Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions
deleted080512
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Re: WHY YOU?
In reply to PenguinPhotoCo, Mar 27, 2013

Aha. Even you are joining the flood of photographers seeking other employment. I'm pretty much at the point where I'm going to start selling the gear I don't want for my own personal use and just doing photography for my own pleasure.

Trouble is I paid good money for a lot of the studio stuff and probably won't see much of it back. If I get $10 per $100 that'll be more than I expected. I won't be too surprised if I just have to throw some unused and expensive stuff in the dumpster. Things like background stands I can't really see shipping working to advantage in an ebay sale - the shipping would be more than the cost of the stand.

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PenguinPhotoCo
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wrong again
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 27, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

While I remember... My website was getting six thousand hits a month according to the web host. That's 200 a day. Nobody was calling so I put a couple of independent counters up. Hits dropped to between 0 and 2 per day. Searches that found my site were few and far between. It was findable and by the time I dumped the website I was on page 2 of Google and Bing. I think 6 search hits a month was big news.

Facebook - I did have a Facebook page but nobody bothered with it so I deleted it in the end rather than have something else to waste time maintaining that nobody looked at. I tried all the social media - Twitter, Facebook Foursquare and a few others that I've now forgotten. I managed to amass about 20,000 followers on Twitter but I do swear not a single one was actually human. I'd send out a tweet to ask if anybody was actually human and no responses. In the end I put them onto an auto-tweeter and left it at that. With combined auto-tweeters and auto-follow/unfollow, I figured I could just leave it adding and broadcasting. I've forgotten how to get into the accounts but for all the good that's been doing it doesn't matter.

You're using it wrong. YOU can say all day long how great you are. Nobody believes or cares. You need OTHERS to say how great you are. To rave about YOUR pics.  This is how all those soccer moms are getting clients. Sally posts Betty's baby pic and bettys friends all rave about the pics - not because they're good but because they are friends of betty and don't want to hurt her feelings. Now 100 other people see this post and see the 'great pic' comments....10 people saying how great Sally does at baby pics.
This is one of the BIG TURNS in advertising and marketing these days. You must get OTHERS to brag about you. Get good reviews, testimonials, etc. and USE THEM OFTEN.

When we start talking about niches, that's when we're talking about very little money.

As for weddings - I offer $300 all in for 2 hours photography and all the images on a USB flash drive - full size JPEGs, RAW files and emailable SXVGA images. If they want to do their own editing from RAW instead of me running things through my software then I drop it to $250. That's still too expensive for some though.

WRONG AGAIN! Ok, maybe you live in vegas and 2 hour weddings are popular. 99% of brides want ALL DAY COVERAGE. And you're charging what appears to be $150/hour....really?  Try "all day coverage w/ album, disk and prints" for $1500. You can do an album for $50, prints totaling $10. RAW? Means NOTHING to them. Like when you go to eat do you ask what pans they use or what temps they use? Nope. You don't care. RESULTS is what you care about and that is ALL ANYONE ELSE cares about too. They don't care what camera, what lens, what education you have.

What can YOU do for ME? is all they care about. Rephrase your pitch to answer THAT question!

Interestingly I put a feeler out on Craigslist to see what would happen if I advertised free wedding photography. I had two responses. One of them told me they wanted photos but wouldn't tell me where the wedding would be though they would tell me when, then lambasted me for not coming when they wouldn't even tell me where it was going to take place. Don't know if that was a joke or not. The other sounded interested but dropped out. What I'd have done there would have been to charge for the prints. Get them done online and make a profit off the prints.

You will fail. You really will. You have NO CLUE, do you? And a bad attitude too. An attitude of failure.

Want a free car?   OK, exaclty what kind of car you gonna get for FREE? A piece of sh_t car, right?

What do you suppose a bride thinks when she see 'free wedding photography'? SAME THING!
Back to the first response to your OP - WHAT DO YOU SHOOT? WHO IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
YOu want $5k weddings? THey exist. You need to go shopping for them and see what is sold for that price. Style, products, service. Where does THAT photog market?
See, they have identified a target market  - their ideal client.

I shot a wedding last weekend for a friend (he had knee surgery a month ago). The reception HALL cost $5000. (a carnegie museum building). Food (from their approved caterer) was $125 per person. The DJ and lighting were only through approved vendors. The reception cost OVER $40,000.  Plus the dress, travel, hotels, jewelry, etc, etc.  he's a furnace repairman. Not some Dr type.  My photog friend got $3700 for all day coverage. Two photogs. All day was 12 hours, 4 locations for him and 9 hours for me (i did the guys) and also 4 locations.

It just seems to me that now everybody has a decent enough camera on their smartphone and can post willy-nilly to Facebook, they just don't care any more.

As far as weddings go, I personally don't know of any happening in my area. I did go to a bridal expo as an exhibitor a few years ago but there were more exhibitors than members of the public that turned up. Everybody was disappointed.

Everyone I know that has a yard has a lawn mower. yet I know a LOT of people that don't cut their own grass.
Everyone has a kitchen. Yet people eat out.
Everyone can wash their own car yet car washes exist.
You need to find something people want. Could be status, edgy, processing, a shoulder to cry on, fire in the pics, smoke, 1.2 lenses, one hour at thier house and prints before you leave - SOMETHING UNIQUE.
Identify your market, your ideal customer.
And then find a way to get the word out.

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rsn48
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I did notice..
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 27, 2013

Most of the stuff you have done is "static." In other words, like Yellow Pages, once the advert is in, you do nothing but wait.  I've known a few to get into good paying pro photo jobs by starting out volunteering.  One friend started volunteering in the mountain bike community, from there his work just grew and now he is making good bucks selling what he originally did for free.

If you aren't actively shooting (being seen working) and demo'ing your work, you really aren't "getting out there" despite all the wonderful "static" stuff you are doing.

What is in your area that you can just beginning volunteering, pro horse shoes, dirt bike races, horse shows, dog shows, baby work?  What ever.

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Biggs23
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 27, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

Doesn't matter. There is no business in the area. Local small businesses don't want photography. When they have something they want a photo of, they do it themselves with their iPhone (and get quite good results). For event photography I've seen weddings etc go to local camera clubs on a no-fee basis.

Absolutely wrong. Couldn't be more wrong in fact. Do you want McDonald's right now? No? So let me guess, you'll never eat there again? In fact, McDonald's keeps their product at the top of mind with a myriad of advertising strategies that are VERY successful. But if you ask someone out of the blue almost no one will say they want to eat at McDonald's.

There are the usual portrait artists such as Olan Mills etc all over the place with monkeys being paid peanuts. People are happy to go to them for portraits.

There just is no work here. Look at careerbuilder - they're not even looking for newborn photographers in this state. There were 40 pages of newborn photographers required "photography skill optional, sales skill essential".

As an example of how crappy this area is - there are 250K people and at least 150 photographers advertising in yellow pages, white pages, internet etc. That's 1 photographer for every 1,666 people. Even if all of those people came to one photographer and had a $50 portrait done (doesn't matter if it's newborn, senior or whatever), that's $83,000 but only 2% are going to hire a photographer so that's a maximum yield annually of $1,666.

Nobody I know has ever hired a photographer. Usually they have friends, members of the family etc do their photography free.

Now I got mugged into starting a photo business but you name it - sports, portrait, event - all covered by these $10 a photo people like lifetouch etc. The bottom feeders have taken all the work. Then look further at business photography - most businesses don't want to throw money away on photography when they either have a keen amateur in their ranks or the boss has a cellphone that will do the photos.

Let's look at catalog work. I looked at the engagement rings on Amazon - what an appalling lot of photos they are. Some aren't even in focus. Amazon undercuts everybody and pays very low wages. I know - there's an Amazon sweat shop locally.

A couple of local studios have vanished. The rest have lights firmly turned off and no staff employed other than the owner whose partner is usually off working at a job that actually earns money.

This brings me back to what I said - there is no photography work here - that's a myth. Plenty of people reaching out to take advertising money. It's not even worth spending money on business cards any more.

That attitude (and extremely limited mindset) is part of why you're failing (apparently).

OK. I tried to reach out to people by taking a flea market stall for a few weeks and put up about 50 framed prints. Lots of people stopped to look and spent ages looking and admiring. A few took business cards. Some took my 25% off special offer coupons. Not many of the coupons went. Not many business cards went. None of the coupons were ever redeemed. No calls resulted.

PERFECT example of what I'm saying. It sounds like you're marketing fine art to the wrong people in the wrong way.

There is just no photography work. It's an absolute myth.

Interesting. I didn't realize that my entire income was mythical. Hope my wife doesn't find out!

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Biggs23
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 27, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

I don't have much money to spare - mine goes on rent, food, fuel and insurance. That's it - nothing much left after that to save or spend.

So why are you planning to spend a 'fortune' switching systems?

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

For a long time I have used Canon digital SLRs. For reasons I will not specify, I want to sell all the stuff I have. I know I am going to drop an absolute fortune doing so...

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deleted080512
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to Biggs23, Mar 27, 2013

I can sell the stuff I have for pro use and get the stuff I want for my own use. Two different setups entirely. I won't need any Canon speedlites for my own use as I do purely landscape and available light. I won't need the long lenses either as my own personal stuff is done with anything between about 14mm and 80mm. Similarly - for my own use I won't use zooms. I'll stick with primes. I also don't need two bodies for personal use. The bodies are where I've really dropped money.

It's all about selling what I have (which might or might not cover what I want to buy) and getting the stuff I want for my own use. I am well aware that I have some very nice Nikon AIS lenses at my parents house. I figure if I dump Canon and go for landscape etc then I can get a nice Nikon camera and use my existing manual focus AIS lenses. I have autofocus on my Canons and I hate autofocus. I'd much rather a nice full freznel screen and manual focus so that I can actually see my point of focus and whether it's in focus. These autofocus things can be a hair one way or the other and there's no telling which way they're going to be. Even if they're on a tripod, they will focus in a different place each time.

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Biggs23
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 27, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

I can sell the stuff I have for pro use and get the stuff I want for my own use. Two different setups entirely. I won't need any Canon speedlites for my own use as I do purely landscape and available light. I won't need the long lenses either as my own personal stuff is done with anything between about 14mm and 80mm. Similarly - for my own use I won't use zooms. I'll stick with primes. I also don't need two bodies for personal use. The bodies are where I've really dropped money.

It's all about selling what I have (which might or might not cover what I want to buy) and getting the stuff I want for my own use.

Fair enough. Have you gleaned any additional insights from the other comments that established pros are providing you?

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Marques Lamont
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Re: wrong again
In reply to PenguinPhotoCo, Mar 27, 2013

Interesting topic. To the original poster:

I wouldn't say that "professional" photography is dying out. It's just that the old channels of doing business are changing. But the entire creative industry HAS taken a rough ride ever since the advent of digital, I truly believe, and a hit in the pockets as well. Technology has bent the curve in a lot of ways. I feel the practice still has to shift more to digital and inch away from traditional print media as the prime platform, but not completely. And I feel that it will. The medium will change. I mean, TONS and TONS of print magazines haven't scaled over to digital and continue to stay more committed to print, which isn't bad. but online content is where the future is I guess. I feel that we're actually in a digital photography boom actually but businesswise, photography is entering a new frontier.

Photography services have always been a luxury product for consumers. Even so, there still are businesses, individuals, causes, content providers, etc that demand their spot light. That's where the "pro's" come in. It's not so much that photography services in of itself are dead; it's just very saturated. Competition can be stiff and really, not for nothing, but a LOT of the guys who were shooting 30 or so years ago are still shooting today. And when things switched to digital, their clients came with them. But on the consumer side of things, I think photo services to consumers will take a new look, maybe with less money per job. I read on here once about this guy who was busy doing tons of short shoots for small amounts of cash, but making a killing.

As has been said before, art is a business man's game. I think it would help to associate yourself within a trade community that will open doors for you. Not financial doors as a direct effect, but cumulatively open doors over time. For example, PPA, WPPI, ASMP to name a few. It may help your networking to attend a graphic arts or design conference to network with other creatives across genres, like graphic designers, sculpture artists, other photographers, video guys, etc. Barter work, whatever. Do what you have to do to extend your contacts. And submit your work to design annuals, and etc. Define your agenda and work from there.

You may have to refine your branding and marketing objectives. You may have to even look for clever sales strategies. For example, go out and buy 5 or so Dunkin Donuts gift cards and offer a free DD gift card with orders over $XX amount of dollars and include that in your advertising. Toss that gift card in there. Folks love free! It could be Dunkin Donuts, a gas card, VISA gift card, whatever. Offer to be someone's photog for a whole year instead of a just a few hours. I'm just tossing ideas out there, but if you're this thirsty for work, you have to make something work. Free tablet, free iPad, free pizza... whatever! I'm no expert in this area (LOL) but if you're after local consumers and they're spending money elsewhere instead of photography, give them the elsewhere attached to your services. Work out deals with local businesses for discounts.

I'm done.

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deleted080512
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to Biggs23, Mar 27, 2013

Pretty much networking, networking, networking and networking.

I've been following the wrong path basically. As I said, I got mugged into "set up a photography business" by somebody. What I should have been doing is following a different approach. Rather than setting up a business, exhibiting some nice pictures somewhere and going from there; not necessarily selling pictures but getting seen a bit more.

I hesitate at school soccer games because I don't want to be the creepy old guy with the long lens, particularly when I don't have any kids to bring along.

As I said, I got mugged into doing everything the wrong way around by somebody eager to see the money spent. I think it would have been advantageous to get some nice pictures and then some nice prints. I do mean nice prints - not the prissy little 11 x 8.5 size but some 12 x 18 and 24 x 36 prints - the kind that smack people in the eye and have an exhibition of them. Then move on from there. Get people talking about the wonderful photos then move onto the business bit.

I know people already like my books on photography (I've written a couple).

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PenguinPhotoCo
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BUSINESS vs Hobby is THE difference
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 27, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

Aha. Even you are joining the flood of photographers seeking other employment. I'm pretty much at the point where I'm going to start selling the gear I don't want for my own personal use and just doing photography for my own pleasure.

I own a BUSINESS. The business happens to be photography - but I also sell invitations, wedding planning and coordination services, invitations for seniors/babies, websites for brides - none are directly photographic in nature.

See, when you open a BUSINESS the rules change. As a hobby what is your objective? To make pretty pictures, to have fun, to relax, to make pics to please yourself. Perhaps to get your ego fed from folks making comments about your pics.
Like playing a guitar. Many people play - for fun, relaxation, etc.
Now you want to make money with your pictures. The objective has changed. What YOU want is MONEY. Everything else is secondary.  I'm going to shoot some 800+ kids in april for sports pics. Not one sinlgle picture will be 'art'. Not a one. I know this. I'm not going to hang a single one of those pictures on a wall. Not one. Nothing bigger than 8x10 will be sold and prolly 20 of those in total. While I think my sports pics are good, 'the best' is harder to judge - they all look a lot a like from all the photogs in the area for this type of thing. What works is a well run picture day and fast delivery, and a commission for the league.

I'm going to shoot a senior friday. She's 'making' mom (to use mom's words) come to me. Here, my style, my vision is driving the client to come here. Here product matters. Price is very secondary as I'm not cheap. If they want cheap there are other options. I have something to 'say', to 'sell' as a senior photographer - the experience, the image, the post processing, the products - variety, good lighting, posing add up to set me apart.

Weddings...I find it harder to set myself apart. What do brides want? In general I know - but 70% of my brides are over 30...half are probably over 45! Not what most of us think of as a typical bride, huh? My friend in the city that I shot for over the weekend spends 'too much' by his own admission on marketing but he needs to get 35 weddings to pay the bills. He's DOUBLED what he's spending from 3 years ago to get the same number of weddings. He has a style and thinks hes making progress. If nothing else he's been around long enough to have a reputation wiht venues and that helsp sell him.
As for expanding to DJ or landscaping or babysitting - I run a business. My goal is to make money - HOW is a secondary concern really.  I could expand my framing operation, add videography, do church directories, go get a school, do yearbooks - lots of options out there yet to be tried.
I"ve not gone 'risky' on weddings because it was 1/3 of my business. This year...it's looking to be pitiful - so I may take a risk - show ONLY black and white wedding images, change the name, double the price - I have nothing much to lose - but it would make me standout in the marketplace. Being stupid expensive means 'status' to many people. A lexus does nothing a toyota won't do - but it costs three times as much and they sell a lot of them. STATUS. "You can't have it" because I'm rich indeed sells a lot of things!

Trouble is I paid good money for a lot of the studio stuff and probably won't see much of it back. If I get $10 per $100 that'll be more than I expected. I won't be too surprised if I just have to throw some unused and expensive stuff in the dumpster. Things like background stands I can't really see shipping working to advantage in an ebay sale - the shipping would be more than the cost of the stand.

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PenguinPhotoCo
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Re: I did notice..
In reply to rsn48, Mar 27, 2013

yep - people photography is a people business.

Face to face works well. the biggest (in sales) studio in my county works that way. hard to compete with it too. He's a 'nice guy' they all say - a lousy photographer, never had a website till last year, AFAIK still has no business cards. Never seen an ad of his anyplace, no displays, nothing.
He has 50% of the school, sports leagues, 30% of all the seniors in the county. For 8 years I'd never ever heard one good thing about him, other than hes a nice guy (and that was last month).
He shoots my kids school's pics. I've seen the work, the crap (as in cheap and boring) order forms, the slow turnaround times, the low prices.
But it's working for him. All because hes 'in their faces'.
How he finds the time...that I've not figured out yet. Having 5 employees helps I'm sure.

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deleted080512
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Re: I did notice..
In reply to PenguinPhotoCo, Mar 27, 2013

It's rather odd. I met a past customer a few days ago and she apparently loved the photos I did for her. She wanted a photo session so I told her to wait three weeks and we'd do it in the park in the autumn colors. So, we did and the photos were quite good.

All the people who have had photos love them but I don't get word of mouth custom. It's very strange.

Ah well, I'm wrapping it up this year. I'm not going to spend another cent on photography anything for advertising or networking. I like the idea of having an exhibition of prints but after the exhibition I would be lumbered with a load of prints and frames that I'm probably end up having to toss in the garbage. I did try selling prints - had a nice one of the Vietnam wall. Nobody would come up with even the cost price of the print let alone of the frame.

I'm done with subsidizing any business.

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afterswish1
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 28, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

Now I got mugged into starting a photo business...

Sounds like you've certainly tried a lot of things, but if your heart wasn't in it from the start is it that surprising it didn't go so well? That said, I suppose if you'd had more luck, and I do mean luck because aside from hard work that is a necessary factor in any business, your recollections of how you got started might now include more enthusiasm for the idea.

The only advice I feel qualified to give would be to pursue something you really enjoy. If that doesn't guarantee financial success at least you will get some job satisfaction along the way.

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deleted080512
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to afterswish1, Mar 28, 2013

afterswish1 wrote:

Sounds like you've certainly tried a lot of things, but if your heart wasn't in it from the start is it that surprising it didn't go so well? That said, I suppose if you'd had more luck, and I do mean luck because aside from hard work that is a necessary factor in any business, your recollections of how you got started might now include more enthusiasm for the idea.

The only advice I feel qualified to give would be to pursue something you really enjoy. If that doesn't guarantee financial success at least you will get some job satisfaction along the way.

I could say a lot more about the how, why and wherefore of how this got started. I won't though.

I enjoy photography. I enjoyed writing my photography book too. One of my friends suggested sticking to writing books on photography rather than being a "photographer". He has a point.

I am loathe to sell stuff that I have purchased but in order to reduce bulk, I probably will. I suspect my next book will be on the death of a photography business.

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G3User
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 28, 2013

I don't post much on dpreview, but I feel obligated to respond to the OP. I agree, PRO PHOTOGRAPHY IS DYING OUT!

I have spent 5 years solid trying to make it as both an event and portrait photographer in a medium size market, but like others, no takers. I have volunteered, spent thousands on equipment and produced images that are way above those crappy cell phone ones but still, no takers.

I have advertised in local HS newspapers, not one call for senior photos. From my volunteer activity, not one ever said, "hey, can you photography my wedding?"

No one cares anymore for pro level photos. The motto now is convenience (shooting with a cell phone in your pocket) trumps quality (hiring a pro photographer).

People no longer make money at doing photography, they now make money teaching it to people who have no clue that there is no job waiting for them if they complete some course or seminar or college degree. RIT in Rochester NY and Brooks Institute should be shut down or sued because they are selling a dream, snake oil to all those paying the tuition because there is not job when they graduate. Even Scott Kelby is having financial issues because of all the free content being dumped onto YouTube.

It all going away and has nothing to do with specializing, finding your niche, go with your heart the the money will follow. This is what all the instructors say because with out you believing this myth, they have no audience for there courses.

I could go on and on with more proof but I think my message is clear.

I also noted that no one listed their website to refer to so someone could juge their work to make sure thati is not the issue. Well, I feel confident in posting a link to my site. Thanks for reading this.

www.ProImage-Photo.com

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ultimitsu
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to G3User, Mar 28, 2013

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.

2, As someone else already pointed out, pro photography has always been a people business. You will find at a particular skill level, there are many photographers but not all of them getting the same amount of business. Those who succeed are often what you would call the people-person. they are friendly, humors, humble, and very patient. There are demanding and hasty and down right rude customers, everyone gets them. Part of the game is not make them happy so they do not complain and spread the bad word, and make the normal customers really like you so they recommend you to everyone else.

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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ultimitsu
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to G3User, Mar 28, 2013

G3User wrote:

RIT in Rochester NY and Brooks Institute should be shut down or sued because they are selling a dream, snake oil to all those paying the tuition because there is not job when they graduate.

People who attend these courses should do more research before hand.

It is not true that there is no jobs, but it is true those who come out of phtography school find no jobs. I know of not a single pro had been to any photography course and everyone that I know who had been to one, do not work in photography. In fact their photos generally arent very good.

Why is that? Because photography is actually a very gear demanding art and a very frontier art. low end gear often will struggle making good image and techniques from 10 years ago do not always work today. You only way to stay on top of the game is not going to those courses but actually learn from these youtube tutorials. they are much more current and more useful.

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DenWil
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 28, 2013

I would have to say not only is business not dying out,  but I'm having as much or more fun than a decade ago. Experience and longevity count for something.

Financially  I have not spent the last decade adapting to, dealing with, and/or otherwise spending time and resources on sensor based technology. That's tens of thousands of dollars in capital outlay savings to be  utilized in other ways.  MF film based images are still acceptable for clients in advertising, so buying in to a quality MF film system  paid off.  Add a scanner  and a fast computer (which go on for years thanks to software) and my business related capital investments are almost nil.  Financially,  a slow six months is inconsequential at this point. Keeps things in perspective.

Eventually I will  invest in  digital rigs.  Eventually. If client needs justify the investment. I don't have a cat.

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Hulamike
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Exhibition Prints?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 28, 2013

Man, if you really want to go down the tubes, please DO give large format fine art printing a try. People aren't buying big expensive art either. I've done a fair share of gallery exhibition, juried art competitions, weekend art fares. You occasionally get a sale or two but hardly enough to qualify as a living. The people who made good money at the art fares were the guys selling sleeved prints for $10-$20 in flip bins. People still appreciate a bargain.

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antoineb
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I don't think so
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 28, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

Speaking as somebody that has run a part-time photography business for a few years and almost completely failed to attract customers, the question has to be asked.

It's not as though I haven't tried - I just can't get anybody even to look at my portfolio. Let's see what I've done...

Yellow Pages - one or two calls about irrelevant matters

Website - no visitors

Van signage - one or two calls from other "pros" digging for information.

I did get a ton of people calling trying to sell me stuff from my online contact information. The web form attracted loads of resumes and spam. The web phone number attracted loads of people trying to sell insurance, internet services, credit-card devices.

Chamber of Commerce - polite interest but nothing more.

TV advertising - no callers.

Radio advertising - no callers.

It's all a very nice tax deduction but leaves me with very much the feeling that nobody wants photography any more - especially since most people now have a camera on their phone that's really quite acceptable.

One of the major problems is that people only want 1024 x 768 images to put on Facebook. I don't think they care about anything else.

Sorry to hear that times aren't very good for your business.  But remember that it is very rare that any business, especially before reaching some critical mass, has "easy" times or sees customers rush to it.

And even after customers have come in large enough numbers, things like competition do remain and put pressure on the deliverables and on the price you can charge for them.

Now back to your core question:

- does the world still need pro photographers?  Yes of course!  There are many occasions where the people don't have the human resources, the skills, or even just the time, to record memories of a special event.  We all know that a sports event (pro or not), a wedding, a simple party with friends, will be much better recorded by a pro photographer focusing on the task and having the skills, rather than by one member of the crowd doing this depending on free time during the event.  And then there's all the post-processing, which a Pro will focus on doing well and quickly, while an amateur having a full-time job might need weeks, perhaps months.

- have the iPhone or compact cameras or ubiquitous DSLRs, killed the demand for pro photogs?  Nope.  We all enjoy our iPhones but also realise their limits for good IQ, nice detail, low light, high ISO, shallow DOF, action.  Same for compact cameras.  And even all those DSLRs out there, most of them are coupled to uninteresting 18-55mm kit lenses and the results are not that different from an iPhone especially for smaller size viewing

- have the Web, the iPhone, compact cameras etc changed anything?  Yes, they have raised the bar a lot.  In the old days almost no one owned a camera so any rich guy with a camera was "a great photographer" (even if when we look at those shots today, most appear bad from the artistic or the technical point of views).  In the film days photography was already very developed but only the rich or the pros could afford to refine a composition or a special effect by burning 10 rolls of film on a given photo session, and then spending hours developing the film and printing.  Nowadays ANYONE can try anything, for free.  So the bar has been raised, massively.  So any Pro, or aspiring Pro, must truly bring something better to the party.  It will begin with equipment that allows for better technical IQ in all sorts of difficult conditions.  It will continue with a good (artistic) eye leading to superior compositions, a sense of a good portrait, a talent for interacting with people where needed, so that the end result is a lot of truly interesting shots.  And it will have to include a talent for good PP where needed.  This requires a fair amount of money to invest, and more importantly, time spent practicing.  Finally it requires an artistic talent - something one is either born with, or not.

Bottom-line:  I think this remains a valid business proposition.  But it's a competitive world out there, and no customer will come to you if you don't go to them, and do it fairly aggressively and every day.  And no customer will recommend you, or come back to you, if you don't deliver something truly better than the average.  Good luck.

 antoineb's gear list:antoineb's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Olympus TG-610 Nikon D7000 +4 more
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