15 Statements Poor Photographers Say that Rich Photographers Do Not

Jun 21, 2015

Bradford Rowley

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15 Statements Poor Photographers Say that Rich Photographers Do Not

Jun 21, 2015

Bradford Rowley

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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My client Mark Victor Hansen has sold over 500 million books, more than almost anyone in history for non-fiction. While preparing to go on stage one day giving a motivational program with the legendary Tony Robbins, he asked Tony, “Tony…..How come you make so much more money than me?”

Tony Robbins then asked the question, “Who do you mastermind with?”

Mark replied, “Everyone I mastermind with makes at least one million dollars a year.”

Tony Robbins then replied, “Everyone I mastermind with makes at least one billion dollars a year!”

Who we surround ourselves with makes a huge difference. I have heard it said that if you tell me how much your five closest friends make, I’ll tell you how much you make.

One of the reasons I prefer not to belong to many photography groups and instead focus on a core group of ultra-high achievers in a mastermind environment is because it puts me in a different state of mind of what’s possible.

Below is a list of comments I have heard from photographers over the years and especially lately that I find toxic for success and a contrast to what I hear from people I mastermind with.

As in all of my articles, when I point out something wrong, I also give a solution or the flip side which I believe points in the direction of success….

Phrases Poor Photographers Say:

1. Cheap photographers are ruining the industry.

2. I am in it for the art not the money.

3. I’m going to spend my money to buy the latest equipment.

4. It’s impossible to get rich in photography.

5. People will never spend that amount of money.

6. Clients don’t see my worth.

7. My clients insist on getting their images on a CD.

8. There should be some protection like professional licensing for our industry.

9. I hate selling.

10. I am up till 2 a.m. working on photoshop.

11. You can’t make the same amount of money in photography that you could 15 years ago.

12. We are in a recession right now.

13. All the photographers I know say business is down.

14. I just hope I can last a little bit longer in this industry until I retire.

15. I don’t trust anyone in my business but me.

Phrases Rich Photographers Say:

1. I run my studio as a business.

2. I carefully spend my money on marketing that brings in massive amounts of clients.

3. The photography business is one of the best kept secrets there is.

4. I differentiate myself so entirely from cheap photographers that they have no affect on me.

5. Photographers can make more money than physicians if they are savvy.

6. Spending at least a few thousand dollars on a piece of art which is a representation of that which is most precious to people is a very reasonable expectation.

7. I carefully brand myself in a very calculated way which helps me command top dollar.

8. I never let any portrait leave my studio which isn’t finished in the most exquisite way and with full artistry. My clients understand and respect me more because of it.

9. Because I make an amazing living, I can afford to enjoy my love of photography on vacations all over the world.

10. I assume 100% responsibility for my success as well as my failures.

11. My work immediately communicates professional.

12. I feel passionate about my work and relish the opportunity to sell it.

13. I hire specialist to assist me in production so I can spend time expanding my business and taking it to the next level.

14. With all the new technologies, there has never been an easier time to make money in photography.

15. If there is a recession, I won’t participate in it.

16. I surround myself with positive and successful individuals.

17. I want to make as much as I can from my profession to provide an amazing life for my family and to be able to make a difference by donating to worthy causes. The world is a better place because of my success and the amazing heirlooms I provide my clients.

About the Author

Bradford Rowley is perhaps the most expensive portrait photographer in the United States with an impressive list of prominent clientele. He operates studios in New York, California and on world famous Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. He has made over 20 million dollars from selling portraits. He has taught photographers from more than 40 countries. He currently resides in Connecticut with his wife and youngest child. You can see more on his site here, and his facebook here. This article was originally published here and shared with permission.

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71 responses to “15 Statements Poor Photographers Say that Rich Photographers Do Not”

  1. Mason Unrau Avatar
    Mason Unrau

    Paul Collin Jessica Jason

  2. Jessica Fehr Avatar
    Jessica Fehr

    Well I’ve never been a rich photographer, but I’ve definitely thought some of the statements on the poor section!

    1. Mason Unrau Avatar
      Mason Unrau

      See there’s another one that should go on the list ;)

    2. PaulL Avatar
  3. Maurice Beau Kennedy Avatar
    Maurice Beau Kennedy

    This article is ridiculous and demeaning. Elitist drivel

    1. Ruan Cowley Avatar
      Ruan Cowley


    2. James Dare Avatar
      James Dare

      So agree with you!

    3. PaulL Avatar

      Envy is such as curse

  4. Rebecca Maier Avatar
    Rebecca Maier

    The thing is not everyone gets everything the same. Just because he made it doesn’t mean it isn’t true for others some on the “poor” list. It’s about the market and what the market can afford. Feast and famine as well as what form of photography. It is about who you know and how much people like you. I have a side job that is professional but trying to break into an industry that doesn’t pay then I will look for other avenues. I redesign what I do to benefit where I am not getting the pay.

    This does not make me any less of a photographer. Just I know my path is not going to always be the same as yours

  5. Brandon Lee Dittsworth Avatar
    Brandon Lee Dittsworth

    It’s all about the market in the area you live or work in. If you live in an area where you rely on portraiture work, then you need to have a community that needs the services and can afford the services. A poor community is a poor community. A rich community is a rich community. You just can’t sugar coat it. I make money off clients but I look for other streets to bring in exposure or revenue. You can’t rely on other “positive” people or rely on the market. You have to rely on yourself and only yourself to be successful. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced both lists and still do but majority of these points are bogus and ridiculous to listen to. No one is the same after all.

  6. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    What does it mean to mastermind with someone?

    1. Brandon Lee Dittsworth Avatar
      Brandon Lee Dittsworth

      My guess, it’s another word to manipulate someone.

    2. Stefan Nilsson Avatar
      Stefan Nilsson

      Basically means discussing ideas/plans and getting the other persons thoughts and insights on it. There’s a thing called “mastermind groups” which basically means that you’re a group of people that meet regularly to talk about your current projects and try to help each other by giving advice based on your experiences.

      1. Jim Johnson Avatar
        Jim Johnson

        He has spent a lot of time “masterminding” with business people and that obviously works for his business.

        I care about photography, though. And he should have “masterminded” with a few more photographers. His work is an embarrassment to the industry.

    3. James Dare Avatar
      James Dare

      Maybe he meant “masturbate with billionaires”

  7. Frank Ball Avatar
    Frank Ball

    I agree with the list for the most part: they’re general items applicable to any profession or goal since so much of what we become is how we interpret reality. However, the gratuitous “…and to be able to make a difference by donating to worthy causes” comes from the self-sacrificial morality that gives rise to compulsion, socialism, dictators and the loss of freedom that allows us to pursue our goals without being forced in to servitude by others (aka, slavery). While I certainly choose to give freely to those I love, I cannot demand others slave for me, and likewise, others cannot demand me to slave for them whether or not they believe it’s a “worthy cause” (which usually means stealing money from anyone who has it and giving it to anyone who doesn’t didn’t earn it and doesn’t deserve it).

  8. Marc Osborne Jr Avatar
    Marc Osborne Jr

    I’d rather be poor than a douchebag. P.S. If one’s goal is to be rich..there are much better ways to do it. Unless your self worth is desperately tied to being a “rich photographer.” I’d rather be a great photographer than a rich one. My scenario also allows you to be rich..you just don’t end up a joke. Now if this article was about being a successful business person that would all be different. But this article is ask about “rich photographers and poor photographers.” And if the writer is “rich”, I’d be very surprised.

  9. Tuukka Ervasti Avatar
    Tuukka Ervasti

    Cocky –> Arrogant –> Douche Lord –> Bradford Rowley

  10. Dan Astran Avatar
    Dan Astran

    Mastermind with billionaires. Got it

  11. hotbari Avatar

    I threw up a little with #17 on the rich list.

  12. Jim Johnson Avatar
    Jim Johnson

    Who do you mastermind with?

    You know who I “mastermind” with… professors, phds, poets, writers, and artists. People who engage with ideas and change the society they live in, and who do not think that their personal wealth is somehow a social service, an indicator of their ability, or a proper way to value human beings.

  13. Jim Johnson Avatar
    Jim Johnson

    I always try to remain positive in the comments. I try not to judge. I try not to talk down other people’s work. But seeing as how Bradford Rowley seems to be a businessman first and photographer second, I feel okay with this comment.

    He is obviously a great businessman. Kudos on the three studios. But jeez…


    1. Jenny Young Avatar
      Jenny Young

      I agree with you completely about commenting and your opinion on his work. I would rather be broke then put crap like that out in the world and that is no joke.

      1. Jim Johnson Avatar
        Jim Johnson

        I take a lot of pride in being part of the history, culture, and community of photography. I strive to, and hope that I do, contribute to that culture with my work.

        I would be embarrassed to produce this kind of work.

      2. Lexi Jones Avatar
        Lexi Jones

        I bet your work stinks jenny

        1. Jim Johnson Avatar
          Jim Johnson

          Stay classy, Lexi.

    2. Leo Falcon Avatar
      Leo Falcon

      God!! I just googled him and for fuck sale! There is a diferente between art and artsy. Those photos are cheap portraits with ugly edition. Thats not art thats kitch.

    3. Ryan Villanueva Avatar
      Ryan Villanueva

      Not my taste either but someone is certainly paying for it.

    4. Lexi Jones Avatar
      Lexi Jones

      I expected to see bad work but what I found was a guy that
      does work like many other photographers that enter PPA completions. I
      have seen bad studio work but this is not bad work. He is no Ann Naugher
      but you would probably say her work sucks also.

      1. Jim Johnson Avatar
        Jim Johnson

        Ann Naugher is not to my taste, but I would not call her work bad. She creates a painterly effect and adjusts her composition, posing, props, and set for each of her subjects. Rowley’s work looks thoughtless, factory produced, and overly softened (there is NO texture to the skin). Naugher says something about her subjects, Rowley does not.

        Ann Naugher makes portraits with the aesthetic of a particular genre of painting. Rowley makes portraits like that, too, except the genre he borrows from is appears to be “velvet Elvis”. In my opinion— and this, of course, is only my opinion— Naugher is an auteur and Rowley uses cheap tricks.

        To me, that is bad photography and bad for photography.

        1. Colin Cross Avatar
          Colin Cross

          Well….. If he can make millions every year selling “velvet Elvis” portraits and you are so much better as a photographer, maybe you should spend less time commenting and more time reading?

          1. Jim Johnson Avatar
            Jim Johnson

            If making millions was my goal, I might agree with you.

    5. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      This reminds me of one of our guest speakers in the Business of Photography class I took a couple of years ago. The guy was a very successful photographer from a business standpoint. A lot of what he told us was that you had to spend a lot of money to make a lot of money as well as providing an almost insane level of service.

      Then he passed around his portfolio. After he left our instructor asked us what we thought of his pictures. None of us were very impressed. I think our instructor was trying to demonstrate to us that taking great pictures is only part of the equation, business savvy is a much bigger slice, at least if you want to be raking in six figures.

  14. Joe Olivares Avatar
    Joe Olivares

    Article sucks! Being a great photographer is at best 10% of the battle. The other 90% is how you market and sell yourself as well as your photography. I am not the cheapest photographer in my area, but stay busy every weekend because I have learned how to make that connection with brides that allows them to overlook my pricing and focus on me and my quality of work. You just have to know how to market yourself and sell your abilities. If your not landing 4-5 of every 10 brides that inquire with you about photography, your doing something wrong! If you constantly have to keep lowering your prices to below the avg min for your area, your spending to much time focusing on cost instead of you and your ability to capture their day in artistic photography like no one else can.

  15. theliberator Avatar

    The authors photography is some of the most disgusting, dated and just plain bad work I’ve ever seen. To the point that this article and his website must be a joke. Seriously, am I on The Onion?

  16. jkeboy Avatar

    Wow Glad I’m not a broke pro photographer this artical would make me want to kill myself

  17. James Dare Avatar
    James Dare

    OMG! Nobody says those platitudinous bleatings. Sounds like I stumbled into an Amway meeting.

  18. Archie Pajaro Avatar
    Archie Pajaro

    “Tell me how your five closest friends make and I’ll tell you how you make”? What the hell? Really? And you would rather surround yourself with more successful people than with many other photography groups who only want to be better? What is this, a short autobiography of a self-glorifying social climber? The first paragraphs already made me lose interest in reading the rest. Actually, to think about it, your title is demeaning to photographers who do not have money but have the passion to create art. How do you think these rich photographers started out? This is stupid. I so wanted you to know this, that I even created a disqus account just to post this. Have a nice day, Bradford.

  19. Mitch Steel Avatar
    Mitch Steel

    This is elitist, ignorant, arrogant wankery. And its also shame that the “rich” tog that wrote this doesn’t *quite* have a grasp on the english language in places.

    That DIYP posted this has made me lose quite a bit of respect for them. Disgraceful. Remember the days when the site posted about gear the common man and rich man alike could make?

  20. Bobbin -C Avatar
    Bobbin -C

    People with money clearly have no taste and no clue. Worst dodging and burning I’ve ever seen in these horrible, dated 80’s style pieces of crap!

  21. Axel Sunstrom Avatar
    Axel Sunstrom

    Check the source. This article first appeared on his website. The website is called million dollar photographer and exists to sell seminars to show you how to get rich making photography. Not saying everything he said is b.s. but I think he’s more or less trying to sell his seminar to people.

    1. Leo @ Image Melbourne Avatar
      Leo @ Image Melbourne

      If he makes so much from photography then why does he need to run seminars?

      1. Colin Cross Avatar
        Colin Cross

        He doesn’t…. look at his site. In 27 years, he’s given 2 or 3. He has just worked it out well enough to be able to spend his free time writing articles to help people out. How dare he!

  22. He tor rivera Avatar
    He tor rivera

    Garbage article , who even right this ? Garbage

  23. Scott Dixon Avatar
    Scott Dixon

    If nothing else, he’s a pretty average photographer and his client list proves that money doesn’t equate with taste: http://www.bradfordportraits.com/ourclients.html

  24. Georgie Silckerodt Avatar
    Georgie Silckerodt

    I agree Scott. But unfortunately some of the most successful photographers I know in Canada since moving here are pretty tacky. Not very innovative or even technically impressive. But they pump out the work. Quality over quality. And they charge a fortune. That seems to be the key to their success.

  25. Luke Schwanke Avatar
    Luke Schwanke

    If you are to assess this “article” based on content alone, you can legitimately conclude that it is utter crap. I’ve read more intelligent pieces from first year undergraduates on the merits of boxer shorts as compared to briefs. I shall now remove this website from my preferences permanently…its insulting to your readership to publish such low quality “work”.

  26. Travis Alex Avatar
    Travis Alex

    I need to make a request to DIYPhoto:

    Please put more of an emphasis on pre-screening the photographers you are allowing to submit articles and make it to the feed.

    This guys work is not good and insight he offers is purely elitist satire at best.

    Step your game up please. Do not fall into the trend Mashable has with copying Buzzfeed.

    Your viewers will thank you.

    1. Lexi Jones Avatar
      Lexi Jones


      1. Mannock Avatar

        Learn to spell.

  27. Justin Akard Avatar
    Justin Akard

    haha love the comments.

  28. PaulL Avatar

    I’m beginning to understand why so many photographers are poor (and bitter). You’re totally clueless. All I’m seeing is envy and jealousy masquerading as faux outrage.

    The bottom line is that smart people are giving him lots of money because he’s figured out what clients are actually willing to pay big bucks for……..while you’re still scrounging for crumbs from the masters table,

    Kudos to Bradford

    1. Adrian Manabat Avatar
      Adrian Manabat

      My thoughts exactly.

  29. Dao Bacon Avatar
    Dao Bacon

    is this article a very nice troll?

  30. Primitivejim Avatar

    this is seriously one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read.

  31. Maury Brooks Avatar
    Maury Brooks

    I have no problem with him getting rich as a photographer (good or bad). His demeaning statement “I differentiate myself so entirely from cheap photographers that they have no affect on me.” demeans all other photographers. This is a cheap low comment which is only in line with his tasteless view of photography as an art. Anyone who says this cannot appreciate the art of photography.

    1. Colin Cross Avatar
      Colin Cross

      He didn’t say he differentiates himself from ALL photographers, just cheap ones… Don’t you? Change it to food: Does Momofuku(or any other nice restaurant) worry that they are loosing customers to Mcdonalds and Taco Bell? Apples and oranges… His statement was in no way offensive to me!

  32. Motenashi Avatar

    You would think if he is making the kind of money mentioned he would invest in at least one other background.

  33. Jason Foster Avatar
    Jason Foster

    Proof…this article is irrelevant because it lacks proof. It is idealized and not necessarily inaccurate, but without proof it is not valuable.

    It is true though that there is lots of money to be made and positivity over negativity is necessary for success.

  34. Ryan Villanueva Avatar
    Ryan Villanueva

    He does have a good point in not buying the latest equipment. I know some skilled pros who make a good living now but started their business out with older generation but still very capable equipment.

  35. fj1200 Avatar

    Define ‘Poor’ and define ‘Rich’. Monetizing it does not make it better, as shown by the comments below. My daughter’s friend is a good up-coming photographer just starting out. ‘Poor’ I suppose , but good.

    I kind of agree with @mitchsteel:disqus below: I was thinking this earlier on this morning. DIYP used to be focused on the ‘DIY’ bit. It’s becoming more like The Register for photographers, with lots of high-end stuff. So – have people stopped creating? What have I made that I can contribute? Is hacking something to use as a new beauty dish or building a cheap but effective softbox something people no longer do? Easier to buy a cheap one on Amazon? I’m looking at myself here too….

    There’s some really good articles here – not complaining about them, learned some interesting techniques recently; but the content here is driven largely by contributors. I put some up years ago, had them published, not done anything for ages. How about you?

  36. aj1575 Avatar

    Professional photography is mainly a business. From this standpoint he is doing the right thing. He found a good buisness; he makes a lot of money selling pictures to rich people with bad taste.
    The big question is, do you like to earn as much a possible, so that you are able to buy a lot of things that make you happier, or do you like to earn enough to make a decent living, and your happines is unrelated to the amount of money you have/spend.

  37. David S Kalonick Avatar
    David S Kalonick

    This article seems fake. A social experiment of sorts. Fake author, fake crappy website. Let’s see the comments fly and if it goes viral on FB…

  38. Pete Woods Avatar
    Pete Woods

    bah, “Snake Oil” and BS or how I made a million dollars? Wrote a book titled “How to Make a Million Dollars!” i.e. Tony Robbins ΟΕΔ

  39. AussieVilkas Avatar

    I agree with Bradford Rowley. So the rest of you should stop whinging and GOYA (get off your arse), get some bums on seats, shoot passionately (or get others to do that for you) and sell like the Wolf of Wall Street. Then, Life will be very good to you and the people you love!

  40. Lexi Jones Avatar
    Lexi Jones

    Sucks? I expected to see bad work but what I found was a guy that
    does work like many other photographers that enter PPA completions. I
    have seen bad studio work but this is not bad work. He is no Ann Naugher
    but you would probably say her work sucks also.

  41. Lori Carey Avatar
    Lori Carey

    Do you even hear yourselves? His Renaissance portraits are intended to look like classic oil paintings. You may not like the look, but how much time have you spent in multi-million dollar homes viewing the artwork chosen for the walls? Wealthy clients often prefer classical styles. The Renaissance look is also very big in academia. Study art history, study your target market. His portraits quietly state “old money”. If you want upscale clients, you need to produce the style of work they want hanging on their walls. He is obviously producing quality work for which people are willing to pay good money. Just because it isn’t a style that you or your target market can relate to, doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

    As far as the article being elitist, cocky, or fake, you missed the whole point. A photographer who is always negative, complaining and bitching about the state of the industry is a photographer who is not going to be successful no matter how talented he/she may be.

  42. Erica T Avatar
    Erica T

    I took a screenshot of “Phrases Rich Photographers Say” and made it my desktop image so I can review it everyday. Great mantras.

  43. RH6194 Avatar

    I don’t think I have ever heard anyone (rich or poor) say the majority of these things. Who did this writer survey? (Oh yeah, the Tony Robbins photography school)

    Also, I’m in a LOT of photography groups on social media. I have never heard anyone even discuss the subject of “poor photographers vs rich photographers” -and the day I do will be the day I drop that group in a heartbeat. (Note: When I read the term “poor photographer” I assumed the author was talking about the quality of someone’s work – not the size of their bank account! For the record, just exactly how much is “rich”?)

    1. Robert Ruffo Avatar
      Robert Ruffo

      Everyone I know who sneers at Tony Robbins is not successful at what they do and most (granted not all) are unhappy in their lives.

  44. Rick Avatar