Is Your Photography A Hobby?

Is Your Photography A Hobby?

Or is it a business? Or a pastime?

That’s an important question for you to ask yourself – fortunately you can do it quietly and no-one need hear your answer. But if you can get it straight in your own mind you have a much better chance of being successful and happy in the end.

If you are in the photo game as a business, the end result of it needs to be money. Money in your pocket…and more money in than out. You have to be a business person as well as a photography person. You need to make a product or do a service that people will pay for. You need to find those people, do the work, and get them to pay you. And you need to do this upon a constant basis – anything less is neglect of your own interest.

Sound daunting? It is, but then so is selling socks on a street corner. If you genuinely want to work in the photographic profession ( game, trade, racket, etc. ) you have to work at working. All day needs to be spent either doing, selling, scouting, or touting. If you are nervous or reticent you should find another way to earn money.

If, on the other hand you are looking at photography as a hobby you are not going to get paid for it. You are going to pay. Oh Boy, are you going to pay…and love doing it. Every catalogue you see, every web page, every visit to a photo shop will be a keen hunt for the new or the old – the cheap or the dear. You will learn to pounce or be pounced upon. And it’s a moot point which is more fun.

Hobbyists are passionate. Which really means slightly mad, but in a good way. They spend more than they ought to on goods they don’t need to do things that need not be done, and benefit greatly. A hobbyist is likely to jump up and make Ooh Ooh noises when they get a new idea or see a new bit of gear. The shop people are trained to recognise this sound and keep the credit card machine turned on in case they hear it. It is the sound of inspiration and delight.

And that’s where the hobbyist scores big. Inspiration. They might not have it as much as the working pro – because nothing inspires you faster than the need to eat – but when they do get the divine call, they can hare off and pursue it as much as they like. A hobbyist can become obsessed and no-one thinks ill of them. And the obsessions can lead to real results – look at what the fungi people who roam dark forests with macro cameras and flash guns can bring back.

There is always a danger when talking with the working pro that every conversation will descend into a sales pitch. With the hobbyist it can become  a plunge into single-mindedness. In both cases it is best to have your own images ready to defend yourself with.

And what of the third class of photographer? The pastimers. The people who take pictures because they have nothing else to do. Well, their results can give them away. If they are satisfied with a tourist shot of tourists, so be it. If their family group squinting into the sun under the Hills hoist is art to them, we wish them well.

It’s a free country, but only if you are prepared to pay.

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