19 Signs You Are Treating Your Photography as a Hobby and Not a Business

Aug 15, 2015

Bradford Rowley

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19 Signs You Are Treating Your Photography as a Hobby and Not a Business

Aug 15, 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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Often, the most difficult thing I see for individuals in our industry is making that scary leap from being an amateur photographer to a legitimate professional. When you do make that leap it is quite visible as your actions become very different than those who treat their business more casually. Below is a list of behaviors I have noticed over the years from those who treat their business more like a hobby.

1. You do not charge enough to sustain yourself full-time.

2. You often photograph friends and aquaintances for free or at no profit.

3. You think of yourself as a photographer first and a business owner second.

4. You do not have firm scheduled work hours with strong boundaries that clearly separate your business and personal life.

5. You do not respect your copyright neither control the quality of your final images by giving your customers images on a CD.

6. Your net take home pay is not at least 1/3 of your gross income.

7. You are not 100% aware of your margins.

8. You justify why you can’t really make it as a legitimate business (this usually involves blaming cheap photographers, the economy, how things are different in your area or the changing industry) instead of making it happen.

9. You focus on how many clients you see, not how much money you make.

10. You talk more about your average order than you average margin.

11. You do not have a command of your P/T Ratio (see my last article on that subject here)

12. You Spend more money on photography equipment than on education.

13. When you do take classes they are usually about how to take better pictures. You rarely invest in how to run your business smarter.

14. You do not have a studio or office to see clients nor do you have a goal to have one.

15. You do not pay yourself or take a salary

16. You hang out mainly with other photographers instead of other business owners.

17. You spend time in photography forums with other photographers who love photography but are casual about their business.

18. You spend the money you make from photography, instead of investing it back into the business.

19. You delay taking actions on your business until you feel inspired (remember, Pro’s do it with a headache).

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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14 responses to “19 Signs You Are Treating Your Photography as a Hobby and Not a Business”

  1. Scott Dixon Avatar
    Scott Dixon

    Rowley might be financially successful but his work is terrible.

  2. foto2021 Avatar
    foto2021

    Sign #20: You spend more time shooting and editing images than you do marketing your business.

  3. Yugo Nakai Avatar
    Yugo Nakai

    How tasteless and needy. If this guy has $20m in portraits, why is he wasting his time telling us it’s bad to “spend time in photography forums with other photographers who love photography but are casual about their business?”

    1. Deacon Blues Avatar
      Deacon Blues

      Apparently he feels the need to wave his business e-dick around some more.

      I agree, tasteless, needy, tacky, self absorbed and crying “ME!ME!ME!” like a two year old.

  4. Russell Heidler Avatar
    Russell Heidler

    If it’s a business then it’s no longer enjoyable. If fame comes that’s fine but I for one will never do commercial photography again. It’s not worth the hassle.

    1. Mitchell Flores Avatar
      Mitchell Flores

      i have this issue, I kinda want to get into commercial but i feel like i won’t enjoy it anymore.

  5. amrothery Avatar
    amrothery

    Sign #21 – It really is just a hobby because you enjoy it as a form of creative expression and your day job is plenty fulfilling in other ways on its own.

  6. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
    Chris Hutcheson

    I think most of this holds true for any business where you’re self employed and trying to make a living.

  7. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    This guy is definitely treating his photography as a business and not a hobby. There is a musician who made a lot of money from “Yummy yummy yummy I’ve got love in my tummy” who can say the same about his artform. I’m grateful for the links to the website that let each of us decide if we would spend a dime for a portrait of someone we love against a fake cloud in fake relief with a hokey gold frame, but I don’t doubt millions are in that market any more than I doubt the market value of big-eyed children painted on black velvet.

  8. David Zacek Avatar
    David Zacek

    April 1st was four and a half months ago…

  9. Mark Rigle Avatar
    Mark Rigle

    I don’t get the CD thing, a lot of my work is for the web, are you saying get the customers to scan their prints?

  10. this guy Avatar
    this guy

    is bradford rowley’s bio for real? reads like an onion article. as does his website. sorry but a photography website should boast talent through portfolios not words proclaiming the photographer as the best in the world. while this article does offer sound advice, this bradford rowley seems like a gimmick.

  11. Shai Yammanee Avatar
    Shai Yammanee

    Thank you for posting an article that stimulates discussion and self examination.

    I know in myself that I spend more time on my craft than in my business.
    I have seen this trend in many different industries. It isn’t necessarily the ones who are the best at the craft who are most successful financially.
    With thoughts of having a family soon, it is time to stop thinking of my photography as my personal artistic endeavour, and to start creating a sustainable business.

    Whether the artwork is considered great or not is a moot point.
    You need to start asking the right questions. Why are the financially successful ones where they are when their work could be better.
    The answer in invariably, they have an efficient business strategy and they put it to good effect.
    I would rather be financially successful, then when I have reached a place of comfort for myself and my family, have the freedom to explore my own artistic goals. And who is to say I can’t do both at the same time.

  12. Kevin Price Avatar
    Kevin Price

    I don’t see how this man has made so much money. His photos, while technically fine, lack any artistic merit. Stock poses on a stock background, photoshopped like hell, and what’s with the tacky backgrounds? I’ve seen a lot of work by serious “hobbyists” that I think outdoes his by far.