Going Pro

I see a lot of sites now trying to teach photographers how to “go pro." What I don’t see on these sites is anyone asking, "Should you go pro?”

As author A.L. Kennedy wrote:

I wouldn’t be the first writer to point out that doing something so deeply personal does become less jolly when you have to keep on at it, day after cash-generating day. To use a not ridiculous analogy: Sex = nice thing. Sex For Cash = probably less fun, perhaps morally uncomfy and psychologically unwise.

The truth about professional photography, which you should not expect to find on these blogs:

From CareerCast.com via A Photo Editor:

The 200 best and worst jobs in the U.S. in 2009 based on five criteria — environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress…


#126 Photographer (just below Waiter but still above undertaker)
Starting salary: $17,000
Midlevel salary: $29,000
Top salary: $62,000

#189 Photojournalist (sadly falls below Nuclear Plant Decontamination Technician but still above metermaid)
Starting salary: $16,000
Midlevel salary: $28,000
Top salary: $60,000

From the New York Times:

“There are very few professional photographers who, right now, are not hurting,” said Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of the magazine Photo District News.

From the Greg Ceo blog:

A number I recently heard someone throw out as the amount a photographer can expect to make on a picture in a major stock photography company’s collection is $10.

I’m not here to discourage you. No doubt, some of you are professionals already and some of you have made a few bucks here and there. What I’d like to shine a light on is that many blogs are pushing a content drug on you and that drug may look tempting, but the motivation is money for the pusher and it can ultimately rob you of time and effort better spent on making the pictures you love.

As I’ve linked to before, Seth Godin puts it perfectly:

Do your art. But don’t wreck your art if it doesn’t lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy.
As you focus on your art and leave the money behind, you may just discover that this focus turns out to be the secret of actually breaking through and making money.