Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions
nikkorwatcher
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to ultimitsu, Mar 29, 2013

The whole situation is interesting re what people will compliment when you show them, and what they'd actually seek you out to pay for. Here's what it sounds like people are saying: like it's all about creating a buzz and opening up your work on the internet, like a few weddings or class photos you did cheap for friends or something. Then there's proactive pestering whatever people and organisations you can for humdrum work like for selling cars, houses and verifying insurance claims. Having yourself listed passively in the telephone directory and on the internet didn't seem to work in this case. Like the difference between trying to live the dream and chasing it.

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PenguinPhotoCo
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wedding 'cost'
In reply to ultimitsu, Mar 29, 2013

there are nearly as many ways to figure costs/prices as there are lenses on the market, but one that seems to work well for service businesses is per hour.

Go call ANY service business - as in car repair, furnace repair, etc.  Ask their hourly rate and you'll find it's rarely below $75 an hour.

You know the guy doing the work doesn't get $75 an hour. He gets 12-15, maybe $20, plus the other payroll costs. The rest goes to physical plant, tools, marketing, billing, etc.

OK, so you meet with a bride (an hour), prep for the wedding and drive there (hour total), shoot the wedding day (8 hours give or take), DL images, put gear away (an hour).

Some are truly shoot and burn these days - off the card to a disk to the bride, done deal. But most of us will go thru the images and only keep the best 400 out of the 1200 we shot. So what, 5 hours?

All told that adds to 16 hours, times $75 is $1200.  Pay yourself $20/hour ($320) and put the rest in the bank to pay for your accounting/marketing/gear time and materials.

the problem is 16 hours isn't full time work. Add in 4 a week for cleaning, marketing, etc and you've still only reached 20 hours. If you do 30 weddings a year that's only 600 hours of work. A full time job is 2000 hours.

So it seems photogs want to make a full time living from part time work - 30 weddings and $40k a year is $1335 in wages for each wedding. Addin the $900ish (from the earlier pricing model) to cover the marketing/accounting/etc and you're at $2250ish a wedding with no product other than files.

Yeah, unless you are a 'name' you won't sell that very often.

I aim for $100/hour plus the costs of the products. My low end wedding package is $1500. Add in a 'real' album and an assistant for the day and yes, $2500 is what I charge.
and that's why I do more than just weddings!

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PenguinPhotoCo
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one modern business theory states
In reply to nikkorwatcher, Mar 29, 2013

One of the big business writeers says today it's not about advertising but PR - 'the buzz' as it's often called.

Do great work and you hear great thigns, but the phone doesn't ring.

Do a stunt of some kind and make a press release and you get attention and the phone rings.

But PR is more involved than passive advertising.

Look at 'the great names' in photography - how did they get that way? We don't know about them from their advertising, do we? Nope.

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deleted080512
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to alpha90290, Mar 29, 2013

I can't get anybody even to look at my stuff so the question of marketing is irellevant.

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alpha90290
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Re: Is professional photography dying out?
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 29, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

I can't get anybody even to look at my stuff so the question of marketing is irellevant.

"face palm"

Then you don't understand what is marketing.

You think marketing is calling a stranger and ask him/her to buy your products ?

Hard selling is the least effective method.

I hang up my phone on every single telemarketeer that called me.

My friend works as a free lance photographer and he keep getting new job every month.

Why ???

He makes lots of friends and whenever someone need a photographer, his friends will recommend him. He do lots of networking in his free time. When his client is a famous local celebrity, he make sure others knew about it. When someone wants a professional looking photo, everyone will think about him.

Marketing = networking

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Karaya
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This thread makes me feel so good!
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 29, 2013

That I have been content to remain a amateur photographer. My situation has some similarity to Machine Gun Kelly's. I live in a rural area. I have had many people tell me my photos are so great I should be making money from them. My best friend took it upon himself to have business cards printed for me billing me as a wedding and portrait photographer. The owner of the local coffee shop I hang out in asked for copies of my photos to display in a slideshow over the sales counter. The people running a local sci-fi convention 'elected' (volunteered?) me to be the 'official' convention photographer. I estimate I have between $20k and $30k 'invested in equipment.

This is all very nice, but I do not think I want to pursue a career as a 'professional' photographer. I love receiving complements on my photos. I have shot a few weddings and sold a few prints. I think my total 'profits' from all this might pay for dinner at a five star restaurant for my wife and myself.

I have taken an honest look at the situation. I have not a single entrepreneurial bone in my body. I have an introverted personality. I see photography as an art. I like to shoot with large prints as the final goal. I like prime lenses and natural light. I prefer a minimum of post processing. I like a 'classical' style of portraiture. In contrast most people I talk with are content to view photos on their computers. They like an edgy look. They are most impressed with heavily processed photos - like HDR. Many either have an inexpensive DSLR of their own, or plan to purchase one soon. Many people have expressed in interest in purchasing prints, but have pleaded poverty. I know some of these people have printed copies of the small jpegs off my website - on plain printer paper no less - for their own uses.

So, given all this, why should I bang my head against the wall trying to pick up a few dollars on the side shooting weddings and portraits and such? I am enjoying my photography more then ever since recommitting to maintaining my status as a dedicated amateur-enthusiast! I can shoot how I want and just have fun!

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deleted080512
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Re: This thread makes me feel so good!
In reply to Karaya, Mar 29, 2013

That I have been content to remain a amateur photographer. My situation has some similarity to Machine Gun Kelly's. I live in a rural area. I have had many people tell me my photos are so great I should be making money from them. My best friend took it upon himself to have business cards printed for me billing me as a wedding and portrait photographer. The owner of the local coffee shop I hang out in asked for copies of my photos to display in a slideshow over the sales counter. The people running a local sci-fi convention 'elected' (volunteered?) me to be the 'official' convention photographer. I estimate I have between $20k and $30k 'invested in equipment.

This is all very nice, but I do not think I want to pursue a career as a 'professional' photographer. I love receiving complements on my photos. I have shot a few weddings and sold a few prints. I think my total 'profits' from all this might pay for dinner at a five star restaurant for my wife and myself.

I have taken an honest look at the situation. I have not a single entrepreneurial bone in my body. I have an introverted personality. I see photography as an art. I like to shoot with large prints as the final goal. I like prime lenses and natural light. I prefer a minimum of post processing. I like a 'classical' style of portraiture. In contrast most people I talk with are content to view photos on their computers. They like an edgy look. They are most impressed with heavily processed photos - like HDR. Many either have an inexpensive DSLR of their own, or plan to purchase one soon. Many people have expressed in interest in purchasing prints, but have pleaded poverty. I know some of these people have printed copies of the small jpegs off my website - on plain printer paper no less - for their own uses.

So, given all this, why should I bang my head against the wall trying to pick up a few dollars on the side shooting weddings and portraits and such? I am enjoying my photography more then ever since recommitting to maintaining my status as a dedicated amateur-enthusiast! I can shoot how I want and just have fun!

To be quite honest, I would have been happy with less equipment and photography as a hobby.

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Karaya
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Re: This thread makes me feel so good!
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 29, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

That I have been content to remain a amateur photographer. My situation has some similarity to Machine Gun Kelly's. I live in a rural area. I have had many people tell me my photos are so great I should be making money from them. My best friend took it upon himself to have business cards printed for me billing me as a wedding and portrait photographer. The owner of the local coffee shop I hang out in asked for copies of my photos to display in a slideshow over the sales counter. The people running a local sci-fi convention 'elected' (volunteered?) me to be the 'official' convention photographer. I estimate I have between $20k and $30k 'invested in equipment.

This is all very nice, but I do not think I want to pursue a career as a 'professional' photographer. I love receiving complements on my photos. I have shot a few weddings and sold a few prints. I think my total 'profits' from all this might pay for dinner at a five star restaurant for my wife and myself.

I have taken an honest look at the situation. I have not a single entrepreneurial bone in my body. I have an introverted personality. I see photography as an art. I like to shoot with large prints as the final goal. I like prime lenses and natural light. I prefer a minimum of post processing. I like a 'classical' style of portraiture. In contrast most people I talk with are content to view photos on their computers. They like an edgy look. They are most impressed with heavily processed photos - like HDR. Many either have an inexpensive DSLR of their own, or plan to purchase one soon. Many people have expressed in interest in purchasing prints, but have pleaded poverty. I know some of these people have printed copies of the small jpegs off my website - on plain printer paper no less - for their own uses.

So, given all this, why should I bang my head against the wall trying to pick up a few dollars on the side shooting weddings and portraits and such? I am enjoying my photography more then ever since recommitting to maintaining my status as a dedicated amateur-enthusiast! I can shoot how I want and just have fun!

To be quite honest, I would have been happy with less equipment and photography as a hobby.

Well, yes, I think most advanced amateurs would be happier just keeping it as a hobby. I don't understand the mercenary attitude most Americans seem to have. Why is there this expectation that those of us who have invested heavily in photography have to justify this by trying to turn a profit? I mean, if I had $20k stuck into a bass boat and tackle would people ask me about my plans for making a profit in commercial fishing?

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PenguinPhotoCo
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start for free? NO business does this
In reply to WayneDB, Mar 29, 2013

Why must photographers start for free?
McDonalds, Macys, GM never started for free. Harvard didn't start for free, Proctor and Gamble, your local pizza shop, exxon.
You learn your job, buy your equipment, do your market research, have a marketing plan, budget, etc in place BEFORE you open your doors.
Go seek photogs and pro orgs out and HERE is where you work for free - like any student. Few if any students learn alone and on the job...that's just asking for a bad reputation.

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PenguinPhotoCo
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Re: Sustained effort and talent
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 29, 2013

I can shoot weddings and sports leagues and only leave my driveway on those particular days and nobody really ever needs to come here.
Maybe he does stock photography?
maybe you need to read a few business books and do some market research rather than spending your days watching your neighbors car.

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Craig
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If you want to be depressed check this out
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 29, 2013

Here is what I am talking about the upper end is busy.

these people are all booked up, look at their prices..

http://www.snapri.com/#/pricing-wedding/

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yvind Strm
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Re: A few points...
In reply to vander, Mar 29, 2013

Hello vander

Let me compliment you with the post, your webpage and your pictures! Very well executed.

You create a need through a believable story, told with dedication. Excellent!

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Kind regards
Øyvind

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28to70
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Seems to me...
In reply to Craig, Mar 29, 2013

When I had my studio I divided brides into 3 categories.  Those that could pay at least $1500, those that wanted an album included in the package for $2500-3000.00 and those that could pay $5000.00 and over.  In those days from 1995 to 2006 more or less, the advertising was done in the Yellow Pages, and I still remember gals calling up for $500.00 weddings that really were not worth doing.

Now advertising is mostly online, but the bride's have changed somewhat.  There are still the bride's that want $400.00 or $500.00 weddings, which adjusted for inflation makes a photographer barely nothing, while the $1500.00 brides are almost extinct due to the economy tanking.  One is not going to make money from the poor or unemployed, so one has to go after the upscale bride's.  That's where the money is!   Don't you think?   Starting a business now days is most difficult, specially when the economy is so bad.  But still there are people that have money.  Target them.

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GMartin
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Re: Seems to me...
In reply to 28to70, Mar 29, 2013

28to70 wrote:

When I had my studio I divided brides into 3 categories.  Those that could pay at least $1500, those that wanted an album included in the package for $2500-3000.00 and those that could pay $5000.00 and over.  In those days from 1995 to 2006 more or less, the advertising was done in the Yellow Pages, and I still remember gals calling up for $500.00 weddings that really were not worth doing.

Now advertising is mostly online, but the bride's have changed somewhat.  There are still the bride's that want $400.00 or $500.00 weddings, which adjusted for inflation makes a photographer barely nothing, while the $1500.00 brides are almost extinct due to the economy tanking.  One is not going to make money from the poor or unemployed, so one has to go after the upscale bride's.  That's where the money is!   Don't you think?   Starting a business now days is most difficult, specially when the economy is so bad.  But still there are people that have money.  Target them.

My target bride is in the 1100.00 to 2100.00 range and I book them all of the time. Im in my mid fifties, not some young rock star photographer. I live in a very depressed county in California, but things are starting to get better. For the past three years I had ZERO commercial jobs but this year I've had several, so that tells me that companies are starting to use discretionary funds again.

Companies have money to spend, they hire more employees, they in turn have more money to spend and so goes the food chain.

I get the occasional $3200.00 package sold but am more of a high volume wedding photographer and I love it. It leads to more wedding clients, more family portraits, grad portraits and other work. Being diversified works for me.

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GMartin
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Re: If you want to be depressed check this out
In reply to Craig, Mar 29, 2013

Craig wrote:

Here is what I am talking about the upper end is busy.

these people are all booked up, look at their prices..

http://www.snapri.com/#/pricing-wedding/

I know several of these "high end" wedding photographers. They have

regular full time jobs and do the weddings on the side. They may shoot 1 or 2

weddings every couple of months. If they had to depend on their weddings to

survive they couldn't.

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PenguinPhotoCo
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Re: If you want to be depressed check this out
In reply to GMartin, Mar 29, 2013

Exactly.
We have one in our town - she shoots no weddings in our town...all in the city an hour away. Does maybe 10 a year.
Her hubby has a 'real' job.
She also shoots newborns and teaches at a local college (photoshop, photography, etc).
A few others I've met at PPA events -if you ask them- will tell you they do 5 big weddings a year and often make their money off school pics, owning a chain of 'portrait innovations' and the like.

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deleted080512
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Re: If you want to be depressed check this out
In reply to PenguinPhotoCo, Mar 29, 2013

That's pretty much the feeling I'm getting; that photography is at best a part-time job and the rest of the time is a hobby job.

Photographers get very defensive about photography being an earner and yet very few make anything much out of it.

Originally I wanted just to have a smaller amount of gear and just shoot for myself and occasionally for somebody else but as I said, I was coerced into spending more than I wanted and into starting a business. At the time I couldn't really see where the trade was coming from but was being assured it was there - which I somewhat doubted but heck, being from another country, what do I know about the market in the US. I know that where I came from, one of my friends was a pro photographer and he spent most of his time unemployed or doing jobs other than photography.

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Marques Lamont
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Re: start for free? NO business does this
In reply to PenguinPhotoCo, Mar 29, 2013

PenguinPhotoCo wrote:

You learn your job, buy your equipment, do your market research, have a marketing plan, budget, etc in place BEFORE you open your doors.

Such true words. And if you're shooting on the side, it is smart to RENT your equipment. Do NOT buy!  It makes no sense to buy fancy high grade gear and expect it to turn a profit for you. If you don't have the bookings or contracts, rent your equipment only when you do have the bookings or projects to use them on. Just keep your money and rent. I can't stress this more! Lower risk.

What makes more sense? Spending $5000 in equipment that doesn't return that investment and having to sell it OR renting your gear when you need it for at most $150-$250 and probably even less? You could use your own equipment as backup gear. Again, lower risk.

The only equipment purchases I make now are on lighting gear because it will outlast all of your other gear by a long shot. Camera bodies and lenses come and go. New model every year. But... they can all be rented... for cheap.

If you just want to make an extra $100-$150 on the side each month, that's just $6 per day if you're shooting 5 days a week on the side. In other words, your day rate is $6. It's possible to do at least something, I hope.

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vander
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Re: A few points...
In reply to yvind Strm, Mar 29, 2013

Hey, thank you very much! I appreciate that.

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Check out my photo galleries !!
http://www.vandervalk.ca

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sam photo
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Re: If you want to be depressed check this out
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 30, 2013

...do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound with this coerced nonsense?...we get it...you failed at your part time business...move on and accept failure and stop diverting the blame that rests squarely on your shoulders...

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