Being a Pro Photographer and a YouTuber

I had been a photographer long before I wrote for Fstoppers. After a few years writing here I decided to give YouTube a crack. What was very interesting was the response from photographers and agents to seeing me on the platform.

Spoiler alert, being on YouTuber really hurts your credibility as a professional commercial photographer, both amongst photographers and also amongst agents. More recently I changed my YouTube channel's name and built a separate website with emails etc. that now has very little to do with my profession. For myself, photography is my job and YouTube is my hobby.

I was fully aware that YouTube wouldn't help my photographic career, but I didn't know that it would negatively impact it. In this video I go over the issues with being both a photographer in the commercial space as well as being present on YouTube. I also talk about how to manage both aspects if this is a problem that you too are coming up against.

Going forward I plan to continue the YouTube channel under my new guise of Tin House Studio whilst keeping my professional work firmly placed with my agent and in the world in which they work. 

What are your opinions of photographers who also have YouTube channels?

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Robert Nurse's picture

Full disclosure: I'm not a professional photographer and I certainly don't shoot weddings (too scared). Question: why is wedding photography looked down upon in the commercial world? And, IMO you should teach!

Raul Dederichs's picture

Not sure if I am qualified to answer as I am not a wedding photographer, I used to do real estate but wouldn't do wedding because a) I' have to stage romantic looking images of couples and b) likely deal with a hord of drunk subjects at certain stages of the event, not to speak about the responsibility and the pressure- all in all the idea seems stressful to me at least, not that I would look down onto someone who does it, the contrary, I'd position it right up there with war zone journalism but would probably prefer the latter...

Robert Nurse's picture

I just don't think I have what it takes for weddings: the take charge personality to herd cats. Not to mention the ability to stage romantic imagery on the fly. Then there's the business side of dealing with people that want compelling work for pennies on the dollar. Portraits, landscape and combinations are my thing. They're much more intimate and satisfying.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

Weddings = tacky romantic pictures which your granny and tasteless girls outside the city have to love.
Antipode to everything sleek, cool, minimalistic tasteful which agency folks admire.
It is not just weddings, same with anything labeled as fashion or beauty and hyped in 500px and other photocomunities will make agency people cringe as hell. What design / art / advertising people like is so far from stuff which is hyped on photography sites. And because these people hire photographers for campains, weddings and tacky stuff is a no go.

Robert Hall's picture

I did wedding photography for almost a decade before pivoting to primarily editorial/commercial work in 2019. I feel as though I've had to hide my wedding history to succeed in commercial environments.
Wedding photography has negative connotations in the commercial world because it's perceived as sloppy and tacky work. I think a lot of this is directors and marketing professionals who have a 20+ year old mental picture of what wedding photography looks like, which is unfair. I'd personally be happy to use my wedding portfolio as a demonstration of various skills.
I find it funny, because one client I have that regularly comments on my speed with lighting and speed of dramatically changing the visual result between images. That speed was built with years of incorporating lighting into the fast-paced world of weddings.
Handling combative subjects. Difficult environmental lighting. Ugly environments. Weather challenges. Time crunches. Staging products. There's hundreds of skills to be gained in wedding photography that translate well to commercial photography, but it's better to attribute the skills to previous commercial experiences. Otherwise, you'll get passed on simply because someone has their mind made up about what a wedding photographer is capable of.

Benoit .'s picture

Wedding is not about repeat from same client, it relies on portfolio and word of mouth to find new clients all the time. In advertising you establish the contacts to keep working with them as long as you can. It’s not about sloppy tacky work from wedding, it’s about trust, reliability and consistency. It’s about long term relations too. As a wedding photographer you deal directly with the client, but in advertising you have many people in various departments to satisfy and most can get fired because of you. They won’t take risk with a wedding portfolio and it’s not about being snobs toward wedding photographers, it’s about the job they have to provide. Being selective is often a necessity. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be responsible for an agency to lose a big client they’ve had for years.

derek j's picture

i am not a professional photographer, so could you explaib the value of having other photographers and internet commentors take you seriously? although i see the value of your clients and agents obviously, i wonder why photographers and internet people are a concern. do they book you as well, or is it word of mouth etc.

in any event its unfortunate that things you enjoy need to be segregated from your business. common in many other industries, but unfortunate nonetheless.

Robert Nurse's picture

I'd imagine that he's prioritizing the opinion of those who actually pay him. I get that. If the people with the big bucks look down their noses at the Internet/Youtube, he's wise to separate his business from his Youtube interests.