Talking with a lot of the action sports photographers out there, a lot of us are tired of doing editorial work.  Tired of working so hard for so little pay.  Tired of fronting their expenses for the season, to hopefully make it back at the end of the summer, 6 months later.  Tired in general.  So what is the solution?  All commercial work?  Sure, it’s an option.  It’s a more financially stable option for yourself.  Commercial work pays better, it is a lot less work for a lot more money.  It’s completely the opposite of editorial that way and while it’s not making me rich, it’s making my life a lot more comfortable than when I was relying on editorial work in my tiny little niche of action sports.

What good is editorial for us as photographers then?  Most of my work has been editorial work until the past 3 years.  Editorial work does a few things for me.  It builds my creativity, it builds my portfolio, it builds my style and in turn, builds my brand as a photographer.  Sure, for those of you out there that are at the point where you just do commercial work and make a shitload of money doing so it is probably pretty good.  You folk are making a great living, especially compared to myself.  Does this come at an expense though?  Are you so focused on someone else’s branding, are you losing your own style, your own branding, your own personal creativity?

I wish I could remember who told me their views on the panel of finalists in the Pro Photographer Showdown at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler, BC this year…that a lot of the photographers there were jaded by commercial work.  Is this the case or is it just a shift in style?  Does a mass of commercial work make you lose the side of you that focuses on documenting the moments of action, the moments our lifestyles, the moments of our environments?

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this.  As much as I want more commercial projects, the editorial assignments I worked on this year pushed me to come up with humor, to find personalities, to convey lifestyles in ways I previously have not.  Would I have done this with commercial projects working with very specific concepts?  Would you have?