Vintage Photo Books

you are at : [Questions from a BRIGHT 19 year old]

To who it may concern,

I have read your web page, and I found it very informative. I have a few questions about how I can get into photography. I have taken two years of graphics classes in High school, where I participated in a photography unit each year. In these units, I took and developed arole of pictures. I still have one of the cameras which the class used.

I like to take pictures of anything: people, animals, flowers, ect. As of now, I am in my second semester, freshman year, at University of XXXXXXXX. My major is Finance, but I want to switch this to Fine arts. But I need to know if Fine arts is a good major to have under my belt when I am looking for a job.

I am 19 years of age. I am an unemployed student. I work during summers as a xxxxxxxxxx. I would like to see myself working for a magazine or in advertising. I would like to be able to live fairly comfortably, fairly soon after I find a job or start working. If you could get back to me at your convenience, it would be really great. Thanks so much!!

First comment Sue
Is to stick to finance!
You will not be comfortable off in photography for a long, long time assuming you can get a job.

EVERYONE wants to be working for a magazine or in advertising!

Have you read all of my writings & followed all the links at

Read the bit with the link to National Geographic that sums this up fairly well about that coy

I think ALL the people that write to me want to do what you want come back to me with more questions if you wish I do not mind


I am wondering if I should go with your advice and consider myself one of the masses and assume that I will get nowhere with a photography profession.
But what if Annie Lebowitz did this? I can't see myself working in finance however. Yes the money is great, and I will probably make lots of it right off the bat. But I truely believe that I will be unhappy in that profession. I don't know though. If you have any other information that will help me in my decision, please e-mail me. Also, thank you for getting back to me. I am sure you are extremely busy. I appreciate it. I will also read the sites you directed me to. Thanks again!!

Life is full of decisions Sue,
It is important that you collect as much information as you can before you make a decision.

I love photography, but I made my money when I changed from being a photographer to doing work for them, I was always told to be a middle man, someone else gets the work and takes it, I process it and he finishes it and sell it. Nowhere do I have contact with the public, I only have 200 customers so I am not looking for new customers all the time like a photographer and I can employ basic skilled people off the street and pay reasonable wages for them to do all the work. I was one of the largest employers in the town and there was always a waiting list to work for me because the conditions were good!

Kodak bought my business 10 years ago and I was able to retire on my own account without Govt assistance.

All of my friends that were photographers with me are still working as I would have been if I had stayed a photographer.

My reply was based on your comment "I would like to be able to live fairly comfortably, fairly soon after I find a job"

FACT If you attend Brooks Institute and graduate with a degree you will be lucky to find a job at $20,000 per year and you will have a $100,000 loan.

FACT there are very few photographers that are able to retire at 60 and live off their savings. One of my dear friends who is probably one of the best portraiture photographer in America will retire when the govt pension fall due!

FACT the only one of my customers to "Make it" did so in portraiture and has a staff of 25 BUT he has a Engineers Degree AND a MBA and so approached to business from a Engineers precise planning and had the MBA to sort out the running of his business, he learnt photography as he went along, no Photo School, just taking photos that had good expressions. He can retire at 40 if he wants!

Have you studied Annie Lebowitz early career? When did she start making money? Does she make money now, BIG names does not mean Big Money! How many other people started at the same time as her that did not make it.

Some of the people that do make it good in photography marry money, inherit money, get given money by parents, and unfortunately Sue the rest just make a living, at a little above the basic wage when you work out their hourly rate!

This is a decision that will affect the rest of your life so step carefully, I like the fact you have questioned my reply, challenged my thinking, these are attributes that will stand you in good stead in the future. Partially in Finance where you will be taught to question everything.

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I take the situation of giving advise seriously and HAD YOU told me….
I have been taking photos since I was 5 years, I have helped my parent in the darkroom from that age, I started selling photos when I was 10years, I have paid my way thro College with the photos I have taken. I have just been to China for Six months and a publisher is going to publish a book of my photos, But Dad wants me to be a accountant and follow him into the business, Money is not important to me. I would have said GO TO IT be a photographer.

Sue you gave me none of these signs!

Do some research in your city on the photographers there, find some that do the type of work you would like to do, see where they live and the type of car they drive, have a credit check done on them, see if they make the sort of money you would be happy with, if you make it as good as them!

Check with your Bank Manager, see what type of credit rating photographers have as a rule, check with a major Professional lab in your area tell them you are considering being a photographer and ask how many are on cash with order or COD.

I belong, in my retirement to the largest camera club in NZ that happens to be in my City, it if full of all sorts of people, many professional making good money, and they live for their spare time where they can take the photography THEY WISH.

A dear departed friend once defined professional photography to me as; " A product produced for a price, to serve the need of the client, of which he the photographer, may have no wish to show as a example of his work"
There is quite a difference in the enjoyment between the amateur and the professional, one does it for pleasure the other does it to survive!

Challenge some more of my thinking Sue…. I like some one with spirit

The index to all my advise is on


Thanks so much for the reply. I'm glad you like my "spirit." I enjoy yours! I will take your advice and not make a decision now. I will also ask around to other photographers and see what they say. I had a pretty good conversation earlier this month with a young photographer whom I met in Providence through a mutual friend. This was before I came upon your website and contacted you. She didn't seem to be struggling that much. I told her that I had wanted to be a photographer since I started in that class in Highschool.

However, when I went over this with my father, he told me professions in art are extremely competitive. That's why he works for a xxxxxx company and not as an artist.

She made it seem easier than what I had been told, and I will tell you the truth, I didn't really believe that it was as easy as she said.

All my life I have been concerned about how comfortable I would be when I started working. Some relatives only care about money, and those are the ones that I don't really like, and definitely don't want to be like. And I have just started realizing that I would rather be happy than rich. I definitley don't care about the money factor, for a few reasons:
1) My family is very happy and they live check by check. They don't know what could happen next.

2) My best friend just moved to California by herself, and is now working 2 jobs, going to school, and paying rent. She has no money. Sometimes she can't even eat. But, she is happier than she has ever been in her whole life.

3) I have seen what money can do to people, and I definitely don't want to be that. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be successful, but I want to be grateful for it too. So at this point, I will most likely stay with Finance, or something of the sorts, and go from there. I value everything you have said to me and feel privilaged to have been in contact with you.
Please keep in touch!

Sue, your father is very wise!

  • without money I could not have the web site I have (I sell nothing from it, it is just there)
  • without money I could not travel as I wish
  • without money I could not buy the cameras I want & take the photos I want in the volume that I do
  • without money I could not have a laptop computer to reply to your emails
  • My family, also, when I was young, went from check to check with nothing left over
  • so I have had both, thanks, I will keep the money
  • Money does not make you mean, awful, nasty, despiteful, etc. that is the person not the money
  • send me a email from time to time to let me know how you are doing


You are very right about the money thing, and as I said I would love to have money, I just believe that I should work my way up, which is what I probably will have to do.