- Careers in "Just" Photography Don't Really Exist
- How Much Money Do You Have to Invest?
- Ask Yourself, "How Much Money Do I Really Need?"
- What's Your Photography Niche?
- Where the Photography Industry Is Headed
- Learning photography techniques, including the specifics of your camera and camera accessories
- Learning photo editing software, like PhotoShop and Lightroom
- Marketing your business via social media, email lists, networking conferences and word of mouth
- Printing photographs, either in your own darkroom or through a third party
- Acting as a fair use lawyer, or hiring one
- Being your client's best friend (especially in the wedding, boudoir, and child portrait niches)
- Performing maintenance on your camera and camera equipment
- Licensing your photos on multiple platforms
- Selling your work to businesses for photographic exhibitions, then selling work from those exhibitions directly to clients
- $1,500 to $2,000 for each camera
- $1,000 for each lens
- $350 for a flash (x2)
- $50 for a memory card (x3)
- $2,000 for a laptop
- $60 for website subscription (Wix, Squarespace)
- $120 for Lightroom and Photoshop subscriptions
- $600 for insurance
- $300 for accounting
- $150 for business licenses
Table of Contents
Careers In "Just" Photography Don't Really Exist
It's not enough to just be a photographer anymore. So, if a career in photography to you means just the act of photographing then the answer I must give is a definitive no. You cannot have a career in just photography in 2019.
In the video above, Nigel Dansen, a popular YouTube photographer, brushes right over the fact that his photography career could never have happened without all of the side hustles he participated in.
Instead, he discusses the ways in which switching a passion into a career hurt and helped him.
Being a photographer in 2019, money aside, includes all of these tasks:
HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU HAVE TO INVEST?
Careers in photography in 2019 exist, but almost all of them exist as individual businesses.
And according to Business News Daily, you may not even have enough money to start a career in photography because startup costs alone are so ridiculous.
You should plan to invest:
In total, most professionals suggest you budget at least $10,000 to begin your photography business.
While this number will vary depending upon licensing requirements in your state, which type of photography career you are pursuing, and how much equipment you already have on hand, it's not a cheap industry to enter.
Ask Yourself, "How Much Money Do I Really Need?"
So, you've sat down and figured out what equipment you have and don't have, what your state business licenses require and figured out exactly how much money you need to start.
Now, the next question you need to ask yourself is whether you can live on the regular salary of a professional photographer. If you're leaving a 9-5 job, chances are you will be taking a pay cut to live out your dream as a professional photographer. Can you afford to do that?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the average photographer earned $16.35 per hour in May of 2018.
Even if you're one of the lucky ones who happen to live in Massachusetts, your average salary will be $65,000 per year (not including business expenses).
Anne Ruthman published her photography business expenses in 2015 and they totaled a whopping $16,883.
Editor's Tip: Starting a photography business? Save money and buy quality used gear. You can save hundreds if you buy a used camera and used lenses, and apply those savings to investing in other gear. Better still, a great way to watch your bottom line is to sell or trade in your old gear that you no longer use. Doing so minimizes how much gear you have to keep track of, and if you sell or trade in your gear, you have some spare money to put towards upgrading your kit. It's a win-win!
So, if you're supporting a family of 4 and can't do it on a (generous) estimate of $48,000 a year, then photography in 2019 might not be for you.
What's Your Photography Niche?
Ask any photographer who has been in the business for a while, you really can't do much unless you specialize in something.
The equipment you use in photography is specialized for one of many different photography niches. Each photography niche gets paid a vastly different amount and is more or less difficult to enter.
Fine art photography, as an example, is wildly lucrative if you can be the one in a million who make it.
The same can be said of fashion photography. So maybe don't move to Paris on a whim thinking you'll be shooting the next cover of Vogue.
If you're entering the photography industry, check out Adorama's pretty comprehensive list of photography niches to figure out exactly which one you want to pursue.
Where The Photography Industry Is Headed
This is the number one question you're asked when you are choosing a major in college and yet very few people who are entering into a business of their own dare to ask it of themselves.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2016 and 2026, photography jobs will decline by 6%.
If you are looking to enter the photojournalism industry, your outlook is even worse. Photojournalist jobs are expected to decrease by 34% in the same timeline due to the decline of the newspaper industry as a whole.
The BLS also estimates that stock photography websites, the decreasing costs of digital photography equipment and the rise of amateur photographers will all play into a decrease in the need for professional photographers and a decrease in professional photographer pay.
However, the BLS doesn't just hark bad news.
The organization also suggests that new technologies, like drones, will lead to an increased demand for specialized photographers.
Granted, this need for specialized photographers still means you'll need to be contracted because salaried positions for drone photographers don't really exist.
What tips do you have for entering the photography industry?