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  1. #1
    Peace to all creatures great and small ERdept's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    USA Baby!

    I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me

    I am currently an ER nurse and do not like my job at all. I wake up dreadkng everyday I have to work and although I want to get paid to lounge or mountain bike or sit in a hammock, but cannot find anyone to pay me for this.

    I am seroiusly considering starting a photogrpaphy career, even though I am not even good at it. It's just that I enjoy it. Is it possible to start a career in photography and support oneself once you learn the business. I may be going through a mid life crisis and have had small but not seroius thoughts of suicide even because of the people I work with and the nature of my hatred for my job.

    Is it really possible to start a photography business and learn as I go along? I can work from home to start, or be an apprentice for free. I am serious here and cannot speak to my friends, they feel that I am crazy. I do not want my lifbe to e one big disappointment on my death bed. Any suggestions at all. I see people miserable in their jobs all the time and do not want to be like them with a permanent frown on my face and a bad attitude. Like is one time and I want to enjoy it. Trust me, I am not crazy, just aware of a dissatisfaction and a desire for change. My heart is open in this letter. Please don't refer me to counseling.

    Cliff C.

  2. #2
    Newest Nikon Samurai zrfraser's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Carrollton, GA, United States

    Re: I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me

    Anything is possible, you just have to work at it. You say you are not that good at photography? It will be hard to start off with, but there are a few routes I think you can take. First, if you hate your job then quit and find something for the time being to pay bills. I suggest working in a camera shop, or someplace that sells cameras. This way you can interact with other photogs and see if they need any help with any upcoming events. This could lead to an assistantship, which are very helpful. A photog will hire you carry their bags and gear, set up, and tear down. They might also want you to be a second shooter and they will generally pay you about 100 bucks. Second, I reccommend taking a photography course at your local university. It can be either digital or black and white, but it will teach you the basics of photography and give you a chance to hone your skills and honest feedback of what you are doing wrong. You can always find new work, I just switched jobs, because of the same situtation you were in. Granted it was part time work it was still hell. I now make more money and get to work around computers and cameras and talk to people about those things.

    I wish you the best of luck and hope you keep posting here. Also, let us know what you decide to do.

    Hell, there are no rules here-- we're trying to accomplish something.
    Thomas A. Edison

    Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
    Thomas A. Edison

  3. #3
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Phoenix AZ

    Re: I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me

    Quote Originally Posted by ERdept
    Trust me, I am not crazy, just aware of a dissatisfaction and a desire for change.
    I don't think you're crazy. I don't get the feeling you want to kill yourself. I get the feeling you are sick of your life situation and want a change.

    Z had some great suggestions. You can start by using this website. Look at the "Welcome" thread linked to in my signature. In there, you can find a link to our "Learning" section, which has some basic information on learning photography skills. You can also peruse the FAQ's for more information about photography. If you have specific questions, ask in the Help Files or Viewfinder, or PM one of the mods or veteran members here. One of the best ways in which this site has helped me is by inspiring me with all the great work, letting me see what is possible, and making me want to become a better photographer. Fast. So take a look through the galleries, pick out the shots you think are best, begin asking yourself what style of photography you want to emulate. And pursue that.

    Yes, you can make a living as a photographer. No, you can't learn as you go.

    A better plan might be to phase in your photography work as you phase out your nursing work. Let your nursing pay the bills as you take classes, take pictures, develop your business plan, and eventually earn an income as a photographer. A lot of folks (myself included) originally want to jump right into a photographic career, and begin making money right away. While exciting, this avenue is probably not likely. Photography is a wonderful art form, and like most art forms needs to be practiced and developed. Becoming a photographer also means running a business, which takes skill and attention. By leaning on your current job to support your photography, you can begin to explore your photographic side without the added pressure of needing to be making a living at it at the same time. Trust me, that kind of pressure can kill the creative juices. You want your learning years to be full of excitement and growth, not the pressures of making a living.

    A great idea Z had and something I found tremendously helpful was working at a camera store. The pay sucked. The customers sucked. But I learned so much about photography that is was... well, mostly worth it The people you meet can open doors to other jobs and possibilities. And, well, it's just damn cool to work with photography.

    The other smart thing I did early on was take a couple of photography classes at a local community college. There were plenty of adult students, so I didn't feel "old." And you can start with the basics learning exposure and composition, or take advanced courses and learn about the business end with marketing, websites, fees, and administration. With community college fees very low, it was well worth it for me.

    Perhaps the best salve for your negative feelings right now is to go out and take pictures. When I get stressed, this is a great relaxation tool for me. It takes my mind off of things, it gets my creative juices flowing, and because I shoot nature, it gets me outside, walking and enjoying the outdoors. Plus, since you are interested in pursuing this as an occupation, you are building skills in the meantime.

    Sit down and take a look at your skills and resume. What else could you be doing? If photography doesn't pan out, what's plan B? C? Can you afford to go part-time in your current job while you look for another? What are your resources? Do you have a partner that can support you through a career change? Feelings like these can make us want to take drastic action. But in reality, it's usually better to bite things like this off in chunks. If you can create a game plan, set a goal, determine a direction, it might help you feel a lot better about your current job and help you get through the days a little easier.

    I wish you luck with your endeavor. Let us know how you are doing. Please, take baby steps. No need for dramatic action at this point. And, whatever you do, PLEASE DON'T KILL YOURSELF!

    Your pictures can't be that bad.
    Walter Rick Long
    Nikon Samurai, Mamiya Master, Velvia Bandit

    Check out the Welcome Thread

    My photography on Myspace

  4. #4
    GoldMember Lava Lamp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Re: I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me

    Dr. Lava says: Think about what it is that you don't like about your current job and see if you can change that and still make a living (i.e., if you hate the people, maybe you can work in a lab/if you hate the hours, maybe you can get a visiting nurse job.) Work in photography as a part time job. Maybe you can make enough at it to allow you to make some choices like those above.

  5. #5
    has-been... another view's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Rockford, IL

    Re: I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me

    Quote Originally Posted by walterick
    No, you can't learn as you go.
    Well - there is a certain extent that you need to know before becoming a professional anything, but photography should be a continuous learning process. If it's not you'll hate it as much as your current situation at some point. You don't want to have to turn down a potential client because you don't know how to do the shot that they're asking for. OTOH, if you want to specialize in architecture then portraits might not be your strong point but you should be able to do a good portrait regardless of what you do (I'll bet that you get a lot of inquiries about that once you go in business so it's a good skill to learn).

    I agree with Rick about phasing it in. Figure out what you want to shoot (portraits, architecture, products, news) and then build a portfolio. Some photographers I've seen who are full time professionals may not have the most technically perfect and artistic shots, but that's not always needed. These people are very good business people though. Self promotion is extremely important too.

  6. #6
    Peace to all creatures great and small ERdept's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    USA Baby!

    Re: I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me

    well, I'm taking your collective advice and asking the married people how much they were charged for their wedding photogrphs since I figure the staple income is wedding photos. I would like to try transitionsing to a few days of photo work while i support myself with my man income. Also, as i do more photos, i'll cut back on regular work days and work from hoome.

    I think people at work can sense my disdain and sarcasm by my commentarys such as when God will take me, like he has some of the folks who didn't make it out alive and how much longer I can do this job, w/o going crazy.

    Anyway, thanks.


  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Wink Re: I hate my job, I'm 40. I want to do something else. Please, please help me


    My 2 cents.. advice is free.. won't even charge you 2 cents for it.

    If you want to change careers, especially going into working for yourself (and I'm assuming loosely that's what you want to do, not be a staff photographer somewhere) then you have to do a feasability study. Figure out how much money you'd need to make working for yourself in order to support the lifestyle that you currently have, or at least one that you could pay the bills with.

    I am assuming that you don't have any business education or background in it. Again, you could be a business wizard so forgive me if I'm wrong here. Even though I have an MBA I never took a small business course of any kind so I went to the bookstore and bought "Small Businesses for Dummies." I love those books! Very easy to read and they give great information.

    Check out your local community college because they often have a course or 2 for people interested in starting their own business and have business resource centers to help you get through all of the start up type stuff.

    No matter if you're going into business selling pizzas or pictures, you need to have a business plan. The book I mentioned before will give you references on how to write one. You also have to have an "exit strategy." In other words, at what point do you bail out if it's not working. This is very critical and most people don't do this because they only want to think positive. But once the ship starts to sink if you don't have an exit strategy then you have no idea when to jump ship and save your skin.

    In any business you must have a competitve advantage to make it. What is your competitive advantage? Why are you better than the next person? What it is about your art (or business) that will make people want to use you. It takes a lot more than just buying ad space in the yellow pages and putting up a $15/month web site on

    Also, in any business you must do a SWOT analysis (part of the business plan but important enough to mention here). What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

    One thing that you can think about doing to get syndicated with your work (if your interested in doing that) is to find some great subject matter to take pictures of. It might be that you live near a tourist attraction or great hiking trails where there might be some gift shops. Go out and take some fantastic pictures. Then take them to a real photo lab (don't try to print them at home) and have them printed on something like FugiCrystal Archive Paper. Have it mounted (don't go cheap on acid filled mat paper either) then take your work to those gift shops and ask to say "who do I need to talk to about getting my art carried in this store?" You'll find out pretty quickly who their buyer is so make an appointment with them if possible. It's not really a cold call because you are just wanting to add merchandise to their store and they are already in the business to sell souviners and will gladly look at what you have. If you live in a large market area you can visit tons of shops and get your work carried in those shops.

    It's all about numbers (to me anyway) in this business if you want to make a career out of it. If you are making $5 profit on each picture, then figure out how many you'd need to sell per day to make $100,000 per year. That number will be very high. But if you divide that by 40 or 50 stores.. then they only need to sell a few each day to make you some good money. Then of course you have to learn about merchandising and how to recommend to your merchant customers that they display your work, etc.

    I could literally write for hours about this and I'm not kidding. There are so many different things that you could do to grow a business but the one single thing that weighs you down is "time." To do it right, to do anything right, it takes a lot of time to do all of this and it's complicated by the fact that your day job (or whatever shift you work) doesn't ever end while you're trying to get all of this going. I'm not saying this to be pessimistic because I'm a very optimistic person when it comes to this stuff, but I only say it to be "realistic." If you have unrealistic expecations then you're not going to be happy ultimately and that's your goal.. to be happy with what you do and to earn a good living doing it.

    You can also take a look at and there you will find a lot of information on how to charge for your services depending on whether you're going to be selling to a magazine or to whatever.

    As you build your business you also need to think about calling up a local newspaper and asking to be connected the Arts and Entertainment section. They might be interested in running a story on your business and that will give you good credentials when you're going to see retailers to sell your wares.

    best of luck. Sorry I rambled so much but I've been doing this for the last year so it's all very very fresh on my mind :-)


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