Why Is It So Hard To Become a Professional Photographer in 2021?

It has never been an easy task to make a profession out of something that is fun, and to keep that thing fun, and in 2021 photography is certainly no exception, but are our expectations wrong?

As with all things, making a living means something different to everyone. For some, it is being able to do what they want, whenever they want, and to have just enough money to get by. To others, it means having a high-paying salary, and for me, it's somewhere between the two, ideally with both. But why did it take me nearly 15 years in photography to reach this point?

Within about 4-5 years I understood how flash worked, t. scores, hyperfocal, composition, editing, color grading, equipment choices, and pricing. Yet I still wasn't really getting anywhere and I found myself not making a lot of money, whilst also not taking the images I wanted to take, which is pretty much the worst of both worlds. 

In this video, I talk about why it is actually so hard to make money (no, it's not millennial and influencers ruining it for everyone) as well as explaining how it really is no different from any other sought-after profession. To get to a 6 figure salary doing something that is fun is a dream, and because of that, it is highly competitive and also as much hard and boring work as any other profession.

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4 Comments

J.d. Davis's picture

Did you know that PhD degrees actually came before M.D.'s?

P.S. GREAT video!

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Thanks for reassuring video. Only 6 years to go :)

Michael Clark's picture

Because fewer and fewer buyers are paying less for images compared to the past? Too many types of image users that were once willing to pay enough to allow photographers to make a decent living are now only interested in images they can use for pennies on the dollar if they're even willing to use anything if they can't get it for zero compensation.

David Purton's picture

Just retired after 36 years. I could charge £50ph in the 80's. Press, PR and weddings. You were worth money when you could do what other people couldn't...film, processing and darkroom printing.

All went with digital including one's worth. Photography used to be a specialism and we thought we could run a business but actually it was a vocation.

Now the camera is just a tool to earn money...it's more important to be a creative business person than a brilliant photographer and I guess that's always been true.

Well, now I can just enjoy photography again, film and digital...my projects, my rules, my standards :)