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
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jan 31, 2004
947 posts
I say OP should not in the way of his dream... let him quit/spend 50k on photography course. 1 year from today, give us an update on his progression (i'm leaning towards epic failure from reading this thread)
Jr. Member
Nov 25, 2005
142 posts
I just had to reply to this. I am a full time professional photographer. I always find it odd that people think Joe Shmo with a basic camera is competition. Yes, indeed, the barriers to entry are low. And yes, indeed, even a basic camera can take a fantastic image. But what you are being paid for as a photographer is consistency, expertise, and quality. A commercial client who is spending thousands of dollars, doesn't want to be taking a "chance" on someone. They need to know that the person they are hiring is capable of providing results....ALL THE TIME. Not just a lucky shot here and there. Don't ever be deterred by the flock of amateurs, because that is not who clients are looking for.

Photography is one of two things, either a hobby, or a business. And if you want it to be a business, then it must be run just like any other business. You need sales savvy, customer service, marketing, etc. You have to be a bit of a jack of all trades. Can your friend do that? Take away the photography aspect completely. Does your friend have what it takes to RUN a small business? How is he with inter personal relationships? Is he punctual? Does he cope well with stress and deadlines? Can he manage? And then micro manage? These are all considerations he needs to take. It's not just about taking a pretty picture. He needs to sell and promote himself like any real business, because really, its all about networking.

Only if he meets the requirements for running a small business, should he even question how good his photography is. As a hobby, who cares. He does it for his own enjoyment. But as a business, you are doing it for the enjoyment of others. Can he deliver?

So the real question, is there money to be made? Yes.....there really is. I have clients who pay me $15,000-$20,000 a year for their photography. With only a handful of those clients, I can make a pretty decent living. Not to say that came easy. It took a few years of hard work, and meeting the right people, and figuring out my niche and the path I want to take to success. But it can be done, and the demand is there if you look in the right places. Each photographer deserves his own path of exploration. I most certainly didn't end up where I thought I would when I started on this journey.

And my last note is about schooling. I would not bother with it, especially at $50K. He can buy all the entry level gear he needs to learn for under $2000. He already has a girlfriend, so there is a free model. Spend your weekends and evenings practicing. Photography is all about exploration. There are no rules. No matter what they try to teach you. Some of my best pictures have come from breaking "rules". And most importantly, its about finding a style. They can't teach you that in school. That will come from inside you. You will literally feel what each image needs, and how to light it. It will become second nature. In addition, there are so many workshops out there, really truly great workshops. My girlfriend is a model, and she used to host these workshops a few years ago. You would get a few models, and a few photographers together to shoot. Sometimes there is an entrance fee, sometimes its free. But you get to meet and learn from other people, you expose yourself to a social situation, its just overall a great experience. So attend workshops. Another great thing to do is assist another photographer. Tag along on set. Hell, sometimes you might even get paid to hold a reflector. But pay attention to what they do. How does he light the scene? Why does he do that? How does he move and place the model? With time, you will even ask yourself, how could I make this better? ( never tell the photographer though haha). That's your real schooling. On top of that, research on google about photography, and read about the history.

Anyways, sorry for the rant, but I hope it helps.