serious discussion

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by bace, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. bace

    bace TPF Noob!

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    does anyone else find that it's getting harder and harder to make a buck as a photographer these days?

    when I bought my first slr 6 years ago, I didn't really think i'd be any good. 3 years later I was told I should start taking seriously 3 more years later I own two cameras 4 lens' 2 flash units, tripod, and lighting.

    The kicker is in the last two years, 5 people that had no real interest in photography, went out, got themselves digi cams, and almost immediatly started taking shots as good if not better than mine.

    Digital photography is taking anyone with an eye (which i'm not dissing at all) and making them pro's in a very short period of time because it's so easy to learn with a digi cam.

    Now, I'm all for teaching people photography. I love it, much like everyone here. But where do you find you retain the "edge" over the competition? Is there anyway to retain that edge?

    Is it just innevitable that with technology, we lose an edge and are forced to think of new ways to corner a market?

    At this point I think I'm really glad I have a day job. And the more and more pro's that keep emerging the harder it's gonna be to take the plunge as a full time photographer.

    I really need to get a fisheye too. Damnit.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would think that this is absolutely true....and if you look at the big picture...an established pro 8 or 10 years ago would look at someone like you and think the same thing...that it's getting harder to make a buck.

    I'm doing the same thing...I'm trying to get paid for my photography...and I don't think I took the 'traditional' road to get here. Established pros might look at me and be angry that I'm trying to get a piece of their pie.

    A lot of industries are like this...but photography is one of those that has a very fuzzy line between hobbyist and semi-professional...and the digital explosion is only making everything fuzzier.
     
  3. bace

    bace TPF Noob!

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    Even people with P&S digi's are taking some amazing pictures, editing them in PS and creating AMAZING imagery.

    Crazy.
     
  4. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    I guess I see that as being the same in any industry, not just photography. My "day" job is in the finance world and my company is always coming out with new products or different spins on things to get a greater share of the market. While frustrating, I can't say it's a bad thing. It's what sparks new developments.
     
  5. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    I'm not entirely in agreement with this arguement.

    A P&S camera means it's easy for more people to take photos free of charge because there are no film and development costs but ask anyone on this forum and they'll tell you - a good camera doesn't make a good photograph.

    I believe that with so many shots costing so little and with photoshop allowing people to change their shots that more people are taking shots because they can. I think that a good photographer will still be able to use lighting composition and other equipment to make his shots stand out and sell.

    I would have thought that all the budding photographers would simply mean you have to think more about what you're doing and improve your own photography.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'll agree with that...but that also means that more people are wanting pieces of the same pie. Because there seem to be so many more people taking so many more photos...it's harder to make money...and it doesn't matter how good you are.

    20 or even 10 years ago (as a random example)...a small company might have hired a pro photographer for a small job...product shots or whatever. Now, it's more likely that they might do it themselves or have somebody they know "who owns a $500 digi-cam" to do their photography. If they pay for the service...it probably won't be as much as they would have paid a pro to do the job.

    So from the Pro's point of view...he either has to work harder (advertise more etc.) to get these little jobs...or he has to lower his prices. Either way...the pro isn't making money like he used to....and it's hard to compete with all the part-timers. They don't need the money...they have day jobs. The pro has to run a business...which means things like having a studio or store front, insurance and other business fees.

    Let's look at weddings...there are more and more amatures shooting their friends & families weddings. (I don't have stats to back that up...but I think it's true). A Pro will charge $3000 just to make a decent profit. An amature may charge $1000...with very little overhead, they make a huge profit. How is a pro supposed to compete with that. I would also specualte that a lot of people are opperating illegally...not paying taxes on the money they earn etc.

    In most cases...the pro will do a better job...but more and more...people don't want a better job...as much as they want a decent job at a lower price. It's the whole Wal-mart theory.

    The pro can be the best photographer around...they can get an impressive education and study with the masters....but a lot of people will still want a price that the pro can't afford to operate at.

    On the other hand, there is certainly a market for higher end photography...and pros can still make a living...but the trend has started to shift.
     
  7. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    Mike

    I agree with everything you say but i don't think the standard of your every day photographer is any higher - it's just that there are more willing to make some relatively easy cash. In that respect I'm one of them - i recently shot a wedding with a friend - 2 of us were cheaper than a single pro. We both used 20D cameras and had good L quality lenses. As far as scenic and landscape shots go i think that pros will always have more of the market because a good camera doesn't make a good photograph or photographer.

    I realise that this affects pros for weddings and product shots etc but it should also act as encouragement for the same pros to raise the bar and make sure they're better than your average joe.

    In the end, it all comes down to the same thing - more people wanting a slice of the market means less for those in that market.
     
  8. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've always considered photography as one of my hobbies. I've never taken a cent for a picture. That way, the fun has never been diluted by a profit motive.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't know the laws across the pond...but did you pay taxes on the money you made? Do you have a business licence?

    If I were an established pro...trying to get enough work to feed my family and keep the business running...I would sure as heck be angry if my work was going to the everyday photographer who was doing it 'under the table'.

    It's already bad enough that so many up-start photographers have such low prices and under value their services...it brings the whole industry down a peg.

    I'm wrestling with this myself...I'm just starting to actually take money for photography...and I'm not set up as a business yet...because once I do...I will really have to pay taxes etc....which will really cut into the profit. I do plan on setting up a company to make it legitimate...and then there is the benefit of business deductions....I'm just not there yet.
     
  10. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    then of course there is the dummy down effect....
     
  11. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    I think being a successful "pro" involves much more than equipment or "an eye". Any bobo can buy a decent camera and a copy of photoshop and figure it out eventually. I think to be a successful pro you have to be a good photographer, you have to be good with post processing, you have to be good at framing or otherwise presenting your images, you have to be a talented webmaster, a marketing guru, and most of all you have to be an aggressive sales person. Chances are nobody is going to knock on your door Ed McMahon style and try to buy your work.

    I've found taking photographs people will buy the VERY easy part when compared to the business end... budgeting and marketing and websites and selling and customers and emails and.... oooohhh get me a double double from Tim's. :lol:

    ~ Dewey
     
  12. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Good point, but this is not just with this industry it's a factor in all businesses. The lawn company with 15k in equipment and insurance and taxes has to compete with the kid mowing grass after school for shopping money.

    Getting people to pay a premium for your shots is key to making money... you have to have a hook.

    ~Dewey
     

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