Overheard a conversation this week, that just rubbed me raw. This is my recollection of the conversation I heard:
"I bought a camera last week, took some pictures this weekend, and put up a 'XXXXXXX' site and a Facebook page. (Replace 'XXXXXXX' with any of the free photo sales websites of your choice.) Can't wait for people to start buying my photography. I'm really digging this being a photographer and having my own business. It's really not that hard to become a professional photographer."
While I am still a newbie compared to some others out there, I am actually trying to build up a business to where I can support myself and the others that depend upon me. I am proud to have a business plan and follow the rules of doing a business within my state. I don't claim to be a pro. But I strive every day to become one. You don't just buy a camera, put up a free website with a mesh-mash of photos, and then call yourself a professional photographer "in the business". I'm sorry to have to break it to you, but no.
You have a great hobby, and one that I'm completely happy for you to have. In fact, I welcome you with open arms to learn, listen, and respond with ideas to make it better for you, the hobbyists, and the professionals around you.
But a business - a pro? No. Blood, sweat, tears, failures, and many trials and tribulations come with that. And especially in this day and age with the number of photographs being placed into the 'cloud' each day. There is an art, there is practice and learning over many years, and there is a business model to professional photography that takes time to perfect.
Having a website and a Facebook page is only one of many steps. There are business plans, conversing with state department of revenues (after you've done that - then we can talk), business bank accounts, learning and listening to the wants and needs of your customers, and decisions that mean whether or not there will be retirement in the near future, or whether you'll be working til your a 100. And most importantly, people have to like what you do - you have to have that eye for what you are taking photographs of. It may take years for you to find that one thing that sets you apart from others.
Or, you may have a very tough decision to make: Am I just going to have a lifetime hobby that I will be absolutely thrilled with (and that other photographers around you will be more than happy to help you learn and grow in), or do I want to make a professional business out of what makes me happy?
Ah, there, I said it. I poked it with a stick, and let come what may. Maybe it's because we are wrestling with the last question that the conversation stuck in our craw so bad...but we are ready to defend the position.
My quote below, expresses how I'm feeling, and whether you agree or not - it's the Thoughtful Thursday quote for today:
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by Richard Stinson