Photography career may seem glamorous from the outside, and although I truly love what I do (otherwise I wouldn't be doing it) I can assure you there’s another side to the coin. Just as I wouldn’t know much about specifics of a doctor’s or mechanic's job, I do not expect for anyone to know about what day to day is like for a person of my profession, therefore I'd like to take a minute to lift a curtain on the matter.
The price of equipment and high cost of doing business (CODB)
Sadly photography equipment is very costly, not to mention numerous bills, which are hard to avoid if you are to do things legally and to be efficient. I've already addressed costs associated with being a photographer in my previous article: Why Professional Photography Isn't Cheap
One of the major reasons of frustrations for professional photographers is seeing their photographs on social media with a filter. Imagine yourself buying a dress from Gucci, bringing it home and then taking it apart and stitching it differently... exactly how photographers see it, as they spend countless hours retouching the photographs, or even outsourcing them to professional retouch services to make sure that it is not just a snap shot, but a piece of Art. Should I say more? Insert the sound of a heartbreak.
Irregular working hours.
A freelancer or self-employed photographer often works beyond 9-5, Monday to Friday schedule. That is because a photographer wears more than 1 hat and is also required to navigate their own marketing and advertisement, edit the images they took and also commute to various shooting locations, which can take a lot of extra time.
Photographers often receive messages from their clients on a Sunday morning or late at night, but in order to be timely and efficient photographers often respond to inquiries and communicate with their clients during family dinners or while on holidays.
It is very hard to maintain a proper schedule since people often reschedule or cancel meetings and sessions at the very last minute or worse - don't show up at all. Some people may not realize what it does to a photographer. He or she could have potentially taken on another client, ran an errand, or simply taken their kids to a park, but are now simply wasting their time, as it's too late to book another client and their kids are likely with a sitter, booked ahead of time to accommodate your appointment. This is exactly why photographers often require a deposit or some form of a payment upfront to secure the date and make sure people take this appointment a bit more serious.
It is a known fact that business doesn't run itself unless you're running it. Therefore business skills are often more important than the talent. When you become a photographer you don't think about marketing or sales, you think only about creating beautiful photographs. Eventually when it becomes a full times career you need to make sure it's sustainable and therefore you have to run some numbers and implement strategies that allow you to not only provide good service and stunning outcome, but also have your ends meet.
This brings me to the burn out aspect. Being a successful professional means wearing a vast number of hats — photographer, marketer, accountant, and more — and as such, it can really start to wear people down over time. No one becomes a professional photographer unless they have a real passion for it, but the pressure of staying creative and original, striving to satisfy a lot of people at once and staying on top of million tasks can be enormous, which can lead to lack of inspiration, burnout and sometimes even quitting all together.
There are certainly more things I could touch on, but I feel the points I've listed above happen to be the biggest challenges for me personally. If you're a photographer, please feel free to leave your comments bellow.
I hope this article helps you appreciate your friendly neighbourhood photographer just a little bit more. Thank you for reading!
A portrait photographer, based in K-W. Beauty, Branding, Boudoir and beyond.