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Thread: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

  1. #1

    Default Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Hi to all fellow photographers,
    Wondering what did you guys go through before establishing yourself as a professional photographer?
    Am thinking that this might serve as a guideline for our next generation of aspiring photographers, as to what is the price to pay to become a successful photographer like many of you out here.
    I am not as successful as most of you here but here's my story:
    I got involved in photographey about 5 years ago when i gave up a very decent paying job to become an assistant in a big studio, where i learn from ground 0.
    learnt everything thru the hard way, like stuffing myself with humble pies everyday, got scolded for things that's not my fault, super long working hours(>14 hrs everyday, 6 days/week) and super pathetic pay(less than 1k before CPF) for 2 solid years before i was allowed to have a shoot to call my own.
    Just when i thought things are starting to turn for the better, I realised that I have to leave the studio in order to progress further, and I have to start trying to clinch my own deals and business.
    Life was tough for 2 more years, not enough money to buy high end gears, not enough time for family and friends, no time to rest...etc...
    Refused to give up and recently, I finally see some results.
    Jobs are coming in, money is flowing in, and have a little bit of time to type this over here.

    So, how about you guys?
    I am interested to know about your aspiration story.
    Dun be shy, let us know what kind of craps you went thru before attaining the level you have today.

    Hope this is not too lengthy.

    Best regards

  2. #2

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Question is... Would you have been able to learn without being an assistant, and just by trying to do your own business for 5 years?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Quote Originally Posted by benedium
    Question is... Would you have been able to learn without being an assistant, and just by trying to do your own business for 5 years?
    Being an assistant mainly helps you learn about RUNNING the business. Things like studio and equipment setups, handling people, etc. You do learn a lot when you're directly related.

    But it also depends on what sort of photographer are you aspiring to be. If you are thinking National geographic sort, its a different route altogether. Or maybe a sports photographer, or a newspaper one.

    This is a great thread. Hope to see some posts from others.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    I only have about 2 years of serious photography experience. Still got a long way to go in this endless journey of learning and re-learning. Agree with what was being mentioned earlier, depending on the kind of photographer you wish to become, the journey that has to be taken is different. Photography as a business also has to encompass the know-hows of an entrepreneur. It is the art of making a business work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    It's always no sweat and no gain in trying to make a buck in photography.

    I moonlight in illustrative photography for magazines beside a day job. I started 6 years ago with nothing but a manual camera, a kitchen table, a few light bulbs and a lot of naivety. I didn't go for a course in studio photography or even bought a book about it. I just put light in different places and see what I could get out of it.

    In the first initial years the returns were nothing much to speak of. Now that I have something like 8,000 photos in the net which could fetch enough dough for me to live on.

    It is all the outcome of doggedness. For the past 6 years comes every Saturday morning I would pick up my camera after breakfast. There was nothing inspirational or sexy about it. It is just one long hard slog to make photography a sustainable income.

    It's good to read about how someone going about making an income from photography. When we now see someone doing fairly well today we do not see the tough years he has gone through.

    Different people will take different routes because of different circumstances. I say just go ahead and do it if your gut feeling points to the right direction. We who have posted in this thread are not the success stories. But like us you could get there if you put your mind to it. We all are fellow journeymen in the long road.

    I hope at the end of another 6 years we could revisit this thread and see how we would have fared.
    Last edited by Sion; 14th December 2005 at 04:38 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    I think its about to satisfy yr client need and at times swallow down dirty **** ( i mean bad things ) . Learn the art of balance

    well i dont know , i am still learning hope to see some more great inputs from the pros

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder
    I only have about 2 years of serious photography experience. Still got a long way to go in this endless journey of learning and re-learning. Agree with what was being mentioned earlier, depending on the kind of photographer you wish to become, the journey that has to be taken is different. Photography as a business also has to encompass the know-hows of an entrepreneur. It is the art of making a business work.
    bro i wish u all the best for yr work

  8. #8

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    I do share your sentiment. Life as a photographer here is not easy. Especially you start off from a studio assistance. Struggling with time, famil, friends and most importantly, money, to live each day.

    One main thing never stop you was your passion for photography. I really admired what you went through. Very soon i might be on the boat that you once step on.

    So what kind of photographer are you? Perhaps you like to share with us too?

  9. #9
    Senior Member kenele's Avatar
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Well, consider this, if photography is your hobby, even if you are jus an assistant, you ain't working at all. All the best to you guys out there, it'snot an easy job but hopefully it's a satisfying one...

  10. #10

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Quote Originally Posted by rickygck
    I do share your sentiment. Life as a photographer here is not easy. Especially you start off from a studio assistance. Struggling with time, famil, friends and most importantly, money, to live each day.

    One main thing never stop you was your passion for photography. I really admired what you went through. Very soon i might be on the boat that you once step on.

    So what kind of photographer are you? Perhaps you like to share with us too?
    well, the good thing about working as an assistant in a very busy studio is that you don't have to worry about getting little money, because you're most likely to be working so hard that you will not have time to spend the money, and all your money are used in cab fares, phone bills and food.

    and I have to agree with you that this is a very passion driven path, no passion, no way you can get to where you want to be.

    My mentor used to tell me, "never forget the humble beginning".
    Even if you've reach the "professional" status, you must remember that you still have so much to learn...

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    for this thread.. i've already bookmarked it!

    keep all the inspirational stories coming!

    i myself am an assistant to a photographer. been in the line for 1 1/2 years.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    I did this story partly is to tell the newer generations that being a pro is not that easy, route is full of hiccups and hardships.

    My regular assistant was "kicked" out to do shoots of his own, because i know he is capable of doing so. Was searching for a new assistant and tried out a few new guys, one of them from this forum.

    Sad to say, many youngsters nowaday are over confident of themselves and to eager to prove themselves.

    What happen to those good old days when assistants are only allow to touch the lights and light stands ONLY, know when to keep quiet, and respect the photographer in the shoot?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    you had experiences with assistants who don't respect you as the photographer?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    I would prefer to say that I had experienced many assistants who don't know their position during the shoot.

    well, maybe there's the direction the market is moving to now.
    or maybe i am still caught up in those days that photographers slapping the head of assistants and calling them names in front of clients.
    I don't do that, but i had definately experienced that.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    right now im 1.5 years away from graduating from university and probably going to work in a hotel for the rest of my life. The money will be alright, nothing special but at least its stable income.

    I've been playing around seriously in photography for about 1 year. Good thing is that my parents pay for everything else so all the money that i earn/save goes to my camera fund.. well and maybe alcohol fund as well.

    I'd considered going into photography quite a few times but i know that its something that iwll be VERY tough and alot of hard work with no stable income. However on the flip side, i come from a well to do family and money probably wont be an issue for me, but of course i'd like to make my own money perferably.

    Still considering my options... i want to start somewhere just to try it out .. any recommandations?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    my mentor said something like .."i always make sure i train my assistants well..so next time, THEY know how to train their assistants well"

    but seriously, i think the tradition of slapping assistants on the head and calling them names has passed..it looks bad in front of the client for the photographer as well as the company.

    mmm..i also believe, if the photographer have never assisted before, it's going to be hard (but not impossible, of course) to understand how to train your assistant/s well.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    There is always a price to pay for anything. Normally, I pay with my life. As if I have a choice?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    I still know of some photographers who do things like that...
    PM me if you wanna know who is that...
    Quote from my mentor again
    "Photography is something that can teach, but can't be taught"

  19. #19

    Wink Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    well for my story,i started as a assistant 5 years ago,it was not a easy road for me,as i am a girl who do not know anything about the studio,i have my fair share of hard work too.i am from Full-time assistant to now freelance assistant/Photographer.

    Maybe i am a girl,they think that i cant do the job,cos i need to carry a lot of heavy stuff,so i prove them wrong.

    So far i have assist to 4 photographer before.

    When i was a assistant,i get pay about $900-$1000 only.Every day shoot from 10am-11pm with fail,and worst we dont even have time to rest,even we have lunch break,when we finish lunch,we have to start shooting again.i know as time we are busy,it fine by me,but sometime when we r not so busy,even we finish our lunch,the boss wife will say"Eh u all finish lunch,pls dont sit there,get back to work",when we hear this,we were angry ,cos come on we r human too,we are not machine u know

    And the worst thing is that,we have to countiune to shoot till late at night,the boss and his wife can go home first ,We are not pay O.T.,but can only claim for taxi fare only,i still remember once we shoot till 3 am and the next day have to be in the studio at 10am again

    It a very long road that i have "walk",but i am glad that this road,i have learn a lot of things

    This year i just started my own company,its not easy for me,have been investing a lot of money in it,so far the business not bad,need to have a lot of networking as well,through friends recommand people to me.i hope that those who work as a assist,do not give up no matter how hard the road is,cos when u become the boss,u will know what you have go through,so u can train your assistant as well,but i always tell myself one thing that i will not treat my assistant how my photographer have "treated" me.Word goes around,not good for the photographer name.d:

    Now all i hope for is that business will get better next year

  20. #20

    Default Re: Price to pay to be a professional photographer

    Interesting thread... I came into professional photography about 1.5 years back after quitting a well paying IT job..

    Business was slow at first.. and spent a lot of time builing portfolio... But results show after a year of slogging...

    It's definitely not easy in singapore... being a small market with tons of people with DSLRs doing freelance.. fighting on price is definitely not the way I'd do it..

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