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Making a living

User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 7:48AM
And at this point, I feel we need to make the distinction between those that 'call' themselves professional i.e. advertise on their websites etc. that they sell images, do commissions etc. ("weekend warriors") and those that are professionals i.e. work full time as photographers.

This site is not different to any other.

I am not referring to anyone specifically but just start a thread about professional photography and how to start in business and the vast majority who reply know as much about working for themselves in any profession (never mind photography), as I do about brain surgery.

Sounds brutal but it's true and very often it is these same sort of people who tout themselves and their cameras round as professional wedding photographers (as long as it fits in with their 9 to 5 job at the bank) and it is very also those very same people who cause problems in terms of their work and also in their attitude and customer service.

Professionalism is a term to describe somebody's work status as I have said umpteen times but also encompasses attitude, approach and service to the client.

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stolzy 12 3.8k 7
23 Feb 2009 8:16AM
Agreed, but the distinction I would prefer to make is between competent, experienced professional photographers and the other kind. You mention wedding photographers which is a case in point. We all know this area has more than its fair share of mediocre photographers - professional, full-time, fully insured but only marginally competent.
I'd rather trust work to a competent weekend warrior (how much do professionals hate them) than shyster pro.
steve_kershaw 12 2.3k 4 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 8:18AM
I doubt poor photographers could sustain full time work, how much of your work comes from recommendations? repeat custom?
SuziBlue 15 16.2k 10 Scotland
23 Feb 2009 8:23AM

Quote:I'd rather trust work to a competent weekend warrior (how much do professionals hate them) than shyster pro.

steve_kershaw 12 2.3k 4 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 8:31AM
I think the weekend warrior wedding photographer always stirs emotions from the pro because this is an area of photography that requires quite a high level of competancy, but for the warrior its the easiest form of paid photography to enter,

would there be as big a reaction if they did say real estate?
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 8:39AM
Very very few shyster pros around (thankfully) - far more "talk a lot can do little, amateurs masquerading as competent professionals" I am afraid Smile

It seems a total waste of time going on about this as everyone gets entrenched into positions but one thing that really is worth emphasising is the massive difference between taking images because you enjoy it (i.e an amateur) and doing it because you have to (professional).

Back in the days when I was an analyst/programmer I spent every non working hour taking photos (or so it seemed). I was asked to cover many events (christenings. weddings etc) and did them to the best of my ability spending hours on preparation and on post processing work. I enjoyed it - it was my hobby after all.

Move forward some years and I am now doing this for a living. The occasional wedding etc has turned into 50+ weddings a year, commercial work that comes at a moments notice, employing staff etc and the 'luxury' of amateurism no longer exists. Not only must I produce on demand, work that consistently (that is the key word here) satisfies my clients as and when they demand it, but I must provide them with a level of service that is second to none.

This is a fundamental difference between an amateur and a professional and it must be taken on board and understood when making glib comments about what we term weekend warriors.

It is absolutely nothing about the standard of work of many amateurs which as we see on this site, can be truly magnificent but please don't fall into the trap of comparing an amateur who can cherry pick when he/she takes photos, can (on the whole) take as long as they like about it and frankly, to hell with the consequences (no liability) with that of a true professional. Only those of us who have made that transition can fully understand what I mean I fear.

I have absolutely no problem with amateurs doing paid work (more key words here - paid work) but please don't judge professionals too harshly - those that do are usually the ones who would like to be doing it and you never know, you might well be Smile
stolzy 12 3.8k 7
23 Feb 2009 8:55AM
I have nothing but admiration for true (in the most general possible interpretation) professionals. But merely terming yourself a professional does not guarantee any level of quality.
We know there are full-time professionals out there, paying taxes and NI, properly insured, with websites, in every way a professional photographer even though they don't understand the fundamentals of photography, taking money from the public for very poor quality work.
I'm not necessarily saying there are a lot of them, but they exist.

I think a little more realisation of this, rather than a defensive position on behalf of professional photographers would be appropriate.

We're quick to condemn poor service from suppliers of gear, shady practices from picture agencies etc - maybe we should be more keen do the same where we see poor work from professional photographers - who is in better place to judge?
steve_kershaw 12 2.3k 4 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 9:06AM

Quote:We're quick to condemn poor service from suppliers of gear, shady practices from picture agencies etc - maybe we should be more keen do the same where we see poor work from professional photographers - who is in better place to judge?

agreed but the context of the work needs to be taken into account, criticising a tog for an image sold for 6.00 including the print, is hardly the same as poor images coming from a 2k wedding
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 9:10AM
We need the photography equivalent of CORGI.. perhaps a Robin or Squirrel or (dare I say it) Badger? Wink
brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 9:31AM
and for those "Week-end Warriors" a Robin ('cos all the professionals seem to hate Robins - but they can still get good feedback? Smile )
Just Jas Plus
16 26.2k 1 England
23 Feb 2009 10:15AM
The fees for wedding photographers appear to be quite high and and, going by similar threads on this site, large packages are offered. "It's what the customers want/demand these days" being an oft quoted response from the Pros.

The thought springs to my mind that, if a large package for a large fee is on offer, the Pro might well not want to spend time on those couples who do want a smaller package, or give the photography a lower priority in their wedding plans.

Th Pro's precious time to be spent on the more lucrative package, as it were.

Which, in such case, would leave the field wide open for the so called "Week End Warrior".

Just a thought.
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 10:46AM

Quote:at the so called "Week End Warrior".

Do you mean weak end? Smile

In all seriousness, why do people think rates are high?

Before you rush to comment - think how much your hourly rate is at your place of work?

For me, an average wedding involves:
A couple of hours 'selling' myself to a client before they book.
Meeting probably twice before the wedding (involves time spent at the church and/or reception venue) This will take up another 2 to 3 hours.
The wedding itself - anything from 7 to 12 hours on the day.
Probably 2 man days editing (lets say 15 hours)
Meeting the couple again to discuss photos/presentation options (2 to 3 hours)
Producing photos and album (another 10 hours)

So now we have an average 43 hours spent per couple. Don't forget, the price charged includes the costs of materials and other ancillary costs (including insurances etc), VAT, tax and national insurance (as a business we pay both employee NI and employer NI).

Work out an hourly rate after all of that and compare it to what an employee gets (don't forget to allow for your pension, sick pay, holiday pay etc). Suddenly, it doesn't seem to much does it?
brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 12:02PM
Barrie - it has long astounded me that you professionals can make a living from photography alone.

I can see how those who offer courses, holidays and other ancilliary services can do it but I have the highest regard for those who do it the hard way.

Talking with a few of my Professional friends it seems to me that it requires total commitment to providing what the customer wants on top of all the usual business skills of marketing, cost control, accountancy etc. (oh - and being able to take good pics as well! Smile )

makes me glad I just do it as a paying hobby (and explains why I don't try to undercut the prices of the "Proper" photographers in my area)
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 12:20PM
Someone else on this forum said that the photography side iteself (i.e. the shutter pressing bit Smile) takes up only a part of the business and not a massive part at that.

A huge amount of time is spent in the business generation department.. networking, "pressing the flesh", promotion, marketing.

These are so important if you are to survive let alone be successful and I feel that this hidden but crucial part of the business is why many of us who do the job for a living get so tetchy when we read threads that talk about rates and others about 'how do I become a professional' as if there is some magic formula (God, how I wish there was).

I spend a lot of time on this forum but that's because I am at my desk a lot of the the time phoning clients, looking for opportunities, editing work (just finished Thursday's wedding photos as it happened and I'm typing this whilst BreezeBrowser is doing some batch processing on my edited images), updating my website and a host of other things that are not directly photographic but are essential to keeping our photography business successful.

In addition there are the many many hours spent driving around to wedding venues and seeing wedding organisers (they put a lot of business my way), seeing potential clients ('we can only see you after 7pm as we work all day" - what do you think I do then Smile) etc etc

That's why professional photographer's may come across as a little harsh and 'protectionist' sometimes but it's simply to ensure that someone starting off in the business or thinking about starting off has a reality check. Taking a few excellent photos every now and then when the weather is nice is one thing , keeping your family is a completely different matter and there is absolutely no point in pretending it's easy and great fun because most of the time, it's gut wrenchingly hard work Smile
steve_kershaw 12 2.3k 4 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2009 12:34PM
Barrie all the hassles aside, would you trade it in for a card punching clock watching 9 till 5 job?

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