Many people enter into professional photography without actually needing the money. I don’t really care what circumstances someone might operate under that affords them the luxury of “not needing the money” from photography. I’m not here to judge someone’s situation. I have to say this, and I mean it as supportively as possible… If you don’t need the money I don’t have the slightest idea why the hell you want to dabble in professional photography?
If you don’t need the money and you want to do something with a camera for heaven’s sake do something really valuable with it. Take a photograph that is going to change the world, or bring awareness to something we ought to know more about. Do something with your camera that could save a life (or thousands of them). People who “don’t need the money” are those with the luxury to make a significant difference in the world.
Unfortunately most people squander that luxury and instead retread the same portrait and wedding photography as everyone else. If you don’t need the money and you aim low with your pricing or you half-ass your branding and marketing then you’re basically creating a charity for the middle-to-upper class. Would you create a 501c3 organization to make sure all suburban middle-class kids get Netflix? Hell no, because if you want to be able to stream LOST any town, any time then you ought to pay the $8 a month. It would be an affront to real causes to champion that organization. Based on my analytics I’m pretty comfortable saying that the vast majority of readers to this site are wealthy compared to the majority of people on Earth. Really, you are. You’ve got all kinds of cool stuff – you’re probably reading this on a nice laptop or an indulgent smartphone through a nice connection with ample bandwidth. You aren’t entitled to streaming video if you can’t pay for it.
Lower-to-upper class people ought to be paying for professional photos. They ought to be paying full, sustainable, profitable prices (read – higher prices than most ‘professionals’ are charging). Don’t give it away for free or a pittance. It isn’t a privilege to shoot their photos, it is a privilege to work the line at a soup kitchen.
I live in a condo. Luckily, our property values are going up. If I didn’t need the money I could sell my unit on a whim for $100,000 under market value. But I sure would be fucking my neighbors. They’d still be able to sell of course, but my comparable lowball sale would make things more difficult. What do you think happens if 4-5 people follow my lead? Some of my neighbors actually need the money. I’d actually need the money too.
If you don’t need the money and you want to do something fulfilling with your camera all I’m asking is that you give 30 seconds of thought to the most meaningful thing you could do. You could copy that frog-pose with a newborn in a knit hat or backlight a bride and groom really small in the frame for a few bucks if you like, but I think you’re capable of making a bigger impact than that.