One reason times are so challenging for professional photographers is that hobbyists and semi-professional photographers have flooded the market with stock images. Modern digital SLRs, Photoshop and other tools have made it easier than ever for someone to create commercially usable images. Photo sharing sites like Flickr and microstock agencies like iStockphoto have likewise made it easy for almost anyone with usable images to market them. This combination has led to a drastic increase in the inventory available to stock photo buyers, driving down the price of images in general and making it increasingly difficult for professional photographers to earn a decent living.
One approach for dealing with this was described in an earlier post; entering an area of photography that is somewhat immune to the flood of stock images such as fashion, sports or product photography. Another approach is to turn the lemons into lemonade. Now, more people than ever want to learn how to be better photographers, earn money from photography and possibly make the leap to becoming a professional photographer. This creates an opportunity for experienced professional photographers to offer training and workshops as a way to generate extra income and add luster to their brand.
There are 3 approaches to deriving income by providing training to other photographers:
- Become a part-time instructor at a school run by others. This is a good way to start out, learn how to teach and see if you like it. But it typically doesn’t pay well and the regularity of an academic schedule can cause you to forfeit photo assignments.
- Offer one-on-one training to a single photographer or small group. This is often the most satisfying approach and can also offer the most flexible schedule. You can earn more this way than by teaching a class but this will still only provide limited income. This is especially true if you factor in the time and expense required to market your service.
- Organize and hold workshops: This is by far the most lucrative way to offer training but it also requires the most commitment of your time and resources. You need to develop a program that will be of high value to a great number of aspiring photographers and you’ll have to market your workshops aggressively in order to fill the seats.
Like any professional commitment, to make training a successful business endeavor you need to allocate the necessary time, resources and energy. Define your niche, create a marketing plan and be prepared to offer value. If possible, attend workshops given by other photographers and examine what you can offer that’s better or different.
Not every photographer should be a teacher or trainer. To do it successfully you should take real satisfaction from helping others create great images. But as a record number of people become interested in improving their photography skills, there’s an opportunity for professional photographers to earn revenue by sharing the benefit of their skill and experience.
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