Prioritising Your Investments As A Photographer

By Kishore Sabareeshan | September 10, 2018

Want to make a living out of your photography skills? Here are some useful investment tips you can consider before taking the passion-to-professional plunge!

Prioritising Your Investments as a Photographer

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of photographers converting their passion into a profession. There seems to be a good market appetite for wedding photography, product photography and other mainstream avenues. Other genres such as landscape, wildlife and street photography may not necessarily invite the same commercial interest. However, the photographers who do get recognised are often picked to work for international magazines.

Photography as a career option is a welcome introduction. It provides an opportunity for people who want to break out of the 9-5 lifestyle and combine their passion for art with travel. However, it isn’t all rosy for shutterbugs. Photographers need to make an educated decision about choosing financial options such as Personal Loans to fund their passion. This is because like every profession, photography has its own share of capital and revenue expenses.

Additional Reading: Lights, Camera And A Whole Lot Of Action – Behind The Lens With Pritham D’Souza

Equipment – The Capital Investment

It’s true that equipment doesn’t matter as much as the photographer’s eye for composition. But the quality of output in terms of resolution and detail plays a big role, especially in professional photography. High-end cameras and lenses are highly expensive gadgets, but there’s a reason why. Everything from the quality of glass used to the technology involved is superior to a budget camera kit. You’ll also need to invest in accessories such as an external flash, tripod, depending on your genre.

Another area where you’re likely to spend money is when it comes to buying a high-end computer. This can process your photographs and support premium editing software, which by the way, also needs to be purchased.

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Hmmm, and the revenue expenses?

Like any other profession, your revenue costs include anything you incur in your day-to-day job, from commuting to meeting potential clients to paying your affiliated print person for photo book projects.

Prioritise before taking the big step

It’s critical that you figure out your core focus area before investing in photography. For instance, if your interest lies in fashion photography, it doesn’t make sense for you to buy a super-telephoto lens that’s meant for wildlife. Similarly, a bird photographer using a 50mm portrait lens won’t be able to get even a feather of the bird in the image. This is precisely why wildlife lenses come with a long focal length to enable you to capture stunning details of the subject from a safe distance (for both you and the subject)!

Invest in quality equipment

It’s not a crime to pursue photography as a hobby with a basic camera and lens. But at some point in time, your eye trains itself to see the defects or should we say limitations of your hobby camera kit. More importantly, if you’re considering making a living out of it, you need to invest in high-end equipment that will satisfy the expectation of your client. A lot of client requirements may involve printing the images you’ve taken. Only a high-quality full-frame camera can assure you great print results (provided you click well, of course).

While you’re going to spend a lot (and we mean it) when it comes to your photography gear, you’ll be thankful later. This is especially true when you see the results as well as the smiles on your clients’ faces.

Think of it this way. The better your equipment, the happier your client. This means more word-of-mouth marketing, and eventually more clients in the long run.

Today, online marketplaces like BankBazaar.com have made it easier for young photographers. They can kick-start their professional photography career at an early age with convenient and quick Personal Loan application and approval processes.

Explore Personal Loans

Now let’s put our advice to test by taking a specific example.

Say you’re into wildlife photography. You’ve grown to understand the nuances of photography and composition whilst developing your instinct of gauging animal behaviour. What next? You surely want to make memorable images that can be printed and exhibited as fine art, right?

Before we jump into our priority list, let’s analyse the expected expenses that are particular to this genre of photography.

This one’s a common factor – Your Gear

Professional wildlife lenses are priced high because they carry high-end optics to give you great detail from a distance. Additionally, they come in huge focal lengths and are built sturdy – all these features add to the cost.

Getting to your subject

Unless you’re planning to focus on squirrels or the crow that frequents your balcony, you have to travel far and wide. You may need to visit tiger reserves and bird sanctuaries across India if you wish to capture species in their natural habitat.

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Obtaining Permits into Protected Areas

The third contributor to expenditure here is the cost of accommodation and jungle game drives or safaris. Both of which are usually expensive, purely because tiger reserves attract tourism which is a great source of revenue for governments.

Ok, now let’s test our mantra!

Your core area, aka, your target species

Obviously, we’re not asking you to ignore all the other animals and just shoot the one you’ve chosen to target. Why this exercise is necessary is because it will dictate how much you’re going to spend on all the 3 factors discussed above.

How so?

So let’s say you’ve decided to concentrate purely on birds. Now, as a bird photographer, you’re going to need a lens that’s big enough to capture the tiniest birds. You will be able to capture them in full detail from a good distance, because birds are extremely reactive to any movement. They will fly away at the drop of a hat, literally!

Making the right investment

If you feel your budget camera is not doing justice to your sense of aesthetics, it’s best you invest in quality gear. In a genre like wildlife photography, the only light you’ll be using is natural sunlight. So, if you’re shooting on an overcast day with low light, chances are your amateur camera and lens will give you unsatisfactory results. This will be because of their limited configurations.

High-end cameras and lenses, on the other hand, are not only engineered to handle low-light situations well but also assure you great detail and image quality. This will leave you with a satisfying image of a wonderful memory in the wild.

Getting a ballpark figure on your revenue expenses

Now that you’ve figured out what kind of lens you need, your travel destinations for photography will also be determined your target species. When it comes to birds, you don’t necessarily have to go to tiger reserves. You can find them in hill stations, water bodies or even in your backyard. This gives you a fair idea of how much you’ll spend on travel.

Similarly, the third aspect also becomes vividly clear. For birds, you’re more likely to stay at birding spots where hides are set up. All you have to do is wait for the bird to (hopefully) show up. Here, you don’t need to spend on safaris and jungle camp accommodation.

Now you’re all set to take fine art nature images that may, one day, be exhibited in renowned photo galleries worldwide!

The key takeaway from all this is simple; whatever genre you’re into, just do a thorough research. You’ll surely be able to visualize a clear roadmap for yourself.

This is crucial especially for mainstream genres where the purpose is explicitly commercial because the above exercise will help you plan your rates and calendar accordingly.

Making a Living Out of Being a Shutterbug

A big part of turning your hobby into a profession is the most obvious part of it – earning from it! Once you’ve figured out how much you need to earn to sustain yourself in the field, you’ll get a fair idea of how much you can charge your clients for your work.

Additional Reading: How to Balance Your Income and Expenditure

As logic dictates, the better your equipment (and your skill, of course), the better the output, which means you can confidentially charge a premium rate if you’re using world-class gear.

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Category: Money Management

About Kishore Sabareeshan

Kishore likes watching documentaries and discovering indie musicians on Youtube. When he's not writing content for a living, he's usually snacking, playing with his cockerspaniel or looking for big cats in the wild.

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