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Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?
  
 
leethecam
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p.9 #1 · p.9 #1 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


thenoilif wrote:
So for me, the amateur or hobbyist hasn't taken away much of anything from the pro. I think that technology and people's awareness of what good photography is has increased to the point that unless you're able to really produce something noticeably better/different, the whole used car salesman approach just isn't effective anymore.



I really wish it was as simple as being able to deliver better, or more creative, or a better service.

I frequently find it amazing when I lose work from established corporates / PR agencies and creative houses when I have demonstrably shown I exceed the above in all respects. I've lost work to the almost-free or free services of far lesser photographers. I've seen the results, heard the back-end stories, and waited for the phone to ring from the recently disappointed client after their mistake of booking a freebee/cheapy photographer only to find they've just done exactly the same again for the next job. There is a sense that purveys the creative industry that everything is the same, but some are just cheaper than others.

It is true, some clients truly value quality and they will pay appropriately because they value service as well as end quality.

Put it this way with an anecdote: I work regularly with a TV director. He relies on me strongly for my creative input and the "look" is almost all me, with a little bit of interjection from him. To this end I have almost won him his main client because my work convinced this client that we were substantially better. He was considering using a much less experienced and skilled cameraman who's work is certainly less than mine (I've worked with this cameraman), because this other cameraman lives slightly closer and he can save 1/2 hr charges per day.

So, a willingness to reduce quality by a massive amount and service by a huge amount, (I bring a lot to the party), to save about £30 per day. There is a belief that we're all just cameramen so we're all the same, and the prospect of saving a few ££ blinds many to reality because they want it to.

Amateurs are just having a good time and don't think about the consequences of providing freebee services. The greedy clients who use such services are taking advantage to the detriment of professional quality and service.

There are bad pros and talented amateurs of course. So I'm assuming good pros and good amateurs. In this respect, both should be charging a decent rate for their toils.



Jul 17, 2017 at 03:39 PM
chez
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p.9 #2 · p.9 #2 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


leethecam wrote:
I really wish it was as simple as being able to deliver better, or more creative, or a better service.

I frequently find it amazing when I lose work from established corporates / PR agencies and creative houses when I have demonstrably shown I exceed the above in all respects. I've lost work to the almost-free or free services of far lesser photographers. I've seen the results, heard the back-end stories, and waited for the phone to ring from the recently disappointed client after their mistake of booking a freebee/cheapy photographer only to find they've just done exactly the same again
...Show more

Some people don't need money to gain value from their work. Some are happy to just get published on a cover of a magazine and show off this to their friends and family. Personally if I got paid say $200 for a cover shot, it would be more of a pain to keep the papers around and file the revenue with my taxes.

I'm lucky in that I sell enough prints throughout the year to make it worthwhile to track the revenue for taxes...but if I only made a sale or two a year, I'd rather not bother with payments.

The concept of a decent rate varies from person to person. This is especially true if some do not rely on the money from shooting images and just get the reward by being recognized.



Jul 17, 2017 at 04:50 PM
dmacmillan
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p.9 #3 · p.9 #3 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


Mikehit wrote:
About 5 years ago there was a stultifying statistic that every year in Europe the Universities turnout more photography 'graduates' than there are photography jobs in total. I guess it is little different now. Sheer market economics will push the price down.

My older son was once the Associate Director of Development for one of the top seminaries of a mainline Protestant denomination. He was asked to prepare a report to look at the future of the seminary and present it to the faculty and staff. Using historical data, he pointed out that if all the seminaries in the denomination immediately stopped graduating students, at the end of 10 years there would still be 30% more pastors with Masters or Doctorates than there would be positions to fill. He also pointed out that after adjusting for inflation, pastors were making 30% less than they made 50 years ago.

My son, a former pastor, is still in educational development but not for a seminary.



Jul 17, 2017 at 05:15 PM
jecottrell
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p.9 #4 · p.9 #4 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


leethecam wrote:
So, a willingness to reduce quality by a massive amount and service by a huge amount, (I bring a lot to the party), to save about £30 per day.


That's interesting. It made me almost immediately think of a similar phenomena in the airline ticket industry. Most coach passengers will spend extra time shopping (searching) for the absolute lowest price possible, literally trying to save a handful of dollars... without regard to the level of service they are going to receive. I know I'm guilty of this. But, after they have purchased the ticket, will add "extras" for an additional cost... checked bags, extra leg room, early boarding, etc.

I would suspect the airlines have done a fair amount of research and have determined this is the most effective way to capture the initial purchase, but then recoup the necessary return on extras after the fact.

You've got to admit, if the buyer is willing to save 30quid without regard quality it ain't the low cost provider that's the problem.



Jul 17, 2017 at 05:25 PM
leethecam
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p.9 #5 · p.9 #5 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


jecottrell wrote:
That's interesting. It made me almost immediately think of a similar phenomena in the airline ticket industry. Most coach passengers will spend extra time shopping (searching) for the absolute lowest price possible, literally trying to save a handful of dollars... without regard to the level of service they are going to receive. I know I'm guilty of this. But, after they have purchased the ticket, will add "extras" for an additional cost... checked bags, extra leg room, early boarding, etc.

I would suspect the airlines have done a fair amount of research and have determined this is the most effective way
...Show more
Yes you are right there. The lower (slightly) cost supplier is charging a market rate, (even though his quality is not so great) - so I've no issues with him. MY client however... grrr... The second I can afford to ditch him, I will do.



Jul 17, 2017 at 05:30 PM
FFaccount
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p.9 #6 · p.9 #6 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?



Again, I say it... Be an amateur and do some photography on the side if you want to. I have no issue with that. But charge the going rate. And charge it if: You have any self pride, if you value the quality of what you produce, and if you value retaining the professional market.

I'd say, be an amateur - but stop giving your work away. It demeans what you do, (because the professional clients are just taking advantage), and it hurts the industry.


But why should I care? There is a demand for high end pro work and that is not going to change. This means that pro photography will never die out. But why should I care about a pro photographer who „just shots weddings“ like thousands of other photographers? If the client doesn’t care why should I care? Just give me a reason I should protect your job? The fact is most pro photographers don’t offer any value to anybody really. Right now, there are just more pro photographers out than work. There is only one way to correct that. Some pro photographers need to quit their job.

See it from our side. Photography is our hobby, but we need to work a fulltime job to afford it and pay for our family. Why should we care about someone, who does our hobby but doesn’t need a side job? Yes, we give our work away for free, but that’s only because the usage is already reward enough or there isn’t any additional value to it other than keeping memories.

Why should a family spend thousands of dollars if the only thing they really want is memories? Just because it has always been this way? Just because in the past they had to hire you? The time is simply over, there is no real market for that anymore. Work for somebody, who earns money with your photos. If somebody can sell more products or apartments or anything if they get great photos, they will pay for the great photos. But selling memories is a dying industry and amateur photographers aren’t the cause.




Jul 17, 2017 at 05:51 PM
leethecam
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p.9 #7 · p.9 #7 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


FFaccount wrote:
But why should I care? There is a demand for high end pro work and that is not going to change. This means that pro photography will never die out. But why should I care about a pro photographer who „just shots weddings“ like thousands of other photographers? If the client doesn’t care why should I care? Just give me a reason I should protect your job? The fact is most pro photographers don’t offer any value to anybody really. Right now, there are just more pro photographers out than work. There is only one way to correct that. Some
...Show more

Says it all really. Alas about you rather than the issue at hand.

If you lost your job or suffered hardship, I'm sure a stranger coming up and saying "so why should I care" would be just the ticket.

It makes me sad for the world. Sadder for you.



Jul 17, 2017 at 06:27 PM
FFaccount
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p.9 #8 · p.9 #8 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?



Says it all really. Alas about you rather than the issue at hand.

If you lost your job or suffered hardship, I'm sure a stranger coming up and saying "so why should I care" would be just the ticket.

It makes me sad for the world. Sadder for you.


I'm sad for you. I don't enjoy if someone loses his job. And it is always heartbreaking to hear the personal effect. But just because of that I don’t think I should help you keep your job. The same way with many jobs like for example coal mining. Some jobs just have to go and there is no way around that.



Jul 17, 2017 at 06:46 PM
chez
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p.9 #9 · p.9 #9 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


leethecam wrote:
Says it all really. Alas about you rather than the issue at hand.

If you lost your job or suffered hardship, I'm sure a stranger coming up and saying "so why should I care" would be just the ticket.

It makes me sad for the world. Sadder for you.


So I'm guessing you buy all your gear at the local brick and mortar camera shop rather than buying online from the big boys? After all many of these stores had to close down and many lost their jobs because of online shopping.



Jul 17, 2017 at 06:52 PM
c.d.embrey
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p.9 #10 · p.9 #10 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


dmacmillan wrote:
Chances of making more than a comfortable living in photography are not great. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median income as $34K, ...


In SoCal, and many other areas 34K is poverty level.

It reminds me of the definition of an artist (photographer): An amateur photographer is one who works another job in order to pursue photography. A professional photographer is one who (h)as a spouse who works another job in order for them to pursue photography.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, be sure to marry a trust-fund baby. Make sure that the trust-fund is large enough to cover your losses




Jul 17, 2017 at 07:36 PM
 

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c.d.embrey
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p.9 #11 · p.9 #11 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


chez wrote:
So I'm guessing you buy all your gear at the local brick and mortar camera shop rather than buying online from the big boys? After all many of these stores had to close down and many lost their jobs because of online shopping.


I don't own gear, I've found that the best ROI is to rent what is needed, by the job. YMMV.




Jul 17, 2017 at 07:47 PM
rw11
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p.9 #12 · p.9 #12 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1499916/0#14109203


Jul 17, 2017 at 09:21 PM
Matthew Runkel
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p.9 #13 · p.9 #13 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


Whenever there is a "democratization" of professional expertise that allows more sellers to offer a "credible" version of a service offering, it's going lead to market segmentation, partly by revealing which clients were only paying standard professional rates because they had no cheaper alternative, and which ones understand the value proposition underpinning the professional rates. Those in the first group only ever were clients of standard-rate professionals by default.

Assuming (for simplicity) that the market has only these two segments, under the new realities a professional would need either to go after the informed, professional-rate-paying segment, try to convert the other segment, or both. Specialization and repeatedly delivering the goods ought to go a a long way with the first group. I assume there are ways to specialize (in "unsexy" subject matter, for example) that minimize exposure to amateur competition.

It seems to me that a big problem for converting people in the "lowball" segment is that much of this work (weddings, particularly) is a one-time purchase memorializing unrepeatable events. Couples pay what they pay, and if they regret it it's too late to hire a professional. If they get something they find acceptable, they don't know how much better the professional product might have been, and even if they do it's still too late to choose differently.

Digital photography has been a big part of the expertise-democratization problem for professionals, but it does have the advantage of low incremental costs compared to film. Some valuable time is invested, but nothing for consumables. Can this be of help in converting some of the "lowball" segment of the wedding market?

Now, I'm only brainstorming as a non-professional true amateur, but what would happen to a wedding photographer who offered a two-tier service offering at an entry price not greatly more than the going lowball rate? The offering could be something like the this: "When you hire us, you're only committing to pay our 'trainee rate' for your photos. My schedule permitting, I will accompany our skilled trainee and and do my full professional coverage of your once-in-a-lifetime event. Afterward, you'll have a full set of wedding photos from [Trainee's Name], and you'll be able to review a good selection from my work from your big day as well. If you like what you see of my work, [insert pricing discussion]. We know you've probably never invested in wedding photography before, and want you to be able to try before you buy. And our service model also helps minimize the risk to you of working with less experienced amateurs, or new or part-time professionals. Even if you only buy our entry-level package, you'll sleep better knowing it's backstopped by the full shoot of a X-year professional wedding veteran."

There are some problems here, to be sure, like not wanting to risk working for free. But it would allow the customer to see the difference between a good product and a great one, both memorializing their unique event. And as for amateurs and would-be pros working for free or cut rate, why not let one do it for you as your trainee? Or even charge a bit for that privilege. The pricing for the "pro level" upsell at the end would have to be considered carefully. I would think it would be best for it to be "all or nothing" with maybe a few exceptions for big shot-list-type moments. And maybe the formals would be a separate pro-only offering. Give them a month or three to decide about the upsell offer(s) and let them know that at the end of that period all copies of the pro photos may be irretrievably deleted without notice. The pro would also need an escape clause in order to be free to bail on the unpaid spec wedding shoot in favor of normal paying work. With this overall arrangement, the pro would really have to be able to deliver a discernably better product to make the upsell, and in that regard I see no lack of confidence in this thread.




Jul 17, 2017 at 10:01 PM
Mikehit
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p.9 #14 · p.9 #14 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


Matthew Runkel wrote:
Now, I'm only brainstorming as a non-professional true amateur, but what would happen to a wedding photographer who offered a two-tier service offering at an entry price not greatly more than the going lowball rate? The offering could be something like the this: "When you hire us, you're only committing to pay our 'trainee rate' for your photos. My schedule permitting, I will accompany our skilled trainee and and do my full professional coverage of your once-in-a-lifetime event.

So now a lowballed event is paying 2 wages.

Matthew Runkel wrote:
Afterward, you'll have a full set of wedding photos from [Trainee's Name], and you'll be able to review a good selection from my work from your big day as well. If you like what you see of my work, [insert pricing discussion]. We know you've probably never invested in wedding photography before, and want you to be able to try before you buy. And our service model also helps minimize the risk to you of working with less experienced amateurs, or new or part-time professionals. Even if you only buy our entry-level package, you'll sleep better knowing it's backstopped
...Show more
What the clent will hear is "I will accompany my trainee, and for the trainee price you will get 2 sets of photos - his and mine". And wait for the complaints when that does not happen: clients hear that they want to hear and their view will be 'the pro was there and took photos so it costs nothing to give them to us'.
Or, more cynically: " you gave us a dud trainee so you could blackmail us into buying your more expensive photos"

Your ideas have a certain logic to them as a learning experience but what exactly are the clients 'learning'? They have no intention of getting married again (not at the time they arrange the wedding, anyway) so they are not putting the experience away for future reference.



Jul 17, 2017 at 11:22 PM
Matthew Runkel
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p.9 #15 · p.9 #15 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


I think you would have to be very clear with the clients about how this would work. I was intending to be clear that the communication to the client would tell how much more they would need to pay for the pro photos, if they later wanted those. Make it clear that the way you make money is charging your going rate for photography services. From your point of view, you are investing (and so putting at risk) some of your time and hard work to get to the sale. And, granted, maybe that's way too close to doing a whole wedding on spec.

None of this gets rid of true "lowball" prospectives, bad-faith actors, etc., whom you would still need to weed out either intuitively, by offering this only in conjunction with certain planners you work with, getting some kind of refundable retainer/deposit, etc. The goal is not to go after cheapskates, but to convert people whose (not unreasonable) first inclination is to want to pay less into people who see the value of paying more. As for the two wages, the impetus for this thread suggests that uncomfortable changes and risks may be needed to avoid sitting around with no booking on the weekend in question. If that happens, your time at that point is kind of like an unsold airline seat. Better to get someone in it for some money than to fly with it empty. To the first comment, your answer would be that you made it very clear up front that your photos would be unavailable unless later paid for. You would hope to have weeded out the types to whom the second comment would occur. Pick a better word than trainee (associate?) and make sure that person does very solid work.

What they are learning should be the difference between OK and significantly better, at a time and in a manner that allows them to still choose--with the benefit of this education of seeing their actual wedding two ways--whether or not to buy the better photos. It's likely to be a use-it-once education, to be sure, but unless there are two versions of the same event, there are no better photos for the newly-educated to choose. The product itself educates them, and then the product is there for them to purchase. It's like letting them test drive an Accord and a BMW, except that you have to manufacture both with the real goal of selling the BMW. To the client-selection point, you only want to offer this to to those who can ultimately afford the BMW. Can there be financing options?



Jul 18, 2017 at 12:16 AM
thenoilif
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p.9 #16 · p.9 #16 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


dmacmillan wrote:
"I am guessing at some point, there was a creative spark that brought them into the industry "
Don't count on it. The big push for mom and pop studios in the US came after WWII, when there were a ton of GI's who were in the Photo Corps that came home. Then, during the '60's, the film "Blow Up" came out about the time the first wave of Vietnam Vets were returning home. Most of my classmates at Art Center in the early '70's were there on the GI Bill.

Some of those who came home and opened a mom
...Show more
Thanks for the information, makes sense.

I think what you're saying is really the crux of the situation then. These days you have the combination of both the gear heads and the creatives and they are both at historically all time highs due to the advanced nature of cameras and camera phones. As I mentioned earlier, you have a lot of people who love taking pics and have gained a lot of practice in the composition side and are now capable of shooting the standard wedding or portraits.

We see the same thing in the professional culinary world. Both arts saw a massive commercial push towards the enthusiast by what some may consider 'sell outs'. Pros who saw the money in mass-market appeal of the commercialization of cooking and photography and began doing shows, blogs, vlogs, and so on teaching people the tricks of the trade. The next thing you know, many of these enthusiasts decided to open food trucks or small pop-up restaurants selling delicious and photogenic food that may have lacked the consistency of trained cooks/chefs but it brought a love for the craft (the artisan) back into the food. This caused a lot of chain restaurants to downsize and/or reduce prices but it also pushed the truly talented chefs to up their game and produce a whole new level of culinary excellence.

And practically overnight, we saw the boom in food photography. This prompted 100s of thousands of people to begin learning the basics of still life composition. And since they already invested in the gear (smartphones aren't cheap), it progressed to portraits including selfies, landscapes, and now videography. During this time, I encountered a lot of the old-school photographers who scoffed at the idea, like taking photos of food was beneath their skill-set. Guess what, I haven't heard from them in a while.







Jul 18, 2017 at 02:40 AM
dmacmillan
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p.9 #17 · p.9 #17 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


thenoilif wrote:
And practically overnight, we saw the boom in food photography. During this time, I encountered a lot of the old-school photographers who scoffed at the idea, like taking photos of food was beneath their skill-set. Guess what, I haven't heard from them in a while.

When I a was at Art Center, I cringed whenever we got a food shot as an assignment. I think good food photography is exceptionally difficult and I have the utmost respect for those who have the patience and talent.




Jul 18, 2017 at 12:30 PM
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p.9 #18 · p.9 #18 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


I really appreciate everyone's responses. It has been an interesting and at times heated (which isn't surprising due to the topic) discussion, and something to think about.


Jul 19, 2017 at 04:06 PM
garydavidjones
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p.9 #19 · p.9 #19 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


In the USA actual unemployment is 23% and rising. (Since the 1990s long-term
unemployed are no longer counted to minimize the "official unemployment" rate.)
According to Oxford University studies, almost half of all jobs will be lost by
2033 resulting in unemployment rates up to 70%. Cause: automation.
Real yearly inflation in US is around 10%. Meanwhile average wages
are dropping. In much of the Los Angeles WORKING families of 4 or more
live in one-bedroom apartments. Legal and illegal immigration rates into
the USA continue rising.
USS Titanic is sinking rapidly. still afloat due to printing dollars out of thin
air by the Fed. Once the US dollar is no longer the world currency printing
zillions of dollars out of thin air will result in hyperinflation and depression.

Enjoy today.



Jul 19, 2017 at 05:06 PM
glort
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p.9 #20 · p.9 #20 · Hobby photographers eroding value of professional work?


garydavidjones wrote:
In the USA actual unemployment is 23% and rising. (Since the 1990s long-term
unemployed are no longer counted to minimize the "official unemployment" rate.)


23%, almost 1 in 4 seemed extremely unlikley to me.
I looked it up and couldn't find anything to support that figure. Highest total unemployment numbers I could find was 17% in 2009. Reported is currently 4.4 with actual being cited at 8.7.
Thats a hell of a long way from 23%.

I think there is enough stretching of fact and opinion here already. Best to keep facts as accurate as possible rather than blow them out at least 3 fold.

I do agree and have always said that bringing more people into a country that does not have enough jobs for the people there already makes no sense at all.



Jul 20, 2017 at 01:56 AM
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