Suddenly, the photography job that you loved to do more than anything else, seems more like a burden. You want to give up. You drag yourself out of bed to face another unproductive and uninspiring photo shoot. The challenges of the photography industry seem to be outweighing your passion and you can’t help wondering: Should I be doing something else? Should I quit the photography business completely? Well, maybe you should. Then again, before quitting photography business question yourself with our 13 reasons to give up a photography business and do something else – it could be worth it because we also included some advice on how to overcome photography business challenges.
13 Reasons to Give up Photography Business and Do Something Else
1. Too Much Competition – Photographers on Every Corner
In your area alone, there are five photographers vying for business and a piece of the pie. How can you stand out above the rest and carve out some business for yourself?
One way is to do some homework on what they offer and their prices. Is there something you can offer, that they don’t?
Do you have a unique twist or trend that will appeal to younger couples or parents?
Cheaper, of course, does not always mean better, but working out some specials to capture some of the markets is worth it. Providing package deals which include a few services is always going to catch people’s attention and once you provide a great service, they will think of using you again.
2. Your Location
You live in a one-horse town and the horse has died. Or, you have a horse, but it’s a long gallop to civilization. Close to uprooting your family and relocating?
Here is what you can do to.
Is there something special about where you live that you can use as an attraction – perhaps you have a beautiful waterfall or mountains that would make a stunning backdrop?
Maybe you have quaint houses or an old mill. Maybe you have a tourist attraction that draws crowds. Depending on the distances, maybe clients would not mind driving somewhere for unique photographs. Look for any businesses such as wedding venues with bed and breakfasts, where you could offer package deals together.
The other option, of course, IS to relocate. That will take considerable thought – does the area you are moving too have a lot of photographers already? Will it be worth it in the long run so that you can cover the cost of your move? If faced with the option to either relocate or quit photography business completely what would you choose?
3. The Economy
Due to the economic slump, you have less and less clients who want to spend less and less money for the same service. You can’t blame them but this is no reason to give up photography completely. Times are tough. But you need to make a living too.
The first thing is to look at where you can cut expenses in your business.
Maybe you don’t need an assistant, or you have equipment lying around not being used. Either way, make the cuts. A lot of the time you have to travel to take photographs. Are you charging enough to cover your expenses? If not, then the job is actually not worth your time.
Are you running at a loss?
While this sounds contradictory, if you charge what you are worth (not overinflated) and get one job where you make a profit, it is better than getting two jobs where you make a loss. Value yourself and your service – that way, other people will too.
4. The Advance of Technology – the Decline of Art Photography
If someone asks you what you do for a living and you say, I’m a photographer – they might reply, well I love taking pictures too. After calming yourself down – you might reply – no, I am a professional photographer. Well, I take great pictures too, it’s so easy on my (latest phone). If these encounters didn’t make you give up photography so far, it is unlikely anything else will!
There are many amateur photographers out there. Many people are not even paying to have photographs taken and friends are just capturing moments on phones and sending or sharing them with each other on social media. As this is happening more and more, it seems even more likely that it will be harder to make a living from professional photography.
While the above may be true, if you really look at amateur photographs, the settings and feel are all the same. There is no depth or knowledge involved. Most amateurs know nothing about the technical aspects or history of photography.
To set yourself apart you need to learn all you can and upskill yourself on all aspects of the photographic industry.
Your knowledge and love you show for the craft will attract those wanting a professional and polished service. There is no shortcut to becoming a professional photographer.
5. Too Much Time with Not Enough Reward
You are working 24/7 with not much sleep and putting everything you have into your business. But it still feels like you have nothing to show for it. Too many bills and too few clients. The sacrifices are not equal to the rewards. You seem to spend a large part of your day doing admin work.
Setting aside an hour or two a day that is only for admin work and working systematically through emails and invoices in that time you will alleviate a lot of the stress. Also, then your day is mostly filled with dealing with clients and looking for a new business which means there is a more constant flow of work.
It is much easier to keep track of the admin work if your headspace is ONLY focusing on that for a few hours. If early morning works for you or late evening, either way, find some time and stick to it.
6. High Cost of Photographic Equipment
Like any other equipment, photographic hardware and software have increased in price.
If you are trying to come across as a trendy photographer keeping up with the times, lugging around antiquated equipment might spoil that image. Or so you would think.
How many clients actually know anything about photographic equipment and what the latest gear should look like?
Aren’t their minds more on the end product than on your heavily insured gear?
Sure, sometimes it is necessary to bite the bullet and invest to ensure quality. But does it have to always be new? Scout around reputable second hand online or other stores and compare. If you know it will not be feasible to immediately start increasing your charges or fees to offset the money spent on new gear, you need to seriously consider your options.
There is no guarantee of work, but you still have to pay back interest and finance charges on loans you might have taken out, along with the capital amount. Is the equipment worth the risk and does it add value to your business?
Related: Is Buying a DSLR Worth It?
7. Not Being Paid on Time or at All
It feels like you are forever chasing money.
While you ask for a deposit upfront before a job, you expect to be paid straight after the job is finished. Month-end is around the corner and clients do not seem to understand that if they do not pay on time or even worse, not at all, then it affects your cash flow.
One way to help a cash flow problem is to make sure that the deposit is more than half of the expected amount, only leaving one-third left at the end. Ensure that that is paid before you send the photographs. If you are shooting a wedding, you can maybe ask for full payment.
People pay upfront for flowers and catering, so it is always an option. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about payment. If you don’t, they won’t either! Make sure your contract with clients and invoices all state clearly that it is cash and that steps will be taken if payment is not made. Follow up promptly and use a debt tracer company if you need it.
8. Dealing with Difficult Clients
Just the thought of dealing with another fussy client with unrealistic expectations on a shoe-string budget is enough to see you heading for the hills. Or that overweight bride who expects to look slimmer and more beautiful in her wedding photographs than in real life – and the list goes on.
Emotionally you feel tired and just not up to facing people as it is a never-ending rollercoaster of changes, cancellations, and complaints.
Taking a step back when you feel like this is always helpful. Literally. Think about your interaction with your clients right from the beginning.
You need to be clear and confident about what you offer and what they are accepting. It must be written in a contract. You MUST stress the cancellation clause (you, of course, do have one, right?).
If a client complains, listen and take note but keep your cool and stay professional. Always keep an audit trail of correspondence whether on Facebook or any other message platform. Speak to the client in person or on the phone, not in an email. Acknowledge their frustration and try to clear up the confusion.
If you cannot come to an agreement and the client still needs to pay an extra amount but does not want to – do not back down. Rather look for alternative ways to cut costs elsewhere so that you stay on budget. Sometimes it is better to part ways.
Prevention is always better – so right from the start – go over every detail in detail!
9. Keeping Up With the Latest Trends
First, it was pictures of railway tracks, then underwater wedding pictures and now … well, who knows!
Unfortunately, if you are offering family pictures or weddings, you will have to step it up. If you have a client who wants a specific look and you have no idea what they are talking about you can lose that client with ease. You are not inclined to know, but there are many other photographers waiting in line.
This does not mean you have to know everything that is going on. Just be more aware of what is happening in the fashion and entertainment world and you will be ok.
Every few days watch entertainment news or even look at celebs latest wedding pictures or ideas. When someone asks for suggestions, you will then have some – and look cool in the process.
10. Optimizing Your Search Engine Options Online
When you type in photographers in (whatever town), and you are on page 20 of Google’s websites (example). Then when you type in your own name it is only marginally better, on page 15. If you have results close to these you are doing a bad job optimizing your website. Ask yourself this.
Have I invested any time or money to make sure the content and wording needed to ensure you will maintain visibility online when people search for photographers?
If not, it would make sense to hire someone to help you as this is an important marketing tool. Most website designers can help with this or even SEO experts. Find out what you have to consistently do to push yourself further up on Google’s listings.
Take time to sort this out. It is worth the effort and might make enough difference to persuade you not to quit photography. Your webpage needs to work for you and not the other way around.
11. You Find it Difficult to Market Your Photography Business
You still haven’t quite caught onto marketing, whether social media or otherwise. Or to be more accurate, you seem to be missing your targeted market.
Hundreds of flyers and Facebook posts and no response. What is going wrong?
Firstly, do you know who your targeted market is? Once identified, where will you find them? It used to be the printed page, it is now almost 100% online. You need to find blogs, e-magazines and web pages, for example, that cater for your target group. Placing an ad on a blog about divorced parents is not going to get you happy wedding photos.
Do your research and make your ad catchy, engaging and appealing. Think as your market does.
Apart from the market, maybe your photography business name is not good. Maybe it is not attractive enough. These days every detail matters, your photography name needs to relate itself with your photography style.
12. You Have Lost Your Mojo
What does this mean? It means you have lost that spark, that flare, that joyous feeling you used to get when it was just you and your camera.
You need to go back to those days. Haul out some old photos – those first printed ones stuck in a drawer somewhere. Maybe go somewhere where you used to love taking pictures. Talk to someone from that time and reminisce.
What was it that made you pick up a camera?
What was that feeling you got when you looked at a picture you had taken that meant something to you?
Like any relationship, sometimes looking back and remembering is a way of moving forward. Take a road trip, make new memories and recapture that lost love.
13. More Business Opportunities in Something Else
Your brother-in-law Ben has started an environmentally friendly water-saving company and has asked you to join him, capital in hand. You have actually seriously given it some thought, even though you do not like Ben. What does this mean?
It might be a direct consequence of some or all of the above points.
Taking stock of your life and business is never a bad thing. Unfortunately, making a living out of something we love does not always turn out as we anticipated. Things change around us and the industry we are in changes too.
Is it purely for financial reasons you are looking around? Is it because you do not love what you are doing anymore? Maybe, it does not ring true and has lost its authenticity.
Either way, making a change and taking a chance can be a good thing, provided you know why you are doing it.
Having a photographic career takes effort, time and considerable sacrifice.
Photography used to be seen by many as an art form – an expression of creativity and passion, or even bravery (going into war zones) in some cases – now it seems to have lost the prestige once associated with it.
Yet, thinking of quitting your photography career is possibly like saying to an artist that he must put his paint brushes away. Still, reality unfortunately prevails and what seemed like an obvious choice to you in previous years, now takes serious contemplation.
Can you face the challenges of a photography career or is it time to give up photography business?
Only you can decide. One thing is for sure – for many, packing their cameras away is the last resort.