Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

Started Jun 5, 2008 | Discussions
Holscen Contributing Member • Posts: 557
Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

I've seen editorial commissions rates cut to a third of what they were 3 years ago. And there is not enough paid work to go around.

1) Are Pros on this forum finding it harder to get well / decently paid for quality work?

2) Do you think standards dropping as magazines want to pay less for more?

3) Is a full time career in photography about to become obselete for many ?

Obviously a great pro will always be in demand but increasingly, as digital photography has got easier and more affordable, I'm finding clients and picture editors are willing to risk it and use amateur / semi-pro photographers.

They will work for discount / free or the honour of having their work published, it's often on the promise of future paid work that never comes as someone else will do the same the following month, and so on.....

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Robert Whiteman Senior Member • Posts: 2,812

the world is changing and we must change with it.


2antarctica Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: Yes...

A professional photographer is about as valued as a cobbler or a wheelwright. We must learn to reinvent ourselves.
Cherry Alexander.

Shutterbug1129 Regular Member • Posts: 396

Last fall, an amatuer photog showed up at local college soccer games, shooting away and was selling 5x7s to soccer moms for $2 each...what gives there? My prices are way low (5x7s: $6, 8x10s: $12) compared to others, but I produce quality work and I'm very consciencious in regards to what I offer clientel...$2 is ridiculous and insulting...

b.bubevski Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: Agree...

welcome to the digital age...... I see kids and adults of all ages shooting away at events all day long, digital has made things too easy for them, just delete the image you don't like.

Its a bit like being a record artist, everyone downloads your music from Napster for when are you going to earn your next dollar?

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Vpch Regular Member • Posts: 109
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

Same here. Line between amateur and pro is disappearing in respect to imagery. Problem is, pro earns living in photography, amateur has a day job, so he/she can supply images for fun or a penny. This drives all prices down. I think photography prices will only going down from here. I've been freelance photog all my life and now I just hope that I will have time to save enough money for retirement. Of course, I will continue taking pictures for the rest of my life, earning living is a different story. Still love what I do.

wendell pace Regular Member • Posts: 106
i think ya'll are full of she-ite

Yeah there are a lot of amatuers but i'm doing better then i've ever done. It will come in phases. As people get bit in the ass after going will a amatuer then their friends and family won't make the same mistake. There is so much money to be made just stop thinking negatively. Buddy of mine cut his prices in half while i doubled mine.

The market will become what people make of it but my market is kicking major ass.

I do like people thinking there is no future though. Atleast my local competitors. But if pros would stop worrying and just make kick ass pictures they wouldn't have to worry.

alexandre_k Regular Member • Posts: 215
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

i'm an architect here in switzerland. the same can be said about architecture, in some cantons (states) here you don't need to have studied architecture in order to build.

it's hard, but as someone said, it pushes us to re-invent ourselves constantly and i find that stimulating.
regards, alexandre

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boudro_ Senior Member • Posts: 1,190
Re: i think ya'll are full of she-ite

I'm not a pro,or an amature for that matter. I will give photos as gifts, that is about it.

That said, I think people who are pro photographers still have two markets. The corporate market (product, event where cost is no issue) and events where the shot has to be right, no second chances. (sports, weddings, photojournalism)

I could see studio work suffering down to a select few, unfortunately. most people can't tell the difference between a good portrait and a great portrait.

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TomasJacko Regular Member • Posts: 493
I'm one the amateurs... describe and I'm surely not gonna give up just because of a rant of an unsuccessful pro.

I earn my living elsewhere, can afford professional equipment, can take pictures that get published, and enjoy doing it. It's not about what you studied or whether you decide to describe yourself as a "pro" - it's about the photos and about contacts with people.

They will work for discount / free or the honour of having their work

Yes, that's me. Face it or go play somewhere else.

I do mean to sound harsh - I do not like the tone of your OP at all.


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Only those who cannot see beyond their viewfinder consider cropping a sin.

da_Feeniks Contributing Member • Posts: 648
Really, only the pros truly care...

The big name, big talent pros will always have a job and be well compensated.

Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of "pros" are no better than a competent amateur and deserve what's coming. Most pros are being exposed, to use a blatant pun.

I am the last sane person on earth.

pcunite Senior Member • Posts: 1,398
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

It will only get worse...

What is happening is something like the music industry. A very talented musician is on every street corner. For most now it is just a weekend glory job! Better find a very expensive and difficult photography niche or go broke.

jekasko Regular Member • Posts: 145
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

Amateurs undercutting pros only help the pros justify higher prices. Sure there are a few armatures that can shoot circles around some pros... why? Because to be a "pro" in the photography business you need only two things... a camera and a business card. Talent is not part of this quest for a few months or years.... And by that time - the self proclaimed "pro" is either out of the photography business or talented enough to now be a true pro.

This has nothing to do with the "digital age". I started in 1982 and shot everything for free - it is how I got in to show what I could do. Nurturing a client base from there is up to you.

Don't be angry with the amateurs trying to do what they love - we all started there. Recent case for me... Contracted photographer for 5+ years with a pro sports team / who just blew it in the play-offs!!! I asked for a $40 increase on my per-game rate and was told that it wasn't in the budget - and they had someone willing to shoot for free.... (Team photographer status - there are thousands out there that would kill to do it for free) Well I got a call yesterday offering original rate plus triple the increase I was asking for...

Do what you do and do it right every time - you will have no problem keeping your clients.

tcphoto1 Contributing Member • Posts: 868
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

There will always be bottom feeders. They usually have a "real" job and do not factor in the overhead that we pro's have. The studio expenses, insurance and paying ourselves a salary to name a few. I am working hard to distance myself for that level of work. There is no reasoning with them, do you really think they care about the state of our Industry?

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TomXXX Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

The pro's can blame the major camera companies out there (Canon & Nikon, etc) for undervaluing their professional stature with cheaper and cheaper SLR systems. Granted I think everyone wants cheaper & cheaper bodies since photography in any form is a competitive market. But when I see another kid shooting a Rebel or d40/60 at a concert then later on selling crummy ISO filled flash shot stuff, getting hired for more events then later having band/event manager question why they should pay to have me drive out to shoot their event I find it rather insulting honestly.

So now the argument comes in that most professionals need to "step up" their game offer something that the amateur cant since you're the one with the equipment and time invested into what you offer.

Honestly I cringe at seeing another kid with a d40/d60 at an event with their dinky 18-55 kit thinking they're gonna take down the pro and earn a bunch since they're doing it for 1/3 the pro's doing it at.

jahern Contributing Member • Posts: 953
Re: Amateurs undercutting Pros - Give up now!

Don't all pros start out as amateurs and there will be a little bit of under-cutting as they try to break into the Pro ranks?

The simple fact is if your photos are good enough in the eye of the buyer and you are professional enough in your business you will be fine.


Osiris Ani Senior Member • Posts: 1,126
Poor analogy.

Its a bit like being a record artist, everyone downloads your music from Napster for when are you going to earn your next dollar?

That's a really poor analogy, as your complaint is not that people are using the photos you've shot without properly compensating you. A better one would involve people making their own music instead of listening only to that which was previously provided by the industry.

In the music world, however, the DIY ethic is applauded, and modern technology has enabled many to pursue it. Why should it be so different in the photography world?

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Rocco Galatioto Contributing Member • Posts: 568
My personal experience is

that with digital, many more people think that they can take great photos. I do PR and mostly in house publication work. It happened that a major customer, a large hospital network that had several in house publications, decided to buy their public affairs directors point and shoot digital cameras. The results were mediocre but their interest was to save money. Needless to say, this did cut on the number of assignments. I ended up shooting only the main fund raisers etc. Other companies did the same but on a lighter scale. With digital, things have changed and all of us must change too. I had to change my fee structure when I used to charge a fee per roll plus shooting time for example. I now charge for time plus a per print fee and a fee for the DVD.

It's not easy but it was never easy making a living taking pictures. What amateurs do can be at times superior but it's usuallu because the amateur is not under the pressure we pros are under. We cannot fail; we must always produce a good result; we have no excuses. That is really the difference between a pro and a good amateur. In a race it's better to keep looking ahead all the time and run as fast as possible as there will always be someone trying to pass you.
Rocco Galatioto

lekkousa Regular Member • Posts: 339
Yes, the market has changed for some...magazines too are being

squeezed by this instrument we are currently using to discuss these issues! I work mainly with "trade" publications and textbooks and there are still some quality, professional ones out there, but they are being severely impacted by the net!

I agree that some of the photos I see being published are so poor that it makes you sad. The flip side to that is that it makes quality stand out, but most of these editors don't care! They want something for nothing so they can satisfy their advertisers.

I have started doing much more corporate work and the trick is finding the ones where quality matters. There aren't many who want to pay for quality mind you, but they are out there.

tissunique Veteran Member • Posts: 3,307
Re: i think ya'll are full of she-ite

I'd love to see some examples of what your clients are paying so much money for... got a website?

A major weekly music magazine here in the UK gave up on professional photos and invited amateurs to send photos in. They were nowhere near up to standard but it still took the magazine 6 months to revert back to professionals. There was nowhere to hide. The print magazine market is dying a slow death and pretty soon I'll be able to show you why. The general standard of live music photography has declined and the top paid pros are extremely reluctant to take pictures where they cannot control the light. In my expereince some of the best live photographers are paid a pittance and end up giving images away.

Mediocrity reigns


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