The Death of the Photographic Middle-Class


I see the future of photography being the following: either you’re an amateur shooting for free, or you’re a high-end photographer catering to rich clients.

My predictions

My prediction is in the future, the “middle-class” photographers will die off. I consider a “middle-class” photographer as a professional photographer who makes a living charging “medium” amounts for their services.

The reason I think that demand for these “middle-priced” photographers will die off is because of technology.

Think about the technological trend:

  • iPhones are getting better and better.
  • High-end DSLR’s are getting cheaper and cheaper.

That means in the future, iPhones will have amazing image quality. Most amateurs will be able to make beautiful images by themselves.

And for people who still want high-end wedding photos, they will hire someone with a big DSLR. I imagine the successful photographers will be the ones charging big bucks for their services.

And on the other end, there will be tons of photographers offering their photography services (and photographs) for free. Because once again, social media, the internet, and cheap cameras are making photography essentially ‘free.’

Don’t go bankrupt into the future

How are you going to be successful as a photographer in the future?

Simple: avoid the middle.

Either do your work for free, or charge a lot of money for it. Avoid “medium-priced” services. Don’t become a “Wal-mart” photographer.

The benefits of working for free

A lot of people say it is bad to do work for free. I disagree.

Doing work for free is a good way to get started. To gain experience, without the guilt of not doing a good job (you’re not getting paid, after all).

But once you have enough confidence in yourself, your skills, and your portfolio — charge more than you think you “should.”

Charge more than you think you should

I think we always under-sell ourselves. This comes from fear, or lack of self-confidence.

So as a rule of thumb, if you lack self-confidence, practice valuing yourself more than you’re used to. Charge more for your photography gigs (than you think you should). If someone asks to buy a print from you, charge 25% more than you think you should. If they say “no” — that is fine, you weed out lower-paying customers, and focus only on those who really care about your work to pay higher-end prices.

How I do it

For me, this is how I’ve incorporated “avoiding the middle” in terms of my services— I give away all of my information for free, and charge a lot of money for workshops. I’d rather do this than try to “nickel and dime” my viewers on each of my articles, e-books, and videos.

This has ended up being a more profitable strategy as well — that has increased more access to information on this blog. And a better workshop experience for those who are more financially well-off.

Don’t die

If you’re starting off, the hardest thing to do is to build an audience, to build followers, and get people to look at your work. So start “free” when you’re starting off. But when you reach a certain point where you’re confident in your work, start charging premium bucks for your work.

Avoid selling yourself short, or offering “cheap” prices for your photo-services.

If you avoid the middle, you won’t die.

The “barbell” strategy

My main idea for this theory/philosophy comes from Nassim Taleb’s “barbell” strategy — embracing both extremes, like the weights on a barbell. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading his book: “Antifragile.”

Don’t take this as truth

These are just some of my predictions and thoughts about the future of photography.

If you want to become a wedding or commercial photographer, just take a look at rates. You either have tons of photography students offering to shoot weddings and commercials for free (or nearly free), or you have lots of high-end wedding/commercial photographers charging thousands of dollars.

I see demand for “moderately”-priced photographers to die off. And I just want to help give you advice that will prevent you from dying off in the future, and to prosper.


To re-iterate, the strategy I propose is this: either do your work for free, or charge a lot of money. Avoid the middle.

Learn more: Photography Entrepreneurship 101 >