The first post drew a whole bunch of responses and emails. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of “wannabes” with tons of talent come and go over the decades. I know of some out there right now who are traveling down the road of disappointment. I remember the tough times when to pay bills, a lens had to be sold. I also know that if I can make it, anybody can make it but nobody including me, but, never said it was easy. There’s just no crying in photography!
This weekend I went to the Dayton Ohio Air Show and had a great time doing some aviation photography. Knowing my lens just wouldn’t be good enough I went to a camera store and rented the Nikon 300MM 2.8 lens, a beast of a lens, and boy does it turn heads! I’m still processing the photos but they seem to be pretty good for my first air show attempt. I’ll attach a couple of them so you can see a sample of my work. By the way, hats off to you for your aviation work. You just can’t explain to someone how challenging it is to photograph a jet going 600mph, it must be attempted to fully appreciate it.
And here is how a business begins. A spark of an idea, the “what if’ moment I’ve written about before and following through with it. And here is how ones discovers the smart way the answer to the what if moment. I’ve heard from a number of folks who have been wondering about aviation photography or have been bitten by the bug because of my photography (one of the greatest compliments any photographer can receive). In this case, the what if question was answered using great business sense that anyone can apply to any genre of photography.
How do you find the answer? You get behind the camera for the least amount of capitol while investing the greatest amount of time. Wanna know about aviation photography, go to a local airshow and see if it’s your cup of tea. You have the smallest investment in travel, really only paying for gas and parking. I know of so many folks who want to become wildlife photographers and the first place they go is Africa. Holly cow! Could you waste anymore money?! Going to Africa after you have skills, after you have the gear and after you know your market, that’s when you go to Africa. But you don’t spend all that time and money to find out if wildlife photography is in your future!
Next, he went to the airshow and after doing some research (in part reading the material here on this site), realized he didn’t have the lens for the event. Rather than going out and buying the big piece of glass, he rented! That’s simply damn smart and good business!
This is also how your learn that YOU CAN DO IT TOO! When it comes to aviation photography, I’m in the learning curve. While I might have started up the curver higher then the newbie, I’m still on that learning curve. What’s moving me up that curve is the passion for those silver gas hawks. There is nothing in photography that only one photographer can do and no one else!
Ok so let me get to my question finally, I loved doing the aviation pics how but can I turn this into a paying and maybe profitable career? The expense for the lens that I want to get, the Nikon 200-400MM VRII is about 7,000 as you know. While my wife does love me she laughed when I told her how much the “perfect” lens for this type of photography cost. Is there mostly just a market for selling prints or is there an association that I can contact? Also how do you handle licensing, can you even sell prints of airplains that you take without property and model releases? I know I’m probably not asking the right question or in the right way but I sure would appreciate any information you could provide.
And here lies the six million dollar question for any photographer in any sector of the profession! And you know what, there is no secret answer, there is no one answer, there are years of answers that for the most part only work for you!
Answering the very specific questions here, I’m not sure I can even begin to give valid answers. If he were asking about wildlife photography, I might have some past experience that, after a four or five day discussion be of value. But aviation, hell, I’ve only been thinking of making it a segment of our business for a few months. And in the very short time of the three years I’ve been building my aviation slide library the one thing I do know, it’s nothing like the business of wildlife photography other than a camera and lens is involved. The bottomline to answering the question, “…loved doing aviation pics how but can I turn this into a paying and maybe profitable career,” I’m just figuring that out for myself.
This email made it through with two images attached so I have some hint of the writer’s abilities. While the two images attached were good, they aren’t a cut above the rest. What raises a warning flag for me more is his statement he has only “processed” some of the images. Even in this day and age, the reliance of the digital darkroom to make a visual difference has evened out the playing field for so many that if you don’t do it better at the camera, you ain’t going to stand out. The photograph is everything and as I learned so long ago, you are only as good as your last photo.
I know probably the best thing I can do is to continue saving money up so I can do a one day private tutoring session with you. Then I can have an opportunity to not only improve on my photography skills but to also cover some of these types of questions. I am working on saving up the money for it but it sure feels like its taking forever, lol.
While this is a compliment, as a business plan it’s a little weak. Saving money to spend time behind the camera, that’s a smart business plan! When it comes to learning the business of photography, no one day tutoring or even five day workshop with me is enough. it just takes one thing like the start of the Gulf War to make you realize that if you’re in the wildlife photography business, you’d best start looking for other work unless you have photographs of oil soaked wildlife from the gulf.
Time is still the one answer that is universal and works. The problem though with this answer, most can’t or don’t give it time. That’s where passion comes in!
Well I certainly appreciate your hanging in during my ramblings, I tried to narrow my thousand questions down to just a couple to help get me pointed in the right direction. Thank you for any input that you may have to help me out!!
I hope this helps not only the writer but a couple of you as well. Photography to me is the only and best profession on the planet! It has been very good to me and we have been very fortunate that hanging in for the long run, things have turned out ok. I know that if you have passion for photography, it will take care of you as well!
Remember, YOU can change the world with your photographs!