Exposure Doesn’t Pay Bills

Do I envy photographers?  Not a chance.

Being a stylist is not easy, but it’s manageable. Sourcing materials, prepping a project, juggling budgets, time management, digital communications, and the inevitable job changes requires a creative mind and resourceful intelligence while trying to remain calm and polite. On the other hand, being a commercial photographer requires a person who willingly walks a fine line between genius and masochism.

Excluding high profile photographers that show up only to press the little button, an established commercial photographer’s job description includes but is not limited to:

  • Strong creative voice or vision
  • Maintaining strong technical skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Accounting and bookkeeping skills
  • Manage production budgets, contracts, and usage
  • Self Promotion, marketing, networking, and grooming existing clients
  • Ability to educate clients on basic production costs, protocol, and processes
  • Ability to give and receive effective criticism on personal work and concepts
  • Translate and communicate the client’s concepts into their personal creative vision and THEN communicate this same message into actionable tasks for the CREW who is hired facilitate this visual story
  • Of course, effective multi-tasking

Yeah!  That’s a lot of hats!  Simultaneously, they are being approached by for profit businesses to work for free! (non-profit work is at the discretion of the photographer).  In my experience photographers do not like saying no; they want to help; they want to do EVERY job that will either give them a strong piece for their book or gain exposure in a certain market they are trying to break.  Taking time away from their long list of non-paying, behind the scenes job duties can actually cost them money.

I have to hand it to all of the commercial photographers and directors out there, I admire your perseverance and tact in handling your business while keeping your creative wheels turning.  It is a rare talent.


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