Where is the Money?

Money is vanishing.

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In photography, the money is drying up. It is happening in every photographic genre.

Street photography never paid shit so lets just clear that up firstly. I’m not delusional here. I know that shooting candid photos of people having brunch at a hipster cafe in Denver isn’t the roadmap to making 200k per year….

Wedding photography is changing however, and that genre is one of the holy trinity of cash cows in photography (the other two being photojournalism and portraiture).

Firstly, I blame Canon and Nikon. They have been engaged in a nuclear war for quite some time, and the fallout has been nothing less than the annihilation of the wedding photography market. Both camera and lens makers have been churning out high quality entry-level (consumer) DSLR’s for over a decade and a half, and have placed them at a price point that tempts a casual shopper into trying his or her hand at photography. This in turn leads to casual shooters who realize early on that they can make money from these high resolution images they are taking. Unfortunately, the nubile shooters don’t have much skill, but most of them are not foolish enough to ignore this fact. To compensate they may charge bargain basement prices to shoot a wedding, as low as $250 or even lower, as opposed to the $5000 a reputable and seasoned wedding photographer charges on average. Thats a huge fucking disparity.

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It would seem logical that the seasoned photographer’s photos would be qualitatively better than the nubile photographer’s collection and this is indeed the case. The problem is the photos aren’t $4500 better normally, at least not to the casual observer. This is blatantly obvious to price-conscious brides when viewing competing wedding portfolios, and will influence her decision. Thus the bride, not wanting to have a tacky amateur photographer but also not wanting to be financially raped, will settle on a happy medium: a photographer who charges between $1000-$2500 dollars. No problem right? Wrong.

People have mortgages, car payments, gambling habits and all sorts of fuckery to support with their photography. There are only a precious few brides getting married per year in a given community so the competition is horribly fierce EVERYWHERE. This will drag that $1000 down to $750 when an “early booking discount” is factored in or whatever. What follows is a buyers market, where brides have shooters tripping over themselves to book a wedding, as opposed to a sellers market where brides pay no less than premium for the services of very competent artists.

Photojournalism is dying because the print media is dead. Not really much to say about that. Sports Illustrated fired their ENTIRE staff of photographers a few years back, and then fired the department that fired the photographers a year later. Nuff fucking said….

The portrait market suffers from nearly the same woes as the wedding photography market. There are a lot of amateurs with capable gear who undercut the shit out of the masters of light…..

Of course cell phones getting better and better doesn’t help pro photographers earn more money….

Where is the money then? I shoot sports but basically the clients are parents who want to buy photos of little Davon or Tyler playing football and soccer in high school. I see more and more Canon 6D’s with 70-200 2.8 lenses on the sidelines these days, as moms have decided that its cheaper in the long run to invest in gear than to spend hours combing through photos only to buy one or two per season. Also, taking photos is fun so there’s that……

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Stock photography doesn’t pay a lot unless you go all-in. If anybody makes a shit ton of cash from that then comment below please.

Selling fine art prints is…… some bullshit unless you can maintain the “mysterious artist” persona constantly. I am indeed a mysterious fucking artist but I’m too lazy to try to sell prints of my shit. That could change though…..

If you’re making good money let me know what you do……

Exit.

 

8 thoughts on “Where is the Money?

  1. I’ve tried the wedding stuff, after investing thousands in gear to be constantly told ‘we are on a tight budget, can you do us a special price’ I sold it in despair.
    There is wedding money out there, but I’m screwed if I could find any!

    I’m now wandering the streets taking pics if anyone I think that A: won’t beat me up and B: I could out run if they tried. And you are correct, there ain’t any money in this.

    Let me know if anyone lets you know where the money is!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am sure you are right, but as you wrote earning a living at photography has become hard. Blame digital technology.
        There were very few of us professional photographers in the days of film. Those of us that were, had gone to school to learn the craft and art of photography. And always, always kept up by taking more classes.
        I retired when I realized that I couldn’t compete with or work as cheaply as some young person that could rely on parents or a spouse to pay the bills.
        However, after 40 years I am really enjoying photography. I no longer must produce photos to fit the needs of clients.

        Like

  2. While the proliferation of cheap, high quality digital cameras has made it more difficult for people in some genres of photography to charge what they used to, those who are REALLY good at what they do still get clients and can still charge high fees. But what constitutes good has changed. To charge the high fees you have to master some aspect that goes beyond what the average snapper can do, whether it be complex lighting, unique post-processing or special equipment (like drones). There are a rare few that that can get by on just raw talent, those who have the ability to make an image that has the exact kind of emotional impact that the client wants. However clients themselves have become less discerning in this respect.

    Above all, the successful photographers I see these days are masters of self-promotion, and work very hard at establishing a reputation for professionalism across a range of online platforms.

    Liked by 1 person

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