By early 2007, I’d been getting work as a photographer in Los Angeles for 2 years. For having started in an incredibly cutthroat and competitive market from scratch, I feel like I was doing pretty well considering my circumstances. Being good at search engine optimization helped — I often ended up on the first page for anyone searching for a Los Angeles portraits photographer.

So business was steady and I was getting lots of experience shooting headshots & portraits for actors, models, and entertainers — but despite this, I was barely breaking even each month due to credit card and car loan debt. It was frustrating.

In January, I got a call from a country singer who wanted to book me for a full day for my day rate of $1,400.  She was the first individual (vs company) to ever do so. After 3 years of working professionally, I felt somewhat validated when a person who I had never worked with before hired me for a full day of shooting in a place I’d never been to.

And it was obviously great to get paid so much for a single photography job, but the job actually required me to buy a wide-angle lens in order to shoot it. So, in the end, the job essentially paid for the lens.

So, in the end, I would still be struggling to make ends meet. But my client was happy — and the shoot was a blast — so it was still a rewarding experience.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II

Yosemite National Park
Mark Dufresne