Here’s when and why you should quit photography

Jan 19, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Here’s when and why you should quit photography

Jan 19, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Photography as a business is hard work. Really hard work. Ask any successful photographer and they’ll tell you. Even if it looks like they have an easy life now, they’ll tell you they had years of struggle to get where they’re at and they’re still probably doing more work than you, even after attaining a measure of success. If you’re a hobbyist, you can probably ignore this post.

Running a photography business (or any kind of business at all, really) isn’t for everybody, that’s for sure. But when and why should you call it a day and find a “real job”? That’s the question commercial photographer Scott Choucino attempts to answer in this question as he talks about some of his history in photography and how he approaches the work.

I once saw Zack Arias say in a live stream that “photography calls many but chooses few”, which is a very short-but-good way to summarise Scott’s video. I don’t think it’s necessarily the photography side of things that’s not choosing a person, though, but the business side. Plenty of people are outstanding and amazing photographers but never make a penny from it. Not because their work is terrible, but because it has no real monetary value. They’re creating images that there’s no market for.

For those that want to succeed, if you’re already shooting one type of thing (that doesn’t sell) really really well, then it’s relatively easy to shift over to shooting something else (that sells) and figuring out how to shoot that really really well, too. If a photographer is motivated enough to really turn photography into a business, it’s what you have to do.

Scott lives and breathes photography, and it’s really no different than running any other kind of business. If you want it to be successful (really successful), you need to live and breathe the subject matter. You need to work harder than the competition – and there’s a lot out there when it comes to photography these days – to make yourself stand out above the rest and prove that you’re dedicated and can deliver on your client’s demands.

The funny thing about posts like this and videos like Scott’s… They tend to work as qualifiers that allow people to self-identify.

If you read this post, watched Scott’s video and thought to yourself “Meh, they’re full of it”, you’re probably in denial and good look to you. If, however, you thought “Hell yeah!” then you’re probably already on your way to success. Perhaps it’s already made you consider packing it all in – in which case, perhaps you should until you’re more determined. Or maybe it’s given you that determination to succeed already.

Have you considered quitting? Why did or didn’t you?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Here’s when and why you should quit photography”

  1. Marco Peixoto Avatar
    Marco Peixoto

    I never even considered it as a Profession, so I do whatever the F I want and have no one to please or report too ;)

    1. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
      Dunja Djudjic

      Marco Peixoto same here :) It’s been a hobby for the past 10+ years, I’ve never turned pro and never regretted it :)

    2. Marco Peixoto Avatar
      Marco Peixoto

      Dunja Djudjic I wanted too.. but a friend that was a Pro for most of his life told me 20 years ago: Stay Still… this is dying and it will be dead soon. Digital is amazing but its democratizing it, meaning it will lose its commercial value in no time.

      Glad I heard him :)

  2. Manuel Rego Avatar
    Manuel Rego

    I tried to turn pro but I’ve all but given up on photography, even as a hobby.

    The turning point for me was a few years ago. A multi-million dollar company contacted me wanting me to do some commercial work for them. The catch was that it was “exposure only”. I can understand another artist asking to collaborate but an established publicly traded company??! That experience left a really sour taste in my mouth. Since then I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone not only expects but demands that I work either with or for them for “trade” or “exposure”.

    Of all the gigs I’ve blindly done for “exposure” in the hopes it’d turn into something, not a single one has panned out. All I’ve ever received in return was other people or business looking for a handout.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about getting back into all this as just a hobby, but then my anxiety kicks in thinking about dealing with the crap that’s involved.

  3. Steve Tracy Snaps Avatar
    Steve Tracy Snaps

    Retired

  4. Smarten_Up Avatar
    Smarten_Up

    “Hobby” is one word, but I prefer to think of myself as a life-long (50+ years) AMATEUR, from the original French word ‘amare’, meaning “for the love of it…”

    For those who choose business, and succeed, good for them.

    Me, I’m “just” an amateur…