Things I Really Hate About Beginner Photographers
Being a photographer is a pleasure. Or is it? The good news is that it can be a lot of fun. But you have to know some hard facts that photographers sometimes don’t tell.
It’s not a secret that I run private training and will soon expand to hosting free webinars and paid webinars for photographers. The studio that I use is also sometimes rented to other photographers. This means that I have met a lot of different creators at different stages of their careers. More often than not, I see photographers just starting out in the industry thinking it’s all about sunshine and rainbows. Telling the hard facts for starters, it breaks my heart to do so because I wish someone did this to me when I picked up the camera. These are some of the harsh truths that my teammates have heard from me in the past.
It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme
It is a common stereotype that photographers lead a surprisingly interesting lifestyle. I mean, just look at what they have to do? Take a picture, get complimented for it, and get paid a ridiculous amount.
So you might think that the moment you become a photographer, you will automatically be given unlimited access to money. The truth is quite the opposite: photography can drain your resources.
There are a million better ways to get rich quick or at least faster with photography. You could choose a more conventional profession or perhaps even a lucrative one: just think of the prospect of becoming a lawyer. In my opinion, the career path of becoming a photographer is much clearer and you will earn more money than a normal photographer.
Just to be clear, a get-rich-quick scheme is usually a scam. So don’t indulge in things that are too good to be true, because chances are, it will be a scam.
You won’t be shooting most of the time
So as photographers, we have to shoot all the time? Well, not really. Like most middle-class jobs in the 21st century, we spend our days in front of screens. For most working professionals, photography is a daily routine like any other. Freelancing is not a “two hour a week for money” job, it requires more structure and work than a regular job because you are your own boss.
Most of the time, you are in the office. This includes things like marketing, accounting, production management, editorial, and coffee drinking. Finally, if you’re thinking of becoming a professional photographer, you need to be addicted to coffee (I’m joking, of course).
I’d rather shoot, but ironically, I couldn’t do it for more than three full days. I need to rest after that. Fortunately, editing and other businesses ensure I have time to rest.
Engineering is only a small part of what you need to know
Knowing how to take photos with proper technique is good. This is the first step to becoming a photographer. So once you learn the technique, the real art begins. It’s like being a writer: you need to learn the letters and how to use MS Word first.
With art, you really need to know your subject. Take a look at some of the genres and see what knowledge you might need to create relevant and (commercially) viable images.
Before going any further, I want to emphasize that you need to know things beyond the technical to be a commercial photographer. Most hobbyists will not need this knowledge.
Photographers working in fashion must know about fashion. This means understanding the aesthetics of brands, magazines, countries, and more. Did you notice that American Vogue is more oriented towards sexy commercial images, while Italy’s is more artistically oriented? Or perhaps the difference between the L’Officiel and Tatler aesthetic? A working photographer must be able to know the inside out of the industry. Why? Because if you send your clients the wrong reference or treatment pictures, you won’t get the job.
Some people will do all they can to destroy your career
There are a lot of people who think too much about themselves. They will look for every opportunity to show off their relationship and then will try to destroy your career in any way they can. The first time it happened to me, I was scared. I mean, at that point, I thought I met someone with a great network that I could tap into. Sadly, after a few disagreements, the person said they would do whatever it took to ruin my career and reputation. Guess what? They did not. No one can destroy it, only you. There is no one person to decide if you can become a photographer or not. Fortunately, the industry is big enough to offer opportunities to everyone who is good enough.
I know for a fact that people have been calling and asking clients not to work with me. I also know many other photographers who have happened to them. In most cases, most customers won’t listen if they’re interested in working with you. Manufacturers, dealers and other folk think they can destroy your career. They can not. The industry is not shady, and people will work with you, but not with someone who has tried to “ruin” your career. Focus on your work and stop caring about petty people trying to hurt you. I promise you, there will be plenty of them.
You get criticized a lot
It’s easy to say and admit, but it’s much harder to experience. Despite my best efforts to not pay too much attention to all the criticism, I received from all over the place, starting with my family and ending with people I didn’t know. While I don’t take it too seriously and consider it an interesting point of view, it can still be a bit painful. It’s hard to completely separate yourself from your work, because there’s a big part of who you are in it. That may not be the case in the commercials, but certainly in the test footage you take. An article about criticism and how to deal with it is coming soon, as it is a topic worthy of discussion.
So there you have it: things I hate to say to my co-workers. Of course, these are the most popular ones. Sometimes I have to ask people to change their Instagram bio or do other things like focus on genre, not device. The point is that being a photographer is not a flashy job. In fact, I’m writing this sentence from a night train, not from a first-class private jet.