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Thread started 15 Jun 2018 (Friday) 11:30
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What to shoot? What to do now?

 
samueli
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Jun 15, 2018 11:30 |  #1

I've been at this for over 10 years now. Started with coins and macro, then to landscapes, then to dogs and pets, back to landscapes. Now I'm into people. Lighting and imaging people and capturing emotions is becoming more satisfying than the idea of grand landscapes.

I'd love to do this full time, but I've crossed the mid-40s mark, and it seems ridiculous to put myself in competition with established photographers in a limited market at this point in life. Years ago, I actually thought that once I reached this point, I would find success. As it is now, I do one wedding a year, two or three senior photo shoots a year and the odd engagement shoot or pregnancy shoot. That's about all I drum up with a full day job. The take away lesson, which is almost useless now, is the working full time and trying to work on the dream(s) part time. If I could do it over, it would be all or nothing. Part timing it always yields part time results.

My frustration is that I'm good at this now. No more fumbling and guessing, no more nervousness, no more lacking equipment when I go to the field. I now have a good workflow, and have worked through situations to have a good knowledge base.

Every 6-8 weeks I hire a model for a few hours and practice lighting or whatever creative things I've jotted down that I can pull off on the cheap, in a relaxed environment. Is this where it ends for the middle age photographer? Did I simply start too late, and will forever remain on the outskirts and have to pay to play?

I want to shoot more. Lot's more. I have skill and resources to do much more with photography at this point in my life. I'm even pondering a studio with spaces to rent, events and educational resources. Not sure on the profit angle, but I can now seed something if I decided to. I talk with the models I hire about where the money is at, and they all tell me it's mostly ego stroking and not much for real end product. At least in Michigan.

So what do do? I know it will be hard to take photos with a cane and walker in one hand as the years pass, so I really need to step this up soon, or let it die.




  
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sjnovakovich
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Jun 15, 2018 13:29 |  #2

You've crossed the mid 40's and think you're running out of time! I'll be retiring from my career at 67 and I looking forward selling landscape and wildlife photos then; you know, stuff that involves the outdoors and hiking. You've got plenty of time to do this, Skippy.


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digital ­ paradise
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Jun 15, 2018 13:32 |  #3

I'd kill to turn 50 again :-) After doing about 20 weddings, events, etc I decided I just didn't like posing people. To some it comes naturally and to others it is an acquired skill. For it to be an acquired skill you need to, like any other profession do it often and gain experience. Friday night I would study all the required and money shots - I was lucky if I remembered 20%. We always got the family shots. etc. I gained a whole new respect for pros and wedding pros.

I also thought about putting in more time but decided it was too late for me as well. I also went through the Macro phase. Sold my 100 2.8 IS and MP-E65.

I was member of an excellent on line photo contest. Good photographers, no pop up adds, you didn't have to wait a week or longer for you image to be judged or the look for your win. There were seven categories and when you woke up and won your image was on the front page. I shot all kinds of stuff and I miss still life the most. Sure I can post here and there but it is just not the same. It was a mission and it drove you to work harder at it. They asked you to judge for a month once a year. You really see what you are facing when you have to judge 300 images from a different category every day. Those were good years but unfortunately it went under.

Now to fulfil my hobby I have turned to birding and wildlife as it is challenging and getting nice BIF's feels like an accomplishment. Being an Ansel Adams fan and shooting with a 4 by 5 field camera in the film days I still like both scenic and architectural B&W. When I travel I'm always thinking about what would make a nice B&W.

I used to but just don't look for stuff like this anymore and I really miss it.


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digital ­ paradise
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Jun 15, 2018 13:33 |  #4

One more


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kf095
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Jun 15, 2018 21:53 |  #5

One of my ex-colleagues went full time after 40.
Once you go full time it is less matter how good you are, but how good you are in sales.


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samueli
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Jun 18, 2018 07:21 |  #6

sjnovakovich wrote in post #18645888 (external link)
You've crossed the mid 40's and think you're running out of time! I'll be retiring from my career at 67 and I looking forward selling landscape and wildlife photos then; you know, stuff that involves the outdoors and hiking. You've got plenty of time to do this, Skippy.

That would be fun for retirement work.

The most successful people in the art and media areas are the young and the beautiful. Two people doing the same creative thing or selling the same creative thing in the same local market. One is young, one old. Guess who's business is doing better? I am neither young nor beautiful. While I understand the value of people outside of age and appearance, the world at large does not. I always enjoy my progression in different skills over the years. The disappointment in being dismissed for someone younger and/or better looking, or taller, or any other attribute that one cannot control, can be a bit much when it happens time and time again.

digital paradise wrote in post #18645891 (external link)
I'd kill to turn 50 again :-) After doing about 20 weddings, events, etc I decided I just didn't like posing people. To some it comes naturally and to others it is an acquired skill. For it to be an acquired skill you need to, like any other profession do it often and gain experience. Friday night I would study all the required and money shots - I was lucky if I remembered 20%. We always got the family shots. etc. I gained a whole new respect for pros and wedding pros.

I also thought about putting in more time but decided it was too late for me as well. I also went through the Macro phase. Sold my 100 2.8 IS and MP-E65.

I was member of an excellent on line photo contest. Good photographers, no pop up adds, you didn't have to wait a week or longer for you image to be judged or the look for your win. There were seven categories and when you woke up and won your image was on the front page. I shot all kinds of stuff and I miss still life the most. Sure I can post here and there but it is just not the same. It was a mission and it drove you to work harder at it. They asked you to judge for a month once a year. You really see what you are facing when you have to judge 300 images from a different category every day. Those were good years but unfortunately it went under.

Now to fulfill my hobby I have turned to birding and wildlife as it is challenging and getting nice BIF's feels like an accomplishment. Being an Ansel Adams fan and shooting with a 4 by 5 field camera in the film days I still like both scenic and architectural B&W. When I travel I'm always thinking about what would make a nice B&W.

I used to but just don't look for stuff like this anymore and I really miss it.


Those are some nice shots. I tried birds for a bit, but it didn't stick.

Funny, there was a time I was working on an online photo community. Spent almost two years on a critiquing/judging system, revamping it a couple of times to different programing environments. But that is just another testament to trying to work a dream part time. I spent so many years on it that the whole photo community landscape changed to the point that what I was doing became irrelevant. What I never finished in 5 years, could've been done in well under a year doing it full time.

So now that I understand one needs to delicate everything to an endeavor to be successful, I'm getting old and frail and could not afford to quit a day job and forgo insurance, because, well, old.

kf095 wrote in post #18646079 (external link)
One of my ex-colleagues went full time after 40.
Once you go full time it is less matter how good you are, but how good you are in sales.

Sales would be my weak point; I'm not good at convincing. I'm a more technical behind the scenes type. I suppose I should just pay attention to my day job, and continue growing old like the majority.

Just kill me...




  
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digital ­ paradise
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Jun 18, 2018 08:13 |  #7

samueli wrote in post #18647236 (external link)
That would be fun for retirement work.

The most successful people in the art and media areas are the young and the beautiful. Two people doing the same creative thing or selling the same creative thing in the same local market. One is young, one old. Guess who's business is doing better? I am neither young nor beautiful. While I understand the value of people outside of age and appearance, the world at large does not. I always enjoy my progression in different skills over the years. The disappointment in being dismissed for someone younger and/or better looking, or taller, or any other attribute that one cannot control, can be a bit much when it happens time and time again.

Those are some nice shots. I tried birds for a bit, but it didn't stick.

Funny, there was a time I was working on an online photo community. Spent almost two years on a critiquing/judging system, revamping it a couple of times to different programing environments. But that is just another testament to trying to work a dream part time. I spent so many years on it that the whole photo community landscape changed to the point that what I was doing became irrelevant. What I never finished in 5 years, could've been done in well under a year doing it full time.

So now that I understand one needs to delicate everything to an endeavor to be successful, I'm getting old and frail and could not afford to quit a day job and forgo insurance, because, well, old.

Sales would be my weak point; I'm not good at convincing. I'm a more technical behind the scenes type. I suppose I should just pay attention to my day job, and continue growing old like the majority.

Just kill me...

Convincing is showing your previous work and just being positive but I know what you mean. I prefer technical behind the scenes as well.
We created a book using LR to show our work. When I was learning about wedding photography I came across a photographer that was not regarded as being that good but she had to fight clients off. Her energy and marketing made her.

If you are looking for something to do start a daily online contest :-) The previous one I was a member of had a membership fee which was well worth it. I have some suggestions to make it appealing :) Like I said if you make it so people want to go online every day, open the front page to see if they are on it. No gimmicks, unobtrusive advertising, etc. Pretty sure you could find volunteer judges.

I think they are still operating on Facebook just to keep in touch with each other. Might have some recruits from there. I know of one previous member who posts in the B&W category at Fred Miranda. It is called Digital Image Cafe. I don't use Facebook.


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Phoenixkh
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Jun 21, 2018 21:53 |  #8

samueli wrote in post #18647236 (external link)
That would be fun for retirement work.

The most successful people in the art and media areas are the young and the beautiful. Two people doing the same creative thing or selling the same creative thing in the same local market. One is young, one old. Guess who's business is doing better? I am neither young nor beautiful. While I understand the value of people outside of age and appearance, the world at large does not. I always enjoy my progression in different skills over the years. The disappointment in being dismissed for someone younger and/or better looking, or taller, or any other attribute that one cannot control, can be a bit much when it happens time and time again.

Those are some nice shots. I tried birds for a bit, but it didn't stick.

Funny, there was a time I was working on an online photo community. Spent almost two years on a critiquing/judging system, revamping it a couple of times to different programing environments. But that is just another testament to trying to work a dream part time. I spent so many years on it that the whole photo community landscape changed to the point that what I was doing became irrelevant. What I never finished in 5 years, could've been done in well under a year doing it full time.

So now that I understand one needs to delicate everything to an endeavor to be successful, I'm getting old and frail and could not afford to quit a day job and forgo insurance, because, well, old.

Sales would be my weak point; I'm not good at convincing. I'm a more technical behind the scenes type. I suppose I should just pay attention to my day job, and continue growing old like the majority.

Just kill me...

I’m sure you’ve already considered this but how about being second shooter for a successful wedding photographer?


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Jun 21, 2018 23:33 |  #9

Shoot what turns you on.

I was taking pictures when I was in single digits. I loved doing it. I shot 126, Kodak Instant, 35mm in an SLR and point-n-shoot, and Polaroid into the 2000's. Digital happened. In 2010 a twenty year old dream of doing fashion photography became attainable. I photographed young women in a commercial studio, on the street, and in my studio. "My Studio" is our single car garage in our little townhouse in the DC suburbs of Virginia, transformed as needed. Somehow I would be this successful commercial fashion photographer, despite the reality that to be so would require I live in NY, Paris, or Milan.

Saturday February 10, 2018 happened. Two days earlier on Thursday I had chest pains that receded overnight; breathing was restricted. On Friday the pains returned, breathing was again restricted. "This will pass." Saturday morning it hadn't passed. I was finally scared. It was easy to convince my wife to drive me to the emergency room. Also, a potential heart attack at the emergency room is the medical equivalent of a FastPass+ at Walt Disney World. Two hours later I was released with a good bill of health, the pain and restricted breathing a function of pulled muscles from stress. I was alive and healthy and 60 years old, if feeling a bit foolish for being a bother about some chest pains and an inability to take a deep breath. (Three days later I was back to normal.)

Everything changed that day. Commercial fashion photography was dead. NY, Paris, and Milan were out. I work full time at a job that cannot compete with anything but the top commercial fashion photographers. That dream was dead. I wasn't.

I still have to take photos. Commercial fashion photography has been replaced by editorial photography. I'm doing more street photography. That full time job finances my photography; I don't expect to ever have my photography support me, but I can support myself so I can do my photography!

I photographed a woman in DC last Sunday. The photo below is my favorite from our shoot, not because of its commercial use or lack thereof, but because she was just happy. She loved the finished set, and both her friends and my friends did, too. For a moment this beautiful woman experienced joy.

I have no intention of stopping my photography. Will I be commercially successful at it? It's doubtful. Will I be successful at it? Hmmm...

Shoot what turns you on. Shoot what you want to shoot. Keep your day job. If you can replace your day job with your photography at some time, great! If not, you can at least finance your photography through your day job. Some of the top photographers have been "broker than a church mouse" (Joe McNally). It's okay to not go pro. Just make the photos you need to make.


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Jun 26, 2018 06:15 |  #10

If one has a day job that provides sufficient income for living their life, then I don't understand this need to make money at a hobby in order to feel that the hobby is legitimate.

Guys who golf are fine with spending money to golf, and do it frequently. . They even pay big bucks to travel to far-away courses to golf in remote or exotic locations. . Yet they never feel that they should become a pro golfer and make money at their hobby.

Hunters spend a lot of money on their hobby - especially the guys who annually apply for trophy big game tags and travel out-of-state for hunting trips and hire guides and outfitters to organize their trips. . Yet they never try to make money at hunting. . They realize that it is an enjoyable hobby and that hobbies are things that you pay to do.

Some of my friends enjoy water sports and have big expensive motorboats and spend weekends traveling to nice resort lakes to waterski and jet ski. . They don't try to make income off of this - it is fun to do, and they are glad to pay to do enjoyable things.

The same can be said for many, many, many different hobbies that people have.

If you have a full time day job, then why do you feel some need to make money off of photography? . Why is your hobby somehow different to you than other people's hobbies are to them? . I cannot wrap my head around that.

Maybe you should just be glad to "pay to play" for your hobby, like almost everybody else in other hobbies does.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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samueli
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Jun 26, 2018 13:11 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #11

Good analogies.

Two reasons:

1.) Validation that I've actually become good enough. Money is the ultimate form of validation.

2.) I work a lot and do not have much for hobbies, family, friends, etc. Work is life, and my lifelong goal is to transform one or more of my creative loves into career income. I also need to move faster at that goal as I've passed the midpoint in my work life as well.




  
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Jun 26, 2018 16:44 |  #12

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18651564 (external link)
.
If you have a full time day job, then why do you feel some need to make money off of photography?
.


samueli wrote in post #18651791 (external link)
.
Validation that I've actually become good enough. Money is the ultimate form of validation.
.

.
I guess that this is where you and I differ. . I don't feel that money - getting paid - is validation about how good I am at photography.

I do make money with my photography, but it is because I am poor and do not have other decent sources of income. . I almost make ends meet with some part time and on call work, but it isn't enough to live on, so I have to earn what I can with my images.

If I had more money then I would stop trying to sell my work because selling work is an unpleasant endeavor. . I envy my photography friends who have good paying jobs, because they can just shoot what they want to shoot and enjoy the images and not have to waste their precious time trying to please customers or marketing their photography.

When I sell a photo that is used on a magazine cover or in a book or on an advertisement or something, I feel a little bit of satisfaction, but not very much. . I mean, I'm glad to have gotten the money, and it's nice to see my work being put to use, but other than that there isn't this great big "feel good" thing going on. . Why? . Because the publishers seldom use images that I am very satisfied with. . The images that sell the best, honestly, are rather boring, compared to a lot of the images that I create.

Where the real deep satisfaction - the true validation - comes from, is when I look at a photo on my computer screen and just want to keep looking at it over and over again because I think it is so cool looking or so beautiful. . What I think about my photos is far more gratifying than what other people think about them. . Real validation comes from satisfying myself, not from getting someone else to pay me money.

Validation - genuine validation - is supposed to come from within, and not be based on what other people think about your work.


.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Jun 26, 2018 18:38 as a reply to  @ kf095's post |  #13

Truth here. Better be on your game in business management, marketing and sales as well as offering a unique product or look if you want to survive as a business.


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Jun 26, 2018 19:04 |  #14

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18651920 (external link)
...
If I had more money then I would stop trying to sell my work because selling work is an unpleasant endeavor. . I envy my photography friends who have good paying jobs, because they can just shoot what they want to shoot and enjoy the images and not have to waste their precious time trying to please customers or marketing their photography.

This is the most distilled statement as to why I haven't pursued selling my images, when my friends/family are constantly asking why I don't. I'm stealing it :p

@sameuli I'd say figure out one or more types of shooting you enjoy and want to really get good at, then join a photography group that also does those styles and has judged submissions, etc. Or, pick up one of the other types of shooting you haven't previously experimented with.

Maybe start some basic teaching sessions for new shooters? I always have folks that are interested in learning more about how to take their snap shooting and turn it into printable photos, but don't have the extra time in my schedule to just 'do' some 1:1 or even small group type lessons.

Going the route of a club or lessons would put you in more, regular contact with folks that have a chance to lead you to an access point into the industry that you're currently missing <shrug>.


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Jun 27, 2018 10:06 |  #15

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18651920 (external link)
.
I guess that this is where you and I differ. . I don't feel that money - getting paid - is validation about how good I am at photography.

I do make money with my photography, but it is because I am poor and do not have other decent sources of income. . I almost make ends meet with some part time and on call work, but it isn't enough to live on, so I have to earn what I can with my images.

If I had more money then I would stop trying to sell my work because selling work is an unpleasant endeavor. . I envy my photography friends who have good paying jobs, because they can just shoot what they want to shoot and enjoy the images and not have to waste their precious time trying to please customers or marketing their photography.

When I sell a photo that is used on a magazine cover or in a book or on an advertisement or something, I feel a little bit of satisfaction, but not very much. . I mean, I'm glad to have gotten the money, and it's nice to see my work being put to use, but other than that there isn't this great big "feel good" thing going on. . Why? . Because the publishers seldom use images that I am very satisfied with. . The images that sell the best, honestly, are rather boring, compared to a lot of the images that I create.

Where the real deep satisfaction - the true validation - comes from, is when I look at a photo on my computer screen and just want to keep looking at it over and over again because I think it is so cool looking or so beautiful. . What I think about my photos is far more gratifying than what other people think about them. . Real validation comes from satisfying myself, not from getting someone else to pay me money.

Validation - genuine validation - is supposed to come from within, and not be based on what other people think about your work.

.

Tom that's an awesome reply and take on the whole thing. I almost wish I could look at it the same way.

I have this problem that I have finally realized and started working on, that nothing I do is ever good enough - in any aspect of my life. Everything has to be perfection, either meeting some arbitrary standard or some ridiculously high standard that I set for myself. I took a wrong turn somewhere and lived my life up to this point being hard on myself.

I'll admit that doing things for self fulfillment is nice, if I can ignore all the supposed too's, best practices and whats popular's




  
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