Review: 2013 Photographer’s Market, edited by Mary Burzlaff Bostic

2013 Photographer's Market, edited by Mary Burzlaff Bostic
2013 Photographer’s Market, edited by Mary Burzlaff Bostic

The 2013 Photographer’s Market bills itself as “Everything You Need to Find Buyers for Your Photos.” By its nature, dust jacket copy tends toward the hyperbolic, but this is one instance in which they’ve got it about 98% right.

For years, I bought and used the Writer’s Market series of books, so I already had a fair idea of what to expect even before cracking open my copy of the Photographer’s Market. It’s thick — nearly the same size that phone books used to be back when people still used them — and packed to the rafters with information.* In addition to the listings of consumer and trade publications, submission requirements, and contact information that’ve been this series’ stock in trade since it started, there are also interviews with industry insiders, plus information on galleries, art fairs, contests, workshops, and agents/representatives.

The yearly updates ensure that what’s there is up to date. The other advantage is that, like the companion volumes put out every year for writers, illustrators, and others, a great deal of time and thought is put into where the industry is, and where it’s going. The upside — a pretty big one, as it turns out — is that you’re not stuck with a publication that assumes that photojournalism and editorial are thriving right now. The authors don’t just acknowledge that photography has changed significantly, but they’ve also laid out a number of tools, resources, and strategies to keep photographers up to speed on the current state of the market. There are segments dealing with everything from running and marketing your photo business to maintaining a healthy life-work balance. On top of all that, the print edition comes with a free 1-year subscription to ArtistMarketOnline.com (e-reader users are left out in the cold on that last bit).

There’s enough here that anyone — whether you’re looking to keep a professional photography business going, or just to make a few bucks on the side — should find something they can use. I’d especially recommend this book to people who’ve just bought an SLR and are now calling themselves “professionals” because they’ve gotten a few bucks here and there for head shots, or doing a wedding on the cheap. Even a cursory read of this book should be enough to let you know that there’s much more than that to being a professional photographer. For some people, no doubt, that’s going to be a discouraging prospect. For the rest of you, it’s a good thing, since if you’re willing to put in the work, there’s plenty here to get you off on the right foot.

Way back in the first ‘graf, I mentioned that the jacket copy got it about 98% right. So where’s that other couple of percentage points? Well, by its nature, a book like this can’t go into a great deal of depth on any one thing. If you’re new to making money at your photography, it’d be in your best interest to take one or more topics that this book only scratches the surface of, and doing further reading and research to build your skills and knowledge. That might mean picking up a good introduction to photography technique if you’re literally just starting with a camera, but if you’ve been shooting for a while, it’ll mean checking out other, more specialized books on the business (like David duChemin’s VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography) or legal (like Edward Greenberg’s Photographer’s Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age) aspects of photography. But as a starting point — and as a comprehensive single-volume reference — I can’t think of another book that does what this one does, or that handles the job quite this well.

*Yes, I know books don’t have rafters. It’s a figure of speech, dammit.

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