Careers: Photography/Possible Interview
QUESTION: My name is Sarah. I am doing a project and would be interested in interviewing you about being a photographer. My question to you is would you be willing to do an interview via email with me?
ANSWER: I think it'd be better to do it in this forum, I'll be glad to help.
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QUESTION: Thank you for agreeing to allow me to interview you. I figured it would save us both time and effort if I provide all the questions at once:
1) What inspired you to become a photographer?
2) What are the perks and downfalls of being a photographer?
3) What is a typical day of work for you?
4) What is the most rewarding aspect of being a photographer?
5) How would you describe the work atmosphere and the people with whom you work?
6) What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a photographer?
I enjoyed the technical aspect of photography. I grew up in B & W, started my studio with 90% of the business in B/W, over the years it changed to color, then it changed again to digital.
One of the downfalls of the business is that it a very nostalgic business. You appeal to people's sense of history, but no matter how beautiful the picture, if there is a choice of food for the family or the pretty picture, guess what will win. It will affect your bookings or the choices your customers make. They may go for the less expensive wedding album as opposed to the one that will produce the maximum profit for you. It's boom or bust. You sit waiting for customers to arrive, sometimes wondering if you will have enough to pay the rent or to pay for your expensive photo equipment and the computer(s) you need to produce it. Other times you are so swamped that you don't know if you can handle it but you do. This might be a typical day of work for you.
On the other hand I handled a commercial photo shoot during the morning, then went to another where I produced a series of transparencies for a client who wanted to show off their 2 nursing homes. Then in the evening I took pictures at an outdoor wedding, followed up by a class reunion session at a nearby resort, where I sold pix to the participants. Then for another 4 weeks, I had nothing to do except to sell the wedding photos, prepare the album, prepare the class reunion pix to be mailed, deliver the transparencies to the customer, and show the completed commercial job to the customer.
It is rewarding to see someone see themselves in a sentimental situation such as a wedding, and know that they will relive that experience several times before it gets put into storage and their children discover Mom and Dad's wedding album.
You're dealing with people, sometimes what they expect of you is not what you can deliver, you have to deal with it. Generally they're nice, occasionally you'll get one that isn't and you must deal with it.
If you are becoming a photographer, be sure that you gain enough of an education that you'll know the difference between making a profit but not enough for your expenses or making a profit and paying for your education, your rent, your car expenses. I would suggest that at least you have a basic accounting skills in addition to you learning to take pretty pictures that don't sell because you haven't listened to what the customer wanted. You must also have some experience with contracts so that you don't get yourself in trouble with a customer that wants one thing and you were offering another thing. I took a picture of a wedding couple standing in front of a beautiful stained glass window, I exposed to get the window in all its beauty with the bride and groom in silhouette. They oohed and aahed about it but didn't buy it because you couldn't see their faces. It is important to nail down all the possibilities while booking the sale so as to avoid problems.
In short, photography in a small town usually happens at night or weekends. I usually say to a newbie photog to not quit your day job, that's the one that pays your bills. Only go full-time when your photog income becomes more than your day job income. Take it slow. People will wait until you prove yourself to their friends. Word of mouth advertising beats any other type of advertising. I wish you well, if I can help further feel free to respond in this forum. Thanks for allowing me to help you, I hope I haven't discouraged you too much.