My business works because it's actually not a business. And by this I mean I hardly make any money with my pictures. For me photography is not a way to make money but to invest money, and I work several other jobs to be able to pay for my art. I'm a tour guide on waste to energy plants and wastewater treatment facilities, I'm a concierge at the house I'm living, I work as a Photoshop instructor and on weekends I take care of the library of the University.
Sometimes people say to me: I can hardly believe you're not making money with your photos because they are better than the work of many professional photographers.
Of course it's flattering when somebody says something like that even if I don't always agree. But here's the thing: the very reason why I'm able to work on this level is because I don't have to make money with my pictures. If you're a photographer who wants to make a living out of it you are forced to do things differently. You have to focus on what your customers like and not what you like, even if you're the artist and they're not. And if they pay several hundred bucks for a shooting they are going to want more than just one picture. They don't understand that sometimes it's better to have just one outstanding shot than a lot of the same. And also, because most people don't like how they naturally look, they don't even recognize a good portrait of themselves.
I have calculated that I spend around thousand bucks for every picture I publish. I pay for the location, I pay for the model's compensation, I pay for her travel as well as for mine and I don't pay a salary to myself. Not for the shooting and not for the editing. That's a lot of unpaid hours. My friends and my family all think only a fool would throw his money and his energy out of the window like this. But the truth is I have always been a fool. And it was the only way I have been able to make those pictures.
People often think if you're successful and famous you also have to be rich. This may be true for a Hollywood star but apart from that there are a lot of successful artists who are not rich. Goethe never made a fortune with his poems, he was a clerk for most of his life.
There's a common misconception about the reasons why someone chooses the way of an artist. A lot of people seem to think you want to be an artist because you are not satisfied with the career you can have with a normal job. They think you want a bigger career and a more glamorous life and that is why you're trying to be an artist. What they don't see is that maybe you want to be an artist because there is something in you that wants to get out. If you want to get rich your odds are actually a lot better if you don't become an artist. My life isn't glamorous at all. I have to work hard and compared to my friends I am poor. But still I feel rich. I feel rich because I can put all my efforts into my work without having to ask if I ever get it back. And that's how my business works.