I am a hobbyist and don't make any money off of photography. I run a CNC lathe at a small machine shop. I have several ways of dealing with the cost of G.A.S. I live with my grandmother for 600usd a month. Living in a house with yard and garage sure beats 800+ and utilities for an apartment. I spend very little on clothes. Wal Mart and Goodwill are where I get most of my clothes. I bought a 3 year old car and paid it off in 3 years. It is a car that has very poor resale value(and very reliable)-Mercury Grand Marquis. And don't plan on getting another car anytime soon-it's only 7 years old now. I tend to buy gear and sell some of it later. But it seems what I want to buy is always more expensive than what I sold to fund it. The "poor man's lenses" are usually what I go after. I got a 50 1.4 for a small fraction of what a 50 1.2 costs. The 105 2.5 I have costs a small fraction of a 105 1.8. Give up 1/2-1 stop and save hundreds. And most of the photo gear I buy is used. I still have tube type TV's. Who cares if they're over 10 years old, they work just fine. I record my LP's to CD so I don't have to buy the CD of what I already have.
Just an obsession with me for the last sixty years.
LucRoMar and others:
This topic is more poignant than would appear due to the rarity of this subject being brought out into the open. Most who wish to broach the topic are embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they are so strapped and simply amazed with the money being spent out there. In the last decade or two there has been a monumental disparity between incomes and intimidation is profound, for many.
For myself, I have an obsession with finding needed stuff that costs little. As far as cameras and lenses go, the market is saturated with this stuff and deals are to be had,unless you look only at the prices for B&H's (and others') used equipment! I use bare essentials: a Meopta 35mm enlarger that takes easy to buy 211 or 140 lamps. Raw chemicals (metol, HQ, sodium sulfite, sodium carbonate (washing soda)... And B&W paper: you cannot find cheaper than Adorama's house brand. I wait for deals (craigslist or local) for film, especially 100 ft rolls. My own circumstances are past embarrassment in that, despite having an Accounting degree and passing the CPA Exam, a position is nonexistent, and I want to wait until 70 before tapping into Social Security because the current rate is very low. Of course, age is the most defiled attribute one can possibly have in this job market.
For the younger folks who are intimidated by those who seem to have endless amounts of cash to spend: oftentimes that is the result of not spending elsewhere or, yes, some of us really do have good incomes. But try to learn how to take advantage of deals and learn to spot them. Be careful not to waste film: i cut rolls in the dark and load with tape so that I do not waste 5 frames every time I load. Be careful not to waste paper: do tests on only a small cut of paper, not a whole sheet. And mix chemicals: I use volume calibrated in ml, rather than having to buy a scale. Learn the metric equivalents (spoon measuring = 5ml per teaspoon and 15ml per tablespoon. Or, better, get a tiny calibrated tube for accurate volumetric measurements.
Life is NOT fair but that does not have to mean that you do not get to take part. Let the rich folks have their expensive cameras. They just might not take better pictures. - David Lyga
I'm a semi-pro-hobbyist, I suppose you would say.
I spend most of my time at my day job working with Illustrator and Photoshop. I run a small studio in my office where I take all our product photos for our website, as well as print publication. That's all done in digital.
Outside of work, I create photographs for my own pleasure. My style, to the extent I have one, is to be extremely deliberate in setting up the scene. Within limits, nothing is left to chance. Over the past few months, those efforts have gone entirely back to film. This photograph is the first final product from my return to film.
As far as money goes, my investment in digital (Nikon D7000, Nikkor f/2 105 DC lens, lots of software, studio lighting) was covered by my company (which I own). My spending on analog is really pretty minimal.
PS: I should add...On a relatively frequent basis I get asked to shoot this or that, including weddings. No chance. I'd rather enjoy what I do than worry about getting paid. The greatest freedom of all is being able to work to your own ends. The thought of having to accommodate someone else's tastes horrifies me.
Dreaming of being a successful photographer, trying to actually make some money from my passion, I tried for a while to reach out and have prints sold. Back in 2008, just before my divorce, I actually broke even with my photography, and made a little bit more money than I spent.
I stopped chasing that dream, because often decisions were made based on what might sell, and not what was in my heart. So from now on I only ever make prints of photographs that I love myself, and let the rest fall as it may. If somebody wants to buy my work - great. If not, at least I'm happy with my accomplishment.
So I'm strictly an amateur, with a few sales here and there. I certainly do not aspire to become a professional.
I'm sort of in the same boat as Thomas. I've never really tried selling work and doubt my type of photography would get much gallery/buyer interest, so I do it for myself. I have to admit I might be more inclined to try to sell if I had more of a "portfolio" together, some kind of cohesive (?) body of images I could carry around and show. I probably haven't focused enough on that sort of thing in recent years although I could put something together if I just buckled down and did it. But I'm a pretty slow worker. I'm hypercritical and generally make relatively few images in comparison to most people. The other obstacle to seriously marketing myself is scanning. I suck at it and it never looks any good. Unfortunately it seems most galleries want to see scans before they see prints.
If I had to pay from job income, with a family to support I would not do nearly as much. I'm old, not a pro. But I saved up some $ over the years.
Bottom line...I either spend it myself...or leave it for someone else to spend for me.
My professional working life commenced in 1992 and ended in 2010. It is a nose-to-the-grindstone occupation that I would never take up now I am "semi-retired",but still active with the wisdom of experience behind me. I tell others "don't do it!". I do have a story to tell, and wrinkles that confirm that story.
From beginning, during and right to the end I had the support of family which provided the financial foundations for the business through a Trust Fund (which still operates). Start-up capital was provided by the Government's New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (at that time) and a Business Incubator Grant from the National Association for the Visual Arts (an Australian arts body). It's one thing to be jumping with glee when the first cheque comes along, but quite another to stretch it over several weeks until the next prospective sale comes along! Not helped with bills to pay. All during this time, the car was being used for up to 1400km of travel each fortnight and eventually became so unreliable through mileage and wear and tear that we had to make a tilt at the Trust Fund to purchase another — at the same time I announced I was retiring from professional photography. There would never have been any sort of business without those first couple of injections of start-up capital. I had a small shop in Castlemaine (country Victoria) in which I shared with three other artists as an outlet through which word could be viewed and purchased. It's all history now and I'm bloody relieved I'm out of it!!
The horror of the current age is the threat that digital has over traditional analogue production: people can buy a top-line digital camera and with very little training (and leaving everything to the camera to decide!) come back with an image that, with my bet on two shakes of a lamb's tail, will be as good as if not better than the time- and labour-intensive art produced from analogue in a wet darkroom. It might be romantic, artful, skilled and beautiful work, but it is up against mightily stiff competition that is all too ready to pounc. At least in all my time I had access to analogue labs for printing (which was excruciatingly costly: fancy living on a boiled egg each week?). Work was sold by way of mouth to a small number of clients that had first met me in 1997 and proverbially "followed me around". Placinig work up on the web for sale only resulted in that work being pirated and called the art of some other imposter, which annoyed the hell out of me: I pulled all of my web presence in 2005.
The crux of the matter is that if you are going to be an analogue practitioner and make a living from it, you have to have a certain, definable, definite edge over the competition of digital. Being an artisan is not enough in our times, nor being an artisan who loves his work and puts heart and soul into it: people can do the same thing, faster, easier, better and cheaper than payingn an "old school" analogue master. Sad but true. Yes, there are a few here on APUG that will swear they have the market cornered in analogue as active professionals, but others too, will leave film to the hobby side of their interest while digital takes care of business.
I never recovered from the economic crash and gas price run-up of 2008. I just exist now. I could actually handle the photo supply prices, but it takes gasoline to get to where the pictures are. So, effectively, it has ended.