Alternative ways to pay the rent


in Economics, Photography, Politics

Previously, I wrote about why photography may make a better hobby than a career. I still think the points made there are valid, but I have been finding myself thinking about my options for the future and trying my hand at commercial photography and photojournalism is an option that is not entirely lacking in appeal.

It seems plausible that there will be a demand for photographers for the foreseeable future, even if the world becomes significantly poorer and less stable for whatever reason. Even as high-definition video capabilities proliferate, photos continue to have relevance and importance.

Indeed, the ability of photography to contribute to the social and political evolution of society is one of the more intriguing and appealing things about it. Photographs have power, in that they change how people think about things. Standing in the media pen in Washington DC, surrounded by police officers with guns, I made a mental note about how the still and video cameras in the hands of the journalists present were actually the more powerful tools that day – they actually had some effect on what happened, and the consequences that arose from it.

As a photographer, it would be necessary to hustle and market myself quite a bit in order to get enough work to live tolerably. There is also the requirement that you satisfy the preferences of clients rather than your own aesthetic preferences. Still, it is a possibility that could allow for significant personal freedom, which would be welcome.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

BuddyRich September 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

Not sure how easy it is to break into photojournalism as a career but if you are of an entrepreneurial bent you can make good money doing wedding photography, though its hard to live off that alone, as its somewhat seasonal. The real money comes from providing print packages after the shoot…

Milan September 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Nobody wants to pay for prints these days – it seems. They just want the original image files on DVD, suitably prettied up using Photoshop / Lightroom / whatever.

I think it’s by-the-hour shooting and processing charges that photographers live on increasingly.

. September 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Enrol in the Canadian Forces through the Regular Force Officer Training Plan (ROTP) and you will receive free university tuition, books and academic equipment in addition to a salary with benefits. You can attend the Royal Military College or an approved Canadian university. Finally, you will have a guaranteed job upon graduation.

In return for having your university education paid for, you will have to serve between 36 and 48 months, calculated on the basis of two months’ service for each month of subsidized education.

Milan September 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I have often thought doing another undergraduate degree in science or engineering would be much more educational than doing a doctorate in political science or international relations.

Of course, a major barrier to that is the cost. Taking advantage of the offer above doesn’t seem entirely preposterous, despite my skepticism about nationalism and the armed forces.

. September 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm

We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

. September 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

. September 20, 2011 at 8:59 am

The medium chill involves what economists call satisficing: abandoning the quest for the ideal in favor of the good-enough. It means stepping off the aspirational treadmill, foregoing some material opportunities and accepting some material constraints in exchange for more time to spend on relationships and experiences.

It turns out, though, that satisficing doesn’t come easy to us human beings. We have an extremely hard time saying, “okay, this is good enough.” Why?

Part of the reason is that we hate closing off opportunities, and that’s what satisficing feels like. We like to keep our options open in case something better comes along.

. September 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm

And the human cost of the economic crisis is paid largely by those who are out of work, for joblessness increases depression, divorce, substance abuse and pretty much everything that can go wrong in a life.

Worse, today’s joblessness is a particularly dangerous sort. A disproportionate share of those out of work are young, and youth unemployment leaves more scars, in terms of lower future wages and greater likelihood of future unemployment (see article). Joblessness is also becoming more chronic. In America, famous for its flexible labour market, the average jobless spell now lasts 40 weeks, up from 17 in 2007. In Italy half of those without work have been so for more than a year. Long-term unemployment is harder to cure, as people’s skills atrophy and they become detached from the workforce. Its shadow lingers, reducing future growth rates, damaging public finances and straining social order for years to come.

. September 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm

These are serious problems. Young people who are out of work for long stretches at the start of their career can become permanently scarred by the experience and may never get back on track. The longer that people of any age are out of work, the less likely they are ever to find another job. And “once a person is on disability benefit that is in effect the end,” says Robert Reich, an economist at Berkeley who was America’s labour secretary under Bill Clinton.

. September 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

MARIA GIL ULLDEMOLINS is a smart, confident young woman. She has one degree from Britain and is about to conclude another in her native Spain. And she feels that she has no future.

Ms Ulldemolins belongs to a generation of young Spaniards who feel that the implicit contract they accepted with their country—work hard, and you can have a better life than your parents—has been broken. Before the financial crisis Spanish unemployment, a perennial problem, was pushed down by credit-fuelled growth and a prolonged construction boom: in 2007 it was just 8%. Today it is 21.2%, and among the young a staggering 46.2%. “I trained for a world that doesn’t exist,” says Ms Ulldemolins.

. January 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I always felt that journalism was just a ticket to ride out, that I was basically meant for higher things. Novels. More status in being a novelist. When I went to Puerto Rico in the sixties William Kennedy and I would argue about it. He was the managing editor of the local paper; he was the journalist. I was the writer, the higher calling. I felt so strongly about it that I almost wouldn’t do journalism. I figured in order to be a real writer, I’d have to write novels. That’s why I wrote Rum Diary first. Hell’s Angels started off as just another down-and-out assignment. Then I got over the idea that journalism was a lower calling. Journalism is fun because it offers immediate work. You get hired and at least you can cover the fucking City Hall. It’s exciting. It’s a guaranteed chance to write. It’s a natural place to take refuge in if you’re not selling novels. Writing novels is a lot lonelier work.

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