Making Money in Photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Berkeley Mike, Jun 7, 2018.

Does it make more sense to train to make money in Film or Digital Photography?

Poll closed Sunday at 4:26 PM.
  1. Film Photography

    1 vote(s)
    3.0%
  2. Digital Photography

    32 vote(s)
    97.0%
  1. Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member

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    I teach photography at a local college. Ours is a vocational program, that is, we develop photographers who can go out into the world and make money. So, I thought I would ask you all this question:


    In the greater Photographic industry and marketplace, is it more practical to train to make money in Film or Digital Photography?

    Let's assume that you want to make a living as a photographer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The USA hold a special position concerning´analog photography training in general.

    Over here darkrooms in instutions offering a vocational training typically have been closed.
     
  3. OP
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    Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member

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    I knew this would happen. :wink: Let's assume that you want to make a living as a photographer. Now if we could manage to avoid rehashing Film vs. Digital we can get something done here.
     
  4. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Film is a niche which is nice to have as an add-on to digital. Remember we are talking about earning a living day in and day out.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    GOOD LUCK !
     
  6. OP
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    Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member

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    Thank you jnanian. I hope for a bit of discussion but mostly for a clear vote.
     
  7. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    Virtually all commercial work today is digital. That is what I would concentrate on if i were teaching photography at a vocational college. Film has its place in a fine arts oriented program, as film is still used by many artists, but not in a program that teaches students to do commercial work of any kind.
     
  8. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    Money will come in either digital or analogue practice. What is really the meat in the sandwich is the photographer's skill and knowledge of what he/she photographs and how that subject matter is brought to life, particularly printing. Printing is where your skills as a photographer will be on clear display, and those skills should present no trouble at all transferring from one method to the other.

    The thread will no doubt become another film vs digital debate completely missing what really matters in going into business and making a steady income from photography, irrespective of which method, or both, is employed.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    most commercial / assignemnt &c work is done digitally, there is really no point in teaching film work at a vocational school if
    99% of the clients WANT and USE digital files. It is a great skill to have ( using film, processing film, printing or scanning film ) and
    a fun hobby, but unless you are doing something no one else does, and you have a market for yourself ( like alternative process work, wet plate work,
    printmaking ) it is a niche that isn't as active as digital image making if it is to make $$ then it should be digital you teach, if it a hobby or something &c and not necessarily to make money
    then it should be film type work... i am saying this as someone who does freelance work, with a foot in both worlds. assignments used to be film but fewer and fewer labs do e6
    ( which is what clients want, unless they want archival images )and who knows what the film supply will be like down the road. digital is now and the future.
    <slept, added late + realized afterwards other people said somethng similarr>
    you might want to teach them marketing so no matter what they gravitate towards they will be
    able to make some $$ at it. schmoozing, editing, editing, portfolio building .. getting an audience...
    not sure if your class will include those things, .. it should :smile:

    have fun !
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Hybrid. Enlarged digital negative (inkjet) to hand-made process...silver gelatin, cyanotype, carbon, etc.

    So, train in both computer use and darkroom work.
     
  11. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I was searching for the right words to express my (layman's) view. No wonder I couldn't find them - Chris found them first.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you are teaching photographic skills, I would strongly recommend teaching both.
    If you are teaching photography as a vocation, accept only those students who can prove that they have photographic skills, and concentrate on teaching them how to apply those skills in the existing marketplace, which is heavily weighted toward digital product.
    As most of what you are teaching in a vocational program should be oriented toward the business and marketing requirements, it won't matter a lot if some of your students choose to do all or part of their work with film.
     
  13. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    Making money in photography has nothing to do with film or digital.

    Making money everywhere and anywhere - it is about channeling, marketing, getting to the right circles, socializing and so on. It is sales, not creation of the product (photography).
    I have seen totally giftless computer graphics artists been used to make big money just because graphics company boss knew how to get contract from broadcasting company. Crappy graphics, huge money paid.

    I see some local photographers taking boring portraits and staying in business. Our for sale home was photographed by so-so photographer, but he is in the system and he knows his tools and applications. Lousy pictures - who cares, he is nothing but trades. Quick, cheap, mass made.
    They are all making money and they are nothing special photogs. And here is nothing wrong with it. We need just pictures, not art from them.

    I have seen those who went to old school photography university programs, I used leftover chemicals and film after them, they never made it to photography.
    In the opposite, one of my long time colleagues left broadcasting business and years later became photog taking pictures of mansions and yachts on West Coast. He learned sales while in broadcast and how to connect with people as well and it took him years to get to this level of commercial photography.

    So, I'll put it this way - for trade like photography - bang, bang, bang, gig, gig, gig or if you need to take twenty toilets pictures in the mansion and every tiny bolt on the yacht - digital is more sofficent.
    For art, which is not about quick bucks and looking at 1:1 details most and foremost, analog forms of media are still preferable. I see it in the galleries and museums.
    And it is much more broader than just film.
    OP needs to get to this Phortio symposium exhibition in Toronto, to see how huge spector of art in photography is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
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    Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member

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    I will not comment as it will effect the poll. I look forward to more input from you all.
     
  16. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

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    You can’t be serious. Commercial photography is digital photography.
    Do I like it? No. I’m a film guy, I like the feel and process. I don’t want to sit in front of a computer anymore than I already do. But getting into the business of commercial photography— there is no choice.
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Out of those making a living from photography I do not know in person one photographer who makes a living from analog photography, and only very, very few who use it as part of their commercial work.
    This includes those who started their career with film.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  18. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    This is true. This is how money is made. If those students want to pay bills, pay the rent, put food on the table, this is what they need to know.

    It helps if they are skilled -- but having skills and not being able to sell what you produce brings no money. It is better to be unskilled and be able to sell your work than to be skilled and make no sales. Sad but true.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  19. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    I know one, who has his photos in museums, galleries and private collection.
    And another one who is paid by digital photography of art products and spend most of free time for art photography with film Leica. Her art is in museums, but she makes no money from it.
    Making money with regular photography by digital splited long time ago from doing art with non digital.
     
  20. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Am I the only one who finds it curious that someone with 35 years of photography business experience asks such a basic question. I’m puzzled.

    “Commercial Photographer for 35 years, from Catalogue, Products and Computers to Corporate and Portraiture. Born in film and evolved to digital. Now teaching and administrating at a college.”

    Looking forward to other discussions with you, Mike... you have a lot to offer the forum. This question, though, seems to answer itself.
     
  21. jonasfj

    jonasfj Member

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    Someone above said that 99% of all commercial work is digital. I think this is a reasonable estimation, perhaps slightly low. However, there are many photographers who make a good living shooting film, probably more in fine-art than product photography.

    Still, I think it is pretty difficult to make a living as a photographer. I have not been able to do it. My wife does. It takes her places and let´s her meet interesting people, but it does not make her a fortune. You need to create great photographs, but you also need to be able to find your way around, find the customers, market your skills, ability and product.

    The proper question should probably be reformulated:

    Does it make sense to train to make money in Photography?
     
  22. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    That’s a different, but very important question! I said same in what was once the first response in this thread (now deleted)... that resulted in the “I knew this would happen...” post. Clearly, the OP wants to avoid this part of the discussion. I work for a corporation that once had a large photography unit. The last still photographer was recently terminated. He converted from film to digital about 20 years prior to his termination... for all but a few fun/personal efforts. He was replaced by videographers who educate/inform the corporation via You-tube style video clips. There are as many of them today as there were still photographers back in the good-old-days. They are thriving. Any need for stills are satisfied with video frame captures. This is an unfortunate reality and I know our company isn’t unusual in this regard.
     
  23. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    The question seems to have the assertion that success in photography is based on ones choice of equipment as if building a house was solely based on ones choice of hammer. The synthesis of knowledge and skills necessary to figure out what to put in your hand in formidable. When my wife had to switch to digital I suggested she go directly to video but the technical issues even for still images was a difficult transition which has really never been resolved.
     
  24. michr

    michr Member

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    I think you'd be leading someone astray promising work in photography but teaching only analog processes. The vast majority of photography work is digital, and even much analog work gets digitized for post-production or printing. Photographers in the 1950s weren't pouring their own plates, they were studying what was contemporary at the time, which was film. Sure, analog processes could be used an avenue to distinguish oneself from the crowd these days. In the last year, I paid for a portrait on 5x7 tintype, for example. The principles of photography apply to both analog and digital. But good luck getting a job in the photography business if you can't pick up a Nikon or Canon and use it.
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

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    My impression after talks to commercial photographers is that they have no chance offering film based photographs even if the deadline is weeks away.
    Clients want a file and even want to follow the taking in real time.
    Another argument from photographers who started with film, is that they would have much higher costs if working with film and so far had not found a single client who would pay for such, the time issue aside.
     
  26. OP
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    Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member

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    Sense? Sense!? Who said anything about sense?

    The responses are great, giving much food for thought.
     
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