Photographers are possibly the biggest complainers in the business world. I constantly come across blogs and articles talking about how underpaid photographers are, how expensive their business is to run, and how undervalued they are for what they do. For those reading those articles looking to enter the photography world…. Hi, welcome to an over-saturated industry with a very low barrier to entry. Anyone can start a photography business… today.
Anyone Can Do It
The first point I will touch on is the low barrier to entry. Unlike many businesses, you can start to earn an income on less than a thousand dollars investment. You can buy an entry level DSLR and do a couple of natural light shoots on automatic mode and earn a couple hundred bucks. You won’t turn any heads but you can probably snag some family and friend business or some very budget conscious clients on Craigslist. Nearly anyone can do this.
It’s Easy to Learn
The next piece to the low barrier of entry is photography is easy to learn. Let me be clear. Photography is very complex and difficult, but with enough practice, and research, anyone can do it. There are hundreds of thousands of books, blogs, and video tutorials that will teach you how to do anything you want with photography. There is a YouTube tutorial for every possible function, technique, and skill in photography… for free! You don’t have to pay to go to photography school. Anything you would need to learn you can find online. It is just up to you to find it, learn it, and practice it.
Digital Photography is incredibly cheap. You may say “well my equipment is thousands of dollars”. Sure, you make a small investment now, but you can turn out product nearly free afterwards for a very long time. Do you know why everyone wasn’t calling themselves a photographer in the film days? It was an expensive hobby and/or profession. Not only did you have to buy the equipment up front, but you had to pay for you to learn and grow as a photographer. Free resources basically not exist before the internets. You had to pay for each roll of film. You had to pay for each print. Learning was very expensive. Now you can take a thousand photos, realize your settings were off, and redo it without any cost. You did not have to pay for the expensive lessons of incorrect exposure settings, or out of focus shots. It was very intimidating to take up photography in the film days because it required a time and financial investment. With digital, if your photography dreams don’t pan out, all you have lost is a small investment in a camera you can use for fun anyways.
*Now let me go back on my last point for a moment and clarify before I get angry emails. I stated you make one investment and you can turn out product for free. This statement is not entirely accurate. Running a photography business does require a constant investment in new equipment, marketing, and there are expenses to providing clients with packages that involve more than just digital photo files. However there are lots of people in the lower tier of the photography business that just provide digital photos with minimal equipment and costs. These are the people you (the photographer who has invested thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment) are competing against.
You Can Get By On Luck
In an earlier argument, I discussed shooting clients on automatic mode. You can get through many paid shoots through luck without any thinking. You just have to have a reasonably artistic eye. I know plenty of people who take nice pictures in nice settings and people always complement them on their photography. You can certainly do some engagement, family, or portrait shoots without being very experienced. These are typically low pressure situations where the end product isn’t a big deal. You are not delivering a product to a commercial client, and you are not trying to please a Pinterest browsing bride. You can write off your mistakes as artistic choices. Bitter professional photographers lose a lot of this type of business. They lose the small engagement shoots or headshot portraits to more amateur photographers trying to get experience. But the reason they lose that business is because usually that amateur service is ‘good enough’ for the low/no cost.
So there we have Part I. I have set the stage for bitter photographers being angry at those offering services for little or no cost. Those new photographers are able grow and take business away from professional photographers because unlike most business there is virtually no barrier to entry.