Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
GMartin Regular Member • Posts: 227
Re: Is professional photography dying out?

Machine Gun Kelly wrote:

Sorry but I have to disagree with that. Having a passion alone will not bring success. ANY business has to be run like a business. Having excellent business skills is far more important than having excellent photography talent. Ask any business owner. Too many photographers think just by having "awesome" work that they'll be successful. Sorry but it doesn't work that way.

This is pretty much what I have been saying. I have seen some really awful professional photographs around the place. The thing that sets (successful) professional <insert profession> apart from anybody else is connections. When those connections don't exist for whatever reason, we resort to advertising.

The big problem with advertising is everybody else is also advertising. I drove down a street and really saw all the adverts. I mean, really saw the quantity, the vulgarity, the garishness of all the advertisements. My immediate thought was that it was a cacophony of advertising. None of them was more noticeable than any of the other because they were all shouting as loud as possible. Because there were so many, nobody saw any of them. I certainly couldn't pick out a single one.

I met a fellow who sold aerial photos of houses and villages. He used an elderly Nikon film camera with a single 100mm lens. He would fly over areas and shoot several rolls of film then he would visit the houses and sell arial photos to the people in the houses. He would charge top notch prices and give them a huge print. He did quite well at that despite the fact he really didn't understand photography; just how to focus and expose without blur. His business was heavy on sales and marketing and light on photographic talent but this exemplifies exactly what you're saying.

The big problem with amateurs is that amateurs put too much emphasis on photography and too little on business. Business is 90% business and 10% photography. There are no photographers who are in business but there are a lot of businessmen that deal with photography.

I would challenge any amateur to come up with a great example of marketing a photography business that's not going to cost much money and which will be effective. The internet is going to be their first choice because it's "free". Umm, excuse me? The internet - free? Pull the other one - it's got bells on. Let's have a look at the cost of the internet just to show the amateurs posting here just how much the internet really costs...

1. Computer - if it's a windows box then it has to be depreciated over 2 years as after 2 years it's going to be so slow/bogged down with junk that it'll be too hard to use. So, depreciate about $500 over 24 months. That's $21 approx a month.

2. Internet - it's a deductible. That's about $55 a month for DSL (that's what it costs in my area what with all the taxes etc).

3. Electricity - you have to run your modem and computer on electricity and you need a lightbulb or two.

3. Heat/Air - your office space has to be comfortable. Oh, didn't you realise - every business needs office space, even if it's your back bedroom.

4. Rent - if you rent a house then some of that rent goes towards the office space as a deduction.

5. Water/sewage - yes - if you have an office you have to include access to water/sewage.

6. Domain names - if you run a website. Even if it's $10 a year, it has to be included.

7. Web hosting - if you have a website, you have to pay for hosting.

8. Advertising your website, whether that's via paid online adverts, SEO or whatever, it has to be advertised. Add the cost or the time spent doing that in.

9. Office furniture - the chair and desk can all be depreciated and counted as a cost. For example, I have a swivel chair. No - not a fancy tilt and swivel leather chair. I use a cheap Walmart $20 student swivel chair - it works, it's not uncomfortable and it's cheap. My desk is a $20 desk from a charity shop. My desk lamp was $7.99 in Walmart.

So, is the internet still free? The amateurs all need to think about the real costs of running a business and the operations behind a business. This is all the stuff surrounding the internet. I could go further and cost things like:

1. Transportation - how much, when and where.

2. Insurance - how much, when and where.

And so on - the list is endless.

A photography business is not all about taking photos - that's only a tiny part of the business. I fear that most of the people posting here have never actually run a business as a business. I suspect a great many have done odd photography jobs here and there.

How much did my TV advert cost - That was $1,000 several years ago and I got a great deal.

How much does the Yellow Pages cost - about $450 a year.

How much does the internet cost? Well, at a rough estimate, over a year I'd say about $1,000

The cost of running a business is not cheap - I've not had this year's accounts back from the accountant so I'm not sure how much of what I've spent I can claim legitimately because there are several borderline items that cross over between business and personal. I can say somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000 for last year - if I've not missed a few things - which I probably have.

That's the costs of running the day to day business which does not include losses (theft, wastage etc) and those costs have to be included later. For example, I had a check written on a closed bank account to deal with this year. That bumped up costs because I had to pay court fees etc and I'm still waiting for the money because the whole process is very long-winded.

I hope the amateurs who think they know everything can now see there's more to professional photography than taking pictures.

But how does THIS support your initial question that professional photography is dying out ? It's's just a new ear and has to be run differently. Out with the old, in with the new. It's in everything in life. Not just photography. Adapt or wither away.

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