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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

7 Photographers Share What They Love (and Hate) About Their Jobs

7 Photographers Share What They Love (and Hate) About Their Jobs
Credit: Pikoso.kz/Shutterstock

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a photographer? For the art-inclined, a creative job like this could be the ideal career, but that doesn't mean working as a photographer is all fun and glamour.  

Photography is a fascinating and important field full of niche markets like wedding and portrait photography, commercial and fashion photography, animal photography and more. And, of course, there are perks to the job — like traveling, schedule flexibility and the ability to pursue your own unique artistic vision — but there are also just as many challenges and pitfalls in photography as there are in any other business. 

Wondering what it's really like to work in photography? Business News Daily asked professional photographers what they love and hate about their jobs. Here's what they had to say. 

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Emily Malan: I'm a freelance lifestyle and fashion photographer based in New York City. I shoot street style and freelance for magazines, trend companies and fashion brands, and I travel to Europe twice a year and shoot outside of Fashion Week shows.

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

Malan: I'm constantly scheming new ways to get a new client — it could be just cold emailing a pitch or sending a promo, or creating new work and sending it over to a photo editor or art director. I get to make creative work, meet new people and experience new things that probably would have taken longer to achieve if I had a regular office job. For example, traveling is hard when you're on salary and you have to take time off from work. With the nature of my work, I can incorporate my freelance jobs with traveling. Another perk is that I get to work with my friends! I've met so many great people on set and also made a few work connections through the Internet who are now my friends, and we hang out outside the context of photoshoots. 

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

Malan: There are drawbacks to the flexibility. I'm constantly shooting for clients, looking for work, chasing money and on vacation simultaneously. It's pretty easy to get burnt out. My busiest times in the year are during Fashion Week, which is essentially a monthlong affair that happens twice a year in September and February. During Fashion Week, I'm running around Manhattan, chasing down models to get that one perfect shot, or getting lost in a foreign city and then fighting to get photos with at least another couple hundred photographers. Another thing I've been struggling with lately is this perception people have of me that I'm hardly working and that life is glamorous. People think photography is very glamorous and easy, but it really isn't. I have to chase money down all the time, and there are also long periods of time when no work comes in. 

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Joyce Lee: I am a commercial freelance photographer. My work has appeared in magazines including Real Simple, Condé Nast Traveler and Esquire, and I have shot advertising images for clients such as Kate Spade, Clinique and Bloomingdale's.   

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

Lee: Creating something completely from scratch is immensely satisfying. I love collaborating with other creatives to achieve a common goal. I also enjoy the problem-solving aspect of photography. For [me], being a photographer is a right-meets-left-brain profession. I am constantly tapping into my creative and analytical sides when shooting. 

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

Lee: A large part of being a photographer is spent marketing and promoting your work. This is less enjoyable than the actual creative process, but it is necessary when choosing to be a commercial photographer.

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Will Deleon: I am a commercial-product and still-life photographer based in Los Angeles.    

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

Deleon: I love that I am able to be creative every single day and make a decent living doing so. There isn't a day I think of going to "work"… I just get paid to do what I love.  

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

Deleon: Not being tied down to a 9-to-5 [job] is something many aspire to achieve, but also fear. As you may already know, freelancing comes with the great price of instability. There may be times where there is no work and times where there is an overwhelming amount. It took some time to get it dialed in, but with the proper budgeting, it's not bad at all!

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Barbara O'Brien: I am a real people and animal photographer serving advertising and editorial clients. I was (and still am) an animal-actor trainer before I started shooting in 2008. I shoot ads and national campaigns for clients like Purina, Pfizer, 3M, Target and Iams.

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

O'Brien: I love that I get up in the morning and think to myself, "What do I want to create today?" Nobody is directing my efforts, and I am free to imagine the best way to use the images I have or [decide] what to shoot next. When I do shoot for a particular client, it is still a collaborative effort, because they have hired me for my style and vision and we work to get that in the images we produce. I love that I get to play with animals almost every day — either my own or ones that I am photographing. I get to meet wonderful people from all over the country and tell their stories through my work. I get to work with incredibly talented and kind people from advertising clients to the fantastically gifted crew I get to hire for big shoots.

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

O'Brien: What I don't like about my job is how hard it is to get paid in a timely manner. I have discovered the bigger the company, the longer it takes to get paid. Don't get me wrong: The companies are not disputing the invoice; it's just their policy to hold off paying for 60 — and sometimes even 90 — days. [It's] hard to run a small business on those terms. Another difficultly I face is the need to educate clients [about] why they can't get a champagne shoot on a beer budget. They see some imagery I have created and want a shoot with similar production value, not realizing that the image was produced by a crew of over 10 people — not including the models and location. I do my best to give them the most bang for their buck, but sometimes, you have to help with their expectations. Which leads to another point: Working with animals is the most fun ever, but I get frustrated when a client wants the animals to perform behaviors that are not natural to them or they just cannot do. 

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Kristin Griffin: I run Kristin Griffin Photography, a boutique wedding photography business based out of Boston. I've operated the business since 2004, and I shoot 20 to 30 weddings per year — mostly in New England, although I occasionally travel for destination weddings in the United States and abroad.  

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

Griffin: I love the freedom my job affords me. Because I own the business, I'm the boss and get to plan my work hours around my family and personal needs. I can also choose which jobs to accept, where I want to advertise, my price point and what services I'll offer. Personally, I find the stress of a wedding day thrilling, although I know this is not the case for many photographers. I enjoy my niche of photography because it's one of the few that will have me photographing portraits, landscapes, still-lives/products (rings, flowers, etc.), photojournalism, event photography, food, night shots and even pets all in the same shoot, usually under a compressed timeline, working with real people instead of trained models, and in weather and locations that I have little control over, without the ability to reshoot. There are no do-overs when it comes to a wedding, but I love the challenge of it!  

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

Griffin: The thing I hate most about the job is the insecurity of not always knowing that your calendar will fill year to year. It always seems to fill somehow, but there are lean times each year where you have to be diligent with your budget and work hard for your bookings. Wedding photography tends to be very seasonal! When this is your primary paycheck, your business has to succeed, and although I've worked very hard at earning positive reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, positive vendor relations and community respect, I have few repeat customers! And that's a good thing — I'd rather have my clients stay happily married and never personally need a wedding photographer again. But it means that I have to continually market and earn new business, versus a commercial photographer, fashion photographer or family portrait photographer that could have the same clients use their services year after year. 

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Thomas Wasinksi: I am a full-time drone pilot and aerial photographer. I provide professional photos for real estate, hospitality (hotels and golf courses) and construction [companies] and live events.

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

Wasinski: I love being able to provide stunning aerial perspectives for our clients. Since we use drones to capture some of our best work, we are in a niche market, [and we don't] have any competition in our market at this time. 

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

Wasinski: I hate that I am not able to work on days that the weather is bad. I don't fly my equipment in heavy rain and/or heavy wind. Also, we can't deliver service to any location that is within 5 miles of any major airport. That makes it a little difficult to get involved in all of the projects that our customers need us for. 

Business News Daily: What do you do?

Meg Raiano: I'm a portrait photographer based in Connecticut. I'm an entrepreneur who runs her portrait studio out of her home.

BND: What do you love most about your job, and why?

Raiano: My favorite things about what I do are that I strive to make people feel confident and more beautiful than they've ever felt in their lives, [and] I get to make a living doing something that I am absolutely enamored with. I love being able to create beautiful images for my clients while still maintaining my artistic vision. 

BND: What do you hate most about your job, and why?

Raiano: It can be hard working with other creative people whose visions differ from yours, especially when you've hired them to do hair, makeup or styling. Chasing clients for unpaid balances is really my biggest dislike, [as well as] the constant struggle to be better than my last shoot. I constantly work toward making my client images better with each shoot. I have confidence in my work, but also feel the pressure I put upon myself to make every single shoot better than the last. 

Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.