The title: Visionmongers, Making a Life and a Living in Photography is a perfect title. It was written by David duChemin who writes the pixelatedimage blog. He also wrote the book “Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision“. (See also this “interview” I did with him after reading Within the Frame.)
This book is a blend of the two. David is very clear in this book that if what you want is to make a living in photography, he wants to help you find out how to make a life in photography. There is a difference. You need to find a way to do something that you enjoy, find a balance between work and family, and find a way to feed your family.
If you are thinking of leaving “your day job”, or have recently jumped ship, or are starting to make some money from photography, this book is for you. In fact, if you are a working photographer, and feeling frustrated, this is also probably a good read for you.
So how does David DuChemin tell you how to make a life in photography in Visionmongers? He scares the shit out you. Seriously. I put the book down several times to go shoot instead of read. I kept thinking “Am I really good enough?” (Which is something that he addresses.) I think this was somewhat his intention. David follows a thin line (successfully I think) where he tries to make sure you understand just what you would be getting into. This is not an easy road. This is not a glamorous job. This is not a two hours a day job. This is hard work. Damn, I gave away the killer secret in the book already. Oh well.
David doesn’t want to scare you out of the life of a photographer. He is not afraid of anyone taking his job. He has made is own job. That’s a big theme in this book: making your own job. He just wants to make sure you really want to do this.
So after getting shocked a couple of times, and trying to take a real look at who you are, what your photography is like, and where you want to go, if you are still reading, David is back to all smiles. Back to giving honest, practical information, and concrete ideas about how you can get going as a full time paid photographer. (Ok, the whole book is refreshingly honest, but the second part isn’t as scary 🙂
There is a ton of information in here that while very relevant to photographers, isn’t really about photography:
- Understanding what you are good at, and what your market wants
- Learning how to serve your customers and exceed expectations
- Basic marketing (logo, business cards, website)
- Importance of contracts and insurance
- Understanding finances (assets, liabilities, debt, pricing)
You aren’t going to be reading this book to learn what you should be shooting. Look to “Within the Frame” for that. You are reading this book because you want to know exactly how to make the transition from amateur to professional. You get the answer. You get the answer from several people in fact: Chase Jarvis, Gavin Gough, Zack Arias, and some others. David and the others all say the same thing:
- Be good at what you do (taking pictures with vision)
- Find a market to serve (while doing what you love)
- Work really really hard
No silver¬† bullets here, but there is sound information you can apply in your own journey. As someone who wants to make the transition, I think this book succeeds in preparing one for the journey ahead, and in providing some great “1st step” marketing business advice. David mentions some other books in this one as follow ups for some of the business and marketing ideas that he has presented too. Who knows they might end up getting reviewed here.
Anyway, if you fit the criteria I mentioned at the top, of a photographer that wants to transition to paid work, part or full time, or a beginning photographer that wants some more business advice, then this is a must read.