Wanna Be a Landscape Photographer? Don't Quit Your Day Job
It's a sad fact that very few people can make a living as landscape photographers. Check out these depressing quotes from these 3 photographers interviewed by Digital Camera World:
Colin Prior: It’s very difficult to make money from landscape photography, full stop. In terms of stock I think we’ve reached a point where it’s largely worthless. People are expecting not to pay for photographs, and if they do pay they don’t expect to have to sign a licensing agreement for a limited time. Magazine editors increasingly tell me they don’t have a budget for photographs. The only way a photographer can make a name for themselves is by being extraordinary, otherwise there won’t be any publishers willing to risk investing in their body of work. I would advise young landscape photographers to do something else for a living. It’s sad, but anyone who tells you anything different isn’t looking at the marketplace properly.
Paul Saunders: I would keep landscape photography as a hobby...
Tom Mackie: The money is gone, unfortunately, especially if you’re thinking about getting into stock landscape photography. If you’re a photographer starting out and you have a few hundred images, forget it. You have to have thousands to make the sort of money we were making back in the good days.
Ye, gads, that's depressing! In my experience, those comments are becoming more and more true. The field is gutted with amateurs and unless you're the incredibly talented and entrepreneur-literate Trey Ratcliff, you're not likely to make a living being a landscape photographer. Most of the jobs at magazines and newspapers are not only taken, they're dwindling.
Photographers have to multi-task. That may mean taking on clients for portraits to bring in the main money if you want to be a full time photographer or having an editing business on the side, but I cannot think of a single person who sustains himself by just selling prints alone. And yes, you have to be exceptional at what you do.
In my case, I struggle as a landscape photographer, which is a shame because it is my passion. But the days of Ansel Adams are being replaced by Tom, Dick and Harry with iPhones making money on Instagram. As a military wife, it's hard to build a solid clientele when I move every 11-24 months on average. That's why being cyber-savvy is so crucial today, as Trey Ractliff has mastered.
But as this is my dream and I absolutely love photography and photojournalism, I will press on in an effort to snag the right opportunity. I will announce future endeavors as they open up, such as photo walks and photo trips with perhaps some tutoring, but in the meantime I'll be out there shooting.
These were taken in our new home in El Paso, Texas in the past couple weeks: