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All photos © Michael Grace-Martin unless otherwise indicated
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— Michael Grace-Martin (@mgmsbrain) September 5, 2014
So, it turns out that doing photography isn’t a very efficient way to make money. Are you all surprised?!…:p
No, there are lots of people who own cameras–both professionals and non-professionals–and a good number who put up an Internet “sign” saying they’ll do photography for money. Also, there are lots of people taking photos with all kinds of cameras (including phone cameras) and posting them to Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, and many other websites such that there’s absolutely no shortage of photos available for all the world to see and purchase.
When the supply of some product or service goes up, prices usually go down…*unless* there’s a corresponding increase in demand. It’s just a guess, but even though I think demand may have actually gone up, I don’t think it’s kept up with supply when it comes to photography products or services. This is why prices have tended to go down (except, perhaps, for photographs made in the past by famous photographers because the supply of those is somewhat fixed) and why it’s very difficult for anyone–even current famous photographers–to make much money *from* photography.
I think anyone who is interested in making photographs should make photographs. Why not? But people interested in a career in photography *really* should explore all other possible options before seriously considering it as a source of income.
To make enough money from photography alone, you have to put in many, many hours of work–both physically (when shooting–e.g., 12-hour weddings) and seated at a computer for hours on end processing thousands of images. You’ll also have to deal with equipment issues, customer support, vendors, transportation, and so on.
What I’m trying to tell you is that photography as a business is a lot of work like *any* business. You’re not going to get away from doing lots of work because you’ve turned your hobby that you enjoy so much (photography) into your source of income. In fact, that’s a good way to kill your enjoyment of photography. And the clincher? It’s going to be very difficult to make a good income from it, despite all the work you’re putting into it. Photography doesn’t pay well, especially compared to other jobs or careers available to (college) educated people.
My advice: pursue something that pays well so you don’t have to kill yourself making a good income, and then do photography on the side to keep it a fun and special artistic activity you do to bring joy into your life.
I like finding & making quirky photos when I shoot street photography. The annual GrassRoots Festival in Trumansburg, NY always has lots of quirkiness. So I have been attending the GrassRoots Festival over the past few years looking to make quirky photos.
You might say: “Well, that doesn’t seem like much of a challenge if the subject matter is already quirky!”. I would say that’s a very good point. But then I would add, “how about unintentional quirkiness at a quirky event? There’s still that!”.
In any case, I enjoy the oddities at the GrassRoots Festival each year and the challenge of making photos that don’t look like all the other Grassroots photos being taken by the other 100 or so photographers with press passes at the event each year (ok, maybe it just seems like that many…:p).
Some of these photos aren’t that quirky, but I like them anyway. The great thing about photographing the festival is I’m totally on my own without a shot list.
Here’s an initial smattering. I’ll be adding more much later this Summer into early Fall…:-).
Only seek validation of your personal artistic endeavors if it’s okay for you to get little or none. Otherwise, don’t seek it.
If validation comes along anyway, let it come. But don’t get drunk on its offerings. It may turn around and leave.
If validation never comes (during your lifetime), your artistic endeavors are none the worse. They were there for you and you gained energy from their presence. That is enough.