A Useless Hobby?

I stumbled upon this thread while reading a public forum for pro-digital photographers online…

The poster’s experience touches a question that’s in the mind of a lot of aspiring photographers these days: “How far can my photography hobby take me and is it really worth it to fully pursue my passion and love for photography?”

The responses ranged from profound and passionate to outright silly. There was a short exchange with posters arguing over his lack of proper paragraph formatting which prompted this reaction from one irritated poster:

“To all you english majors on this forum. If thats all you have to offer the OP for his comments, why not show us what you can do writing a post in his/her native language. For crying out loud, get a life!”

All the silliness aside, there are some valuable thoughts in a lot of the responses that, if not for their assumed wisdom, may put things in perspective. Here are some of them:

“Whatever we do in our spare time should contribute to our overall well being. I do far more for personal enjoyment than for money. The latter covers equipment and that is good enough for me as long as I have a full time job.

I don’t want to even think about the void that would be created in my life without photography. It’s a way to express, to communicate, to meet new friends, to see the world, and to unwind from the stresses of other challenges in life.”

“Photography is a solitary art form. It’s uncommon to collaborate with others on purely personal projects. It’s not like, say, music, where friends can get together and actually create something which cannot be created by just one person alone. With such solitary endeavors, it’s not uncommon that they are most often enjoyed solely by the one who created it”

“If I insisted on getting money for this, it would not happen, there is no money. There’s plenty of need for dedicated volunteers to fill that lack of money in field biology work, and your camera is part of that. So don’t say there are no rewards other than money to photography. There’s plenty if you look for rewards other than money. “

“…I think your premise was off to begin with…why would you think that you could make a living in photography as a relative beginner simply by shooting what you want?…the vast majority of photographers don’t get to choose their subject matter for a living…you can work in a specific genre but to go out on your own dime to shoot and expect to make a living is only attained by a precious few…”

“It is rough out there to make a living doing this. And getting rougher every day with every new rebel or D50 sold and someone that thinks they are good. They hang out a shingle, advertise for free on CL. They go do any CL listing for photographer and fall for the portfolio thing and you will make so many contacts routine. 6 months later, they quit but 3 more take their place.”

“If I was paid for everything I personally enjoy doing, I would be so rich (and lazy) that I probably would no longer be involved in the wonderful enjoyment of Photography that has been so nice now and over the past 60 years.”

“If photography is something you want to do for a living, stop thinking of it as a hobby and start researching what it takes to make money from doing it. You’ll probably find opportunities to shoot things that don’t perfectly fit in your area of interest. Either accept those gigs to earn income or, if you can afford to, let them go to protect your artistic integrity. My guess is that most photographers start out shooting all sorts of things to gain income and experience before carving out a niche for themselves in a single artistic direction — same goes for pretty much any creative profession (actors, musicians, dancers, artists, etc.)”

“Hobbyists have passion, that’s why they keep doing what they’re doing, in any area be it knitting, cooking, or model trains. Why is there so often the almost instant assumption with camera hobbyists that there is money to be made here?
If you don’t have the passion, then giving it up and moving on to something you enjoy is the best thing. Don’t expect publications and agencies to come knocking at your door because you entered a few contests. Making a transition to paid work these days does not happen overnite. It takes grit and hard work, sometimes years of it.”

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