How to make it in photography: sell overpriced bullshit to photographers

Have you heard?

fStoppers is holding an amazing photography workshop and conference at the end of May. Seriously. This is an event not to miss.

The greatest of the great will be there. Aaron Nace. Dixie Dixon. John Keatley. Mark Wallace. Michael Grecco. Mike Kelley. Peter Hurley, to name a few. They’ll be there to teach you the intimate and intricate details of photography that you, yes you, can integrate into your workflow, your inspiration, your perspective and your idea set.

It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge while visiting an exotic location.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that the workshops are all to take place in Nassau, Bahamas?

Yeah, you’ll get to learn from these greats in paradise.

How much does it cost? You ask bright eyes and bushy tailed.

Well, you gotta get there. So there’s airfare. And per night at the selected hotels is generally $200/night. A little less at the budget hotel and a little more at the other.

You’ll be in resortland, so add in over-priced food to your budget.

Oh, and you’ll be in the fucking Bahamas, so if you’ve got kids, a spouse or a girlfriend or boyfriend (or both), you have to take them. Because who tells their spouse that they’re going to an important photography conference in the Bahamas, and I gotta do it alone.

How much is the conference? You ask with furrowed brow. 

That’s a good question. The menu for classes is a la cart. So a two-day seminar with Aaron Nace on how to plan your  dream photo shoot is $1500. One day to learn to light the Keatley way will set you back $750. Four-hours learning to shoot interiors like Mike Kelley, a measly $400.

Do the rough math for Tina and I to go — and for just me to attend workshops — add up airfare, miscellaneous travel expenses (cabs, trains, dog sitters, a beer at O’Hare, an Egg McMuffin in transit), accommodations, overpriced resort food, and a menu of outrageously priced photography workshops packing your days while you’re visiting fucking paradise … so now you gotta stay three or four extra days to soak up the sun and see the sights … I’m guestimating dropping between $12,000 and $15,000.

Let’s do some more math.

How many photographers do you know who do photography full time?

I do. That’s one.

I recently attended a bar powwow that my buddy Bill organized for photographers. Out of the ten photographers in attendance, I think three of us were full time. Three.

The average income of a photographer, I’ve heard is around $50k. On this site, it’s $25,000.

So let’s pretend that the average income for photography is around $35,000. Our income happens to be on a higher end of the spectrum, but we’ve been doing it for a while.

I personally don’t have $12,000 to $15,000 to spend, so I’d have to use credit or not go. If I depleted $12k to $15k, that’s much more than my average budget for gear, replacement gear, expenses, gas, mortgage, shoes, food for Talulah, a meal or two, other travel, other expenses.

Part of my point, though, is that more photographers are hobbyests and part-timers than full-timers. And what’s more attractive than spending five to ten days blowing hard earned dough in Nassau?

The target for a gig like this are photographers who are yet to make it. So they are probably on the low-end of that income level or they’re working a full-time job hoping to break into photography full time.

And what’s going to set a part-time photographer back from going full time more than blowing a shit-ton of cash on a frivolous vacation/workshop trip to goddamn Bahamas, where you’ll be sitting around watching Aaron Nace remind you a thousand times a second why you suck and he’s a genius.

This effort is literally the most egregious wannabe-photographers ripoff I’ve seen in a long, long … long time.

There’s so much shit, and I mean horse shit, marketed toward photographers, a herd of creative people nearly going extinct in the most rapidly changing market that it’s faced since Mathew Brady published images of dead soldiers during the Civil War and blew up how awful war is.

What fStoppers and all the photographers at the workshops are doing is a grift. They’re hustling a crapload of hopeful photographers into a den of thievery.

This workshop should be in a place and in a pricepoint that makes more financial sense for the market that they are targeting. As it is, they are handicapping the hopeful, pie-in-the-sky next generation by sucking their wallets/accounts/credit dry as an Arizona desert.

Because, as it seems, the way to make it in the photography world … is to literally sell hope and other garbage to sanguine photographers.

Yes. This means I’m not going. And I’m sure fStoppers and the rest could give two shits if a guy like me was there.

But if you are going, consider yourself hustled. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot. A ton, really. If the cost isn’t prohibitive to you, good for you.

I hope what you learn turns that $15,000 into a bottomless trough of clients with fat photography accounts and endless photographic and creative pleasure.

My recommendation is go to Nassau. Skip the workshops and buy every single one of Aaron Nace’s online videos.

You’ll save a ton, learn a lot and get a better tan.

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