Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284

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.

I can make coffee at home for 10c a POT. Why would ANYONE pay $4 for a cup of it? Yet it happens millions of times a day.
bread is $1.50 a loaf,. right? Walmart is king of low priced groceries. Yet 7-11 and the like are doing just fine - and charging $3 for the SAME BREAD.
People buy for MANY reasons, some not logical at all. Convenience, status, the experience among others.
YOU must offer SOMETHING they want to buy - could be exclusitivity, HUGE bw canvas', or 1000 other things. If you are trying to sell the "same thing" as everyone else there is no reason to come to you.

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".

AHA! You're reading but not comprehending. See, photography isn't key - SALES IS. Marketing is.

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.

Nobody I know has ever bought a ferri or rolls royce. But they sell many of both. I've never seen China - so it must not exist.
Sorry, your argument only means you and your friends are not the target market for photogrraphy.
Yes, there are TOO many photographers - the total popluation of my town is 4500. THere are 7 wedding photographers advertising here. The math says we won't all survive shooting weddings. But SOME will survive I"m sure. THose that market well, have something 'unique' to sell.

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.

Lifetouch is the LARGEST photo company in the US. How can you call them 'bottomfeeders'? They do VOLUME photography, like mcdonalds does volume food. But Applebees is doing well, olive garden and many others at a MUCH higher pricepoint than McDs.  They're selling ATMOSPHERE as much as they are food. An experience, not just calories.

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.

I wanted to shoot weddings and wedding only. I can't find enough of them at a price that affords me a living. So I also shoot seniors and sports leagues (both growing, weddings shrinking). I do a few other 'people' jobs. My reputation is growing - I do pro quality work, on time and on budget. Most part timer wanna be's can't do that consistently (their day job interferes, they lack the gear, the experience).

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.

WRONG WRONG WRONG!  Photography is a LUXURY GOOD. YOu don't sell that at flea markets. And then you discount it? Selling on PRICE? SOrry, that is a race to free and you're welcome to win.
What you do has as much value as YOU place on it. Nobody will ever pay you more than you ask.

I had magnetic signs on my van. People still greet me and say "oh yes. you're the photographer". I am known as "the photographer" but nobody ever rings for photography. I ask people and they say they don't want photos and don't know anybody that does.

"the photographer"    ok, the best? Cheapest? Fastest? Edgiest?  I know LOTS of photographers. Why should I call YOU?

I remember joining the chamber of commerce and announced at the meeting when new members introduced themselves that I am a photographer and the whole meeting roared with laughter.

I meet other photographers and they all say how hard it is becoming with all the soccer moms taking up professional photography.

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

There IS work. If you have a clue on business, marketing, etc. No, it's not easy - and it's getting harder everyday. It's also harder to be a grocer, best buy, bookstore, etc. Darwin had it right- evolution is real and those that adapt will survive.
I'm seriously considering moving from wedding photography to wedding DJ. Soccer Sally can't do a wedding as a DJ. I have the connections...the $4-5k in gear isn't all that expensive and if I buy used the risk is low as I can sell the stuff off. I can probably get more dj gig referrals than I can wedding photo gig referrals... Still doing market research on this one.

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Vision without execution is hallucination. T. Edison.
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