Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
antoineb Veteran Member • Posts: 6,627
I don't think so

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 +5 more
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