Even great fashion design houses like Yohji Yamamoto and Christian Lacroix went bankrupt, and they are not short of talent.
running a business and shooting with passion are two different things.
secondly, to 2100 .. an unfortunate incident indeed but i don't believe it's wise to simply write off a bad experience as just blaming the "customer".. You may know the stats that when customers have a bad experience they on average tell about 8 people and only about 1 or 2 if they have a good experience.. Like it or not she had a bad experience (even if not your fault)..you can't ignore that.. think about how you can avoid that next time.. we all have troublesome customers but thats part and parcel of the business... you can definitely learn from negative feedback..
Like in any business and if I had to depend on photography as a profession, I would first take on as many jobs as possible. Like any business, I would probably lose money during this period. With the many jobs, I hope to establish a reputation for a specialty, or great service, or reliability but ideally a combination of these.
Once I have more jobs than I can handle, I will start charging higher rates, but low enough not to frighten away the clients I want while turning away the jobs I am not to keen on. This is the beginning of enjoying the luxury of choice.
Establishing a reputation takes years, while it takes only a screw-up to destroy it.
Of course being able to take generally better photos than all the weekend shooters will give you an edge.
At the end of the day, give the customer what they want. When you have enough money to live and afford to turn down jobs, that is the time when you can pursue your passion, the type of photographs that you really want to take, and as a hobby. And if enough people want to buy such photographs, you are now successful, able to make a good living pursuing your passion.
for every name that you have mentioned (and probably many more not mentioned) that succeeded can u imagine how many more names have failed? probably none, because failures names' aren't highly publicised. i would bet my last dollar that those "failed" names exceed the successful ones.
a professional photographer, or one who earns money from photography has two main things to do. shoot well and run a business. we assume such a person has passion for photography, so improving their skill/art/creativity is a given. no normal photographer is going to say "i'm the best, no need to learn or practice anymore".
however, most passionate photographers who want to make money from their photos aren't always as passionate about running a business. so why are people "harping" on business/profits/markets? because it is not something that is easily understood or grasped!
basically the path to great photos is imo, much easier than the path to a great business. what you have mentioned i totally agree. quality photos, look within yourself, be constantly motivated/inspired etc etc. however, these alone will not let microsoft knock on everyone's door. i'd like to repeat, for one that got microsoft to call because of her flickr account, how many more did NOT get that call?
i'm all for great photos and great passion. if u do it as a hobby or craft or self/personal satisfaction, then u rule the world, your own world. if you want someone else's money for it, then, i'm sorry, it really IS that difficult.
and ur last statement: Most importantly, know why you started photography. and running a business should be second in nature to you. is wholeheartedly disagreed by me, sorry. i have seen too many people fail even though they are full of passion and do great work. i have also seen pple who suck, but are totally successful.
shooting well, and being successful selling what you shoot, are POLES apart.
I know of people who are passionate in photography but don't have much clue in business management. Most of them know they are not passionate about the highs and lows of business, so wisely take on a day job. Those few I know that run a successful photography business typically have both passion and business acumen. In fact, you don't need to have a whole dose of passion, just enough to ensure you produce good quality work, but you need a large dose of business acumen. Without business sense, the chances are likely to be bleak.
Here is my opinion about business...
It is always a myth about "photography business"
Every photographer need to understand one thing... Your photography is the "PRODUCT". Something like Omega Watch, Bottega Bag, etc... it is nothing more than "PRODUCT".
Creating great product is important, but more important, how do you "communicate" your product to your prospective client.
If you have a great product, but don't know how to market it, find a company who is good in marketing your product and let them do the "communicating" for you. It can be an agent, it could be another photography company and so on and so forth...
Make sure you see all your hardwork in photography just a tiny little bit of the whole equation which is PRODUCT and nothing more... it will then help you to see the bigger pictures on how to "sell" your product.
Of course, if your product do not easily understand by the viewer, it is barely a good product in your client's eye.
Learn how to see it from your client's perspective. If you are a client who wanted a family portrait taken... what do you look for? the deliverable, the service and most importantly... where can you find the service that you are after? once you start looking at this from your clients perspective, it is then easier to formulate your strategies for your business.
Certainly, take the ego out (but not completely) will help the process.
For me, I go out as a consumer and when I want to buy something, I will take note on the steps and from those steps, I retrace and re-formulate whether the steps are logical... and I do that very very often (not just photography) so I can learn more from everywhere and apply it to my own situation with some changes to it.
Constant evaluation to your situation is very important... how good you are in creating your product is less of important then because, while doing it, you are constantly "working" to learn and upgrade yourself.
Try to simplify your view towards business then you can understand it easier...
Paperwork and book-keeping can be left to accountant like many other "chores".
When selling your product, it is very simple, tell people why you love that and if they look at it from your perspective, then, that is the client for you. If not, well, tell someone else.... it is no magic... it is the same story over and over and over again....
Anyway, all my clients are intrique with my company name... "Tomato Photo" and they always ask why? and it is easier to let them know your view if you know your product...
In business, I follow KISS principle... Keep It Simple, Stupid!!. try to break it down to smaller chewable....
Last but not least, if you believe you have a great product that many would love... PAY someone to get you started in how to sell it...
All the best...