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Photographer or Hobbyist?

As I begin this post I’m aware of the fact I avoid certain topics of conversation.  On the list of my “Top 3″ are politics, religion and money.  I’m also beginning to talk less and less about diet and nutrition to others.  (maybe not here) ;)  So let’s look at one of these topics – $$!


I’ve been thinking a lot about my photography plans lately.  I’ve been in “portfolio building” mode for about a year now, if you don’t count the 10 years before now.  I’ve dedicated the last year learning as much as I can now that my kids are older and I have more time.  (and I the fact I don’t live in a gym anymore)  I had hopes of being skilled and comfortable enough to actually charge for my services.  A “Real Photographer”.  I constantly compare myself to the real professionals and the quality of their art, hoping one day to be that good.

In the past few weeks I’ve had more people interested in hiring me for their photos.  As the pressure builds I find myself asking, “Do I even want to be a photographer?”  It was the same question I asked about being a trainer.  ”Do I want to be a trainer?”  I love health and fitness and the science behind diet and exercise, but I don’t think I want to make this my career choice.  Now I’m wondering if this is the same answer I have for photography.  I know without a doubt the question of making money with photography or training isn’t what motivates me.  What I love is helping others or offering something meaningful to someone.  I love learning and growing.

Although I’m a stay at home mom.  I help my husband with lose ends and errands while he primarily runs our auto paint and body shop.  I do have a job outside of training, photography and yelling at kids.  My “job” is investing in stocks.  It’s the way I make my $$.  I love numbers and I love the $$ from it.  I also love that it allows me time to spend with my kids and family and my… wait for it…. hobbies.  No?  If you had the financial freedom to do what you enjoyed more often would you charge for it??

I’m constantly asking “what would you do” when I never stop and ask “what do I want to do.”

My husband tells me my time is worth something whether I love to do it or not.  And I totally get that.  (He also knows how much time I spend in post processing and learning everything I can.)  So I guess I have to put priorities on things.  To me, for now, $ is not a priority when it comes to what I love to do – the passion spending time learning and doing it is my priority.  So do I charge less?  Do I ask for donations?  Do I charge the same as everyone else?  Do I not charge at all and keep this as my hobby?

I’ve noticed people don’t feel comfortable making donations.  Their fear isn’t coming from paying me TOO much; it’s about not paying me enough.    If I tell them it’s free they feel equally as uncomfortable.  Not that they don’t like it but to them it’s not “right” in some way.  In the meantime I’m “giving my photography away.”  I’m so torn on what to do, how to move forward with this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


I’m all too familiar with this feeling, and often find myself in the same situation with music. I play in a lot of local musical theatre productions, and sometimes I’m asked how much I charge. I honestly find it hard to come up with a solid price because my motivation for playing in shows is made up of a bunch of different things. Money’s always nice, but I also do it because I love musical theatre and I love seeing students participating in musical theatre. I also love doing my part to ensure these students get the best possible experience. I usually end up taking as much as the production can offer, and I sometimes to shows for free too. Hopefully this made sense! Different field, but same situation.

Brian that totally made sense. I’m operating as a hobbyist at the moment, but trying to not to set any rules on myself to see where it leads me. I can’t go on forcing one or the other or I’ll never figure it out. ;) Thanks for your comment!

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