Why are so many photographers going out of business?

Started Apr 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Why are so many photographers going out of business?
Apr 14, 2013

I have been a full time photographer for 40 years!! Wait a minute, I did my first wedding for pay in l968 so I have been in business for more than than 40 years!!

It is true, times are a changing.  There has been more changes to photography in the last 10 years than in the previous 50 years.  Is it the economy? Is it the digital revolution? Could it be today's photographer?  Just why has so many photographers failed in today's market?

Just a little more history.  I live in a town of 5600 people, about 50% is now Hispanic.  Up until four years ago I was the only photographer in town.  Now I am one of five photographers thanks to the digital camera.  What got me thinking about this is that three months ago a young lady opened up a new studio down town.  She was specializing in newborns, children, and seniors - no weddings.  Last week she closed her doors and completely moved out.  Why did this studio only last three months?  More about this studio later!

Back in the l950's to the late 1990's,  medium format was the name of the game.  It was easy to get business because the average person did not want to spend $5000 or more for a MF camera like the Hasselblad.  The 35mm camera just could not compete with the MF camera for portraits and wedding pictures.  Today a $300 digital camera can do about the same work as a MF camera.

Where did photography change?  I believe Kodak started the revolution to a lower quality of picture which led to more of the "snapshot" quality.  It used to be that most "professional" photographers cared about the quality of light, etc.  Well, Kodak came out with the Disc Camera because Kodak checked the market and found out by far that the most frequently ordered picture was the 4X6 or 3.5X5.

THE REASON THE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER MADE MONEY WAS BECAUSE HE OR SHE DID NOT GIVE THEIR NEGATIVES AWAY.  IF THE CUSTOMER WANTED PICTURES, THEY HAD TO ORDER FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER.  The photographer also sold frames and other services to the customer which allowed the photographer a good profit.

Now back to the local studio that lasted only three months.  The reason she failed was not because she did not take pictures that her customers liked, she failed because she could not make a good profit.  She charged $125 for all the pictures she took on a disc and expected her customers to print their own pictures.  This limited her maximum gross sales to $125 per customer.  A studio today will NOT stay in business long if their only sales item is their files on a disc.

Letting the customer control the printing is simply not a good idea as they do not in general now how a file should be printed.  The studios reputation can depend upon the end product, a poorly printed file will reflect poorly on the studio.

I can expand upon my thinking if anyone is interested.  I want to make money until I retire next year.  that is what this tread is about.

respectfully,

David Miller

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