Saturday, August 23, 2008

Be Careful What you Wish For...(1)


I'm convinced that when some people say "I would like to write a book", what they really mean is "I would like to have written a book". There's a world of difference in those two sentences, although they may look very similar, at first glance.

The desire to write a book, has to - by definition - include the wish to be engrossed in the more unpleasant aspects of the craft - writer's block, late nights stuck at the computer screen, rejection by publishers and being dumped by neglected partners - as well as the pleasant aspects of the craft. And, let's face it, there are few of those outside being able to say "I have written a book" or "would you like me to sign my book" or "oh, look, there's a copy of my book on this shelf here in Borders - how strange!" (do you see where I'm going with this?) And, trust me, I know. I have written a book!

But, to the matter in hand - professional photography. I've nursed a burning desire to be a full-time professional photographer since I was 16. That was a time before the decimalization of currency in the UK and well before the Presidency of Ronald Reagan in the US - so it's a very long time ago (and for those of you who don't know what decimalization is or who RR was - take my word for it, it's virtually antediluvian).

My wish came true about 2 years ago. I was in a financially secure position, after 30 years or so in a well-paid public sector job (working as a lecturer in the Mental Health field, not that it matters) and I decided to finally give up the day job and pursue my dream of getting paid enough to pay the rent, eat as well as I usually did and drive a decent car by doing nothing other than taking and selling photographs. Now, it has to be said that for the 30 years I was doing my "proper" job, I was also taking and selling photographs. I sold my first black and white print (I made it myself) to a magazine in 1980 - aged 23 and I haven't stopped since. In those 28 years, my work has been published in almost every conceivable media (including TV) and worldwide. So, how hard could making that transition be?

In a word...very.

For a start, the world and his significant other are now photographers. Just look at the forum posts of large photo "portals" like Alamy. At least once a week a budding Ansel Adams, who can buy (or at least has a high enough credit rating to go into debt for) a quality digital camera, wants to know why their four 10 megapixel images, which got through QC (Quality Control) have yet to sell and make them richer than Croesus.

Not only is the stock market dangerously over-crowded, the same can be said for the professional arena, too. There are just too many photographers and not enough jobs. Add to that, something called a global recession and the situation becomes increasingly precarious.

But...as I shall divulge, getting the work doesn't necessarily change things for the better....

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