Why Being A Photographer Isn’t That Fun

I picked up my first camera when I was four and since then I have been handling cameras. I started somewhat seriously doing landscape and wildlife photography when I was 13 until I was 15, which meant taking pictures of the things around me like trees and birds and excessive trips to the zoo. High school was really hectic so I was forced to put down my camera. At 19, I decided that it was time I got back into the game and to try something new this time, portrait photography. Portrait photography is one of the most difficult things I have ever set out to do. Yes, being a photographer seems semi-glamorous because you’re doing what you love and it’s so much fun. I’m here to tell you about the nitty-gritty of being a portrait photographer.

Models are some of the most difficult people to get to show up. The minute you start asking for models, your DMs will be full of people wanting to participate, but on the day and time that you set up to meet with them, they will ghost you. It’s unfortunate, but this has happened to me so many times, like more than I can count. And yes, we’re people, so I understand when things come up. But that’s when you contact your photographer and let them know instead of letting them wake up extra early for the shoot or wait on you for an hour before giving up. Please save both yourself and your photographer the stress. This is something that really gets on my nerves, especially when I have shoots set up with people I’m friends with IRL, like this friendship has now been tainted.

People wanting their photos ASAP when they’re not paying you at all is a headache. This is my first year doing portrait photography, and I’m still experimenting and learning so I don’t see the point in charging someone if I can’t guarantee the photos will be as good as they want. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to take months to get the photos back to them, but I can’t do it within a day, especially if I’m editing them. I don’t think people understand that lots of photographers have lives outside of photography, especially if we’re not getting paid. There’s no incentive to sit and edit for hours right after the shoot so that we have a turnaround of one day. Please be patient with us, especially if we don’t charge you anything for the shoot..

If we are getting paid though, please don’t complain about our prices or try to bargain us down. I’ve heard from a lot of more experienced photographers who I’m friends with that they’ll get customers who ask them to lower their prices because getting your photos taken shouldn’t cost that much. Photography equipment costs a lot, there are traveling expenses, editing the photos isn’t free, it costs money if you develop the photos and the time and effort you put into the process is worth money.  Not to mention, if you’re renting a studio to shoot, those are extra costs. Being a photographer is not cheap or easy at all, so please respect the prices we give you. There’s always the option of finding a photographer with lower prices or a newbie like me who does it for free too.

Did I mention that photography is expensive? Because it is not cheap to be a photographer. You have to have a camera and they are not typically cheap. You should have a tripod (not necessarily a must, but it’s a good tool to have). They come in handy but are also expensive. You should also probably get an external flash, which can be pricey. And oh look, lenses for your camera are on sale and now you have also bought those. I never planned on spending as much as I have for my first camera that is actually mine and not a hand-me-down from my father, and then also buying equipment to go with it. 

Beware of portrait photography. If this is something that you’re interested in doing, if you’re a model who works with portrait photographers or if you’re just someone getting some headshots, please keep all of this in mind. It’s not easy being a portrait photographer. But, I love doing it and I’m excited to learn more about it. You should check out my photography Instagram here.