I took the jump from an established position on a strong team in the city, and am now trying to become a photographer. This was not a poorly researched endeavour, in fact I spent a great deal of time looking into it and speaking to various people in the industry. I was, and still am, met with scepticism and disbelief on the whole. The slightly older generation of photographers look confused and ask me why, and isn't that a little mad? On first and entirely non-scientific observation, I find that those that started their careers in 35mm film format are a lot more negative (pun not intended) than those that started in the digital age, and I think that this is to do with expectation. The photographer, as an entity, was once in higher demand on a more linear, simple basis. Currently the traditional revenue streams are shrinking rapidly. However now I think that theres a wealth of new demands for imagery that is now developing, and the challenge to learn a little diversification and subsequently time-management and choice-management (is that a phrase?) is imperative.
The point is that with the advent of cheaper digital methods, just about everyone seems to be a keen and high quality photographer. Two things spring to mind - firstly what on earth do I have to do to separate myself from the keen amateurs, and step into the realm of 'professional' (seriously, please comment, I am all ears)? Secondly I think the image-making industry as a whole is actually hitting the levels of competition seen in every other market where there's good money to be had - this is a natural process and I am just unfortunate that I wasn't around earlier to take advantage of the opportunities available. Regardless, a lot of people are still making a living out of the business, but now we just see more failing early on. Competitive markets are hard to make money in as an individual, but are of a far higher quality as a whole.
Anyway, I'm starting out, and am already preaching as to the state of the industry. I should probably stop, as I will have to write again/eat my words in a few years time! Here is my plan though (something that will be eternally ephemeral in substance and in subject): As a wildlife photographer recently said, the most powerful method is through narration not imagery, of any kind, so I intend to put a few things together. Alongside a few less idealistic and more money-making jobs of course! Here's hoping I start to gather a little momentum.
Here is a photo of a dog and one of a hoverfly in a shaft of light, in order to keep gratuitously to the soul of what is a photographer's blog: