Making a Living as a Nature Photographer 2021 Part II

Photo of Jack Graham teaching other photographers at a location workshop in the desert, with mountains in the background.
Teaching at a location workshop.

By Jack Graham

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.

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Making a Living as a Nature Photographer 2021, Part I

Photo of Jack Graham teaching other photographers at a location workshop in the desert, with mountains in the background.
Teaching at a location workshop.

By Jack Graham

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.

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Six Scams Photographers Should Avoid

Image by Gerd Altman, Pixabay license

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

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.

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How Professional Photographers Are Dealing With the COVID-19 Crisis – Part 2

Jon Holloway owns and operates the sundance Gallery in Greenwood, SC.
Jon Holloway owns and operates the sundance Gallery in Greenwood, SC.

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.)

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Finding Yourself Needing to Connect Virtually?

Image of computer opened to webinar.
Webinars, videoconferences and other technologies help photographers connect with clients and fans.

by Teresa Ransdell, NANPA Membership Director

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.

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Five Big Reasons to Get a Portfolio Review

Portfolio reviews are an essential part of growing as a photographer.

Portfolio reviews are an essential part of growing as a photographer.
Sign up for one at NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show.

A portfolio review is when a professional photographer, photo editor or agent examines and critiques your carefully-curated portfolio of top images.  Reviews are often available at photo conferences, including NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show, where you can sign up for a portfolio review with one of more than 20 top-notch photography professionals.  But, why would you want to do this?

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From the Archives: Making a Living as a Nature Photographer

© Michael Struble

© Michael Struble

 

Story and photographs by Jack Graham

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 publications@nanpa.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.).
  • Become known.
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Being a Mom and a Photographer

Story and Photographs by Margaret Gaines

Sarah attempting to get all wet without rolling on the ground. I took this image at the end of a hike celebrating the last day of summer vacation. © Margaret Gaines

Sarah attempting to get all wet without rolling on the ground. I took this image at the end of a hike celebrating the last day of summer vacation. © Margaret Gaines

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

NHSSP: Fostering My Future Aspirations

Story and Photographs by Lione Clare

Steelwool Image © Lione Clare

Steelwool Image © Lione Clare

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

Advancing Your Photography Through Mentorships

Story and Photography by Margaret Gaines

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