Tuesday December 11th 2018

Ideal Day Jobs for Photographers

Some photo bloggers have been writing about the sorry state of the photography business. The latest story making the rounds is about how Time Magazine paid $30 for a cover photo. See Time Magazine Cover Photo Ripoff from photographer and blogger Mark Stout for a discussion of how microstock is destroying the photography business.

The digital camera revolution put professional camera gear into the hands of tens of millions of wannabe pro photographers creating unwanted competition at every level. Microstock lowered the price of licensing photos from hundreds or thousands of dollars to just a few nickels and dimes. Computers and the internet have driven the cost of copying and distributing photos nearly to zero.

While some are predicting the demise of photography as a profession, I like to think positively. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

In order to survive, professional photographers may have to hold day jobs. This is not without precedent. Other professions, like screen acting, also have a glut of talent. Most actors have day jobs which pay the rent.

So the question I am posing is: What is an ideal day job for a pro photographer?

I am not pretending to have all the answers. But no doubt the ideal job depends on the kind of photography. Here are a few ideas I came up with.

Fashion Photographer
Ideal Day Job: Walmart Associate
The fashion photographer needs to be up on all the latest fashion trends. What better way to have your finger on the pulse of middle America than to work where America shops.

Sports Photographer
Ideal Day Job: Stadium Hot Dog Vendor
Sports photography is about action. The decisive moment, that sort of thing. Hot dog vendors are at the ball park everyday right near the action. Equipped with the latest full frame Canon digital SLR and 400mm telephoto, the hot dog vendor should have no trouble producing award-winning sports pictures in between dishing out hot dogs and “beer here.”

Family Portrait Photographer
Ideal Day Job: Child Welfare Officer
Family portraiture is all about the importance of families. And employees of Child Protective Services are right in the middle of all kinds of family matters. Suppose an unfit mother is having her children taken and sent to foster care. She may not see them for a while. What a great opportunity to make a sales pitch for children’s portraits.

Playboy Photographer
Ideal Day Job: Gentlemen’s Club Bouncer
There is an old saying that goes: if you are hunting ducks, you have to go where the ducks are. Well where else can you find such a high concentation of silcone, collagen and dyed-blonde hair than at the friendly neighborhood nudie bar?

Crime News Photographer
Ideal Day Job: Night Shift Taxi Driver
Crime happens on the street often in the dark of night. And taxi drivers spend the night entire shift out on the street. You have wheels and a radio to get you to arson fires, terrorist attacks, or bridge jumpers. Plus you can legally park in city hack stands. Bonus: when you get robbed at gunpoint, you are already at the scene of the crime to get exclusive photos. Can you say front page credit?

White House Photojournalist
Ideal Day Job: White House Intern
Just think of the photos that Monica Lewinsky could have taken if she had a digital SLR at her disposal during her meetings with the most powerful man on earth.

So there you go. Hot dog vendor, taxi driver, Walmart Associate–there are plenty of ways for former pro photographers to make a living and still ply the craft they love. And this can work in reverse just as well. If you already hold one of these coveted positions, there is no reason why you can’t get yourself a digital SLR and become a pro photographer.

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