Pickerells-Book: Building a Successful Photography Career

October 25th, 2010 by

Jim Pickerell is a veteran of the photo wars and is still in the bunkers telling it like it is in his new e-book Secrets to Building a Successful Photography Career. (See order information and discount code below). It’s not easy to write a book about success in a profession by starting out with a chapter that points out all the reasons NOT to get into it. It’s a message that needs be told right up front before anyone goes further into the book and Jim has the courage to point it out.

He suggests that schools and universities that are encouraging students to go into photography should add the book to their curriculum. (Ordinarily one might think that a statement like that is a lame attempt by an author to sell more books…but in this case, I fully agree. The schools continue to send out far more photographers than the profession can support. Some straight talk is in order).

Jim has always been a numbers guy…no less here. I don’t always agree with his math but he provides enough stats to keep one busy and most seem to be on target. And these days with Getty a private concern, as Jim points out, hard sales figures are difficult to come by.

Secrets to Success talks straight about the decline of the print markets and Jim looks ahead at internet as a venue for distribution and licensing of photographs. Like all things in today’s world, things go out of date as quickly as they are produced. In this case because Jim has chosen to use the e-book format, he will be able to update easily as things change. After a week using the iPad, I suspect that his next edition will be less about the decline of print use of photos and much more about how the iPad and other tablets have opened up those markets. If that occurs, you can be certain that Jim will be there to report on it.

Jim’s experience in the last couple of decades has been exclusively in stock photography and thus the book has more to say about that than assignment photography. Again he is not overly optimistic about a future supported by stock income from photographer self-produced shoots. He goes on to point out that five different sources suggest that photographers should look forward to an average mid-career annual income of between roughly $40,000 to $50,000.

In light of that fact, consider this:

The median expected salary for a typical Police Patrol Officer in the United States is $49,787. [This basic market pricing report was prepared using our Certified Compensation Professionals’ analysis of survey data collected from thousands of HR departments at employers of all sizes, industries and geographies.-National Association of Human Resource Professionals.]

Part of the disconnect between the stock photographer of a decade ago and those facing career choices today, is a matter of financial expectation. It was not unusual for a stock photographer to make $75,000 to $100,000 in stock income ten years ago. Perhaps the best thing that Jim’s book does for the industry is to point out that at least if you are shooting photos, you have a chance to make more money than those who have chosen to be shot at while at work.

Starting with Chapter 7. Pickerell gets positive offering great advice about marketing, selling fine art, wedding photography and finally the growth of video. I’ve given you his take on all the bad news; now buy his book to find out how you can rise above it and learn the Secrets to a Successful Photography Career that he emphasizes in great detail in the last two thirds of the book.