Success in photography

AB Watson

What does success in photography really even mean? It might be to make a living at photography or to get 10k followers on Instagram. Or perhaps you want to become a part of the Magnum photographers agency. But when we take a closer look at the dictionary meaning of ‘success’ the meaning is open. So what does it really mean to become a success in photography?

What does success really mean

Success in photography could be a large range of things depending on the photographer and their place in life. But the dictionary meaning of success is as follows



– the favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours; the accomplishment of one’s goals.

What this means to me is that the definition of what success is up to the individual. People are shaped but what is around them, how they were raised and what beliefs influenced their upbringing. Every person is different and unique from this quality alone. So it goes without saying that success for everyone is different.

Followers don’t equal wealth

It pains me that people are obsessed with a number of likes and followers one can obtain from a single post, be it on any social media platform. And I’m not arguing that wealth can’t come from it. But statistically, the percentage of people getting wealth from their social media feed is in the minority.

This constant need of approval, recognition and praise is the driver for this phanomanome. This endless need to check our social feed, even thou we instantly forget what we just looked at after the endorphins fade away. Let me ask you this question, would you rather have 10 or 2 real friends for life, or 100,000 followers instead?

But who and I to say that 10,000 followers isn’t success in your eyes.

Money and photography

With the world and everything in it becoming more easily accessible, I find it hard to believe that something in low demand should stay expensive. Exhibit A: Photography.

There will be a point in our future where technology will be able to do almost anything. There will be a camera or phone that will be able to take the best photo regarding specs. I believe you will be able to change, ISO, shutter speed and aperture all in post. The skill of a photographer will be dead when this day comes. Relying on a tool for your trade will make you obsolete in the future, regardless of any profession. If you have to repeat a task on a daily bases, it will someday become automated. But for now, this isn’t happening across the board just yet.

People, or should I say the world link money with success. Because money gives us options and choice. Really financial freedom is the goal of the many. And the many will gladly trade their time and life for that paper. But is money really the goal when it comes to being successful in photography?

Recognition in photography

I believe that recognition isn’t even the real goal for a photographer. If I became famous, I would hate not being able to have a quite walk down the street. Personally, I don’t think this will ever happen to me because it’s not my life goal. That’s not to say it isn’t yours.

Recognition is nice and it’s a great stepping stone, after the success, I think. But what we should all aim for is our photos being recognised. To have our images make a change, and share a story. Our images should reflect what success is. Be it in a publication, on a gallery wall to making people click on a post to read it. Recognition, or in other words understanding.


So if your images get 10k likes on your social media platform, I think that is success in photography. If you get $10k for selling your photographs, I think that is success in photography. Having your photo up on a billboard is success in photography. Being the face of a camera, genre or anything is success in photography. What I’m saying is that success in photography is up to you. Don’t let me change what your goals are in life. Because it’s your life, not mine. Live it how you want.