Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
PenguinPhotoCo
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In reply to ultimitsu, Mar 28, 2013

ultimitsu wrote:

I do some part time paid work, and I have friends who do weddings and newborn full time. We talk about this business often and how to grow and get better etc... so let me share some of my thoughts:

1, This is a winner-takes-all market. More than any other market, customers can compare photographers within a few clicks. This is not testimonial or review type of comparison, this is photo vs photo. Unlikely plumbing or electrical work, you cannot hide lack of skill and quality. Because it is so competitive and for most people, if it is worth hiring a photographer, it is wroth hiring the best (or close to the best). Your work has to be significantly better than what they can do with their gear to be worth hiring.  The top 1% get 50% the business (money wise), they get the big clients and they shoot MF. Top 10% get 70% the weddings, and the rest get, well, the rest. the closer you are to the bottom the less photos you get to do, it is that simple. If you are not getting much business, and you charge very fair fees, then there is only one explanation, you are not good enough.

Yes, but no.
True, the top 1% get 50% of the business, but that is true IN EVERY INDUSTRY. Usually, it's the first that gets 50% and the second gets 30% and the remainng 20% is fought over by everyone else. There are a few industries (or products) where this isn't true, but overall this pattern holds true in everything else.
Being better isn't the key. It helps, sure. Who makes the best car? The best food? The best clothes? What store has the best service? And who is the biggest in each area? Not always the same.
You have to OWN a position in the consumers mind - cheap, best, edgy, outstanding service - and then market the hell out of that ONE thing.  Sell "Fun" to brides. Or you can sell 'traditional' or 'classical'.
And you have to make that point in EVERYTHING you do marketing wise. I bet if you did a survey in your area about photogs and asked 'name the cheap guy, the fast guy, the cool, the edgy, the fun - nobody could tell you who was what.
But if you asked that about bands, restaurants, jeans, cars you'd get answers.

3, People in general have become more wealthy and have more disposable income. there are many situations where people would not have hired a photographer 30 years ago that they would now. But you have to be the top 10% that really makes them want your photo.

One of my friend started a studio from scratch 5 years ago, first it was in partnership with 3 others who were slightly immature. Business wasnt taking off and the other 3 left. 2 years ago he took over the studio himself. Today he has one sales manager, two post processing artists, and about 10 contract photographers. He just recently bought a new premises setting up an indoor studio. So, yeah, the business is out there, but it is taken by the winners.

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