Secrets To Building a Successful Photography Career – Book Review

Secrets of Building a Successful Photography CareerIf you are toying with the idea of a full or part-time career in photography, this book is written for you.  The book isn’t a how-to book of any sort, but more of a reality check or a feasibility guide when considering a photography career.   Secrets to Building a Successful Photography Career, is an e-book written by Jim Pickerell and available through his website for $25 and can be immediately downloaded as a PDF.  If you purchase the book before Dec. 1, 2010 (extended to Feb 1, 2011) you can use the discount code ’78MICRO9′ for a 20% discount.

Jim Pickerell requires no introduction for stock photography veterans, but if you are new to the field, here is a brief summary:

Jim PickerellJim Pickerell began his career in 1963 as a freelance photojournalist in the Far East.  He spent three-and-a-half years covering the war in Vietnam before returning to the U.S. where he was based first in New York and later in Washington, DC. He spent the next ten to fifteen years focusing on assignment work, first as an editorial photographer, and later in the corporate area doing everything from event coverage to shooting annual reports. He has worked on assignment in more than 80 countries around the world.  As the stock side of his income grew, Jim studied the needs of the stock photo market, and began to devote more of his shooting time to producing stock images.  In 1989 he published the first edition of Negotiating Stock Photo Prices, a guide to pricing hundreds of stock photo uses. The fifth edition was published in 2001. Those interested in updated information that deals with pricing based on usage can find it at In 1990, he began publishing Selling-Stock (originally Taking Stock) a bi-monthly newsletter dealing with issues of interest to stock photographers and stock photo sellers, with particular focus on issues related to marketing stock images. In 1995 the publication went on-line and today it provides daily updates of developments in the industry. Selling Stock is recognized worldwide as the leading source of in-depth analysis of the stock photo industry.In 2010 Jim launched which deals not only with stock photography, but the larger issue of the photography business in general. [Full Bio]

Is This Book for Me?

This book is written for both the new photographer debating a career in photography and the seasoned photographer wanting to take a step back and analyze his business for better returns.  The book takes a hard look at the numbers (earnings potential) in various areas of photography and gives an ultra-realistic view of the current marketplace.  Jim’s view, which takes a conservative stance in regards to earnings, is firmly based on hard numbers and is a welcomed contrast to the ‘easy-money’ fable the Internet usually preaches about a career in Photography.  Jim walks the reader through various ways photographers are currently earning income, how much that income is, and what the future looks like.

What is Covered in the Book?

The book has 68 pages and 15 Chapters.  Throughout the book, Jim takes a look at the current print and internet market for photography, earnings potential in various photography fields, marketing, how the amateur is effecting the marketplace, fine art, wedding, video, as well as an interesting discussion in the final few chapters between Jim and a number of notable photography professionals.  Jim loves numbers and data, two things you get a lot of in this book, and even if you don’t always agree with how the data is interpreted, Jim makes a lot of valid points which at minimum, are conservatively realistic.  And let’s be honest – when diving into a career in photography, it is better to be on the conservative side when forecasting your income.


This book is a worthwhile read if you want a career in photography.  Making a realistic business plan is about having realistic ambitions and goals.  This book will help you set those goals and give you a few pointers and advice on how to reach them. I find a few points in the book overly pessimistic but overall, as a reality check, it offers a lot of great information in is realistic.  Coming from someone with nearly 50 years in the industry, this book shares an opinion worth considering.

About The Author:

Tyler Olson works as a microstock photographer who also runs the MicrostockGroup forum and blog. Being so closely involved in the microstock community as a submitter, forum moderator and blogger, Tyler is able to keep updated in the constantly changing microstock marketplace.
Posted on November 8th, 2010 in Reviews | tags: ,