I was recently approached by a student of photography—let's call her, Maria—who has shown some longstanding interest in my work, and is keen to convert her passion for photography into a career. She'd been asked to interview a photographer as part of an assignment. Not one to deny someone help with furthering their studies, I obliged. With Maria's consent I provide our brief Q&A:
What products and services do you offer within your business?
As a photographic artist, I offer limited edition prints (framed or unframed) of images I've taken, and am also available for commissioned work.
Are you part of any organisations and if not why?
I don't belong to any professional organisations, although I was a member of AIPP for one year. I have a full-time day-job, plus my photography, and I'm also a live-in carer for a relative. I would like to be able to attend some of the workshops and seminars offered by organisations like the AIPP, but I've very little available time as most activities clash with my day-time work commitments.
Do you collaborate with any other arts industries in your profession?
Until very recently, I haven't collaborated with other photographers to produce work. I have many friends who are photographers, and I find my interactions with them inspiring. I'm currently working closely with anotherphotographic artist on a long-term project aimed to raise public awareness of coronary heart disease. We're offering our services without charge. As a model of collaboration, I find this quite attractive as it utilises our combined skills and artistic visions for a worthy cause. [addendum: I've not collaborated with any other arts industries].
Do you have any copyright issues in your business, if so what are they?
I've never encountered significant copyright infringements related to my images. I regularly reverse image search my more popular images, and if I find that someone has not attributed my images on their website, I send them a friendly reminder. So far all but one site has responded favourably.
Do you require any permits for the types of shoots or work you do?
To date, I've not needed any permits to conduct or release work - other than usual business registration - as none of my work is used commercially, and I usually photograph in pubic places. Model releases will be used in future, as some work is planned to be utilised by third parties.
Do you have any current industry concerns or concerns about current tech impacting the industry?
In the lead-up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I am concerned that Australian copyright laws might be 'diluted' through the agreement. Fortunately this has not happened yet. Also, my market is quite different from commercial photography, and as such I needn't worry about the 'industry' so much. I embrace technological changes. I'm a photographic artist who doesn't have to rely on the sale of their work to make a living. I view the sales as a welcome additional validation of my work. If people don't purchase my work, that's OK too because the work I produce is first and foremost for my satisfaction and delight.
Do you have any advice for starting out in the photography industry?
Possibly the best advice I can provide is that unless someone is genuinely confident of the images they produce (as opposed to being confident of their technical prowess or business acumen), and have a real passion for taking photographs, then photography is unlikely to be a good career choice.
I'd also advise that new entrants consider having an alternative regular source of income to help them establish their practice. Other advice also depends on the kind of photography being considered. For example, if someone is mostly interested in portraiture, they'd need to have good social skills and patience. Travel photographers need to have significant funds behind them. Actually, the best advice I can give is this: be adventurous!
Thanks so much, Maria, for providing an opportunity to share a little about my work. I wish you all the very best with your assignment, and future studies :) I'll leave you here with an image taken three days ago while driving between Cairns and Cape Tribulation...