Why Your Photography Business Will Fail This Year and How You Can Change That

As much as you may call yourself an artist, you must also learn the importance of identifying yourself as a business person. If you own a camera, and you're not making any money, this is the reason why. 


If you want to make a sustainable career in photography or filmmaking, the harsh reality is that you are not an artist anymore, you're someone who's running a business. The common fate of an artist, is one of a "starving artist." If you survey the industry, there are a multitude of people who's work is nothing short of mediocre, but they're a running a successful business. But then, there are a countless number of ridiculously talented artists out there who are struggling to make ends meet. It's a frustrating irony, but one that shouldn't be overlooked. 

In this brutally honest video, FlashFilm Academy breaks down why so many talented artists are struggling today. He explains that:

Like so many of you, I started off in this industry so focused on getting better as an artist that I completely over looked the most important part of this industry: the business side of things. 

There is a time and place for creative work and flexing your talented artist muscles, but a majority of the time, it's not what pays the bills. If you're a professional photographer or filmmaker, the truth is, you will be spending 80% of your time on the business side of things, and 20% if you're lucky, actually creating.  

The one part of the video that stuck with me, is that, you don't need to be incredibly talented, or need the most expensive gear to start making money and paying your bills. Adjust your portfolio to match the demands of the current market, and shoot what will pay your bills, then you can focus on shooting projects for yourself. 

So, the next time you get paid for your work, the next investment shouldn't be in that new lens you don't need, rather invest the money into educating yourself on how to grow your business. Luckily, Fstoppers released their in-house produced tutorial, Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography featuring Monte Isom. It is something you will not want to miss. 

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4 Comments

Stoopy McPheenis's picture

I don't fail.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Depressing title. Wrong start. All small businesses share that same 80%

Tom Reichner's picture

I know exactly why I fail in the business of photography. It is because I pretty much only do the things that I feel like doing - the things that I enjoy and the things that are exciting. I just don't do the tedious, boring, difficult things that must be done in order to monetize my photos.

I like to head out on road trips and go looking for wildlife. And I like photographing the animals. I will lay in a blind for hours and hours in the cold, waiting for a bird or mammal to appear, because I like doing that and it does not require my brain to focus or concentrate. So I spend huge amounts of time out in nature taking pictures of wild animals and birds, and I have tens of thousands of quality wildlife images as a result.

I do not like sitting at my computer and trying to find contact information for editors and publishers - the people I could sell my work to. And once I find the contact information - an email address or a telephone number, I don't like contacting them, because I have to think hard about what to write or what to say, and I don't enjoy having to focus and concentrate on what words to use. It is difficult when I have to think hard.

I also don't like submitting my images to stock agencies, because I have to put keywords with each photo, and I have to write a description or a title for each photo, and that requires focusing my mind and concentrating, which I do not like to do.

If I am going to be at my computer, I would much rather watch movies on Netflix or watch videos about football. That is much more enjoyable than thinking about what keywords to use or what description to write for a photo.

So all that there is exactly why my business will fail - because I am mostly unwilling to do the things that bring money in, because I do not enjoy those things as much as I enjoy the fun, recreational things in life. And I do not have the work ethic or discipline to overcome my inclinations towards easy enjoyment.

My lack of success with the business side of wildlife photography has nothing to do with not knowing what to do. I know precisely what to do and how to do it. My issue is that I do not like doing those things, and I pretty much only do what I like to do. I work really hard, but only at the things that are fun. The people who make good money at wildlife photography are those who work hard at the things that are not fun. I just don't think I will ever be willing to do those things.

Scoops Fantastic's picture

Nice. This person gets it.