It’s the Age of Opportunity — and All Photographers Are Invited

It’s no surprise that there seems to be a mad rush to become a professional photographer today. The technology is priced right. The cameras are smarter than most people care to admit. Education is available online for free. And the economy has been trending toward self-employed small business owners for the past 20 years.

If you’re a stay-at-home mother with two children, why wouldn’t you start taking candid pictures of your children and your friends’ children and begin to take on commissions for child portraiture?

If you’re a middle manager who recently took a buyout and your hobby has always been landscape photography, why wouldn’t you continue to photograph and make fine art prints to sell in the local gallery?

If you’re a photojournalist tired of getting squeezed by newspapers with shrinking budgets and you want to continue your passion, why wouldn’t you offer your services as a wedding photojournalist?

Welcome to the age of opportunity!

That’s not say that this doesn’t frighten the old guard of professionals. It does.

If I were a grizzled professional (come to think of it maybe I am?), I would be concerned. Today, it takes more to be better than the next guy. More schooling. More technology. Bigger jobs. And bigger expenses to go with it. It also takes an uncanny ability to effectively market to the photo buyers with real budgets. These are the same buyers, by the way, who are overwhelmed by images.

And while an incredible eye and sharp business mind help, who really wants to take on more risk, financially or otherwise, just to do what you know and love? That’s the dilemma of serious professionals if they are to remain “in the game” of advertising, editorial and commercial work.

But what appears to be the death nell for professional photography is also the ribbon-cutting for a virtual land grab.

Professionals who are savvy are getting into the game of education. There’s money to be made! Take a look around and try to find someone you respect that isn’t offering a seminar or workshop.

Professionals are also getting into the game of social networking; by establishing their authority and attaining celebrity status among amateurs, they are creating a consistent long-term revenue stream. It certainly outlasts anything that could be achieved by just shooting assignments.

Professionals are also embracing the new realities of stock photography. And the ones who are aggressively pursuing microstock appear to be doing well.

There’s just an incredible number of opportunities out there today. And there are also plenty of pitfalls and a lot of false promises about what can really be accomplished.

But for the working professional, the opportunities should be recognized and embraced in the same fashion that amateurs, already flooding the marketplace with images, are embracing their own newfound opportunities.

Photography has never been so popular or more in demand. And I am glad for it. It allows anyone with determination to do this job and to make money at it.

[tags]photography business, photography courses, microstock[/tags]

4 Responses to “It’s the Age of Opportunity — and All Photographers Are Invited”

  1. Thanks, Sean. Your piece makes some really good points about how pros needn't be so doom-and-gloom about the future.

  2. Your point is well taken for both the professional and budding amature shooter, but one thing that the newby needs to consider is the fact that they are up against shooters with years of experience. Myself, for example; I've shot over 1000 weddings, tens of thousands of portraits both on location and in-studio, have ran 4 studios over the years, and have been shooting since I was 15 years old. I've taught hundreds of budding shooters, some pretty good, and most not so good. So to all you new guys out there, just because you have a cool camera or two, it will take a lot more to actually succeed in the rough and tumble business of making a buck with your new found camera and lens. I know, I've been there, and am still here, and will always be shooter to by dying breath.

  3. The sheer number of images available today are a good deal of the problem for us stock photographers. Today you can shoot thousands of images for nothing if you have a camera whereas the price of film and processing was a deterrant to the "wanna-be" photographer. I specialize in tourism and now see people just giving away images and magazines are now getting free images from the destinations such as golf courses and resorts. Some are decent images but most are below standard, however free is hard to beat and you can alway fix up an image. Some of the clients I deal with are still rewarding photographers and some are simply going the free or cheap route. I feel the time and effort and money involved is getting close to not worth it.

  4. The big issue with this is that most of these newbies do not work under a business license nor state TN issues, thusly they are not competing on a level playing field. They can undercharge but working under the radar. If they want to work, then they should be licensed.

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