Is Photography a Thankless Job?

Is Photography a Thankless Job?

Straight to the point today: is photography, or the pursuit of anything creative or artistic as a legitimate profession, a thankless pursuit and vocation?

So you've decided that photography is your calling, it's your passion, and it's through this calling that you'd like to earn a living and pay your bills. Have you considered the possibility that creative vocations can sometimes be thankless professions? Would you be OK with most people never saying the simple words “thank you”? There are a number of reasons that this could be the case and any number of them could be more or less true depending on where you live, how you conduct yourself (treat others as you would have them treat you), and which genre of a creative industry you are working in.

First, it's possible that social media and a general reduction in our collective attention spans has caused us to reduce the weight we assign to fundamental pleasantries and general politeness when dealing with each other. As words sometimes become shortened to accommodate changes in grammar and usage, it's possible that the way we approach being polite becomes less important as we feel we no longer have the time or it's no longer necessary to respond politely if we respond at all. Do you feel that you've noticed a shift in manners as a result of the prevalence of social media in our daily lives?

Another possibility is that people view a photographer as a tool that gets used when needed and then back on the shelf or into the toolbox they go after they're done with them (do you thank a wrench or screwdriver?). People might not be accustomed to thinking about a photographer as a person who provides a service. If this is the case, you have an opportunity to demonstrate through excellent customer service skills that you are far more than that; you have a chance to lead by example. Always refer back to the golden rule, treat others as you would have them treat you.

I think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While I think that generally our society is rapidly becoming less cordial and polite towards each other (race to the bottom anyone?), it's not too late for us. I do my best to go above and beyond when dealing with prospective and current clients. Despite my efforts, only about one in five people hit me with a thank you. I'll admit that it's easy to become frustrated or saddened when people skip the thank you and go straight to social media, but it's also a learning opportunity on the value of being polite. How do you feel about people's manners in this day and age? Leave a comment down below. Do you feel like you're sometimes battling a thankless job?

Evan Kane is a portrait photographer based near Seattle. He specializes in colorful location portraits with a bit of a fairy tale flair. Always looking to create something with emotion behind it, he fell backwards into photography in mid 2015 and has been pursuing this dream ever since. One if his mottos: "There is always more to learn."

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Beautiful photos in this post - thanks for posting!

Thanks John :)

Thank you!

Cheers Susan :)

I'm not doing it for thanks, I'm doing my best to make my clients happy. It's not always a picnic but then again, what is. When the content I produce goes to air/broadcast/published and I get paid, that's usually thanks enough.

Most of the time you are dealing with people who don't understand the craft or the work involved, go into that knowing that by default and you'll save yourself some level of frustration (not all).

Really great shots by the way.

Cheers, thanks for the comment :)

Was a good post Evan, I don't think I mentioned that and I apologize.

One of the single most important jobs in society, garbage man, is probably the single most thankless job as well. If, as you state in the second paragraph, you can earn a living and pay your bills, consider yourself thanked.

I always thought IT was the most thankless job in the world. then you slapped me in the face with perspective. Yep we definitely need to appreciate our garbage collectors more.

IT is probably a close second. ;-)

Hi Sam, thanks for the comment, you make a good point about other professions too (garbage collector is a good example, I worked a number of years as a custodian). I suppose the desired outcome would be a general increase in societal politeness! Imagine a society where we were gracious and thanked each other for all the work that we all put in.

Gratitude is fine and good but I'd rather get a raise! Of course, once I increased my style of living, I'd need another one and... ;-)

Garbagemen and janitors. Definitely the most thankless jobs out there.

Den Umgang in das Gefühl hast !!

I just wanted to say - the photos in this post are awesome!

Thanks Matt :)

Most jobs won’t thank you very time you get work done. But hopefully you get paid. THANK YOU for the photos!

Cheers Lou!

Could be generational. We tought our kids to always say please and thank you. It’s a learned behavior.

This world is filled with thankless fools who diminishes / devalues our efforts. Being a wedding & fashion photographer from India, I have experienced this a lot (specially in the last couple of years) yet there few people who appreciate my works!