I often get told that I have the best job in the world. I’m always a little surprised cause my job is teaching history to teenagers. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t exactly call it the best. Then I realize that those people are mistaken. They don’t know about my actual job, because they only know me from social media and there they get the impression that I’m a professional photographer, traveling the world to shoot airplanes and occasionally some landscapes. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Photography is the best job I never had and not because of a lack of trying. I’ll try to explain why I’m not making any money doing what I do and why that is fine.
First of all, aviation photography isn’t exactly the best niche to make money. When I was 15 I mailed every aviation magazine that I knew, to ask if I could work for them. Turns out I sucked so they weren’t interested, but even later it was extremely hard. Here’s why:
- Pictures need to be newsworthy, but most of mine weren’t.
- Pictures without any article are useless. And I didn’t write and couldn’t care less.
- You need access to certain events or places. I knew nobody and went nowhere.
I could have tried to change the circumstances, but it just didn’t interest me. Every now and then I sell a photo to a magazine and that makes me between 20 and 50€. I couldn’t be bothered working my ass off, solving the above mentioned problems, for this money.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with aviation magazines or the people working for them. I know of some photographers that are doing awesome shoots for magazines and seem to be making money off of it. I really like what Lloyd Horgan is doing for Vertical Magazine.
Anyway, the big money seemed to be in working for companies rather than magazines, but the same problems arose. Joining the Aviation PhotoCrew partially solved them. As a crew we do shoots for airshows, air forces and companies. Of course the structure of the PhotoCrew is of such sort that I don’t make any money of it personally. And again that is fine. I get to have fun and don’t need to think about much.
Some people also seem to think that I travel around for photography. But that’s not the case either. I just like to travel and while I’m at it I take photos. But most of my travels are paid for entirely with my own money. Others were gifts, but personal gifts, not companies paying me to travel.
And yes, I do sell prints and presets. But that doesn’t make me nearly enough to feed me. So we can scrap that for now.
So I can easily say that photography is the best job I never had and that’s okay. I get to shoot whatever I want without any pressure. My livelihood doesn’t depend on the results. I can enjoy photography without any worries. And occasionally someone does want to give me money for my work and I am proud when it happens because they are buying something that I really like and is exactly how I wanted it to be. Now, I am trying different things out to make money with my own work (and I will make a blogpost once I tried everything on my list), and I wouldn’t mind making a living out of doing what I like, but in the mean time I like the teaching and having fun on the side whenever the opportunity is there.
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