Rookies are killing the business!

bratkinson

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Thankfully, I'm not a pro. I'd go broke if I was. My concern is for those who make their living behind the lens.

A couple of weeks ago, I <forget the name> posted that he was being undercut for album covers, etc for a musician he frequently photographed. Hence, the musician went with the cheaper source. Then, about 2 weeks ago, JaneJ posted in the Canon Lens forum she was looking to get a new lens. It came out in that thread that she's been doing wedding photography for 2 years and has done 77 weddings with nothing more than kit equipment and kit lenses! She had posted a link to her website and one person commented about the unusual coloring and other quite non-professional 'enhancements' to the photographs.

I hadn't seen any posts from her since, so we probably scared her off. I was curious, however, and did a search. Back in October 2011, she posted she had bought a T3i or something like that and was getting blurry pictures. She also indicated she had already done 32 weddings at that point with her kit equipment. THIRTY TWO! What utterly floored me was that she was shooting everything in "A"!!! She couldn't figure out why things were blurred shooting at 1/60th, and letting the camera make all the decisions, including where to focus! And now, 2 weeks ago, said she's done 77 weddings!

Apparently, ignorance is bliss for JaneJ as well as her customers.

Then you read, I think it was here, about a pro travelling 200 miles for a shoot in Denver and the customer hated their work, changed the one picture he liked and posted it on his website without crediting the photographer...then wanted her (I think it was a woman) to come back for another shoot!

There was a recent thread (here?, Photographyonthe.net?) suggesting photographers should be licensed or certified in some way to at least show they are competent and not some MWOC that just got a camera last week and goes out shooting weddings. The more I think about it, I think it should be implemented. Once upon a time, a pro had to do everything in manual (there was no other settings!) and be proficient in the darkroom as well. Nowadays, $500 for a kit camera and the free software that comes with it, an existing home computer and they call themselves "Pro"s.

I've long since learned that doing what you love is far more important in life than doing what pays the best. I used to have it both ways as a computer consultant. But these days, unless one has a wall full of certificates in this or that, and a piece of paper that says someone paid $100K or more to put you through school, there's no work to be had. And, of course, what comes from that is failed multi-million dollar projects, systems that don't work 100%, and on and on.

As for professional photographers, the problem seems to me, at least, of how to let 'the world' know you are out there and can do far, far better than some weekend warrier with a brand new T3i and no clue how to use it. Considering the trip-to-Denver photographer, those that can afford quality fail to recognize it and even berate those who 'do it right'.

Because I don't have all the 'paperwork', I've had to leave the computer world and find employment outside the field. In the world of photography, the day of the 'good enough and cheap enough' looks like it will spell the eventual doom of truly professional photography. Ain't technology great??? ... NOT!!
 

Benco

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I see what you're getting at but as I see it it's not the rookies that are killing the business but the customers expectations. If customers are not wanting to pay a decent rate and are happy with a cheap, crappy product then what can be done? not much. It's not just photography; furniture, food, any number of consumer products are the same, you should take a look at what's expected of jobbing artists...shocking.
 

pgriz

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Low prices exist because people just don't know better (on either side of the buying equation). So to a certain extent, the way to combat that is to educate people so they at least recognize what a quality product is, and then educate them that getting that level of quality comes at a cost of experience, good tools, proper organization, training, and time. I've worked in a number of different fields and the refrain is more or less the same, in terms of a field being flooded by more-or-less incompetent newbies. In each field, there's a stratification by price-points. The low end gets hurt by continual entry of new competitors, the mid-range doesn't care that much since the client base is more-or-less different, and the upper level doesn't care because their customers won't even consider the low-end.

It's a major part of a business strategy to know which client base the business is interested in pursuing, and to tailor the marketing message, sales process and production process to be very good at addressing the needs and wants of that particular niche. It is possible to make money at each price point, IF you understand the dynamics and are organized to capitalize on the characteristics of that level. For instance, at the low end, money can be made IF the product/service is "cookie-cutter", high-volume, fast turnaround, and money is made at many small transactions completed quickly. The mid-range is usually characterised by lower volumes, somewhat more choice and customization, and more focus on a niche market. The high-end is about prestige, bragging rights, exclusivity, ridiculous margins, and insane amount of pampering. This is true whether we are talking photography, restaurants, carpentry, home-building, software, or clothing.

Businesses are money-making machines. They are designed to harvest crops (money). Successful businesses know their climate, which crops will be good to grow, what is needed from a production point of view to seed, grow and harvest that crop, and know who they will sell the crop to. Unsuccessful businesses try to use the wrong tools to grow the wrong crops in the wrong places and harvest at the wrong time. But... the crop is the one they knew, the place is the one they had, and the tools were what they already were using. Sorry - business doesn't work that way. At least, successful business doesn't work that way.

Professional photography isn't doomed by all the newcomers. Because the art of business is to provide something people want, at a price they are willing to pay. Marketing grows the "want" and establishes what is a "reasonable" amount to pay. And that is where the professional needs to focus their attention: Who's the customer that you want to have, how to attract them, how to persuade them that they are getting an incredible deal, and how to efficiently deliver on the promises made. Actually, business has always been about that.
 

Designer

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I've been trying to get people to read (not about photography) and understand for about 20 years to no avail. The buying public simply cannot be made to understand nor even care about truth, quality, worth, or anything that requires a little bit of education.
 

imagemaker46

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Cheap digital cameras, cell phones, and the inability of the average person to tell the difference between good and bad. There will never be any kind of "licence" to be certified as a professional photographer. People will still hire photographers because they understand that skill and experience still matters in most situations, the rest of the world doesn't really care if someone has two weeks with a camera or 20 years. When I see that someone is shooting weddings at $2000 for 6 hours work, I wonder what they are getting for for $2000. My son is getting married and asked me to see if I could find a good wedding photographer, as I was involved in the wedding. After looking at 3 web sites with a combined 10 years experience "creating the images that will last a lifetime bs" Packages starting at $2000. I told him I would shoot the wedding, and any photos I was in, I would hand the camera off. I have no doubt that I can shoot the wedding without any concerns and that what I produce will be far better than some $2000 professional wedding photographer could turn out. Weddings are formula, show up, set up and shoot. I have seen some quite amazing wedding photography that portray professional experience and skill. I have seen some that are pure unskilled crap. Like every area of photography there is consistent good and there is consistent bad, unfortunately the gap between the two is getting closer and not for the better.

Before all the professional wedding photographers jump down my throat on this, if you are running a business full time as a wedding photographer and doing a great job at it, I respect that. But the majority aren't doing that, they are weekend pretenders, same as the weekend sports and portrait types. It always looks like easy money until it's the only money. There is a lot more to this business than owning a camera, I'd like everyone that is playing weekend professional to have the opportunity of not having a pay cheque for 6 months and using money from photography only. They would see how much fun the job really is, when it's all you have.
 

pgriz

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I've been trying to get people to read (not about photography) and understand for about 20 years to no avail. The buying public simply cannot be made to understand nor even care about truth, quality, worth, or anything that requires a little bit of education.

Well, used to be bread and circuses, and now it is football and politics. "Most" people have an area that they are pretty good at, and the same people are woefully ignorant in a different area. The number of people who are competent in a number of different fields have always been few, relative to the size of the population. I know professional writers who have no clue how business actually works. I know successful lawyers who have a very poor grasp of basic biology. I know engineers who build large, complex structures and have never read for pleasure. And so it goes...
 

pixmedic

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me and the wife don't really see those super cheap photographers as any problem at all. why not? its simple.
we dont do portrait sessions with unlimited pictures on CD for $50. the people that are looking for $50 sessions cant/wont pay $200 for 10-15 pictures on CD anyway, so we dont care if there IS someone willing to do the work for that much less. we are not out any business because of it, because it was never business we would have taken in the first place. we have, on rare occasion, given special deals to co-workers, and we regularly offer discounts to fire/EMS and Military.

There has, and always will be, people willing to do all manner of work cheaper than someone else. Photography is not unique in that aspect. This is where a good business plan, good marketing, the right target audience, and a quality product are needed. If you feel that the "cheap" photographers are taking business from you, or keeping you from getting business...then you have failed in one of the aforementioned areas.
the solution is to stop blaming other people for the failure, and find/correct the inadequacies in your own business practice.

Like a lot of other people, we struggle. I work a regular job along with helping my wife with her photography business to pay the bills and our sons physical therapy and Dr. visits. at the end of the day, for better or for worse, the responsibility is ours to take care of our household. we dont place the blame on anyone else. when things don't work out well, its because we failed to plan for something, or made a mistake somewhere. we correct it and move on.
 

The_Traveler

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Without any reference to the previous comments, I would like to add this.

1) Technology has elevated even the basic picture taker so that there may not be a discernible difference (to the uneducated eye) between a real beginner and a middle of the road-er.
(I've seen a couple of experienced wedding photographers who, in 30 years, haven't managed to improve their skills.)

2) Even mediocre pictures look a tremendous amount better when formatted into a nice looking album. (like a nice frame) I was at a local album-maker (who hosts a local photo club) and looked through their collection. Most of the albums looked good to excellent but, when I looked at the individual pictures they were poor to middling. Presentation means a lot.
 
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runnah

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Buyer beware.
You get what you pay for.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
A sucker is born every minute.
Save a minute waste an hour.

I can keep going...
 

pixmedic

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Buyer beware.
You get what you pay for.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
A sucker is born every minute.
Save a minute waste an hour.

I can keep going...

by all means, please continue sir.
 

imagemaker46

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Buyer beware.
You get what you pay for.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
A sucker is born every minute.
Save a minute waste an hour.

I can keep going...

by all means, please continue sir.

A photo is worth a thousand dollars plus expenses.
 

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