I have one of those little red Moleskine notebooks where I jot down article ideas and potential topics for blog posts. One of the entries that I’ve been working on for awhile was a post called “10 Things I Wished I Had Known Before Becoming a Professional Photographer.”
This morning when I sat down to finally write that post, I did a quick Google search and discovered that Nevada Wier beat me to the punch. She put up a post about a week ago with the exact same title. Apparently, it stemmed from a question that was asked of her by one of her students.
Nevada has always been one of my favorite travel photographers, her work is simply amazing and it has inspired me ever since I bought my first camera over 20 years ago. She is a true master of light, color, mood and form and her imagery is definitely worth checking out.
Anyway, here are the 10 things that Nevada wished she’d known before starting out. She’s right on with all of her points. I definitely agree with her #1 assessment that photography is 80% business, and I especially like #10, which basically states that no matter how accomplished or recognized you are as a photographer, the phone does not ring on it’s own. You have to continually work hard to make it ring.
So not to repeat the same points, I’ll add three more things to her list:
1. How to price assignment work.
When I first started out, common perception was that photographers charge a standard “Day Rate” for shooting assignments. These days, photographers have shifted towards a assignment pricing with a “Creative Fee” that is combined with specific usage rates. Even today, it can still be a challenge to quote a big job and it almost always requires careful consideration before coming up with a final price.
2. How hard it would be to educate clients about the value of good imagery.
Despite the huge role that imagery plays in advertising and marketing, many photo buyers treat photography as a low end commodity. It’s a constant (and often futile) battle to get some clients to see the real value of the imagery that they’re buying. Here’s a post that I wrote for The Photoletariat about educating clients.
3. That the stock photo agency model would change so much.
When I first turned pro, I had my sights on getting in with a big agency like Tony Stone and earning a hefty income from stock. Back then, some shooters were making hundreds of thousands of dollars on catalog images with the big agencies. That’s all changed now, and even though it’s still possible to make decent money with stock, the days of bread and butter income from a few shots into the agency catalog are long gone.
OK, between the two of us, we’re up to 13 things. Surely there are more, though.
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What do you wish that you had learned?