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Thread: 10 Questions for Professional Photographers

  1. #1
    Senior Member Kombi's Avatar
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    10 Questions for Professional Photographers

    I have decided to apply this fall to the Photographic Technology program at my local college. I intend to immerse myself in all aspects of photography over the course of the two year intensive program. But before I can do this, I need to complete a Career Investigation as part of the application process.

    This is where I could use the help of any professional photographers.

    I am looking for a couple of professional photographers to answer 10 questions about photography as a career.

    If you would prefer not to share in open forum please Reply in PM or email

    If 10 questions are to many, please answer the six in BOLD font.

    The questions I have are as follows:

    1. What are some employment opportunities related to photography?
    2. In the course of a typical workday what do you do?
    3. What do you like or dislike about photography as a career?
    4. What skills or abilities would you consider needed/beneficial to being a successful photographer?
    5. What education and training is required?
    6. What are the starting, average, and maximum salaries in this occupation?
    7. Where are jobs most likely to be located? (studio/onsite local/travel required)
    8. What are the normal hours of work?
    9. Is the job typically full-time, part-time, seasonal or contract?
    10. How stable is employment in this occupation?


    I realize that some of these questions will depend on type of photography and local economy but I wanted to reach out to this photography community before contacting local businesses.

    I appreciate any help.
    Thank you
    Dave
    Last edited by Kombi; 08-12-2014 at 10:05 PM.

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    If there was ever a "Spam" title for a thread that isn't spam, this is it.

    Sorry, I am not a professional photographer so I really couldn't answer any of the questions except #3. The answer would be that I would have to take a cut in pay.

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    Senior Member Kombi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    If there was ever a "Spam" title for a thread that isn't spam, this is it.

    Sorry, I am not a professional photographer so I really couldn't answer any of the questions except #3. The answer would be that I would have to take a cut in pay.
    Yes-- I think I'll rework the thread title.

    Online research points towards $35k as a base for photography which would be about $17.50/hr based on 2000hr work year -- Local McDonalds is offering $17.80 so this is not a career I am going into for the money. However I would like feedback from people who are making a living at it to get a wider perspective.

    ah.. can't change title-- If a moderator happens along this thread perhaps new title could be..

    "10 Questions for Professional photographers"
    Last edited by Kombi; 06-17-2014 at 08:14 PM.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Done.

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    Senior Member Kombi's Avatar
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    As wedding season is taking off I've tried not to be too invasive with local businesses and chose to contact 10 local photographers with the above 10 questions via email.
    Now I realize email is easier to ignore than someone on the phone or at your door, but I thought I might get a reply from 20%.

    So far response rate is 10%, and that reply to 10 questions?
    "Here is my reply; good luck!"

    I suppose the local market is saturated, and with every second person on Facebook calling themselves a photographer Established photographers have become jaded.

    On that note two local people on facebook working 1/3 time as photographers producing some very nice images did reply.

    Any thought from the community here as to best contact method? If someone looking to get into your line of work had questions for you, what would put you at ease and encourage answers?
    Last edited by Kombi; 07-02-2014 at 05:29 PM. Reason: thought completion

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    Senior Member Kombi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrw View Post
    Not a full timer myself yet so not feeling qualified to answer your questions. When I was seeking answers to my questions I found that introducing myself to folks whose work I liked and suggesting that I'd like to ask them some questions over a pint, or some coffee if still the morning, was the most productive. Joining a local professional association could be a good way to meet more active folks who are both asking and answering questions.
    If your are earning oh say maybe 1/4 or more of your income and you have time to reply I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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    Senior Member Kombi's Avatar
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    Got 4 replies today and a couple of leads. So looks as though I'll be able to complete my application. Answers vary from positives vibe to somewhat negative.
    Going to wait a few more days and compile my answers. Onto the next step put together a portfolio ... should be easy to find 5-8 decent pictures in the 15k or so I've taken right?

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    Senior Member Kombi's Avatar
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    Busy time

    Thought I best post a follow up, I was accepted in the program and started back as a student Sept. 2nd.

    So a quick summary of responses By Canadian photographers in the Alberta area to the questions I had.
    Response below is from One photographer who captured what 3-4 other respondents said.

    1. What are some employment opportunities related to photography?
    Photographer (obviously), and most photo grads I think should be assistants for a time after school. Photography can also be really useful when it comes to filmmaking and cinematography work, and it also helps in publishing if you want to be a photo director.

    2. In the course of a typical workday what do you do?
    If it's a shooting day then I'd be photographing, if it's not I spend a lot of time in meetings or doing pre-production, and then post-production like raw converting or photoshopping.


    3. What do you like or dislike about photography as a career?
    I like that I'm doing the job I always wanted and I'm quite proud of my work. Most people are quite fascinated when I tell them I'm a photographer. Sometimes you get bad jobs which you are only doing for a paycheck and that can be pretty draining.


    4. What skills or abilities would you consider needed/beneficial to being a successful photographer?
    Eye for composition is pretty necessary. I personally think the biggest thing is being able to talk to people, I've made my career by being somehow likable. It's pretty hard to shoot portraits or people in general if they don't like hanging out with you. Confidence is a major part too.

    5. What education and training is required?
    Not much honestly, I actually don't have any formal training. But you do need to know the fundamentals of course, shutter/aperture, focal lengths, etc... When start specializing that's when you need to know things like lighting and whatnot, all that comes with experience.


    6. What are the starting, average, and maximum salaries in this occupation?
    I really want to say the starting salary is a negative, you're just trying to get your work seen and just be shooting, generally you're paying for everything and getting equipment. The average is all over the board. I don't think there is a maximum, top tier photographers make tens of millions.
    7. Where are jobs most likely to be located? (studio/onsite local/travel required)
    Depends on what kind of photographer you are, I'm in studio about 60% of the time and travel a few times a year for work.

    8. What are the normal hours of work?
    Photography isn't a 9-5 job. I'll work late nights or have 6am call times, just depends on the shoot.


    9. Is the job typically full-time, part-time, seasonal or contract?
    For me it's more then full time, I normally put in 10 hour days. It sounds pretentious but photography isn't really a job it's a lifestyle.


    10. How stable is employment in this occupation?
    If you're established then it's pretty stable, but even if you aren't doing paid work you should still be taking photos and working on projects. For most photographers in the beginning of their career its really feast or famine.



    So basically Photography is what you choose to make of it- So in the next two years I'll see how I develop- and what i choose to make of it.
    Cheers
    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kombi View Post
    Online research points towards $35k as a base for photography which would be about $17.50/hr based on 2000hr work year -- Local McDonalds is offering $17.80 so this is not a career I am going into for the money. However I would like feedback from people who are making a living at it to get a wider perspective.
    Except photography isn't a 9-5 job. As a self-employed "one man band", you're "never" going to be able to fill your schedule with any regularity - in most areas of the US, people get married on Saturdays (church is on Sundays, and the guests are at work M-F, so Saturday it is). If your first client on a given Saturday has a 2pm wedding, there's no way to pack another wedding into the day, even if they only do a 5-hour gig (1pm getting dressed photos, 2pm ceremony, 3pm reception, cake cut etc. by 6pm for a wrap), you won't find anyone with an 8pm ceremony (an hour to drive & eat, 7pm getting dressed photos, 8pm ceremony, 9pm reception, wrap at 1am) nor would you be doing good work at that hour. So...you can book at most 52 traditional weddings per year. Will you be able to book a wedding every Saturday in February? I doubt it. And so the cycle goes.

    I'm in no way making a living of photography, but wow the schedule is crazy. I do on-call portrait work for some hospitals through a group, so I end up on-call 5-6 days per month, 6am-10pm, for a quick 40-minute gig. Still it means checking the bag the night before (do I have enough forms? the right lenses/triggers/etc.?) and editing tasks done in the evenings when I'm not busy with my day job. Then occasionally my day job asks me to shoot an event, so repack the bag for the right stuff, set up early, stake out a good seat, shoot the gig, wait for the crowd to disperse, and pack up. Ugh.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

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