In part one of this article, I covered some of the training and skills needed to become a professional nature photographer, gave some tips about marketing, and explored the various income streams available. If you haven’t already, it’s worth going back and starting there. Once you’ve absorbed part one, it’s time to dive into part two.
A few years back I authored an article about making a living as a nature photographer. It has been widely read, shared, and remains quite popular. Over the intervening 6 years or so, , the photography industry and the way we make our living has changed tremendously. It is time to do an update.
During times of economic disruption it always seems like there are more people trying to make some easy (if not ethical or even legal) money through scams. A couple of new swindles have recently been reported that are trying to separate photographers from their hard-earned money. And then there are the old favorites, back for another round. Here are six scams that are going around the photography community today.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit photographers hard. We reached out to some professional photographers to ask how the crisis has affected their businesses. We also wanted to know how they were adapting—both their own lives and their businesses—to the challenges of these difficult times.
We recently spoke with Jon Holloway, a fine art photographer and teacher in Greenwood, South Carolina, who is also a NANPA Board Member and College Scholarship Program Committee Member. (See part one of this series here.)
Countless professional photographers are suddenly having to cancel trips, postpone workshops and reschedule face-to-face classes and presentations. How do you manage these unexpected challenges and find new ways to generate income or keep in touch with clients? Many are turning to virtual solutions. But, if you’re unfamiliar with the online choices, where do you start?
I connect virtually with people a lot. For nearly ten years I’ve worked remotely on a daily basis— for multiple nonprofit associations, their members, volunteers, and boards of directors. That means I’m not treading new ground in learning how to work from home or connect virtually with clients, as many people are today.
From the Editor: This article has consistently been one of NANPA’s most popular blog posts, despite being originally published in 2015. We bring it back in case you missed it the first time and to kick off an occasional series of articles on the business side of nature photography. If you have tips or ideas on running a successful nature photography business, share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am often asked if it’s possible to make a living as a nature photographer. No matter whether you attempt to do it as a full-time professional or a part-timer to supplement income from an existing job, there are many things to consider. Nature photography is a tough way to make a living. However if you do it right, you can make it work.
Both full-time and part-time photographers need to remember and understand these concepts:
You need to get really (and I mean really) good as a photographer. This takes many years of working hard. As the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson famously observed, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Be prepared to spend as much or more time in your office as in the field.
You must deal with rejection.
Full-time photographers can add these to the list:
If no one buys your work or attends your workshops, you don’t eat.
You have to know your market and change when necessary.
Develop business savvy.
Be able to justify expenditures such as travel, equipment and extensive marketing (website, social etc.).
About five years ago, I was taken aback when a female professional wildlife photographer somewhat condescendingly told me she didn’t think it was possible to be a professional nature/wildlife photographer and be a mother of young kids. I’d never met a woman who discouraged other women from following their dreams and trying to make it work, no matter what the obstacles. I was somewhat taken aback. While I can understand and admit that it’s sometimes challenging to get out in the field to photograph, I do not consider having kids a liability to anything I’ve wanted to do. When I met this lady I was near the beginning of my path, seriously following my heart to become a good photographer, and I’m glad I didn’t give up on the idea of being a photographer.
So in honor of the first day of the school year and having the house to myself, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how I’ve been able to mesh the two pursuits and make it work. Continue reading →
I was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, and fell in love with nature at a young age. My interest in photography began at thirteen and quickly developed into an avid passion that has awarded me many unique opportunities and winnings in local, state, and international contests, including the North Pacific Research Board (state) and Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year (international) photo contests. Continue reading →
Learning a craft used to happen under a master and apprentice relationship. The masters, experts in their fields, would accept apprentices to work under them and learn the trade or craft. The arrangement required the apprentice to live with or close to the master.
Through the years learning trades and crafts moved to schools. Books and teachers replaced the master and students were sent on our way to figure things out on our own. I love school and learning from books and teachers, and I taught myself photography from books and practice. But I also got to a point where I needed additional feedback from living people who cared about my photography and my goals and who could push me beyond my comfort zone, which is what mentorships are designed to do. And unlike centuries (or even decades) ago, mentors and protégés (or masters and apprentices) don’t necessarily need to be in the same place at the same time to have a meaningful relationship. Continue reading →