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So, You Wanna Be a Photographer?




So You Wanna Be A Photographer?



So you love photography, right? Have you thought how you can continue to do what you love? This is the story of how the photography community can become sustainable long-term. We hope it helps clarify some common misconceptions and how we all can be a part of the solution. Pass it on.

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Your voice is valuable. We'd LOVE to hear what you have to say. Just keep it respectful. Life is way too short for online drama. Leave a Comment

  1. Ron Parks says:

    I’ve been a successful professional photographer in Austin, TX for over 15 years, and I love helping out new photo enthusiasts !!

  2. Very simply put and accurately illustrated! Photographers are visual people – maybe this will help create some change and awareness! ;)

  3. Andrea says:

    I realized when I started and was super cheap, then met some awesome photogs in my area that coached me and helped me get my prices in check, that I realized we as photographer trained the market to think photography is cheap. This is perfect!!

  4. Mike Emery says:

    I’m a photographer and post processor. But I’m not necessarilly looking at starting my own business. I’d greatly consider working for another business, corporate, portrait, commercial, industrial photography and/or post processing. What would be the chances of finding such a job and what would be the process/steps in finding one?

  5. Rachel Fesko says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is wonderful! I’d love to put this on my blog as well and spread the love.

  6. Mike says:

    Really entertaining and remarkably accurate!

  7. Lorrie Prothero says:

    The thing I like the most – I can make it be what I want it to be. I can be a hobbyist that happens to sell her work when she wants to, and NOT just because someone paid her to do it. I don’t have to do what I don’t want to. My money is “want to” income, not “have to”.

    • @fotoseeds says: (Author)

      Lorrie, you nailed it! There’s a tremendous amount of freedom artists have that we’ve lost, forgotten and buried somewhere. Way to reclaim that freedom!

  8. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Loved it. I think this is mainly true for all of us who didn’t start with “academic studies” and didn’t have the opportunity to get to know the market, connections, etc… as a student. I think that part of the problem is also that the “old dogs” are, sometimes, very protective of their secrets. If they never share why and how they sale an 8×10 for 250, the amateur will be happy to sell it for 10! (Or the 30 bucks for a cover)
    Great post!

  10. Barrie Fitzgerald says:

    It looks like sound advice all new photographers should read.

  11. I’m jealous of amateurs. I was working for a newspaper already when I got started; it has always been a job for me with someone else telling me what to do. I quit newspapers and people still wanted to pay me for my work, so I started a business. I want to grow up and be an amateur someday! … Maybe when I retire. :)

  12. Nick Bedford says:

    I have one problem. I’m neither a professional nor strictly a hobbyist. I do get asked to produce work for people and bands here and there, but whenever I quote something that is close to what is considered acceptable (or similar to professionals I know), my clients don’t get back to me.

    The odd client *does* accept the quote but it’s rare. It’s not like I’m producing average results. Everyone I shoot loves the work I produce and I treat everything like it’s going to go in the portfolio anyway since I don’t shoot all that often.

    So how does one accept work here and there (as opposed to my own projects) without compromising on fees and damaging sustainability if we can’t even quote what we should be for jobs without getting ignored after the fact?


    • @fotoseeds says: (Author)

      Thanks so much for sharing your situation, Nick. Just about everyone will have to wrestle through similar issues as I believe most of us will bounce around between these two paths on a project-to-project basis. I’m starting to think of the “hobbyist” and “professional” as the two legs of the creative — to move forward and walk, we’ll trade off between them, but we want to make sure we’re standing on the correct leg for the corresponding project (which develops value rather than exploits it).

      In regards to your question, there’s a couple ways you could look at it. You could say the inquires that walk away after hearing your quote aren’t really your clients and just be okay with that so you can focus on the “odd” ones that are your real clients. :) Or you could ask yourself if the ones who walk away really understand the value of what you can do for them. That’s an issue of sales (the art of converting a casually interested lead into an educated value-oriented buyer). What would happen if you focused on making a real connection with your inquiry, shared with them your value first (based on your skills and how you see how you can meet the needs of their project), and then talk about price? Does your price have enough context to be properly understood? This can be a very small thing, but it’s the difference between someone walking away because they mistakenly think you’re expensive and over priced versus they legitimately (and regrettably) can’t afford you.

  13. Great visuals ;) This hits home with me. I started my business after working 80hr work weeks & would be found at 3am asleep with PS open!! But soon learned that everyone tries to haggle down your set prices & it seems I always feel I need to make you a deal? I do session for free, that are my vision & am so happy to give them away. But when I do, a lot of people flake on their session because their is no $$$ out of their pocket. Last year I learned all too well the consequences of not charging appropriately as I had a major lower back injury called CES, a true medical emergency where my disc was in my spinal cord. this happened while doing a 2yr old session. And because I did not charge right & look out for me, I am nearly bankrupt from my injury as I did not have disability insurance. I NEED to have a set plan for marketing & pricing yourself, do you have good suggestions? Thanks

    • @fotoseeds says: (Author)

      Kelly I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. Ouch! Are you still recovering and trying to work through it? Or were you able to take some time off and really rest? That sounds so painful on so many different levels. Your story is a vivid reminder we aren’t talking about abstract ideas out there somewhere, but about the suffering of real human beings. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

      For some direction on pricing, I wrote an article “What Should I Charge?” ( that might give you some context and links to downloadable worksheets. Stacey Reeves has a great pricing model, as do PPA and the NPPA ( Marketing is a bit boarder of topic that includes knowing your brand, your ideal client, and brainstorming and executing fun and exciting ways to connect with them. It’s going to be much more personal to you. Marketing is secondary to knowing your costs, pricing accordingly and developing a product you believe in and are excited to sell. It’s your story for why you do what you do.

      If you need, we also offer one-on-one coaching to dive deep into these areas and help your business grow (see Growth Coaching under Workshops).

  14. Lana Eklund says:

    Thanks for this amazing illustration.

  15. Steve Twist says:

    Read. Pass it on.

  16. This was so good. Thank you for taking the time to create this! I loved it.

  17. Andree says:

    This is so perfect! Thank you so much, I am sharing this with all of my friends, hobbyists and pros alike!

  18. Aric Hoek says:

    Love the page. Straight forward and to the point.

  19. chris moore says:

    Great idea for helping to sustain quality and pricing

  20. Inta G says:

    so true and so cute..but its reality..sorry “clicking moms” but many of you enter photography business without any clue how to shot in difficult lighting situations or more complicated then P mode. …but be happy to get wedding gig for 300 usd and then bride is surprised why she gets “Uncle Bob” quality pictures. Yes, its two way road…you get what you paid for, but some of these girls does not know difference until they receive her wedding pictures, but at that point it is already to late. I had phone call couple days ago from future bride and she kind of laughed at me when I told her how much I charge for 5 hours. I asked what was so funny, my price or my accent. Turns out PRICE. Her response was – other photographer is ready to shoot it for 100 usd….hmmm I felt i had to tell this girl about risk she is taking, but i did not. My fault. I helped many new photographers and i’m not against new photographers coming in market, just can not approve “picking up camera because eventually I will make big money.” attitude. Just stay amateur and learn and when you are ready become professional and charge. But do not make your clients pay for your mistakes/learning.

    • Katie says:

      Inta- If you’re referring to the online community Clickin Moms, it is actually full of professional women who have been running successful businesses for years. They offer mentoring, online courses, and other educational resources to help other women learn their craft and run their businesses properly.

      And if you weren’t referring to Clickin Moms, and were just using the term in general… nevermind. :) haha. Just defending my favorite little community!

      • @fotoseeds says: (Author)

        I agree. :) In my brief encounter, Clickin Moms has been a fantastic community full of honest and heartfelt wisdom.

  21. This could not be written any better.. LOVE IT… Thanks so much for sharing and the illustrations are wonderful.

  22. Great points, well put and entertaining too.

  23. Kim C says:

    OUTSTANDING! Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. Mart says:

    No, the clients are not my boss. They hire me for my kind of view – not for to photograph what they want to see.
    That’s the difference.

  25. Natalie Kita says:

    This is brilliant, and yet so simple!!! We need to value our work and educate the marketplace.

  26. Marnie Matz says:

    Love this article!

  27. Feroze says:

    Thank you so much, so much of this illustration applies to me it’s almost, its good to know I’m not the only one.

  28. Ira Smith says:

    This a great lesson which is true for any business, not just the photography business.

  29. Great article.

    As a first observation, I see a lot of “commenters” are looking for some nice link juice from this page (just an SEO observation!)

    Anyway, back to the illustration: I think it captures things succinctly but I have an issue with certain things.

    I work on the south coast of Spain, here people are mad in to their photography and there are so called “photographers” popping up all over the place. Now in my case I would put a lot of time into website build, marketing, advertising, post processing and of course taking photos. However, to the untrained Joe Public, this of course goes un-noticed. They don’t care, they want their photos. But the sad thing about it is, no matter how you try to tell them how good you can be for them, how good a service you can provide, how efficient and trouble free, how your post shoot service and photo printing is second to none, people don’t really care. In fact, a great majority wouldn’t know the difference between an over-exposed photo and a perfectly exposed text book photo. People only care about how they or their loved ones look in a photo. If they look good then it is a great photo in a lot of peoples heads. Creamy bokeh, beautiful composition, balanced ambient and flash, low contrast lighting, all of that goes out the window and in most cases is not noticed by the average client. And that is why, it becomes a dog eat dog world for the professional or semi professional. You are competing with photographers of average technical ability who will ultimately provide a poorer service but obviously a cheaper price and clients are simply jumping on board because of the lower prices. It irritates me.

    But this will continue, clients will continue to pay less money, get a poorer product leading to the sinking ship analogy. There is only so much you can do in terms of telling potential clients how good your service actually is. In the end people vote with their feet. That is why the likes of the Ryanairs and the South West airlines of the world are flying (pardon the pun) in terms of profits while the higher comfort airlines are not. People vote with their feet, and these days price is key.

    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    Great illustration, well done.

    • @fotoseeds says: (Author)

      Those comments are pingbacks. I was curious to see who linked to the graphic. It is a bit of an eye sore though, isn’t it?

      While price plays a great role, it’s only the surface. The real question is always a matter of value. The current situation gives us an opportunity to offer value to what clients do care about — maybe it’s not the light, composition, or perfect exposure — but there’s something we do that will forever be the first thing everyone saves if their house burns down. Deep down, everyone knows photography is valuable. The task now is to make that connection for the client while making it sustainable for us while we do it. The future of sustainable is either by joy (where you retain creative control, expectations, timelines, etc.) or by being paid livable wages as a business owner. Anything less will parish.

  30. Marcos_Zelada says:

    Felicitaciones! buen trabajo.

  31. Stephanie M. Bandy says:

    I absolutely think whoever drew this infographic is great! Thanks for all that you are doing!

  32. Lorelei D. Leighty says:


  33. Cynthia says:

    Id rather be a hobbiest than in business.. its really not that easy. You cant get a camera and think you can be in business. So much work! Besides.. i like doing it on my own time!

  34. Ashley says:

    I absolutely love this!! Although part of the problem is non-photographers who think that everyone with a SLR is automatically a good photographer. I have had so many people ask me why I don’t try to start a business….this states all the practical reasons!

  35. Tammy Noble says:

    Be a part of the SOLUTION!

  36. Judy says:

    Wonderful infographic . Puts a lot into perspective.

  37. Great article!
    Lets break that circle!

  38. Erix says:

    Once I thought the job was ready for a certain CUSTOMER. But after I was asked to shoot this again and make a change to that and make another extra so and so…. Pffff…. Finally I grabbed the courage to ask what MORE he want? Oh, you just want your MONEY he replied. Well yes sir, that’s actually the CASE…Man why didn’t I start to act right away? This infographic is so recognizable.

  39. Thanks for any other wonderful article. Where else could anyone get that type of information in such an ideal way of writing?
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  40. Loved this. Enjoyed it tremendously….because it’s so true.

    I don’t consider myself a professional, just because I’m a rebel, lol, and I love to refer myself as an amateur. I love photography, always have. I’ve been taking photos since jr. high with my old school 35mm. Now, I’m a different kind of photographer. I have my fancy camera and gadgets, but I’m still the same nerd. I do admit that photography is one of the hardest, most competitive businesses to be in. This morning, as a matter of fact, I showed up at a photography location and realized the client had hired two photographers “just to be on the safe side” because “even though I love your work, I still want someone else as a back up”. I was floored by the disrespect, but this is the kind of business we’re in. Photography is cheap; everyone with a camera wants to be a photographer. We’re in a recession and clients don’t care about quality; they want cheap and fast and Potoshopped. Photography is so fierce and competitive; a lot of photographers lack morals and ethics, especially the new kids with their “money is money and photos are photos” mentality. I may be a seasoned photographer, but walking out of this gig was effortless. This might have been a crappy day, but I survive on repeat business and referrals. I cannot give up my business just because of one rotten occasion; especially when my career is full of many wonderful experiences. Saludos from Texas!

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