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LotusEsp
14-Jan-2016, 11:44
I'm wondering if high end photography and that which actually takes a lot of effort/thought (i.e. LF :)) - can be anything other than a hobby for anyone not already shooting 'week in week out' as their job?

by that I mean, a new photographer without any existing clients or sales, being able to make a living from shooting landscapes/travel etc
I already have a successful current career, not in Photography, but if I were ever to change to try something else full time it would have to be something special (plus I have kids and a mortgage that need feeding)

are there markets out there for photographers who dont want to shoot weddings or products anymore?

I know certain photography employment has vanished (news being one) but I've heard some ad agencies wanting their stuff shifted back onto film rather than shot digitally - but that's for medium format most likely (and probably just hipsters in the ad agency trying to be retro)

just curious

edit: I should clarify; I use the word 'pro' to mean someone who has the majority of their income generated from their photography - not someone who has sold a couple of stock photos in the last 5 years.

Alan9940
14-Jan-2016, 11:52
I guess there are niches that one can fall into...after all, some folks make money selling iPhone photos. I know a couple of local landscape photographers who do quite well; I'm not one of 'em! :) I guess I'll repeat what my mentor told me 30+ years ago: "To tell a photographer that they could earn a living selling personal work would be just cruel." There are exceptions, though. My advice would be to keep your day job, keep working at photography, and, maybe, some day the balance will shift and you'll be on your way.

Good luck!

Kirk Gittings
14-Jan-2016, 11:54
Half my income comes from B&W landscape photography-the rest from commercial work. BUT I've been at this a long and am well established-for a loooong time started in 78. The question is can someone new do this?

vinny
14-Jan-2016, 12:31
most of pro's I know who make a living at it derive most of their income from showing others how to make photographs ie workshops.

Vaughn
14-Jan-2016, 12:42
One question I have; In the history of photography, has there ever been a new photographer who could make a living off of just landscape photography?

I do not think so.

Kirk Gittings
14-Jan-2016, 12:49
One question I have; In the history of photography, has there ever been a new photographer who could make a living off of just landscape photography?

I do not think so.

Excellent point. It takes decades.

bentbikr
14-Jan-2016, 12:53
Ansel Adams. It took him about six years, and his wife had income from the Yosemite store.

bob carnie
14-Jan-2016, 13:05
Ed Burtynsky comes to mind as a example of someone making his sole income from his landscape work.

John Kasaian
14-Jan-2016, 13:07
I knew a gentleman who raised his family by shooting food products. Food photography is sort of like landscape photography, only you can fit it on a table and lunch comes with the job :o

John Kasaian
14-Jan-2016, 13:09
...then again, there is black mail! :rolleyes:

Kirk Gittings
14-Jan-2016, 13:20
Ed Burtynsky comes to mind as a example of someone making his sole income from his landscape work.

I thought he also owned a photo lab?

And how long did it take before he could make a living at it. It took me about 3 years or so but I had a working wife and my "living" was pretty minimal for many years.

bob carnie
14-Jan-2016, 13:27
I think Ed - still has his work printed there and he may have an office Studio in the same building but he is a whole industry to himself and is extremely busy with his personal work.

I would say he exploded on the Scene and started to make real money around 2001 - which meant the Lab supported him for about 15 years.

I always use him as an example of an overnight sensation and it only took him 20 years.



His ex wife has been running Toronto Image Works for a few years now and is doing a fantastic job.

I think in most cases 15 years is a good timeline if you are serious and have talent and drive.



I thought he also owned a photo lab?

And how long did it take before he could make a living at it. It took me about 3 years or so but I had a working wife and my "living" was pretty minimal for many years.

Alan9940
14-Jan-2016, 13:30
Ansel Adams. It took him about six years, and his wife had income from the Yosemite store.

I don't believe Ansel made any real money with his photography until into the 70's; and, at that time, he was nearing or into his 70's! Over the years, he did many commercial jobs and wrote books to help support his family. The Best family (his wife Virginia) was wealthy and I'm sure the store in Yosemite did well. I think the point is is that most photographers have to pursue many paths in order to earn a living. I spent my entire career in IT and did photography as a hobby. I've done the occasional portrait job and sold a few pieces, but I never even entertained the thought of going full-time into photography. I admire those that have and made a livable wage at the same time.

Corran
14-Jan-2016, 13:38
The short answer is no, not without any previous exposure or showings. I guess if you were just really, really, really good, and showed work at craft fairs and such and got really, really lucky with buyers, and finally was a fantastic salesman, maybe, but probably not.

It's doable after a lot of work and time, but not just immediately.

bob carnie
14-Jan-2016, 13:52
Someone is going to get that juicy job posted soon.

Corran
14-Jan-2016, 13:56
Some -one- being the operative word. Also, they won't be a "new" photographer; they'll likely be someone with many years of experience in both photography and historical preservation work.

Drew Wiley
14-Jan-2016, 14:39
I think outdoor stock photography would be a very long shot these day unless you have a very unique niche. Way too many people doing it, the digital revulsion
has dropped fees to next to nothing, and frankly, the next wave of advertising use is going to be heavy in action cam stuff rather than stills. There is probably still opportunity to live in some scenic area and open a small regional gallery catering to visitors, provided the overhead is reasonable. But lots of that kind of thing is seasonal, just like ski resorts and restaurants, and a single bad year from forest fires or highway problem can set a person way behind. Location, location, location. Also depends on your income expectations and family responsibilities. And how much are you willing to bend your work to public taste rather than your own? Very very few famous photographers ever made a living on their art per se. Most of them had to do some kind of commercial work or teaching on the side. Being a Bohemian can be pretty lonely, so the starving artist route doesn't work for everyone. I'll probably find out soon; but I'll be buffered with
multiple sources of retirement income. When I was considerably younger and could still burn the candle at both ends, I managed to get spurts of serious income
from print sales, but could never depend upon it.

Bill_1856
14-Jan-2016, 14:51
Clyde Butcher did it/does it.
Not only a super landscaper, but also a super marketer. (Also, happens to be a super nice guy.)

dsphotog
14-Jan-2016, 14:52
Maybe... If a photographer already has a body of great work ready to show.

Mark Sampson
14-Jan-2016, 14:59
Ansel Adams was a working commercial photographer for most of his career. He worked hard to promote himself as an artist, and photography itself as an art form, for probably thirty years before seeing any real financial return... he was past what people today call "retirement age" by then, but he never slowed down.
No artist starts from nowhere... you must have a worthy body of work, emphasis on work. See Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee, at michaelandpaula.com for inspiration.

Jim Noel
14-Jan-2016, 15:27
Ansel Adams. It took him about six years, and his wife had income from the Yosemite store.

It took much longer than that. He eked out a living on class and team pictures along with his landscape work until he obtained a business manager late in life. I purchased my print of Moon over Half Dome from him for $35 in the late 60's.
It takes a long time and a lot of hard wrk and luck to be recognized as a photographic artist, and only then is it likely that income from that alone will sustain a person,much less a family.

Jac@stafford.net
14-Jan-2016, 15:43
In a word, "No".

In my humble experience, if you want to make your mark in landscape, or other specialist subjects you need to find a mentor who will make your Name. That is what worked for me in Europe. Not so important now in my old age in the USA.
.

Corran
14-Jan-2016, 15:45
Clyde Butcher did it/does it.
Not only a super landscaper, but also a super marketer. (Also, happens to be a super nice guy.)

He was not into landscape at first though and did other things (photographically) before. I understood the thrust of the OP being, if one woke up one day and said they were going to be a landscape photographer (make a living, that is), is it possible?

Alan9940
14-Jan-2016, 16:14
I understood the thrust of the OP being, if one woke up one day and said they were going to be a landscape photographer (make a living, that is), is it possible?

Probably...if you don't mind not eating for 20 years. :D :D :D

Ken Lee
14-Jan-2016, 16:17
Many things are impossible until someone comes along and accomplishes them. Then they become... improbable :rolleyes:

Mark Sampson
14-Jan-2016, 16:21
Despite the negativity, don't give up. Study the work of the masters, painters as much as photographers. Practice your craft. Read. Practice your craft. Look at shows. Practice your craft. Show your work to any/everyone. Practice your craft. Don't give up.

Corran
14-Jan-2016, 17:04
I didn't mean to be negative. Perhaps I read the question wrong. I was thinking along the lines of a whole new profession, not a well-seasoned photographer trying it. No one picks up a musical instrument and becomes a touring orchestral soloist overnight, or even just a competent musician.

John Kasaian
14-Jan-2016, 17:12
Most of the "Pros" I've met make their money from Workshops marketed to----aspiring landscape photographers!

Drew Wiley
14-Jan-2016, 17:18
As Clyde Butcher tells the story, he apparently did years of postcardy subjects to support himself - for all intents and purposes, commercial work that he'd
didn't especially enjoy - until he finally got the nerve to try and sell images he actually was proud of taking. So he also paid his dues a long time and "arrived"
relatively late in life.

Drew Wiley
14-Jan-2016, 17:30
As for AA, he was a competent and successful commercial photographer. His more serious income allegedly came from an episode where a startup company called Polaroid paid him in stock instead of cash for testing and promoting their products. Although his fine art reputation was already in high gear by then, his books and overall print income didn't start paying off before distinctly old age. Some who has made a significant income selling prints all along is M. Fatali. You and U might not admire some of his marketing shenanigans; but he does know how to print color and sell it without resorting to blatant Fauxtoshop fakery - a few darkroom comps, however, more seamless than PS. Not all his gallery ventures have been successful; but the one at Springdale, just outside of Zion NP, has held on. Joe Holmes in my neighborhood has done well selling prints, though now he consults for Epson, having defected to the non-dark side of the Farce, and his wife probably has a University pension. In the same neighborhood, Misrach makes his living teaching. His prints now sell well, but he went down a very
long dark path as a starving artist first. A well-known nature snapshooter, Galen Rowell, also lived nearby, then got a lucky break from NG. Most of his image
income was from licensing stock images to the outdoorsy theme of SUV commercials and so forth during that phase of commercialism. Relatively little came
from gallery print sales, and frankly, he never had an iota of credibility in any fine art sense.

Mfagan
14-Jan-2016, 17:58
Most of the "Pros" I've met make their money from Workshops marketed to----aspiring landscape photographers!

Made me chuckle remembering an analog to John's remark I heard from a prof many years ago getting a masters in a business field -- "When gold is struck, sell shovels."

Iluvmyviewcam
14-Jan-2016, 18:20
OP...


Here is my take on it

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/generic-photography-is-pretty-much-worthless-nowadays/

But as I summed up the post, give it a try don't let anyone bust your dreams.

Daniel Stone
14-Jan-2016, 19:19
Peter Lik seems to be doing pretty well.

If you want to support yourself solely from your photography, you'd better have a worthy portfolio of work that people are willing to drop cash for, and more importantly, a solid business plan and know EXACTLY what is going on with pretty much everything. You can have a great business plan, one that's never been better. But if you don't have a portfolio, or customers coming through the door, cash in hand, you'll soon be out of business.

Keith Fleming
14-Jan-2016, 20:03
I agree with Iluvmyviewcam views. It would be far better to fail than to wind up later in life lamenting, "I coulda been a professional landscape photographer." While photography is a hobby for me, I did follow Iluvmyviewcam's advice when I got out of the USMC after Vietnam. I had no degree, and was 32 years old, and married with two pre-school children. With my wife's encouragement, I went to school on the GI Bill. I had to find some part time work when the GI Bill ran out, but both my wife and I wound up with PhD degrees (in different fields). We had to be extremely frugal during those years, and it was a struggle, but it was a most memorable time in our lives. We took a risk, but we made the right decision for us.

Keith

Leszek Vogt
14-Jan-2016, 22:51
Congrats, Keith.

I'm sort of on the fence...as to being able to make a living off photographs. If you have a certain niche, this perhaps may work. Back in the 80's I could have hit the arts/crafts fairs....and this was encouraged by someone who thought Fine Art Photography (and someone I knew & respected). I looked long & hard and came to some realizations. In essence, I recognized that life as I knew it would cease to exist....and massive amounts of time I'd be traveling, setting up booths, selling photos that most people want (primarily recognizable icons). The other side of it was to travel and take photos....so I could sell. I assume there was room for deviation, but not much.

Anyway, I found the whole idea rather confining and constricting....not everyone would have similar reaction. Sooo, decided to remain a hobbyist and to continue enjoying photography. Just my pov.

Les

Jac@stafford.net
15-Jan-2016, 07:53
I didn't mean to be negative. Perhaps I read the question wrong. I was thinking along the lines of a whole new profession, not a well-seasoned photographer trying it. No one picks up a musical instrument and becomes a touring orchestral soloist overnight, or even just a competent musician.

Well, you could become an organ grinder with a monkey, then add an instant wet street camera. Let the monkey make the pictures. Oh, if it weren't so cold here! ...and the monkeys are unionizing ...represented by PETA. Darn.

Corran
15-Jan-2016, 07:55
:)

Monkeys have been known to take good pictures...

John Jarosz
15-Jan-2016, 08:33
AA also taught at UCLA (or was it USC?). He talked a lot about commercial work in his books.

Kirk Gittings
15-Jan-2016, 08:43
There is much to be said about keeping photography as a hobby. For one there is no pressure to create images that "sell", which can become a real aesthetic trap. You can simply do what you love without having to dance for an audience. Also as many people here can demonstrate, one can become a real expert without while doing something else for a living. Vaughn, Sandy king and Steve Sherman come to mind immediately though there are many more.

In a sense I did the same thing by making my living primarily from commercial photography. As I wasn't dependent on my art work for income, I could do what I wanted with it. It was more therapy than anything and deeply satisfying in a way that commercial photography could not be. It always sold a little but over the years has become a substantial part of my income reaching 1/2 of it this year. This is great as I head towards retirement. BUT the sales, in my mind, are very much a secondary reward compared to what else it has contributed to my life over the years.

DrTang
15-Jan-2016, 08:47
He eked out a living on class and team pictures .......

it would be SWEET to have had my little league team photo shot by AA

Drew Wiley
15-Jan-2016, 09:19
My own gig, before being overwhelmed by family and property responsibilities for over two decades, was really highly interwoven. I'd had a background in innovative restoration work, then went to the supply end, then heavily moonlighted in architectural restoration and especially color consultation. Then I'd flip that
to get the actual shoot; and they'd even ask for high-end prints, so added darkroom income. Then word got out, and the same crowd would come to my gallery
openings and so forth, and buy the prints I took and printed really for my own satisfaction. I was kinda heavy into a Zen color look back then, which tied in well
to the prevailing kind of high-end remodeling going on up here (it ain't Vegas or Miami folks! - no glitz or shiny varnish). And pretty much the same Sinar gear
across the board. A lot of fun really, but not much sleep!

Richard Wasserman
15-Jan-2016, 09:25
Here you go, AA in action, along with a great deal of wisdom thanks to Ted Orland.

http://www.tedorland.com/truths.html

Vaughn
15-Jan-2016, 14:21
Here you go, AA in action, along with a great deal of wisdom thanks to Ted Orland.

http://www.tedorland.com/truths.html

Ah...the updated version!

Vaughn
15-Jan-2016, 14:33
If we are mentioning photographers who seem to have made a living with landscape photography, Christopher Burkett comes to mind. http://christopherburkett.com/prints/category:large/orientation:horizontal

But like others, he spent years putting in the time...in his case, in the printing trade, mastering masking 8x10 transparencies, and printing Cibrachrome to get to that point.

bob carnie
15-Jan-2016, 14:49
I have been introduced or met a couple of young artist that are trying to make a living from Landscape driven work.

I see no reason to believe they will not be successful - reading most of the posts I am brought back to the day I decided to build my own lab and go it alone. I had a great job , making
very good $$ . I was warned by many not to do this as Black and White process and contact had a limited shelf life before the digital wave hit. Yes the digital wave hit, I got on a board road the wave, and
learned how to make a living both ways, I am not as wealthy as many here but I am content with what I have to show for 25 years of going it alone.

So to the OP's question - yes indeed - you just have to be that right person to be able to figure out how to survive.

richardman
15-Jan-2016, 16:39
There's this guy with his own gallery in Cambria. He used to use 4x5 but switching to Canon digital now. He seems to be doing OK, been at it for at least 15-20 years. Landscape and ocean stuff.

Bill Burk
16-Jan-2016, 07:52
There's this guy with his own gallery in Cambria. He used to use 4x5 but switching to Canon digital now. He seems to be doing OK, been at it for at least 15-20 years. Landscape and ocean stuff.

I walked by that shop one day but he was out photographing.

Reminds me of the good old days, I used to daydream as I drove past a small building that was available for a long time along the road going through Three Rivers, looked like it would be a good place to setup a gallery. I knew there wasn't enough traffic past Camp Nelson to support one - unless it could double as restaurant, post office and general store.

But maybe Three Rivers...

Dan O'Farrell
16-Jan-2016, 13:23
Can " high level" art photography, or art in general, produce a reasonable living income?

Yes, but only after you're dead.

See Van Gogh.

QT Luong
16-Jan-2016, 14:20
Yes. Here are some words from someone who has done it at http://imagesofrmnp.com: "After a bit of research I decided that I would become a professional nature photographer even though I knew very little about photography and was told very clearly that it was almost impossible to make a living this way... Within 18 months of my decision to become a photographer I began selling my work at art shows. I then moved into selling in various galleries and within three years of that decision I opened my own gallery."

neil poulsen
16-Jan-2016, 15:52
I think it depends at which of "two" levels one wishes to professionally participate: whether it be at a cottage level, or on a serious business level, where one can save for retirement, etc.

I think it's always possible at a cottage level. There will always be some sort of market for high quality images.

However, being a professional at a serious business level is another matter. I recall sitting in a presentation by Kerry Thallman. While he of course could best speak to this, he related experiencing an epiphany at a meeting that included professional landscape photographers. He recognized that, as a relatively new serious professional landscape photographer, he would be competing against long standing photographers who already had on hand huge selections of images that they could regularly submit for sale. He described one such pro as having a staff, who spent every workday photo-shopping and submitting images for sale, while he the photographer, spent all his days photographing. (Imagine trying to do both at a serious level.)

Whether or not it could be financially satisfying, one could at least begin at a cottage level and see where it might lead from there. Most professional photographers have clients who already have a recognized need for a set of images, and they work with those clients to provide those images. Landscape photography appears to attempt the opposite process, existing photos that look for someone with a potential need. At a successful serious business level, this is much more difficult.

DennisD
16-Jan-2016, 17:41
Yes. Here are some words from someone who has done it at http://imagesofrmnp.com: "After a bit of research I decided that I would become a professional nature photographer even though I knew very little about photography and was told very clearly that it was almost impossible to make a living this way... Within 18 months of my decision to become a photographer I began selling my work at art shows. I then moved into selling in various galleries and within three years of that decision I opened my own gallery."

Great example...
Be sure to see his "About" page which links to "Frequently Asked Questions".
Very interesting and revealing.

The last FAQ describes his daily work very clearly, making a point that much time is NOT spent out photographing.
Instead, office work, computer work, marketing, planning projects, etc., etc. take up a majority of his day.
He very realistically describes what it takes to earn a living as he does.

Drew Wiley
18-Jan-2016, 09:29
It all depends on your priorities too. I know several guys whose priority was remote expeditioneering, climbing, writing and publishing the photos, who slowly developed financial traction. But with that lifestyle, things inevitably fell apart on the home front, and they had to start all over. A few of them simply hooked up
with some rich woman, and remarried into an independently wealthy situation sympathetic with their own interests and willing to subsidize it. No kidding. Things
aren't always what they seem in terms of career success.

jonbrisbincreative
18-Jan-2016, 10:22
There's a reason the Patronage System worked so well to promote the creation of high-quality Art. Only a handful of artists in the modern age have been able to match or surpass it. Compare that handful to the thousands living and working contemporaneously under Patronage.

I made a living off photography last year only if I consider below poverty level "making a living". :) Thankfully, I'm blessed with a nice salary from my position as a Software Engineer at a startup. My portrait photography covered the costs of other equipment I added this year like a scanner, an Epson R3000 printer and sundry other things. I consider my full-time job my Patron. I don't enjoy dealing with portrait clients much so I would not want to impose that dynamic on the Art I want to make but instead remain free to follow my interests and abilities as they develop.

Long and short of it for me is: find a Patron to allow you to continue to enjoy photography. That might mean a regular job or it might mean another kind of more profitable photography like portraiture, event, or commercial. As soon as you put the onus on your interests to support you and your family, you've crossed a line you can never uncross.

MMELVIS
26-Jan-2016, 19:11
Carlton Ward comes to mind, I do not think he uses film.

Iluvmyviewcam
26-Jan-2016, 20:01
There's a reason the Patronage System worked so well to promote the creation of high-quality Art. Only a handful of artists in the modern age have been able to match or surpass it. Compare that handful to the thousands living and working contemporaneously under Patronage.

I made a living off photography last year only if I consider below poverty level "making a living". :) Thankfully, I'm blessed with a nice salary from my position as a Software Engineer at a startup. My portrait photography covered the costs of other equipment I added this year like a scanner, an Epson R3000 printer and sundry other things. I consider my full-time job my Patron. I don't enjoy dealing with portrait clients much so I would not want to impose that dynamic on the Art I want to make but instead remain free to follow my interests and abilities as they develop.

Long and short of it for me is: find a Patron to allow you to continue to enjoy photography. That might mean a regular job or it might mean another kind of more profitable photography like portraiture, event, or commercial. As soon as you put the onus on your interests to support you and your family, you've crossed a line you can never uncross.

Good or you! Even if your earnings are on the low end it is better than what most landscapers earn. With social doc work it can be hard to give it away for free.

pdmoylan
26-Jan-2016, 20:15
Hans Strand has been making a living for many years as a landscaper, one of the first to shoot iceland from the air. He states its becoming more difficult now to live off his photo income. A good example of highest quality digital, migrating from 8x10 chromes. I agree with Dan Stone that having a business strategy with unique and consistently high quality product is minimum requirement to play and stand out in that flooded market. It appears that Drew Wiley performed tax returns for AA, Fatali, and Rowell as anything less would constitute pure speculation. It always reduces the quality if a blog when guesswork is substituted for fact. Other of his rhetoric seems to be born from a frustrated career. Words are cheap, images are forever.

Toyo45FieldCam
3-Feb-2016, 05:02
If you have a current, successful career, please don't give it up. If you can develop (no pun intended) your photographic style alongside the mortgage paying job you might have some chance of finding a market for your images. But prepare to be knocked back, and rejected in favour of an instagram/iphone shot flavoured with 'picture styles'. Sadly there are very few agencies or clients in either the US or Europe that would actively reach out for film based /LF created images. However, if you persevere and produce a style that is distinctive enough , it might catch someones eye. At that point you can declare how it is only achieved by the perseverance, technical skill and craft that large format photography demands and brings to images, very occasionally the retro hipster types you describe will recognise the value of all that and ask for more. But I did meet some recently that 1. Had never ever seen a large or medium format transparency . 2. Thought iphone4 images were 'retro'
Good Luck.

pdmoylan
3-Feb-2016, 17:35
You also have to consider sources of photo income and print price compression due to competition via the internet. As many have said, you create your reputation first, then a following, and then you generate revenue from photo excursions. Look at John Sexton's trips with Charles Cramer, Better Moments or Visionary Wild. Unless you are working as a commercial photographer with strong paying clients, you may find that those workshops are a primary source of revenue. Lots of stressful hard work if you are not a people person and need to provide mentoring, review of participant results etc. It's like being a ship's captain taking sports fishermen/women to special locations. You have to deal with a variety of personalities, liability issues, and relegating your own interests to those involved in the session.

It takes a special person to be able to manage all of this and retain a reputation as a professional landscape photographer. Over the years leading photo trips I can tell you that you are subjugating your creative output to the needs and demands of paying customers. For some this might not be an issue. Interestingly enough, I found my creativity no less with a crowd along with me. Others may not.

Three aged veterans who come to mind as having been successful (at least in terms of published work) were Meunch, Clifton and Dykinga, and due to their preceding reputation, they continue to produce income from excursions, still revered by some as living pro landscapers. Without such traction one is an ant within a huge colony.

Grumium
12-Feb-2016, 14:45
I recommend reading the book "Group f.64". Just a few of those talented people could make a (real) living out of photography and even AA struggled for a very long time...

Today, Clyde Butcher seems to be one of those lucky guys.

Kirk Gittings
12-Feb-2016, 14:56
Yes. Here are some words from someone who has done it at http://imagesofrmnp.com: "After a bit of research I decided that I would become a professional nature photographer even though I knew very little about photography and was told very clearly that it was almost impossible to make a living this way... Within 18 months of my decision to become a photographer I began selling my work at art shows. I then moved into selling in various galleries and within three years of that decision I opened my own gallery."

Knowing a plethora of successful artists and their actual histories I am oftentimes amused by the personal histories they put on their websites. Its a bit like moving the Clarity slider in Lightroom to the left :)

Drew Wiley
12-Feb-2016, 15:20
Reminds me of TV documentaries and magazine articles by the climbers, with all their dancing with death macho jargon. When you really get to know them, they were probably peeing their pants when the rock under their fingernails started crumbling. And similarly, though we might remember certain photographers based
on a glamorization their work, what was really involved seems to have been about 98% work itself, and only 2% distilled art. Gotta feed the family, pay your bills.
Yeah... Gauguin sailed to Tahiti into a tropical fantasy, artistic bliss, and fame; that was a long time ago... Oh wait a minute, he worked as a dawn to dark grunt
in a smelly warehouse and then painted on his time off, fantasizing about what he never found. Sound familiar?

Sirius Glass
12-Feb-2016, 20:24
Sure one can become a pro landscape photographer. Of course one should keep their day job and never count on a positive net income from being a pro landscape photographer.

Vaughn
12-Feb-2016, 21:47
Great example...
Be sure to see his "About" page which links to "Frequently Asked Questions".
Very interesting and revealing.

The last FAQ describes his daily work very clearly, making a point that much time is NOT spent out photographing.
Instead, office work, computer work, marketing, planning projects, etc., etc. take up a majority of his day.
He very realistically describes what it takes to earn a living as he does.

Perhaps in his case the better question to ask, "Can an experienced business person become a pro-landscape photographer?" :cool:

N Dhananjay
13-Feb-2016, 06:37
Perhaps in his case the better question to ask, "Can an experienced business person become a pro-landscape photographer?" :cool:

An experienced business person would find projects with better return on investment very easily... No, s/he would not become a pro landscape photographer, not to satisfy his/her business self anyway....

I don't think this was ever an avenue open to become a professional landscape photographer. Yes, there are a few who have pulled it off. The numbers are so small that they are the exception to the rule... If you look at the actual stats, wedding photographers, product/advtg. photographers, portrait photographers, reporter photographers etc. probably vastly outnumber landscape photographers. And photographers, as a species, are vastly outnumbered by all the other professions out there. Even stock photography, which has a fair amount of landscapes, was probably dominated by other kinds of images (and other kinds of images were probably used with more frequency).

So where does this myth of the professional landscape photographer come from? From the availability heuristic - our tendency to make a judgment based on how easily some information comes to mind rather than the content of the information. If you hear the term 'landscape photographer', you try to think of examples and a few come to mind easily. And we infer that if it came to mind easily, it is because there must be lots of them. Which is not a bad heuristic to use, except when it is. Sometimes things come to mind because they are memorable, not because of the natural frequency with which they occur. Which is why when asked to estimate the odds of dying in a variety of interesting ways, people underestimate the odds of dying from asthma or swimming pool accidents and overestimate the risks of dying from airplane crashes and firework accidents. The latter get written about in the news and become more memorable. It is why, when I ask half a class to say 6 nice things about their significant other and the other half to say 12 nice things about their significant other and then ask everyone to report how much they like their significant other, the one's who said 6 nice things like their significant other more than those who said 12 nice things (even though the latter said more nice things about this person). 6 nice things about a person - easy to do (especially since you are in a relationship with them - they presumably therefore have some redeeming qualities) - you infer, "That was easy! If it was so easy, it must be because s/he has many good qualities". 12 nice things about a person - call me cynical, but nobody is THAT nice - difficult to do and you infer, "That felt hard! They must not have too many good qualities - I'm living with a troll."

We remember the landscape photographers who made it. We do not remember the thousands who eventually turned their face to the wall and gave up, because we are not even aware of their existence. And we overestimate the odds of making it as a landscape photographer. It is very difficult to make a case for it as a business. There are just too many other investments that have better, more attractive payoffs. And the opportunity costs - if I sink money into the landscape photographer venture, that money is not available for other, better paying investments - are not insignificant. Yes, there are a few who made it. But when you throw ten thousand people at the wall, some of them will stick...

And even those who made it were most likely scratching another itch...

Cheers, DJ

prado333
17-Feb-2016, 05:50
Two of them who earn their living taking photographs on landscape are Joel Sternfeld and Richard Misrach .

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2016, 08:30
I really think the question is could one do it now ie starting now. Not could one do it ever or can established photographers still do it.

Michael Kadillak
17-Feb-2016, 09:05
In this country absolutely anything is possible. But success is predicated upon being one of the 2% of entrepreneurial individuals that sees the world in a divergent way than the other 98% do. In a most elemental sense this is condensed into one simple but effective statement.

People do not buy what you do. They buy WHY you do it.

Andrew O'Neill
17-Feb-2016, 11:20
If you can afford to pay someone to manage and promote you, and your images stand out, you will succeed. I was lucky to have a lady in Japan who promoted me , mainly because she liked my work, and I photographed something that was dear to her heart (history of coal mining in her town). I have also done shows through her that were all landscape, mainly of Japan. Japanese appreciate hand crafted work.... silver gel, kallitypes, platinum, carbon prints, etc....

Drew Wiley
17-Feb-2016, 11:35
Bingo. Incorrect stereotypes. Misrach makes his living primarily through a formal teaching position. Yes, there have been some grants, but his overhead is also high because he does not print his own color work. And as far as getting from Point A to Point B, he paid his dues long and hard. Recognition hardly equated to
income or even steady print sales for a long time. He's told the story himself. Nobody even showed up for his first major gallery opening other than himself and
his wife!

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2016, 14:08
If you can afford to pay someone to manage and promote you, and your images stand out, you will succeed. I was lucky to have a lady in Japan who promoted me , mainly because she liked my work, and I photographed something that was dear to her heart (history of coal mining in her town). I have also done shows through her that were all landscape, mainly of Japan. Japanese appreciate hand crafted work.... silver gel, kallitypes, platinum, carbon prints, etc....

Not always true. My model is William Clift. Like him after many disappointments with "representation", I have been on my own for decades and prefer it that way. I am my best manager and promoter. Some galleries and reps periodically approach me and sell my work and get their cut but I am on my own otherwise and there is no ongoing relationship. I prefer direct contact with buyers with no filters-same with my commercial business.

Drew Wiley
17-Feb-2016, 14:28
I had a couple of very well connected people try to rep me, but I simply couldn't keep pace at my end. They had the ability to sell significant quantity orders, but I wasn't willing to risk my health messing around with that much color chemistry at one time. I pace both Ciba and RA4 very conservatively or risk sensitization,
and additionally, print only during seasons when I can run the drums completely outdoors. I don't regret that decision, given what I've seen happen to certain
other people. Black and white doesn't have that limitation, but when I started out and I got a lot of early traction by strictly printing color. That was kinda the thing
then; but now, with the glut of color inkjet work out there, it seems black and white is gaining a lot of appeal again. I intend to do both going forward.

dsphotog
17-Feb-2016, 14:33
Roman Loranc seems to be doing ok.

Drew Wiley
17-Feb-2016, 14:53
He's doing OK because he is willing to live in a low-rent rural inland area and keeps to a very simplified workflow in terms of materials and equipment. Trying to make it financially here on the more temperate coast would be a completely different story. But due to that, his first body of work featured a part of the world most other photographers neglected - out in the miserable clammy dreary, deadly tule fogs of the Central Valley. That's not the friendly enveloping soft fog we get here on the coast. It's oppressive and very dangerous to drive through unless you carefully time things. Glad he kept at it and got enough traction to spread
his wings a bit. Some of his European work is superb too. Of course I have no way to guesstimate his actual income, but even with the degree of recognition he's
gotten, he'd probably be homeless around here. But when it can be 115 degrees in June some of those places, it can be 55 here. So go figure just how bad you
really want that photo career!

dsphotog
19-Feb-2016, 14:08
You're right, low overhead is a must in a low profit industry.
I knew Roman when he got his first 4x5 camera, he had a very supportive wife paying the bills until he got established.
A while after he "made it" they split up, and he moved to Weed, an even more rural area than Modesto.

njrfoto
26-Mar-2016, 18:32
"To tell a photographer that they could earn a living selling personal work would be just cruel." There are exceptions, though. My advice would be to keep your day job, keep working at photography, and, maybe, some day the balance will shift and you'll be on your way.

This is all too common a reality these days sadly... One can hope, dream and wish for the state of play to be like it was back in Ansel Adams day... imagine...

Kodachrome25
26-Mar-2016, 18:53
Talented shooters with focus and resolve are going to make a fine living off of creating dynamic and immersive landscape photographs.

And haters are going to continue to hate.

jbenedict
27-Mar-2016, 09:57
This is all too common a reality these days sadly... One can hope, dream and wish for the state of play to be like it was back in Ansel Adams day... imagine...

Remember, AA did an awful lot of rote commercial work in his career. Unless one has a wealthy benefactor, that is pretty much how it has always been in the arts.

Drew Wiley
28-Mar-2016, 09:11
AA was well well past Social Security age by the time he could have hypothetically made a living as a fine art printmaker. Even his famous picture books didn't
break even. His trust did make a ton of money after his own time.

Jim Andrada
16-May-2016, 23:03
I was visiting a friend who is also a very good photographer and he brought out a portrait of himself that had been done by St Ansel. He said his parents had St Ansel do portraits of all their children.