Why You Might Not Be Making Money in Photography

It's certainly not easy to make money in photography, and if you're trying your best to do so and still not succeeding, it can be very frustrating. This helpful video examines some reasons you might be struggling and what you can do to correct them.

Coming to you from Evan Ranft, this great video essay talks about things you might want to examine if you're not currently financially successful in your photography work. Of the many great points, the most salient for me has always been the importance of hustle in tandem with skill. There are a ton of talented people in the world, but time and time again, it's always the people who hustle the hardest who tend to be successful. Of course, that's not saying that talent and working to improve your technique and creative skills can fall by the wayside, but rather that we should never rest on our laurels simply because we've got some ability, particularly in a market inundated with competition. Generally, the people with skill and unstoppable drive are the ones that find the most success in a creative field. Check out the video above for more insightful ideas to explore. 

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Johnny Rico's picture

How to make money in photography advice from a professional p̶h̶o̶t̶o̶g̶r̶a̶p̶h̶e̶r̶ youtuber.

Alex Cooke's picture

Photographer and YouTuber are not mutually exclusive.

John Sheehan's picture

They are, but here he's presenting himself as a Youtuber. If I watched the video with the sound off I would have never knew he was a photographer. It took him 2 minutes and 21 seconds to get to the topic. The beginning of the video was him talking about running with b-roll footage of his feet (I'm sorry, I don't care about running if I'm going to watch a photography video) and a sponsor shout out. I can forgive the sponsor bit, but I don't understand what the running had to do with anything. When Joe McNally, a photographer I admire, makes a video about speedlites he doesn't have a few minutes of himself doing yoga first. Get to the point. It was like watching a Casey Neistat how-to-make a video template (something I'm really tired of seeing).

This guy might have good points, but he lost me in the first minute.

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

A Youtuber is making money by the amount of viewers, not by the quality of his work.
For a photographer, it may be a bit different.

Johnny Rico's picture

It's the irony of people who dont make a living from photography telling you how to make money in photography. Unless he is going to explain how to make content/money from youtube (he wouldnt, that's his revenue source) his business advice should be taken w/ a grain of salt.

Aram Khachaturyan's picture

Lol professional photographer.......

Julien-Pier Belanger's picture

I read a lot of salty comments here about him NOT being a photographer. Like if being a Youtuber excluded him from the almighty photographer status! Like if you had to be sanctified by a photo god or something and, like religions, you needed to demonized what you deemed unsaint.

I personally think there is a huge disconnect between most people's idea of what is being a photographer and the truth.

Evan Ranft worked with Cliff Bars, Coca Cola, the NBA, etc àà. so I personally think he is more than qualified to give business advices.

Johnny Rico's picture

You quoted his tagline of clients off of his website and took it at face value. I'm not out-rite calling that a lie, but it seems fairly suspect for a social media sensation/Youtuber in the digital age not to have a portfolio when they are shooting for such big brands. When I first saw that I was under the assumption he had leveraged his viewers/subscribers for brand impressions, but at only around 80k he doesnt seem big enough so I'm not so sure.

It's not about the idea of what is a photographer, anybody can be a photographer. This guy as I see it is not a working photographer.

Crystal Johnson's picture

He's more of an Instagram photographer, rather than a traditional one in the sense. It's more about virility over consistently working with clients. Working with CC, he wasn't hired...he was picked like the other participants who were featured in the CC gallery. Was he paid? Probably, but it wasn't a job but a prize. Same situation with cliff bar, sponsored, not a job.

He's an influencer, a Youtuber. Someone with catchy taglines and titles to draw people in. His job is to influence people, to market brands, to pull in clients and sponsors.Also advertise his merch, and affiliate links. Not really get paid for a shoot like the vast majority of working photographers. Does that make him less of one? No, not really. But he's not a professional photographer, just a professional influencer and social media guru tied to photography. In all honesty, all it takes is to consistently post viral photos on IG, and the swarms of followers and brands will come barking at your door.