We often have a discussion on where we stand in the industry or where we would like to be either now or in the future. These are my thoughts and just one perspective, an important one because it comes from a lifetime involvement with photography be it motion picture or print.
After a lifetime of taking photos for money, satisfaction, communication or whatever I feel there are three distinct vocational areas one could place themselves, if tags are important.
Firstly, there are the masters, people who have devoted their life to photographic skills, style, maybe genre, but most of all obtaining perfection in their visualisation. Most of these people are well known for their achievements and like artists and musicians of note, are more recognised after death than during life, with some exceptions.
Secondly, come the professionals, people who practice photography for a living, people not dependent on other income for survival, not necessarily the best photographers in the world but good enough to gain acceptance from a marketplace.
Thirdly, the enthusiast, a vast group of people who thoroughly enjoy photography, learning and developing style, very good with the technical and creative art form and a vast reservoir of future masters and professionals if they have the desire to move on at some time in their life.
My perspective is that of a professional having earned my living from the mid-eighties either by taking photographs or making films. It can and will be different from other professionals simply because the industry, as part of the film industry, is the largest employer in the world. And this is what I want to talk about.
Folk who want to move from being an enthusiast into the professional world often are focussed on "selling" photographs or "doing" weddings. These are in fact the least successful parts of the industry. Whilst they can be a step forward very few survive in this self driven section of photography. Like any other creative endeavour the impetus for success must be client/audience driven. In simple terms you can't go out and tell people they should like your work. We need to go out and ask what they want and then create it. For many this is not easy simply because they don't have the experience or qualifications to handle the variables.
The point of this story is that we need to understand that photography as an industry is huge and I believe there is a genre for everyone who wants to make a living from it. Technical skills, like any profession are limited to 20% of your skill base. Most of the other things you need to know or learn are business related, marketing, accounting and communication etc.
Currently my skill base is with publishing and writing for magazines and newspapers, still photography for the motion picture industry, product and talent shots for publicity and travel based photojournalism.
For the curious I've attached a cover for a video magazine, one of many, which is a composite that paid really well. The magazine also included a number of other photos attached to stories and from that issue alone would financially meet most photographers requirements for the month.
Anyone contemplating a photographic career is welcome to ask questions but those set on selling photos or joining the wedding industry may need to look elsewhere.