Originally Posted by cether
My main reason for this post is, will this profession paid itself off?
This is the heart of your post. The other question not asked is the soul: Will I continue to be passionate and love what I'm doing?
The first question is has two easy answers which are pretty much the same:
No it will not pay itself off, unless your dream is to make maybe $50,000 a year and bust your *** constantly trying to keep ahead of the all the would-be people who pick up a camera and all of a sudden become photographers, flooding the market with their crappy work, low-ball prices, and lack of a business plan. That's the easy answer.
Yes it will pay off if you have a very creative eye or a niche area. There isn't much that hasn't already been done by some other photographer, so to be successful (make money) is to spin what's already been done into your own package. Easier said than done with the internet and everyone with a camera these days. The other way is to finda niche area and get good at it. That's hard. You have to be a good photographer first, find that niche area, and some how break into it.:
Say you find that there's a need to shoot toe nail fungus of arctic penguins. You've gotta have the necessary skill set, then you need to find a way to get in. Finally, you need to get in line becuase there are already 2,645,420 people on flickr with the same idea.
I don't want to sound like a captain killjoy, but the honest truth is that there are far more jobs out there that pay better and are more enjoyable than photography. To me, photography is much like acting: anyone can do it (said sarcastically), but only the smallest percent are successful. There are lots of people who are very talented, but don't get their break because of a saturated market.
I do not consider myself to be a good photographer and I've been getting paid to do this in some capacity for the past 10 years. I"ve been fortunate to have an environmental consulting position that has required my photography work to be a an integral part of my profession as well as allowing me to do a lot of freelancing.
If you are dead-set on a photography career, I'd suggest the following:
1. Develop a business plan.
2. Develop a back-up plan.
3. Within your business plan, state specific areas you want to shoot: sports, wedding, landscape, portraiture, etc. Most people cant' single out one area or do all of it. Focusing (no pun intended) in on a couple different areas is a good bet.
4. Save up a bunch of money ahead of time and be prepared to struggle.
5. Complete a gut-check test. Find your 10 best photos and post them up for people to critique. Your 10 have to be what you consider your best work; no excuses after the criticism rolls in. Professional photography does not allow for excuses becuase many times what you're shooting doesn't occur again, unless you or your professional liability insureance is ready to fork up the expenses tore-create what you missed.
If you're still interested, go find a local pro or two and ask to be an assistant and dothis for a couple years while having another fulltime job. Assistant jobs usually pay crappy if they pay at all. Learn and grow from the pros and don't jump out on your own until you've mastered the craft.
Almost forgot the soul of your post: passion and loving what you do. Making your passion your profession doesn't always work and the passion fizzles out. It doesn't always happen, but you have to be prepared for it.