Stop worrying about the next guy and get your hustle that's what it's like to be a businessman, if you can't deal with the competition go bag groceries or something.


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Apr 14, 2012 10:29 |  #160

90% of success is showing up. What you just described is, in business, showing up for work.


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Apr 14, 2012 11:09 as a reply to  @ Bosscat's post |  #161

Truth is, 90% of all this "undercutting" is done by ourselves. There's no need for "weekend warriors" to destroy our market, since we are more then capable of doing this ourself. And we actually did it all by ourself, without help of weekend warriors, hobbyists, and similar people with cameras.


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Apr 14, 2012 12:00 |  #162

nicksan wrote in post #14262939 (external link)
I shot photos for a benefit concert that raised money for the Quake and Tsunami relief for Japan, my home country, so yeah, I do give my time to a worthy cause that has personal meaning to me. But no, I don't just hand out my time willy nilly. If my best friend was getting married, I would shoot it as a gift, if he asks. Of course.

But I don't ever remember shooting anything for a friend, a friend's friend, etc, for free. I make sure they know I am a serious photographer, not a dude with a camera. I also tell my wife never to tell her friends and co-workers that I am a dude with a camera. She tells people I am a professional photographer. That usually keeps the free loaders away. I always charged something. Anything. It just felt wrong to have to use up my time for free. Maybe that's a cold and calculated approach, but that's just the way I feel. But personally, I think that was the right move b/c everyone knows I don't shoot for free, just because...

I used to shoot musical recitals for a private music school. I did one for free because my wife wanted to actually attend the recital and they gave us free tickets. I think it was a fund raiser for the school. They had some professional musicians there as well as some artists from Broadway. The owner liked my photos and decided to "hire" me for future events. I soon realized he was being a little too cheap for my taste...and I knew this guy had money too. He had an anniversary concert at Lincoln Center, and he asked me to shoot it. I doubled my rates. I shot the event. Never heard back from him again. Didn't bother me at all. I made my rates clear and I wouldn't spend my personal time shooting for less. No harm, no foul.

I think it's silly not to commoditize your time. You only have a limited amount of it per day. If something takes you away from your family, you should put a price on that.

Agree totally. Friends get discounts but they don't get it for free, no one does. You do it for free once and then they take advantage of your charity. As for the OP; I understand your Tiger Woods analogy but there are so many barriers to getting where he is, while a person can buy a camera and get lucky with a great shot and they're only out the cost of the camera.


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Apr 14, 2012 12:27 |  #163

I dont think any person wakes up on a particular morning and decides "Right, im off to buy a camera to make money". A hobby is great, making a couple of bucks from it is even better, turning this hobby into a career further down the line is better again.




  
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AUSSCOTT
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Apr 14, 2012 12:43 |  #164

My two cents - I dont look on photography as job, to me its my chosen career and has been for a long time now. I have invested a tremendous amount of time / study (Photojournalist degree) and money to get to where i am now . And with that come the benefits of be successful at my craft - having worked in 23 different countries in the last 18 months.

No i dont do any jobs what so ever for free. However i do pitch ideas to elite athletes within my working circle for photographic ideas which we could then pitch to the major pic editors at the main magazine players. And if they agree away we go, and hopefully the pieces will fall and we get a good run across the broad sheets (especially with the olympics coming up - pic editors are always looking for photo essays to lay a page with).

I dont personally find the week end warriors/hobbyists/hit & miss operators/ part timers (call them what you like ) causing any real grief by choppping the guts out of the market with some what badazzling prices that they charge. If they want to try and make a buck out of photography good luck to them, in fact it makes my job easier in the long run, as they seem to fight amongst themselves for a tiny slice of the market and chopping each others price line to pieces.

The main players in the broad sheets / magazine world always have their quiver of high end snappers to do what is needed when it is needed and call on these guys regularly to help fill an editorial page full of images.

If your good enough you will make a great career out of this fantastic form of art. If not just enjoy yourself and dont stress if you are not raking in the dollars. As my mentor continually said to me when i first started as a snapper on a broad sheet Metropolitan newspaper - dont lose site of that little boy inside otherwise you end up hating what you do, and end up working the pic desk in stead of behind a camera in the field.

My favorite quote is - " Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life "

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SBM
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Apr 14, 2012 12:48 |  #165

AUSSCOTT wrote in post #14265076 (external link)
My favorite quote is - " Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life "

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Why do a lot of people have this desperate need to make money from photography?
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