Fstoppers Answers - What is the Worst Part of Being a Full-Time Professional Photographer?

Fstoppers Answers - What is the Worst Part of Being a Full-Time Professional Photographer?

In our weekly Wednesday series, we ask our writers various questions from the public, and ask them to share their experiences working as full time professional photographers. Last week we touched on our favorite lenses, this week we're doing something different. We ask "What is the Worst Part of Being a Full-Time Professional Photographer?"

Mike KelleyAssociate Editor | Architecture Photographer Knowing that the work is never done. There is ALWAYS something you can be doing. There's never a Friday, as I might go out with friends and come home at midnight and start working. I'll work on a Sunday afternoon, I'll work on a Wednesday morning; there's simply no time that is out of the question. Whether it's marketing, blogging, website and portfolio updates, editing, fixing gear, there is never a single time when you're just 'done' with work like a 9-5 or hourly job. You take work home with you every day, no matter what.


Sarah WilliamsStaff Writer | Wedding Photographer The worst part about being a full time photographer is making your family realize it's a legitimate profession. Most people just chuckle when you say what you do and joke that everyone is a 'photographer.' Which is mostly true. So having them take you seriously and understand when you tell them it pays your bills is tough. Making them understand the reasoning with why you charge what you charge is even tougher.


Peter HouseStaff Writer | Commercial Photographer The worst part about being a full-time photographer is maintaining a work/life balance and not becoming a workaholic. I absolutely love doing my job full time and I feel blessed every day that I am given an opportunity to do this. I could probably do this 24/7. I look forward to my job every morning when I wake up but there is always the constant pressure to meet deadlines. Sometimes it seems as if all your clients are conspiring against you in some sick scheme where 20 projects are due on the same Friday. I'm the kind of person, luckily, that works pretty well under pressure, and I rather enjoy the "rush" it gives me. However, this pressure to meet deadlines often means weeks or months at a time where I am working late into the night and sacrificing my weekends away from the family. There are moments when I have certainly put work before family and I have a feeling when, and if, I'm old and grey I might just regret that.


Dave GeffinStaff Writer | Professional Photographer Not being a full time photographer. I wish i had more time for shooting sometimes but the business/client/planning side takes up a lot of resource. I think many of us do it all ourselves as well - working out how to farm out work and process can help but I find it it's often hard to let the reigns go when it's your vision for your business.


Noam GalaiAssociate Editor | Commercial Photographer For me, the worst part about being a full-time photographer is the fact most of what I do is totally unrelated to photography. I need to take care of so many different things that have nothing to do with taking photos. Most of my time I spend on taking care of bills, invoices, discussing future shoots with clients, answer emails, send/upload photos, run fix equipment and what not. On top of that, as a freelance photographer I have no way to know how much money I will make each month - some months could be great, some could be horrible. You never know.


Matt KennedyStaff Writer | Wedding Photographer The worst part about being a full time photographer is how much time gets sucked away from you without you knowing. You really need to have a thorough schedule in place so that you can keep your own personal time in balance with your work time. It's a blessing and a curse to be able to schedule your own hours!


Zach SuttonAssociate Editor | Headshot Photographer For me, it's the scheduling. Not being able to check out of work for the day can sometimes be a headache and having business start from sunrise and not end until after sunset. When your income is solely based on photography, you find yourself answering your phone at dinner, and answering emails when your with friends. Sometimes, 40 hour work weeks sound glamorous.


Rebecca BrittStaff Writer | Commercial Photographer The worst part about being a professional photographer is people devaluing your work. I've learned that it's not about the area that you're in or the clients that you work with, but it's about the attitude you, yourself put towards your own work. If you feel that your work is worthy of a certain price point then your clients will see it that way, as well. The first person to devalue your work is not your clientele, but yourself. So stop, because you're worth it.


Rich MeadeStaff Writer | Fashion Photographer The worst part of being a professional photographer is busy work. Emailing, phone calls, promotions, pretty much all the stuff that happens when there is no work coming in. It's a feast or famine industry and the downtime has to be used productively in order keep the "feasts" coming back. It's tough because you often work hours upon hours and spend thousands with no guarantee of a return on investment. That, is the "day job" of our profession.


David BickleyStaff Writer | Fitness Photographer The worst part? The constant hustle. In this profession it is incredibly difficult to develop a passive, residual income. If you're not out there selling or creating images you're not going to make any money. It's that simple. The hustle sucks, but the juice is worth the squeeze.


As always, if you have a question that you'd like to ask our writers, please feel free to post it in the comments section below.


Zach Sutton's picture

Zach Sutton is an award-winning and internationally published commercial and headshot photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His work highlights environmental portraiture, blending landscapes and scenes with portrait photography. Zach writes for various publications on the topic of photography and retouching.

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I didn't get asked, but the worst part for me is losing your weekends.

What is this... weekend you speak of?

Personally, I love working on weekends! I don't know what it is, but I find I have way more motivation saturday and sunday mornings, then I do monday and tuesday mornings

For me, the worst was an empty fridge.. It made me go and get a day job.

For a family of 6: rent, education, healthcare, food, clothes, utilities, phone, internet, ... All of those need a steady income to cover. You can still do photography on the side, but it won't be your main source of income.

The worst part is when a client who sees your quality of work, knows your price point, wants you badly, but throws the "we have a limited budget" which is not only below your baseline. It's WAY below your baseline ... but they still want the moon off course.

"The juice is worth the squeeze..."

when clients ask you for the ALL the RAW files. *facepalms*

the worst part is the emotional torture. Sometimes you feel like its your day, its a happy world, life is a blessing and sometimes you are no where to be found and you feel empty.

Many of the problems are the same as any job, even salaried professional creative jobs. Long hours, spending a lot of time no on actually being the designer or photographer or whatever, too much time on emails and business stuff, etc. Also, many of the same problems for ANY small business owner; long hours, constant hustle, etc.
I think we ALL need to focus more on life and less on work. You might not have as nice a car but, you'll be happier, see your family more, and live longer.

My main reason for not going full time in photography (besides the loss of a steady income - and i really love my day job) is that I don't want to hate what I do. I love shooting and I feel like if I had to do all of this crazy stuff to keep my business afloat, I will end up hating what i do..

I've gotta agree with the guys that mention the constant email/admin stuff as the worst.

I'm a full time shooter as well, and I spend WAAAAAAY more time doing email and other admin stuff than I do taking photos. I'm an artist. I don't want to spend my life doing email, I want to take photos.

The worst part of being a professional photographer for me is that since I started my business I don't shoot for pleasure anymore. Truly sad to admit it.

Whine whine whine bitch and moan. Being a photographer means you actually have to do work. Welcome to the real world. If it was easy, everyone would be making money at it.