ASK THE PHOTOGRAPHER - PHOTOGRAPHY MYTHS
Dear Sarah, Can you talk about some photography myths?
-Separating truth from fact
Hello Separating, I love this question! Please let me start with a disclaimer, this is from my experience only. I in no way shape or form think I'm an expert. I simply answer these questions to help any photographer that I can. That being said, I reached out to a few photographer friends whom I think are amazing, and here are some of the biggest Myths and Truths that we find about photography. I've written this from my point of view, but it has been vetted by others... hope this helps
For those of you that read these and don't get panicked, welcome- you are a photographer.
Myth #1: The photography market is saturated. It totally is, but not by good photographers. I remember thinking this exact same thing and a photography friend of mine told me "Sarah, everyone that picks up a camera these days call themselves a photographer. You know that it takes a lot more than that, and only a handful of people out there really are decent at it."
She was right. There are currently only 4 photographers in or around my area that I would hire. That leaves plenty of room for someone willing to work hard.
Truth: There is always room for dedicated photographers that continually grow their craft.
Myth #2: Once I've learned my camera settings, I'm a pro photographer. Let me start by saying that YES, you need to know how to work your camera to be a photographer. However, knowing your camera settings is usually where amateur photographers get excited, stop, and get stuck . I've seen so many people think that because they got the correct exposure, sharpness, framing...etc. that they took a good photo. These people are wrong.
Truth: Learning your settings and using them to take a picture does not a good photographer make... I'm sorry, it just doesn't. There is a ton more passion and creativity that goes into it.
Myth #3: I'm held back by my camera gear, once I get better gear I will be a pro. I have friends that use their cell phone to take pictures that National Geographic later purchases. Seriously, if you think you need better gear, you aren't there with your photography yet. I remember a photography teacher giving us a milk carton and a pen and telling us to make pinhole cameras to create art. You can do a lot with very little.
This is great news though right? You don't need to drop 10K right out the gate, use what you have while you have it.
Truth: new gear is nice, but it doesn't make you a photographer... and if you think it does, keep practicing, you aren't there yet.
Myth #4: I'm just going to do photography part time, it will be easy to work my schedule around it. You might get paid part time, for full time work... but that is the only way (unless you are established for years) that you will ever make any substantial money as a part time photographer. I hear this one a lot actually. A ton of people want to do this as a side thing, and it really is a dedication field. Would you want a doctor to only practice surgery on the weekend? Okay, bad example, photography won't kill anyone, but it is a muscle that must always be worked.
Seriously, your first few years plan on spending 60 hours a week doing it, and maybe getting paid for 5 -10.
Also, most of the time you don't get to do shoots around your schedule. Not only do you have to work with the lighting, you have to work around when clients can do it. Plan on photography being a roller coaster on your day planner. This is not quick money for an unestablished photographer, it is a lot of time and dedication. I can't say that enough.
Truth: Most of us photographers spend almost every waking moment thinking about, or working on, our photography. Most photographers, even good ones, won't get paid for all the hours they put in. Don't let this scare you, I LOVE thinking about photography, it never gets old. Even when I'm not paid... sometimes especially when I'm not paid.
Myth #5: A photographer makes a lot of money Very rarely. Even my friends that constantly shoot for Patagonia and Nat Geo make just enough to get by as a photographer. There are always exceptions to the rule, but count on photography being a labor of love, not a huge pay check.
Truth: You can make enough to survive as a photographer but 99% of photographers don't do it for the BMW... because that never comes.
Myth #6: I've been published so I'm a professional Truth and Myth to this one. It depends on where you are being published. Is Nat Geo or Time magazine knocking down your door? Okay, then you are probably a professional. The first time I was published the photo was a joke. Sometimes I'm still published and later I think, wow - they must not have had anything else to publish. I was told a good rule of thumb was: if 90% of your clients pay fair market price, you are at the professional level...
Truth: It is actually easier to get published than most would think, it takes a sustained career and happy clients to boast the "professional" title.