business photography

Professional Outdoor Photographer - is there a future for professionals?

Is there a future as a professional outdoor photographer? As a professional outdoor photographer, I think about the future of outdoor photography, and where the art or profession is headed as a way to make a living.  I'm asked questions like, "aren't you afraid that you wont be able to make money," and "what about all the competition - everyone has a camera these days and are literally giving away their photos just to see their names in print - doesn't that worry you?"  Another common one, "what do you fear most about the future of your profession." People are assuming that the profession of photography is dying due to lower barriers to entry, more free time, more people with more money, and the improvement in technology, not to mention the changing culture and the fact that today's younger generation want what they want, and they wont be guided by rules and constraints. . . Saint Mary Lake storm, Glacier National Park, montana

So here's my answer. It's always the same, "I'm worried about my health (I'm not sick, but as our bodies wear out, it's harder to stay on top in the outdoor photography world), motivation to keep going, and ultimately my happiness." I don't spend time worrying about what other's say, do, or publish. I don't worry about the prices I'm paid for my hard work dropping though the floor. I'm in competition with myself to do the best job I can and make certain that everyone of my clients is taken care of. In other words, I just do what I do, and let the chips fall where they may.

So, why am I writing this? I'm writing this because I read a great article about photography and the new generation, and I absolutely loved it! I wanted to share it with my community of photographers.

The future is exactly where the past has been. Moving forward. Inventing newer, faster, smaller, better ways of visually communicating. The profession will leave behind those that can't or wont adjust. There's no stopping the momentum.

To me it's like a wave. If you're surfing, you're either paddling out and over the wave, riding in front of the wave trying to get enough speed to actually ride the wave (get on top of it), or you crash . . .  I feel like I've always been paddling in front of the wave but never really been on the top - "owning it," so to speak. . .  As good as some of my work is, (I'm not back slapping, I'm acknowledging hard work,) I still feel like I'm never "killing-it." The younger generation does not worry about "killing it."  They "kick-it." They grow their hair out like we did when we were kids and I swear if I had my Welcome Back Kotter (I hope some of you remember that show) t-shirt that said, "up your nose with a rubber hose," I could sell it to one of these kids for a mint! That's just the way things are going . . .  No restrictions, and no boundaries. The rules are blurry and becoming more blurry by the day. The younger generation is not compelled to follow the traditional process or get stuck in the quagmire of some sophisticated system of becoming an artist, they just do it!

The future of the professional outdoor photographer is positive.  There is a future in it for those who are willing to embrace change learn to live the lifestyle . . .  So, embrace the future. Move with it not against it.  Ride the wave but better yet, skip "killing-it," and go right to "kickn-it."

If you're into photography, or philosophy, read this pieces by Kirk Tuck, I think you'll like it!   Here is the link to Kirk Tuck's article,

The graying of traditional photography and why everything is getting re-invented in a form we don't understand.

Where do you think photography is headed?  What are your challenges?


Tony Bynum

P.S. Check out this great interview with Maury Postal if you want the "big-shot's, take on professional photography, it's worth the read