A continuing argument I have with older more seasoned shooters is the argument that the photo market hasn't changed, and that young photographers just need to call art directors more and show our books around if we want to be hired.
Well, I have news, the market for new photographers hasn't just changed, it has dried up and blown away.
As a photographer who graduated one year ago from the Art Center, I can say that for everyone I know that has graduated in the last year times have been more then tough.
I try and shoot a test every week, or more if I can. I shoot just to keep myself from the feeling that I am about to go under, about to not be able to make it.
I do every type of marketing that comes my way, but it still isn't getting me notcied by more then a handful of people. (Shout out to my peeps at the LA Weekly and OC Weekly! You rock my world and i love ya!)
Since graduation I have done many small jobs, multiple gallery shows, some work for the wonderful people at the weeklies, background acting in the movies (Iron Man II is going to be so good!), I even have been retouching images for as low as $10 an image; and still i am not making enough. That is a problem.
The photographers aren’t hiring new assistants, that is just plain true. Instead illegal internships are being offered everywhere I look. The jobs that used to go to journeymen photographers are being offered as TFP. Art directors are not calling in our books, and they aren’t answering their phones. Magazines are closing, or streamlining. Agencies want to have free tests for their new faces divisions. Clothing designers want free or $500 lookbooks with all usage rights. Brides expect to have the entire wedding shot for $500 or LESS.
From what I can see there are two places in the photography market right now, scrapping the barrel bottom and already established top. What this economy has done is it has eliminated the middle ground of photographers, and those are the ones most likely to try out new assistants, and their jobs are the ones most likely to go to new shooters.
As those jobs dry up the photographers who did the steady middle clients are dropping their prices, making it even harder for the “newbies” to find a niche.
I have had four editors look at my book this year. All hired me. But with cold calling, email promos and physical mailing I am just not getting through. It is easy to blame the new photographers for not busting their asses enough to get the jobs, but the fact is the jobs aren’t there to get.
I have one final example, a friend of mine won one of the top photography awards for students two years ago. He has teched for several top photographers, he is an incredible portrait, still life and architectural photographer. He works his ass off doing scouting and assisting, and right now he is living with his parents because the jobs aren’t there.