1; Process vs. Efficiency

 

A hobby can be all about the process, meaning, you can take as much time while shooting as you like, you can take all the time in the world to conceptualize, and you’re in no real rush to edit. Everything is left up to you and it can become quite meditative. However, the moment you start working for a client, you have to incorporate efficiency into the equation and it takes an equal seat next to the artistic process and in some cases, wins out and takes priority. Process and creating a good product is important, but efficiency is equally as important and it’s important that you take that into account when deciding whether you want to pursue photography or any of your other hobbies as a profession.

2: Expression vs. Formula

If you approach photography as a hobby, then it can only be about your creative expression, meaning, you have full control over what you shoot and the means you take to do so. It’s your own vision all the way to the end. However, if you’re approaching photography as a business, having some formula is important. That’s not to say that creative expression isn’t involved in any way, but the best and most successful businesses incorporate routines and formulaic approaches to their products and as a customer, you know what to expect from those businesses, whether they are selling a service or a product.

 

In photography, we see the photographers develop styles and clients hire them expecting to see results within that very style they have seen and come to know them for, so, if ultimately, it’s artistic expression and variety that matters to you, then creating a business out of photography will be very difficult because there just aren’t that many clients that are going to write you a check with absolutely free reign to create whatever it is you want to create. This is why many professional photographers turn to personal work to bring back that creative expression and their ability to shoot whatever they want to shoot with control over their vision from start to finish and it’s something I do as well.

3: Self vs. Client

When photography is a business, you are serving a client. When photography is a hobby, you serve yourself and whatever makes you happy. That distinction is important because photography is clearly a client-serving field and too often, I hear photographers complain about what their clients wanted and some even express that they just can’t wait for the day they never have to photograph weddings again or how they’re so tired of working with difficult clients. It blows my mind because they chose a field that is inherently client-oriented, so if you’re approaching photography as a business, you have to appreciate the fact that you are in a client-serving industry. You have to love your clients because they’re the ones paying the bills at the end of the day.

 

4: Freedom vs. Schedule

This one is pretty easy to understand. With photography as a hobby, you get to choose when you go out and shoot. If you don’t feel like shooting, well, you don’t have to, but as a business, you’re contracted to do a job and that means, whether rain or shine, you’re going to have to figure out a way to deliver professional images and the product that you were hired for. For me, this means that there are often times that I’m out shooting when I just don’t feel all that creative but I still have to find a way to get back to that place where I can create the product I’m known for. When pursuing photography as a profession, you are expected to deliver no matter what.

5: Photography vs. The Business of Photography

This one is arguably the most important piece. You have to understand that photography and the business of photography are two entirely different things. See, photography as a hobby is fun; it’s enjoyable when you go out and you have the freedom and flexibility to choose when you do it and don’t do it. With photography as a business, however, the actual shooting portion becomes a small piece of your day-to-day responsibilities. Truth is, the business side of photography which includes marketing, finding clients, selling to those clients, delivering contracts, doing taxes, administrative functions, hiring, and management will take about 80% of your time and the actual shooting part, the creative aspect, is going to be only about 20% of your time at best.

 

It’s important to be aware that what you’ll be taking on as a business will be far more than simply taking photographs. With a business, your time will be divided as roughly 80% business tasks and 20% photography versus just photographing as a hobby or passion where you can devote 100% of your time to photography, being creative, and nothing else.