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Making a Living

Lesson 33 from: The Art and Business of Conceptual Portraiture

Jennifer Thoreson

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Lesson Info

33. Making a Living

Lesson Info

Making a Living

Lastly, making a living all right? Yeah, so I mentioned earlier that you should probably go to dental school if if if you don't really, really need to do this and I'm actually kind of meant that because this is not an easy way to make a living it's a very, very hard way to make a living. Uh, and that's true for wedding photographers and portrait photographers is true for photographers in general there's not big money in photography unless you strike it rich and become famous, which is about as likely as becoming a professional athlete. It's just rare it can happen, but it's rare. So what in the end it is is a mixed bag of different ways to make income, so ah lot of artists, I have another job, they work something else, and I was actually having a nice conversation over lunch over break about this because me, for instance, I find that I can't shoot commercially for a living, for instance, during portrait that's why don't do commission work anymore and do my fine art a conceptual style w...

ork? I burn myself out and I get to the point where I hate photography because I'm using the camera so much, I'm doing too much volume. That doesn't work for me, I get miserable, so but it does work for a lot of people, so you see a lot of fine art photographers who also do commercial work and things like that or portrait and that's fine, I can't do that, so I I make my work and I teach a lot myself some products I sell books, so let's just kind of look at different ways. I also sell stock so here's, the kind of this is what I do, I produce work for a year, I make the work, I make testament maybe and then I spent a year publicizing that work, so that means getting it on the walls, getting it and shows that's how I sell my prince, my prince, are the biggest way I can make a living selling the work, right? So I've gotta publicize it. I've got a letter, you know that I've made the work and that we've just kind of talked about the different ways I do that. Um, so that's a that's. The most important thing is getting in front of people's faces, that's the cycle and it's I find that I don't do them at the same time I produce and focus narrow focus on making work, and I spend a year publicizing that work so that's it's okay to do that another big part of income is selling stock so I worked with civilian there's also arcangel on it but there's a bunch of others to that cell fine art type photography for stock that's a couple of images they've taken then are used for book covers mostly it's book covers that I sell but that's it's it's surprising come I mean I can't count on it but you know if I saw one or two things a month for a book cover or something similar thing that's is pretty good income it really is so that's been great for me and so what happens is they represent you kind of like a gallery does you submit work to them in a very similar way and they'll either take it or not don't tell you yes or no if they like your work then they're usually ask for specific images ah lot of my women's work trillion has they have traveler and flora so uh it's it's been great and the good thing is they do all the work I submit the work one time they have it, they don't own it but they have it and so I don't have to do anything I don't have to keep submitting or anything like that it's just kind of surprising come when it comes in I know there may be questions about that so I'd be happy to answer some here in a minute at the end and lastly I teach so I went to graduate school so I could well not the only reason but you know part of the reason so I could teach universities because you need it usually needed enough a to teach at a university master of fine arts degree so I wanted that so I have the option to teach and I do so I have taught at u n m university of new mexico I teach all over the country I'll go and do clinics for people I am artist talks things like that what's the word I'm looking for when you go and give advice to cos I consult thank you having a senior moment pregnant lady moment I don't know something yeah I consult with companies and things on that that's good money too so it's just a little bit here and a little bit there for me also my husband works so where a dual income family so I'm not supporting us on on my own I did support myself before I was married on my own but I mean of course that helped this part of the deal and that's just total honesty you know I'm not supporting a big family in a big house on my income so it's mixed bag um but mainly it's selling work that's what makes me money so again it takes time and it takes maybe a couple of years of spending money before anybody's gonna start selling your work and you're gonna actually start to see an income from that that's just the reality of it for me anyway that's okay that's the trade off is I get to do what I love and I'm making millions of dollars no, I'm making a good income and I contribute you know, half of our income sometimes hopefully you know I have periods of dryness of course, but I get to do what I love every day so I mean that's the trade off and it's pretty amazing one actually that's kind of elect that's actually doubie p p I and lecturing there so do that quite a bit cage workshops I do a summer workshop every year I also offer private workshops and mentor ships and that adds, you know, good income it's that's something that something coming in okay here again you can find me on facebook, twitter, instagram and open find me on what website and email if you like to be happy to answer questions for you um last time I was on creative lives, I've got like five hundred emails so you're welcome to evenly but it could take a little bit for me to get back to you just keeping that in mind doesn't mean I don't love you yes, I did mention this already, but I do offer a mentorship program I'm nearly full right now. But I'll be taking your people in july after my summer workshop. So I'd be happy to talk to anybody about that. He might be interested.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP


Bonus Materials with Purchase

Book Proposal Sample.pdf
Critical Mass - Digital Book.pdf
Curriculum Vitae Example.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 1.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 2.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 3.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

"Thinking about art is not making art." In this inspiring and informative workshop, Jennifer helps you put thought into action - through meaningful self-reflection, exploration and by taking her through her own processes. Through exercises and examples, she explains how to pull out a thread of an idea and develop it into a conceptual project that is informed and invigorated by personal experience, preference, interests, and so much more. Her workshop not only feeds the creative soul, but offers earnest information on taking first steps toward publishing and showing fine-art. Jen so beautifully shares her talent and her love of teaching - I first "met" her on Creative Live and have had the joy of being mentored by her in-person as well. This workshop is a very close second to spending time with her one-on-one. Thank you, CL, for bringing her back!

kalei harmon

I love Jennifer, she's one of my cL favorites! She is such a soulful photographer and her art just resonates with me in so many ways. While she was creating her conceptual piece with the mother and child, my eyes welled up because it was such a profound experience to witness. I appreciate that she has a graduate degree in art and is able to refer to others in the field who are leading the way. She is so genuine and I'm grateful for her willingness to bare her soul to us through her art and process. I've learned so much by watching how she interacts with models and communicates efficiently and gently to get AMAZING poses. Definitely worth the buy if you're looking for inspiration from an artist who creates images which evoke emotion and communicate a message, not just trying to make "great photos." I can't wait to learn about the business side of it all!


I am so grateful for this class; it is just what I have been looking for to help me go beyond my "photographic potty training". By leading us through her own creative process, Jennifer Thoreson invites us to think about why we do what we do and to make our work more meaningful and authentic, creating our unique visual vocabulary. Moreover, she provides detailed info on submitting work to galleries and publications, contests, printing editions, preparing an exhibition and pricing. In her calm, unpretentious manner, Jennifer demystified art without trivializing it and I finally saw light at the end of a rather long tunnel.

Student Work