I just finished reading VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography by David duChemin. I bought the Kindle version of the book from Amazon. I purchased it because I feel and keep thinking that one day I think I want to earn a living from photography. I just sort of have this idea stuck in my head, but I really don’t know where to start, how to start, or what it takes to make your craft your vocation. I’m just kind of clueless on the business side of things and how to do it and what to do first. I feel like I’m surrounded by fog or that I’m just lost and need something to get me started and to guide me. So I bought this book hoping that it would show me the way or at least get me on the right track. I’ve read other books by David duChemin before like Ten and Ten More and some of his other books at Craft&Vision. Before hitting the “Buy now with 1-Click” button at Amazon, I read the reviews and it certainly has really good reviews. So I bought it and now I’m writing my own review. By todays standards, this book isn’t new. I mean this thing was published in 2010. That was ages ago, but that’s okay, because the underlying principles that are covered in this book are in some ways timeless.
This book has five chapters.
- Chapter 1: Foundations
- Chapter 2: Work, Work, Work
- Chapter 3: Sounding Your Barbaric Yawp
- Chapter 4: Business and Finance
- Chapter 5: It’s a Brave New World
All of these chapters except for Chapter 5, which is really just the conclusion of the book, are loaded. Chapter 1 talks about the importance of vision and passion. If you are going to get into photography for a living, you need to have vision and passion to define you and keep you going. It’s not about the money honey. After chapter 1, you should have a pretty good idea of whether you should make a living in photography or not.
Chapter 2 lives up to its title. Here David duChemin just plainly lays it out – making a living in photography ain’t gonna be easy. It will takes lots of work and there’s no secret shortcut. I really like this chapter because of its emphasis on working hard and really earning something. To me that’s just really encouraging because when the going gets tough, you know it’s supposed to be that way and that you haven’t made a wrong turn just because the road is rough and full of potholes.
Chapter 3 is about marketing. He talks about general principles and foundations which he calls “The Four Pillars” and these are creativity, congruency, consistency, and commitment. Then he gets into specifics like logos, websites, postcards, and about making connections and getting yourself out there. There is a lot more to this chapter it is just loaded. There’s so much good stuff there that I wish I had taken some notes.
Chapter 4, just like the title says, is about the business side of things and managing your finances. Again, David duChemin discusses principles like the importance of staying debt free, the need for contracts, and project scope management. He doesn’t get into specifics of how to make a budget or what software you should use to manage your finance. This book isn’t about that, instead it tells you why you need a budget and why you should stay debt free. It tells you why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket and then shows you how you can diversify your income streams.
In Chapter 5, David duChemin wraps things up and goes back to a theme that’s present throughout the book, and that is, making your craft your vocation, that transitioning to making a living in photography is a unique journey. There isn’t necessarily a well worn path to follow, you have to make your own path and make journey yours. To drive this theme forward, throughout the book there are over seven stories or interviews of people who are making a living in photography, and these highlight the journey that these photographers have been and are on.
I will probably be re-reading this book in the future because I think it is just so rich in content. When I do, I will make it a point to have a notepad next to me so I can take notes. If you decide to get this book, and if you are thinking about going into photography either full time or just on the side and you have no idea where to start, I encourage you to read this book,but make sure to take notes. Oh, don’t forget to read the interview with Joe McNally in the appendix.
If you are interested in photography and would like to learn more about it and improve your craft without having to buy more gear, then take a loot at the Craft and Vision books. They even have a free one here and the other books are pretty inexpensive like only $5 and they usually have some kind of sale or bundle discount. So definitely check them out.
Next on my reading list is another book, this one by Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen and its called Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer. Instead of buying this one, I checked my local library and they had it! So I checked it out and have a week or two before I have to return it, and I can probably even renew it. I actually have quite a few more books on my reading list, but this is probably going to be the next one. Actually, I’m currently reading and almost finished with Part 2 of Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book I was able to get the kindle of edition of the boxed set for really cheap on cyber monday.