Every Photographer Should Read and Study This Infographic

Every Photographer Should Read and Study This Infographic

All day I have been hunkered down in my office chair pounding through emails, album designs, and editing. My camera zipped away in my bag, my equipment strewn across my office floor. While the perception of being a full time photographer is one of double rainbows the reality is there is so much more to what we do. The following infographic should be a required reading for anyone ready to give up their day job to live the "rock style life" of a photographer.

Well it's that time of year again. Yep you know the one. Tax refund checks are in the mail. Soon that unexpected refund check of $1000 will be spent on the latest model camera being sold at the local Costco. Pulling the shiny new camera out of the box, the new owner just graduated from a lover of photographs to (queue the music) a photographer! Within a few days a Facebook page is set up advertising their services and the weekend mini-sessions being offered with edited disc of all the photos for $25. Soon, this new photographer realizes it's a lot more work than they first imagined and they jump on board the sinking ship, sell their camera to a friend and polish their resume to start the new job hunt.

Unless.... you start your profession as a photographer off on the right track.

There is a lot more to being a photographer than just shooting photos and applying a neat action or preset and impressing your parents with your mad Photoshop skills. This infographic created by Fotoseeds should be a required study for anyone interested in getting into photography. Especially the last set of bullet points comparing a Hobbyist to a Professional on the "path to sustainability." Study it over and let me know what you think in the comments below.

P.S. Please don't make this a bitchfest about beginner photographers. We were all there once before as well. Some of us might have learned how to create a sustainable business of photography. For those of you in that position what advice would you give to a new photographer getting started? Enjoy and share with your friends!


[Via MyModernMet, Via PictureCorrect]

Trevor Dayley's picture

Trevor Dayley (www.trevordayley.com) was named as one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers in the US in 2014 by Brandsmash. His award-winning wedding photos have been published in numerous places including Grace Ormonde. He and his wife have been married for 15 years and together they have six kids.

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That should be required reading for all those who go into the photo biz. There is definitely a perception out there that we make tons of money for little work. But I don't know many other business owners who actually put in more hours (and more weekends) than photographers! I think the hard thing is that if you take good photos, and have a good camera, you get into the business thinking that there is not much more to it than that. But sustaining a business over time takes a lot more; more time, more education, more money, etc. I have been in business for nine years now and I am still constantly learning!

Really? My perception has always been that photographers make little money for a lot of work. I guess it depends on what you consider a lot of money. I don't know any rich photographers.

That's because you use cheap photographers. I understand what Stacey is saying, and it's actually very much a result of how the industry has changed.

With so many amateurs offering services for $100, those of us charging $400+ for the same service often get the reputation of being greedy and making too much money. That's where the perception comes from.

A potential couple thinks I must be making a killing charging $2500/wedding since the brides aunt offered to shoot their wedding for $250.

Amateur (cheap) photographers have actually made Professional Photographers seem more expensive than we actually are.

And you often get what you pay for...!

I had a customer last week who actually asked me about the "state of the industry" and I told her that the huge glut of photographers have created the customer perception that photography is cheap and easy today; however what is happening is that the cheap/easy crowd goes out of business as soon as they realize they are not making money. Also, that paying a professional is the "guarantee" that the work will be done, and that the photographer will be around in the future. So this article is timely...I'll pass it on to some customers :-)


So good. And true. I would tell anyone starting out (and I do) that one of the most important things a photographer needs is business sense and the understanding that while we do what we love, it IS about the money. At least if you plan on being a business owner. It HAS to be.


Thanks for sharing that Trevor! I was glad to see the 35% for sustainable living as a professional. I've wondered that number, but never seen it before.

To the photo fanatic out there: I suggest you shoot with a friend on a legit gig a few times before you decide to become a "photographer." Some of that joy that's there when shooting for yourself goes quickly when working for a tough client. You've got to be able to separate the "joy" part of the equation from the "do your job well" part of the equation.


This is awesome! Thanks for the post!

Photographers are not some special breed being hated on, this happens in most creative fields and I would even argue most other industries too. Good read.

Totally agree, right now the VFX industry is going through a much worse crisis!

Self serving trash.

'Please, be an amateur - dont compete with us! *sadface*'

I started shooting as an avocation in 1975. Since then I have published over 10 million postcards, a couple hundred weddings and more "Annual Reports" than I can count. I will never do weddings again [or people photography], but Annual Reports and brochures [now supplanted by "our web site"] and the semi frequent magazine placement makes it fun and profitable.

But I still have my "real job"...systems analyst. It works.

Definitely the worst part of all of this is being undercut by amateurs who don't know what they're doing. Eventually the client may come back to you and meet your original "high" price but it may take them some time to realize that your work is worth it.

Eh. We used to go to high priced photographers that would try to sell us expensive print packages. But we just wanted some fun pictures to post on Facebook - which is what people really want in 2013. One of our many friends who got into photography was able to do shoots that looked just as good with a preset package for 1/4 of the price. Needless to say, we don't go to the high priced photographers anymore.

Making money with a camera is easy if your main goal is to shoot what other people want to see instead of what you want to see. That means putting the potential market's taste over your own sense of taste. Unfortunately, this sounds simple but it's probably the most difficult hurdle to overcome. Most aspiring photographers tend to shoot solely what they like or what is popular with fellow photographers. How many of them would really be willing to shoot photos that other photographers despise but are actually exactly what the client wants to see? Furthermore, how many of them would want to invest a significant portion of their own money into portfolio shoots designed as speculation to appeal to these possible clients? ...Not many

A photographer has to "think" like a pro before he can ever become a pro. In other words, he has to have the right frame from the very beginning. Shooting for personal pleasure is literally what defines an amateur. So amateurs, by definition, must give up the very quality of thought that makes them amateurs in the first place. Otherwise, they'll have almost no chance of success at becoming a pro. That doesn't mean that professional photographers can't or won't get to shoot according to their own taste. But it does mean that they have to be willing to put the taste of the market in a position above their own.

There are always exceptions to the general rule. Some photographers get to shoot exactly what they want and it also happens to be exactly what the market wants to see. Those are the rockstars of photography. They are a tiny minority. The rest of us usually have to compromise in some manner.

Well said Mbutu.

Thanks Trevor

well said, i got over that very early on and had a successful studio at 21.

how about the idea that you can gain SOME control over what you shoot, by showing what you want to shoot (in your portfolio, website, etc.)?... almost all teachers that come by CreativeLive say that you will get hired for what you put out.

It works to an extent...but how many (i'm going into the wedding photography world mainly) brides aim to share their pinterest board? I try to educate brides that I will use minimal inspiration from pinterest because using the entire world's portfolio is not a quality expectation of wedding photography.

Well put. I'm an amateur who has had this in the right perspective.

In my market, most photographers start a business with a camera they got as a gift... they continue to study in other fields and continue with this business side-by-side... then after graduation, they throw away the camera and become a professional in another field, almost forgetting they ever were photographers.... and without having any knowledge regarding cost of business, they are usually extremely cheap.... they do this to earn their pocket money!

There are quite a few fallacies in this graphic. That's not to say the entire message is false, or that there isn't anything worthwhile to be gleaned from it, but it does perpetuate several fundamental misunderstandings of economics. First and foremost is the belief that competitors with less knowledge and experience are going to undercut a seasoned professional, or "educate" the market. This is simply false. That would be assuming the professional's product is the exact same product as the noob's. The reality is they are not the same good at all. Yes, the good is photographs, but if that is all the consumer looked at there would be no professional photographers at all because everybody would be making their own photos. Everything the professional brings to the table is part of the good. The same goes for the noob. So another way of saying this is that these two entrepreneurs are in different markets altogether.

Another false message I get from this graphic is that having so many people attempt to enter the market is a net negative to the entire industry. This is how free markets function. Those that are unable, or don't do their homework, don't consistently satisfy the consumer, consistently make decisions that negatively affect their revenue stream go out of business, thus freeing up capital for someone else to try. The people that do these things the best are the ones who stay in business. So yes, perhaps some of these people suffer greatly for making poor decisions in this process, but that is the price they pay. And this article does do some good toward helping people understand the importance of their decisions. However, the people that go out of business, as I stated above, are not negatively affecting the entire industry (this is under the assumption that it is a true free market).

Again, I'm not saying this entire article is false, but there are some very big points being made that are. However, I completely support actively sharing knowledge in order to help others grow.

With your understanding of economics, you should also realise that the market for photography services is also going to be largely split into commodity/differentiable product markets; and so while your assertion that 'noobs' arent competing with 'pros' holds for one of those, it definitely doesn't hold for those seeking a commodity product.

TL;DR: if some poor only wants 'mah photos tooked', they don't see *any* differences between PROTOG4000 and Mr Noob, and so the clueless amateur actually is competing with the pro.

But those are shitty clients anyways, so stop wasting your time on low end, price competitive markets.

Well, no study has been done yet to show how the undercutting affects established photographers, at day's end its good for the category and the industry. I think really good clients know what they want and they know quality when they see it. A gifted photographer giving his services for free is a rarity and probably won't make an impact and there are very few "gifted children". Average photographers can sell their services at a lower price because they know they cannot command a higher price for their output. All in all its good, those who adapt and learn fast will survive. Those who don't change won't last and then the cycle continues. If the article is meant to caution the over-zealous then that's fine but no article or revolution will ever stop anyone from doing what they want. Its when we get burned that the lessons stick to us. I also agree this is not exclusive to photography. I am sure there are thousands of passionate cake-makers and bakers who went this way - did not learn, did not adapt, poofed out. The glory of photography is when you stand out from this mass of wannabes. When people look at what you create and they are affected and changed then you have given your passion expression.

Are you really justifying "free work" as it "has little impact?" "Really good clients" are those you already have. "Continuing to make money in photography" are the new clients you NEED.And pros in the business have seen the trend happening for ten years now. this may be new for you...not for people in the industry.

this would in theory apply to any kind of work, isn't it? but i read it only about photography works. and why? I guess because the first one to be scared and not so self confident are the pros itself, seeing their fragile kindom sink. being honest the most killers photographers i have in my contact network are under 25. take it, or it's you that have to leave.

im a newbie in photography 3 years ago. from the beginning, i put in my mind, i want to be professional in this field. and now, i have went through all the challenge to become a pro. all the explanations above are very true. to make sure im not jump into the sinking ship, im prepare my own boat.
i leave my current job as a government servant and focusing on photography. and now i can proud of my self, i have my own studio photography and the monthly income so good.

so, moral of the story, read and understand the sketch. photography can make money...very huge...believe me.

Love it , Great Inspiration !

I still want to be a photographer even after all that eye opening.
I just starting ( actually i don't own a Camera Yet ) , but i got faith i will get there someday . Start from Kenya and move on to become Africas' Greatest and/or even the world !!! Click My name up there to view my work ( and even help a brother up the ladder if you don't mind ) . Regards Yáll [ @LilDavidSODMG on Twitter ]

God Bless .

This is great, I worked at a Studio during college and knew how much work it all took. After years at a desk job I decided to make my love of photography into a business. I interned/volunteered/carried reflectors/did what ever for other photographers in my area while I learned what it really takes, built my skills, my knowledge,established my business properly and legally, and what price point I should be at to sustain my business and contribute to my family before I jumped into it fully. When ever anyone contacts me saying they want to be a photographer, I tell them that's great! How are their business skills?

Hmm, Synchronicity: Immediately after reading this article, I opened a Groupon email:

Portrait Scene – Multiple Locations
$19 for Outdoor Photo Shoot with Prints and E-view CD ($218 Value)

Honestly, this whole thing is spot on except it missed one thing between the "amateur" & "dollar bill" part. The a##hole semi-pro/professional photographers that wont help. Whether its online forums or in person. They all call new photographers "fauxtographers" and treat them all like shit, as if when THEY started they knew EVERYTHING about the business. Even AFTER the person is ready to start a business (knowing their camera and all that) I blame all the OTHER photographers, why? Here is why, if everyone didn't act like selfish dogs over a bone they could as a community of photographers SET THE MARKET! Create a team that meets once a month or so that helps build plans for everyone to keep the market in check otherwise it will crash! If a "noob" doesn't know how to price themselves and gets no help, what are they supposed to do?? If everyone quit acting so pig headed about it as if they are the end all be all photographer and craps on "noobs" because apparently from birth they understood it all, the market wouldn't be crap.

Yeah, that's actually anti-competitive behavior and there are laws against businesses colluding to attempt to control the price customers pay. By and large, the US is supposed to have a free market economy. Joining a trade association and educating the noops about the subject of cost and price is cool, but you probably should let them figure out their own pricing.

I agree with you on the calling people fauxtographers, but I don't like it when amateurs claim to be a professional right out of the gate.

I'm appalled over the countless "victims of fauxtography" thinking the system only works that way. Ya ever think the photographers who are successful may have just started much different than the newb's trying to start today?? They sure didn't start by contacting successful photographers asking for tips, secrets, & for them to become an accountant for the newb's by helping them price! No, they volunteered for 'free' to help Sr. photographers.. From washing their props for free, cleaning show rooms, cleaning the shooting grounds, raking leaves, doing lots of hours of free volunteer work for the successful Sr. photographer so that they could study under them. They didn't learn it all from better photographers for nothing, it was a mutual work agreement for training VS FREELOADING off the great photographer. It was an even trade-off!! They helped each other!! They was a community of photographers!! And the newb's-in-training didn't go off bashing the first 10 photographer's who turned them down.. Nope, they respected them and kept trying. And they sure didn't start out by practicing on paying clients. They worked alongside pro's plus they chose family members to practice on for mutual trade like salon work for photography work, bartering, & they done all that a couple of years before ever putting themselves out there as photographers. Before looking at what someone isn't doing for you, you should think about what your can do for them. Can't think of nothing & still expect their training for free?? Then good luck.

Join ASMP or APA in your area... You in a small town...Go to the next biggest town or call a local professional photographer and ask about APA or ASMP or Google it!

You want a sense of community this is where you will find it.

This the most PERFECT thing i've seen on self-employed photography. FANTASTIC!

One thing I appreciate about this infographic is that it doesn't blame the consumer; rather, it seeks to educate the creator. So much of this can apply to freelance writers as well as freelance photographers. I hear on writer forums a lot that editors are not willing to pay as much for a freelance article as they used to, and they blame "greedy editors." And, while their might be something to that, there's also something to say about novice writers who are willing to accept low fees (or, worse, publish on Huffington or similar sites that don't pay at all).

But we can't just yell at noobs ^__^ We have to educate each other. AND we have to not be pissed about free content people put out that they retain creative control of (like most webcomics for example) because, as you mentioned in the solution part, that's actually an equally valid route and doesn't undercut the market. It's a different market.

That's why I am an amateur, putting some India photography on http://www.fabienpenso.com and I'm not trying to make a living from photography shooting weddings.

Nice not to subtle attempt at free advertising.

They should be every camera's "Read Me First" pamphlet...

This applies to most self employed individuals;after 30 plus years in the hair business I can say we share a lot of similarities. Don't under estimate your talents, don't sell yourself short, confidence in your work and yourself is key..

When does one become a pro?

Why is the cute sweet looking lady the "hobbyist" and the older white dude the "professional" . So wrong.

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