This is a un-sugarcoated look into what life is really like when you walk away from the steady paycheck and enter the world of being self employed. I will be sharing my experiences, thoughts, and anything else that comes my way as I navigate the waters of being a full-time photographer. I also hope to interview other full-time photographers to share their experiences with you as well. To see the rest of the articles in the series, click here.
If You’re In This For The Money Keep Your Day Job
Photography is my passion more than it is my job. Yes, it’s my full-time job, but hitting the shutter release is my passion. If you told me that I would not book one more client and had to go get a day job again, I would still love photography with all my heart. I have a burning desire to create, be it for paying clients or just myself with my iPhone. Chasing light and capturing life in front of me makes me tick. My whole life is photography; from creating images to writing about photography, this is what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I could throw all kinds of numbers out there, such as the average cost of a wedding, how much the average couple spends on wedding photography, and a ton of other numbers you can find all over the Internet. To me, all of that is rubbish. Sure, you need to know those numbers to price yourself to a certain extent, but all that means nothing if you’re not passionate about being a photographer.
What I hate seeing is people leaving their jobs to be a full-time photographer for just the money vs. following their passion. This profession is not for the faint of heart. It’s difficult, it’s a constant hustle, it’s long lonely days in your home office editing, writing countless emails, dealing with taxes, it’s months without a single inquiry…it’s hard, plain and simple. Without a passion for it all, you will probably burn out.
It seems like every year, I hear more and more people say they want to be a professional photographer. Thanks to digital cameras, everyone seems to think they are a professional, and to an extent, I was no different. I started with a simple Nikon D40 and kit lens, like so many before and after myself. But I’m one of the few that actually made the jump to be a full-time photographer. I made the jump because I had a passion that I was not allowed to follow with all my heart when I had my day job. I don’t even like to think about money anymore. Money drove me in the corporate world. I was always working harder, hoping to get a raise or promotion, and then one day, I woke up. I didn’t care about the money anymore, I wanted to live my life my way, and I wanted to create all the time. So I did.
I’m here to give you a gentle reminder that if you’re thinking about leaving your job because you think there is all this money to be made as a photographer, do yourself a favor and keep your day job. The competition is stiff out here as a full-time photographer. Some months are great and others are, well, tough. It’s my passion for creating that gets me out of bed. It’s my passion to meet new people, and my passion to capture the lives of people I have never meet before though my photography that keeps me going. Never the money.
If you have a burning passion for photography, and honestly, deep down in your heart want the lifestyle of being self-employed, go ahead and leave your day job. But do yourself a favor and don’t get into this game if all you care about is the money. It’s there for the taking, but the amount of work you need to put in, especially at first, is crazy. You must have the passion for photography, or you’ll probably find yourself back at a 9-to-5 job sooner than you think.
Till next time, keep shooting, building your business, and embrace the hustle!
Are you going to Photo Plus Expo? A group of us writers will be there this week! We’ll be sharing with you videos and writing up some articles on some of the new products we see there. You can follow me as I document my first time at PPE on my personal Twitter and Instagram accounts, and be sure to follow SLRLounge’s Twitter and Instagram to get some live feeds from the show. If you are going to the tradeshow/convention, please be sure to let us know! We’d love to meet up with you.