A conversation

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions
deleted080512
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A conversation
Apr 11, 2013

At my other job I had a conversation with somebody. I knew them as they are a photographer. The last time we spoke, which was a week or two back, he was fairly chipper and said that there was money in photography if you were any good at it. Today he came in, a bit down at the mouth having completed moving house. Apparently the bank had repossessed his home.

Now, what does that tell you about the market? He has a very nice website with lots of very nice photos. He's capable and has an eye for a photo plus years and years of experience.

Photography does not make money any more. It's dead!

Stilograph
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

I'e followed your previous posts about the same subject. And you might be right, at some level. Digital has eaten away some sales from the market, but there is still demand for photography. The weddings might be down, but for me, magazine work is up. So is the demand for day one videos (short stories on local events). For me tough, photos are supplemental to other skills I sell. I can photograph, but I do journalism as well. I get enough jobs as a writer who can shoot, or an interviewer or whatnot.

These days the photog has to adapt to the media, not the other way around. If you don't get hired as a shooter, maybe you could get hired as something else who also shoots. It's a skillset as any other. There is always a demand for photography. But sadly, these days adequate photos are enough, and the really high-end stuff is something that only a few can live by. Heck, most finnish move directors pay their bills with adverts and music videos and writing and whatever.

My point is, maybe these days you have to be able to offer more then just pretty pictures. A product that has more value to anyone who is buying.

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deleted080512
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Re: A conversation
In reply to Stilograph, Apr 11, 2013

Exactly. Photography now only sells as part of something else. I took all the photos in my two books on photography. The books sell. I can't say my photography sells.

Of course, this leaves me with a ton of expensive photo gear that's just money tied up not doing anything. There's so little I couldn't do with just a superzoom.

I am wondering whether lack of demand and lack of profit will kill the dslr

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Graham Snook
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

At my other job I had a conversation with somebody. I knew them as they are a photographer. The last time we spoke, which was a week or two back, he was fairly chipper and said that there was money in photography if you were any good at it. Today he came in, a bit down at the mouth having completed moving house. Apparently the bank had repossessed his home.

Now, what does that tell you about the market? He has a very nice website with lots of very nice photos. He's capable and has an eye for a photo plus years and years of experience.

Photography does not make money any more. It's dead!

If you truly believe photography is dead....get out of here, go, and take your daft view with you on the way.

Photography isn't dead, it's only just beginning.

There may be certain areas in decline, but it's hardly the death of photography.

There will always be a place for good photography, and image makers to create it.
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echelon2004
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Come on,
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

what kind of attitude is that? Just because some people fail at the business end it doesn't mean the business is gone. You think banking, finance, insurance, automotive, travel, food, construction etc is dead too? Because not everyone in those areas have made it either...

You want out, fine, no one's stopping you. But stop all these silly threads.

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deleted080512
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Re: Come on,
In reply to echelon2004, Apr 11, 2013

"Some"?

I know several local photographers in the same boat.

One runs a studio but is never there because she's always at another job that actually makes money.

A couple of photographers that run a studio constantly move the studio as the free or very cheap rent runs out. Whoops - bargain rent ran out, let's move to another bargain rent location.

One guy just had his house repossessed and is now on somebody's couch.

Another photographer complained she couldn't make ends meet any more from photography. 20 years ago she earned more as a photographer than her doctor husband. Now she can't make ends meet.

That's more than some. I know there're a lot of local photographers that just don't get any work and work in retail to compensate.

Now tell me that photography isn't dead.

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RhysM
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

You're just wasting your breath!

Anyone with a brain knows what you're saying is true, all but the very best photographers with the very best clients will be gone in the next decade.  The ones that stick around will probably make more money than ever, but 9 out of 10 will go bust.

I work in finance and i can tell you for an absolute fact that no financial institution will lend anything other than small amounts of money to an established photographer for new equipment, premises and even with a small amount a personal guarantee is needed. As for a startup venture there's virtually no chance, unless you fancy securing the money against your home.

Says a lot... but as i said, you're wasting your breath because as your friend has proved even when in the more dire circumstances people will always deny the obvious.

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PenguinPhotoCo
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

there is money in almost everything. how much money, how much volume is a separate subject.

Can a person make a living in photography today? Yes.

Was it easier, bigger income, 5, 10, 15 years ago? Yes.

The trend isn't good though. It keeps getting harder all the time, the money is often less for the same work.

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ToddSC
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

I'd say that the business side of the equation has gotten a lot more competitive and those photographers that were not very good businessmen are the fatalities.

There are a myriad of reasons for not being successful.  The fact that most of these friends are working other jobs indicates that they do not have enough sustaining work/revenue to continue to market their business.  And if you are waiting for work to fall in your lap then you have already given up.  Sure there are some that have that luxury but not many.  Chances are they put in the hard work building a client list years earlier.

Also I have seen a number of folks that think they need to have the latest/greatest in equipment to be a pro, so they spend a lions share of their profits on gear.  The equipment is a tool and needs to be used as an end to a means.  I still shoot with older gear but it still works and produces "sellable" images.

Many of the schools that are training photographers are doing a lousy job in training them to be a businessman.  I tell young students that rather than being a photography major, get an education in business with a minor in photography.

My 2 cents

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DenWil
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Re: Come on,
In reply to echelon2004, Apr 11, 2013

echelon2004 wrote:

what kind of attitude is that? Just because some people fail at the business end it doesn't mean the business is gone. You think banking, finance, insurance, automotive, travel, food, construction etc is dead too? Because not everyone in those areas have made it either...

You want out, fine, no one's stopping you. But stop all these silly threads.

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Anders
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Construction was not suddenly swamped with people with digital equipment leaping into an industry with less than an extensive education,  resources and possibly talent. Many of the folks  reporting a decisive downturn  seem to be providing photos that are discretionary in nature rather than photography that will be used to make money/ promote a business.

When the dust settles there will likely be the same number of pro photographers as there were 15 years ago.

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deleted080512
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Re: A conversation
In reply to ToddSC, Apr 11, 2013

ToddSC wrote:

I'd say that the business side of the equation has gotten a lot more competitive and those photographers that were not very good businessmen are the fatalities.

Competitive equals too many newbie photographers and too few clients.

There are a myriad of reasons for not being successful.  The fact that most of these friends are working other jobs indicates that they do not have enough sustaining work/revenue to continue to market their business.  And if you are waiting for work to fall in your lap then you have already given up.  Sure there are some that have that luxury but not many.  Chances are they put in the hard work building a client list years earlier.

For a myriad of reasons people just don't want to pay money for photography any more. It's too easy to do it yourself. The only hard bit any more is lighting and there are easily obtainable books on that.

Also I have seen a number of folks that think they need to have the latest/greatest in equipment to be a pro, so they spend a lions share of their profits on gear.  The equipment is a tool and needs to be used as an end to a means.  I still shoot with older gear but it still works and produces "sellable" images.

Excellent. This is what I do. I shoot with an XT - it produces 8 megapixels which will do excellent 16 x 24 prints. Most people only want 10 x 8 though. No real need to go bigger.

Many of the schools that are training photographers are doing a lousy job in training them to be a businessman.  I tell young students that rather than being a photography major, get an education in business with a minor in photography.

My 2 cents

Photography majors are time-wasting bull-hockey. Better to take a course in politics or business and learn something useful that you can fall back on if your photo career falls flat on its ass. Nobody will be interested in a BFA.

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deleted080512
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Re: A conversation
In reply to RhysM, Apr 11, 2013

Exactly. A photography business is worth only the resale value of the equipment.

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echelon2004
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Re: Come on,
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

Your examples are not very good. First one gave up. Second example don't have the money to build a business maybe, relocating like that only makes it sound dodgy. They really need a studio? I don't. I have one but I really just keep it so I have someplace for the large format printer.
Someone losing his house? How can one fail so bad and not notice in time to change?
And did the lady at the end try to make money the same way as she did 20 years ago?

Still, that's just a handful, there is no guarantee you can make it as a photographer. But that's not anything new, always had to beat the competition and it is your job to explain the added value to the client if they hire you unless it's evident and they already know. .
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Vegasluvr
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

I have shot sports images for over 30 years. It is my bread and butter and I am lucky to be making a fantastic salary doing what I do. But I diversified in the early 2000s to supplement my core business.

My commitment is strong because I own the property my businesses is located on so I cannot fail. My second location I bought the entire commercial property which consists of four business offices/warehouse which was bank-owned. So the rent from these three other units helps out too.

Right now we are involved in two non-photography based industries which brings in good income.

Weddings and youth sports is certainly an area that is hurting but the best persevere.

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echelon2004
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Re: Come on,
In reply to DenWil, Apr 11, 2013

It wasn't expensive enough to be out of reach for most people to take a few snapshots before digital either.
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Ohnostudio
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You Can Either Adapt Or...
In reply to Vegasluvr, Apr 11, 2013

You can either adapt of GET OUT. Personally I'm tired of your doom and gloom threads. This isn't 1950 anymore where everyone's fingers did the walking through the Yellow Pages. What next, threads on Moms With Cameras and how they are a threat to you? Seriously, get over yourself.

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Hulamike
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In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

MG, are your books published? If so please list out the titles and where we might purchase them.

As to the gist of this thread, haven't we been down this path with you recently? we get it that you're supposedly having problems making a living but as the guy above stated, the times have changed and so you must change. Producing stills alone in today's market is a sure way to stay unemployed. Everyone wants e-products, stills + video clips they can post to Facebook and send to mom on an email. Businesses want richer content for their websites. Get hip to the times and stop complaining.

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Biggs23
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

At my other job I had a conversation with somebody. I knew them as they are a photographer. The last time we spoke, which was a week or two back, he was fairly chipper and said that there was money in photography if you were any good at it. Today he came in, a bit down at the mouth having completed moving house. Apparently the bank had repossessed his home.

Now, what does that tell you about the market? He has a very nice website with lots of very nice photos. He's capable and has an eye for a photo plus years and years of experience.

It tells me that either a) he's not as good as you think he is or b) he's terrible at marketing.

Photography does not make money any more. It's dead!

False.

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Biggs23
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Re: A conversation
In reply to deleted080512, Apr 11, 2013

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

Of course, this leaves me with a ton of expensive photo gear that's just money tied up not doing anything. There's so little I couldn't do with just a superzoom.

Then sell it.

I am wondering whether lack of demand and lack of profit will kill the dslr

It won't.

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Any opinions I express are my own and do not represent DPReview.

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deleted080512
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Re: Books
In reply to Hulamike, Apr 11, 2013

I do not wish to self identify on the internet. I prefer to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, I figure if this topic is aired enough, it might stop a few people following the idea that somehow just magically there might be a market for photography.

When it gets down to people saying "ah but you needed to do this" we are into snake oil territory as I found with SEO. Now that was a waste of time, effort and money. There's no point in being on whatever page of google if nobody is going to click on your website. I had a lot telling me "ah but what you needed to do" and each time it was a waste of time, effort and money.

I can lead a horse to water. I cannot make him drink. I can put an optimised website out there on page 1 of google. I cannot make people visit. I can show people my work and get gasps of admiration and questions on how I achieved various effects. I can't make people buy prints nor can I make people hire me.

Sales is partly temptation, partly encouragement and partly just dumb luck. I cannot sell a hammer to somebody that wants a screwdriver. The fact I have found is nobody wants to pay for photography no matter how badly they do it themselves.

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