Art and Photography

Friend wants to quit a good job, take out a student loan, and become a photographer

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 19th, 2012 9:10 pm
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Jan 19, 2008
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i'll charge him cheaper than 50k and he'll be an awesome photographer after i teach him for a year or two LOL
Wedding & Child Photographer ~ happily photographing
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Dec 11, 2003
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[QUOTE]Regardless, photography schools require a portfolio submission for degree programs. You can't just buy a camera and decide to take courses. You have to have a decent level of skill already to get into any reputable program. Some, like Sheridan, are incredibly competitive. He probably won't get in, which will stop his plans immediately.[/QUOTE]

Agreed, when I went to Humber for Creative Photography they had us submit a portfolio and attend an interview, out of nearly 400 people that applied only around 70 got accepted, and it's only gotten worse now because everybody has a digitial camera and it takes no skills to take OK photos.

My opinion is the market is over saturated with average photographers, find a specific market that needs filling and go for that.

Brent
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Jul 13, 2009
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inzite wrote:
Jul 19th, 2012 1:02 pm
i'll charge him cheaper than 50k and he'll be an awesome photographer after i teach him for a year or two LOL
+1

What's the guys' job now? What's terrible about making $75k while single at age 50?
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 7, 2008
46 posts
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Thanks for your input, everyone!

I’ve known my friend for over ten years, and so I know him pretty well. I definitely think it is his frustration with the job that is driving this career decision. He’s never had any particular interest in photography, beyond the normal layperson’s desire to have plenty of vacation pictures.

His job has been really stressful -- both from a work intensive and office politics perspective. With regards to office politics – a co-worker with equal job skills, but better networking skills, is stealing all the limelight. Plus, at this point in time he's probably capped out with how far up the ladder he can go in the company. The frustration has affected his health a little bit. He’s been searching for a new career for quite some time now, but doesn’t have the academic qualifications to start afresh.

As much as he hates the place where he is working, I look at things from a practical perspective. At almost 50 years old, he is unlikely to find another employer who will hire him for the same pay. Why pay someone $75K who is almost at retirement's door, when you can train someone half his age to do the same job. It’s not a difficult job, after all, just an intense one with tight deadlines.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback everyone. I was afraid that I was being a negative Nelly, but many of you don’t seem to think the career change is a good idea either due to the risks involved.
[OP]
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Jan 7, 2008
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Darryl wrote:
Jul 19th, 2012 7:55 am
In my opinion, there is not enough information to tell. Obviously the OP doesn't want him to do it, so their explanation of the situation is likely biased. For all we know, this guy is approaching retirement age and wants to have something to do after retirement. 50 is a good time to be thinking about that for sure, so there is absolutely no harm in his consideration.

Plus, we also don't know his current and/or previous experience. Maybe he has business management training/experience and he sees an opportunity to start his own business. Or maybe it's just always been a dream of his, but he's never had the need/opportunity/motivation to pursue it.

I agree that he likely doesn't need to pony up $50k for education, but without knowing the course and/or school he plans to attend, it's hard to make that judgement too. Maybe there are strict entrance requirements and they can guarantee a job afterwards (maybe they hire?). It's unlikely, but we don't know this. Maybe this includes all the equipment he'd need and some of it goes towards starting your own business.

Aside from the fact that I doubt any bank would give him a $50k student loan at 50 years of age, if he does get one, power to him. Chances are he would never pay it off anyway, so that alone would be less of a risk to him.

My point is that I don't think it's really fair to crush this guys dreams. Not everyone is successful at taking on their own business and the ones that are, often have supportive people in their corner. Help him understand the risks involved, but support his decisions. They don't affect you at all.

Most start up businesses fail. But all of the ones that never start fail.

PS: The photography school he plans to attend does not guarantee placement. And he has already obtained the student loan; student loans cannot be discharged, even in bankruptcy, so the bank is pretty ok with it.

I made it a point not to rain on his parade, so I only mentioned my concerns about the risks once. Whereas I won't bog him down with negative comments, I prefer to keep quiet rather than support the "dream". To me, he is heading straight for a crash. And a bad one. The time to do such experimentation with dreams is in your 20s, and maybe your 30s, as there is time to recover from the mistake if necessary. Late 40s is not the time to try out a new career if the decision is being driven by emotion (frustration).
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May 5, 2007
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bhrm wrote:
Jul 19th, 2012 1:10 pm
What's the guys' job now? What's terrible about making $75k while single at age 50?
Because of these factors perhaps the guy has saved enough money that he'll be comfortable for the next few years without working...I don't know, but in these tough economic times I wouldn't consider switching jobs at that age.
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Mar 19, 2006
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Dude is a full grown man. He can and should do whatever he wants with his money and career. He doesn't need to be baby sat by his friend. You've spoken to him and made your point so let it be if he wants to pursue a passion.
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Dec 11, 2003
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[QUOTE]He doesn't need to be baby sat by his friend.[/QUOTE]

Friends aren't ecpected to offer any input or show any concern?? So they'd can even offer him some fact about picking up photography as a career this late in life?

Brent
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Deal Fanatic
Aug 29, 2006
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However, if the decision is already made, a friend should be supportive as well.

Plus, it isn't like he is doing drugs or gambling, the guy wants to switch career and start do something he enjoys. It is more common than people think, at his age to want to do something different or start a hobby. I think the idea shouldn't be to discourage both but to emphasize the improtance of a fall back plan, what if he doesn't make placement/found out he doesn't like photography/find it hard to live without a sturdy income/etc...

Ideally, he should continue to work while start taking continue ed classes at night or wkends that may give he credits later or most improtantly, exposure to the photograph and see if he sees himself sticking to it.

This would very likely take some of the stress from work away and if he is anything remotely crafty, soon realizes this creates a new level of stress only this time related to his hobby and it ain't cake walk. ;)

Whatever happens, we know he is at least lucky enough to have a good friend like the OP.
The Devil made me buy it - RFD. :twisted:
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Jun 9, 2003
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+1

it's definitely a mid life crisis. But it's his life...as a friend you have to be supportive...

The easy part is learning and taking pictures. The hard part is selling the pictures or selling the service. The bad news is how many 50 years do you see running at events taking pictures at weddings, sports events, news report site etc.

At 50 you'll be making money teaching, or selling photos, or selling books....however with little work experience...not so sure how he's going to do that latter.


SOOOOOOOOOOOO.....when he goes to the OP and asks for money to repay the loan...well the simple answer is it's never a good idea to loan a friend money...but i think he understands that concept and didnt borrow from you but the taxpayers.
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Oct 25, 2008
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50k is a waste of money to learn photography. Just like any other field, photography is a field of art -- and you gain credibility NOT by education but by building portfolio.

I would spend 50k only if I can get into top MBA (like Ivey) that would almost certainly guarantee me at least 75k in a field that I have passion for ...

Go shoot some weddings for free, build your own portfolio and bam, you have a business!
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Jan 2, 2008
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Yolo!!!!
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Feb 5, 2009
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The minute I started making money from photography I stopped enjoying it, thankfully I wasn't dumb enough to quick my regular income ;-), now I have my hobby back, do photography when I feel like it and how I like it.

No matter how much one is to pay for photography school it won't make any difference, you either have it or you don't, and then you need to be business savy to make enough money in ultra competitive business where everyone knows someone who is a photographer or can by images for $1 from stock sites.
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Oct 22, 2003
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Tell your friend to use his student loan to take a business course instead of a photography course. It'll be more helpful in the long run.
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Dec 11, 2003
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"No matter how much one is to pay for photography school it won't make any difference, you either have it or you don't,"

Actually that's not all there is to it, I'm one of those guys that had some natural skill/had an "eye", while other people in college didn't, what I was/still am missing is ANY sort of confidence in my skills as either a photographer or in a practical business sense.....that's what held me back for many years, and isn't something you can train for.
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