I’ll begin by saying that this is a difficult post for me to write for many reasons. Over the course of the last month or so, you – my valued readers – have hopefully seen some of my work and passion, and even more hopefully learned something from the articles and how-to’s.
I started this site for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted to share my knowledge; secondly, I want my work to reach a greater audience – although every true artist would (and often does) work without pay or acknowledgement, sometimes the egotistical part of us does value recognition. Thirdly, there are sites aimed at amateurs, at professionals, at particular user groups…but I find the level of content not really that advanced, or too equipment-focused, or not balanced between pure image sharing, learning and techniques/ equipment. Photography is all of these things. Finally, I want to figure out a way to spend more time doing photography-related things, and less time in the corporate world.
The reality of commercial photography these days is that there are plenty of talented people out there; more so now that people have discovered skills thanks to the ever-lowering barriers to accessibility. This is further compounded by the effects of social media (yes, I know I’m benefitting too). Curiously though, although the overall standard for images has raised thanks to the proliferation of photographers, the business community attaches less and less value to it – meaning to say bluntly that there really isn’t any money in the business (with a few very rare exceptions) because corporate buyers are both spoiled for choice and frankly can’t tell the difference most of the time. Those that can are served by long-standing relationships with existing photographers.
What does this mean? ‘Professionals’ are usually scratching a living and unable to have the freedom to develop and improve because that requires time and money; they’re short of the former because they need to do more jobs to get enough of the latter. ‘Amateurs’ have all of the equipment, for the most part act outwardly like professionals, but when the crunch hits, usually can’t quite deliver. The people who are truly pushing are either those aforementioned professionals with long-standing commercial relationships – think Annie Leibowitz and the like – or serious amateurs whose living costs are supported by a day job. I know for a fact that almost all of my professional photography friends do not make a living from selling pictures or photo work. Think about this for a minute: if professional photographers aren’t valued, who’s going to drive the image creation of the future? How are companies going to find the ever-better visual content demanded but not support the people they rely on to create it? I don’t think they’ve given any thought to that; bottom lines are all that matters.
I’m not complaining; far from it. The shift in photography market dynamics has opened up other opportunities that would have been previously unsustainable or commercially unworkable. But the reality for me is that I have to choose between my passion and my day job – which is both mutually exclusive, and nowhere near a fair contest.
Maintaining this blog – creating articles, photographing and keeping myself up to date and pushing the envelope to deliver content that you’d want to read – takes time. A lot of it. Somewhere in the region of 20-30 hours per week, actually – that’s almost a full time job in itself. Actually, it is a full time job if you think about how much more productive you are when you both don’t have to take breaks and can produce everything by yourself – and the topic is something you’re an expert on.
At some point, I’m going to have to decide which path I take going forward – I no longer have the time or ability to maintain both. It’s a tough choice, though – because one path is nothing but uncertainty (except perhaps certain poverty) and the other is the diametric opposite of anything creative. I suppose everybody who is intensely passionate about something, and that something is not their day job, faces this dilemma eventually. What I wonder is how many people regret not trying – and how many people try, but never manage to make it work and just give up eventually. Society likes to talk about determination leading to success – but we also call people fools who try repeatedly but never succeed.
So I’m going to do three things now:
1. Ask for your opinions and thoughts – please leave a comment on this post
2. Ask you to share – use the social media buttons; email links to articles you like; link my blog. (It’s still ad free, and in order to keep it that way I need to traffic to try out some of the other exciting ideas I have planned – which can only work if I have a big enough readership).
3. Shamelessly, if you’ve enjoyed reading or viewing or have learned something, please consider a donation via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) – however large or small, it does help me to continue providing content and art for you all to enjoy. It’s not just the time cost; there are hosting costs, equipment costs, travel costs…the list goes on. The more resources I have, the better content I can create.
Finally – thank you all for your continued support! MT