I'm curious how you make a living so you can pursue your photography. If you are a professional photographer, I curious what it is that generates the most income? eg weddings, advertising, architecture..... Somehow I don't think many are earning enough to live on by selling fine art prints alone. Thanks to the fact that I don't have children and have a job as a teacher, I have some money left over for my hobby.
I'm retired and not (obviously) of today's generation of young turks; maybe my take's redundant.
I did weddings and passports and every goddamn thing that came my way for the first six months of working on my own.
One rainy Glaswegian afternoon at a wedding, standing on the steps in the gloom, awaiting the arrival of bride and Papa, I had this vision of David Bailey drive past slowly in his Rolls-Royce, smile at me and vanish into the murk.
So help me, I swore there and then that never, ever again would I do anything but that which had driven me to become a photographer and go solo: fashion photography and anything to do with girls.
I’d never shot a single fashion pic in my life but I had absolutely no doubt that I could and would. And then I did. Didn’t make me rich and it was a dying market because most of the Scottish knitwear industry, once huge, was being swallowed up by English groups and the work moving south to England, both photographic and manufacturing. As that work shrank I decided to try calendar design and production for a couple of fashion clients as an adjunct to shooting their twice-a-year ranges and that took off and, from there, I moved outwith fashion and I ended up doing nothing else but calendars for some years. Much better return than fashion ever offered – in my world, at least. The calendars also supplied most of the product for my photo stock with Tony Stone.
I also used calendar product for holiday brochures of which there were a few doing the rounds for a some years, mainly after I left the UK to live in Mallorca. I shot hotels and apartments too, for these productions, but as with everything, that changed and photo-students began to do it for the trips… no money, just slavery abroad for a week or so.
Yeah, as a business, it has been going south for almost as long as I can remember. When I started, I just didn’t know that for most of us, the best had already been. The supers always did and still do very well, but that’s life in the art industries. And there’s one of the really important issues: we sometimes aren’t quite aware that we are in an industry, where all the industrial laws of profit and loss apply just as seriously as in farming, a grocery shop or for Boeing.
In retrospect, I think I did the right thing: play for the big one, the one you think you can’t live without, and if it doesn’t roll your way, get out with as little pain as you can and do something normal, probably boring but with reasonably secure tenure and a handy little pension at the end of days! But, if it’s art, never settle for second-best because you’ll probably end up hating yourself for your own betrayal.
I see folks around me here with several pensions, reasonable health and comfortable lives. None were photographers. It doesn’t look such a bad deal now…