It seems to be a surprising idea, as public transportation also lives troubled times and even strikes. But it seems being a bus driver has a better return on investment ratio than being a photographer.
When I worte this, BKV employees were on strike, where I also found a connection with photography. Meanwhile a US colleague made a short summary of photojournalism:
“a brontosaurus-sized neon sign is flashing “ABORT NOW – BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER!”
In my homeland bus driver seems to be a better choice even during the strikes, but I think this wording is quite good and it hits the nail on the head. Photography is dying, media hardly manages to find a reliable financial model of operation. As an art form and as leisure photography may stick around forever. But as for livelyhood or vocation it is most likely to follow horse carriage drivers.
Jennifer Spelman’s blog post is basically hopeful. She quotes Keith Carter and writes, photography is a lifestyle, just like playing music or practically any other aet form. Those once getting obsessed can never stop doing it, just like you cannot stop breathing.
However those who are just aspiring to turn a hobby into making a linving, they should deeply think about what other hobbies they have. To earn a living out of photogrpahy becomes harder every day for those who are already inside it. On the employee side the profession is overcrowded. Ther aren’t any job openings. If one opens up, they don’t really want to pay for it, but demand a lot for it. the most companies want everything for free, what they call politely internship – especially where it is never followed by a paid employee status.
Why better to drive a bus?
Fully employed status. They pay your salary, taxes, you have days off, leave, sick leave, plannable working hours and you at least broadly know where you will be during your work. Nobody calls you to drop everything and head to the other end of the country where you were sent not long ago. Noone asks you to go knee deep into tear has, red mud, or others’ miseries. You get your salary on time. If not, you have to start hitting the desk only at your only employer, you don’t have to tour around dozens of companies one by one who assigned you with various works individually. Not to mention they cannot simply steal your job without asking your permission and then start couming up with handpucked bullshit to talk you out of your copyright claims. You don’t have to have a company or solo proprietorship with all of the administrative burden of it just to get paid (ie. forced enterpreneurship).
You don’t need to buy and maintain your tools of trade to be able to work with something. You don’t have to buy a new one to replace the old one, when it gets stolen or so outdated you cannot use it for work any more. You don’t have to support your work with a laptop, mobile internet and a car too out of your own pocket. You don’t have to pay the fuel and parking yourself either You don’t have to dig up all the assignments who are willing to pay for your work. You don’t have to be afraid others start to work for less than what you get and thus grab your job oppurtunities. Noone will sit into your bus and say they can fire you because he enjoys it so much to do it for free, just for the love of it.
I know this comparison is quite an overstatemwnt. I don’t think bus drivers would have such a dream job with only gloom and glitter as my writing suggests. But it is worth to know photography is far from that dream job most people think it is.