Just the sort of words to make most people sit up and pay attention!
But, thankfully, THEY ARE NOT MY WORDS!
Seeing an adverstisement placed locally in which a professional photographer was selling some top-end camera equipment, one item of which was of interest to me, I became curious as to why. The most 'interesting' items on the list, the ones that had raised my curioisity in the first place - top quality 'life-long' lenses - were just not the sort of thing that a pro would normally be selling, unless they were either changing brands, or going back to some sort of purist film roots.
Intruiged, I popped round to take a look at the equipment. In short, the lady selling the equipment told me her story, that she'd trained and successfully worked as a freelance interior designer for many years. With a passion for photography, the bug bit her four years ago at which point she traded the drawing board for the digital sensor and became a professional photographer, as many do. Again, her talented exploits were largely successful earning her a decent enough living from mainly family lifestyle portraiture.
"....so why are you selling these lenses and this other equipment?" I wanted to know.
"Because, although I traded successfully and business was good, doing photography professionally has robbed me of my passion for it, and that is too much of a loss to bear. I'm going back to interior design, specialising in curtain making, but keeping photography as a hobby."
I admired her for honesty and the decision that she'd come to.
I didn't end up buying any of the equipment she was selling - wrong brand, mostly, but I came away thinking there is such a strong lure to becoming a professional photographer. To the onlooker it has such a high glamour rating, but it is truly not the glamorous profession that it is purported to be.
I've met a number of professionals who have 'hit the wall' and find that photography as a living is neither fulfilling nor rewarding. That which the hobbyist photographer enjoys doing 100% - taking pictures, reduces to about 12.5%, according to one survey, in the life of the professional photographer. Most of the working week is spent on running the business - working under pressure to meet tight deadlines, networking, drawing up proposals, bookkeeping, maintaining equipment, editing.....often, for many, also the world of 'good enough' rather than of striving for perfection. Place all that in the context of one of the most competitive markets and career choices one could possibly make, with both amateurs and professionals vying for work, the enormous expense of equipment and back-up, insurance, and so on, and you've got to ask why anybody would logically choose photography as their profession.
I believe the force that keeps freelance, professional photographers 'going on' (more often than not subsidised by the real bread-winner) is a true, sustaining passion for the art. A passion that will not become eroded by the aggressive commercial world in which it operates.
Reality check is crucial, but often the best way into a career as a professional photographer is to undertake commissions or produce your own work for sale, alongside having another job.
The moral of this story is don't let yourself be robbed of your passion of photography in pursuit of the myth that professional photography is a glamorous career.