Book review of The Art and Business of Photography by Susan Carr, a practical look at the photography business in the modern photography market.
It’s no secret that photography, like so many other creative fields, has been in a state of massive flux in recent years. The game has changed. And it’s still changing.
The author of this book, Susan Carr, doesn’t waste a lot of time bemoaning that things are different to the way they were–she gets right down to business talking about the here and now and how to prepare for the inevitable shifts in the future.
In addition to being a great photographer in her own right, as the photos sprinkled through this book illustrate, Susan Carr is a former president of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and currently the ASMP Foundation’s Education Director. She’s also editor of ASMP’s Professional Business Practices in Photography (7th edition; Allworth Press). So she has great experience to call on in writing this book. And it shows.
Right from the first page, Ms. Carr emphasizes art and creativity in addition to the business side of things. As she explains the purpose and motivation to write the book:
Professional artists know, at some level how lucky they are. No one will deny, however, that this is an extremely difficult time to be an independent working photographer. The fees paid for our services have dropped, costs have increased, and the number of photographers has exploded; yet, we persist. This persistence to start or maintain careers in this industry that I see in so many of my colleagues inspired me to write this book. I hope to provide the information and practical resources necessary for photographers to find the delicate balance of art and business. [xi]
The Art and Business of Photography is, as you’d expect from the title and the table of contents, business-like and to-the-point. It has a dozen or so black and white photographs and is commendably concise. If you’re an emerging photographer trying to learn the business side of things or an established pro struggling to make sense of the changes in the industry, this book is a great resource. But if you’re looking for something more inspirational or aspirational, including with a lot great number high quality, color photos, something like David DuChemin’s Visionmongers: Making a Life and Living in Photography might be more your cup of tea.
The book is divided into three sections: Art and Commerce, A Realistic Look at the Industry, and The Well Rounded Photographer.
Overall, Susan Carr’s The Art and Business of Photography is concise, practical, and refreshingly candid about the good and bad of trying to earn a living in photography in today’s economy. The market of the 2020s is similar, but not exactly the same as it was when this book was published (2011), but the advice given in the book leans toward the evergreen.
Official bio: Susan Carr has been in the photography business for over twenty years. A past president of ASMP, Carr has long been dedicated to the advocacy and education of fellow photographers. Carr organized and managed the highly successful ASMP Strictly Business conferences that toured nationwide and currently serves as education director at ASMP. She edited the latest ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography (2008) and authored The Art and Business of Photography (2011), both published by Allworth Press.
It’s available in in paperback and e-book versions
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