This morning I was looking at an article written by Rosh Sillars, a professional blogger\photographer, about how much each day costs and it motivated me to review and answer the question -- Is photography a sustainable career in Belize?
Image source: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
The question is not that simple to answer since there are a lot of variables that you have to take into consideration before answering it.
The Certified vs The Uncertified
First of all, Belize is pretty small and there are not a lot of clients demanding the work of professional photographers here. The reason I emphasize on professional photographers is because there is a large number of photographers out there that are not certified but still call themselves professionals at what they do. The truth is that these photographers are experts in their own ways but they demand less pay than a professional would ask for. So clients are driven to contract these uncertified experts rather than a certified photographer. You see as a professional you value and appreciate the work you do and as such you charge according to the quality of work that you have produced – this applies to almost any profession out there. In that case, most of the work you do cost more than the client could afford or would want to pay for. I have experienced this with some of my works, so I know what I am talking here.
Prices for photography work in Belize are not the same like prices of photography work elsewhere – in fact they are lower. That is a shame because Belize is well known for the large tourism industry that they possess. Photography is synonymous to tourism my friend and that applies to anywhere in the world. So there should be more demand for photographers and photography work more than anything in Belize, right? That is not the case here.
The number of professional photographers in Belize is pretty small since the demand for them is not that big. A lot of credit must be given to them because even though work is scarce they stubbornly keep doing what they love most at a very expensive cost. When I talk about cost it includes rent, food, equipments, maintaining equipments, office supplies, computer/software, travel fees and other bills. These are just some of the bills that some photographers pay monthly but I am sure there is a whole lot more. If you ask me that is a huge burden on an individual and I don’t see how someone can survive that.
I am not quite sure about the average salary of full time photographers here in Belize -- salaries of the uncertified experts are more predictable since their incomes are normally low.
One of my friends is an expert in photography even though he has no degree and that is shown in the quality of work he produces. Let me tell you that he has a wife, two children, his own property, a dream house and a dog. If you ask me, that takes more than just a normal salary to maintain. With that example in mind, I am urged to say that photography is a sustainable career in Belize – that doesn’t defeat the fact that photography is not really a popular career here in Belize because it is undervalued most if not all of the time.
I would like to finish my study by saying that I do appreciate the hard work done by professional photographers and if wasn’t for them then how would we be able to relive our weddings, our birthdays and those wonderful moments surrounded by the people you love. I wouldn’t even have this blog if it wasn’t for them.
Do you consider photography a sustainable career in Belize?