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Pricing and the future for professionals

PhotoFreak 10 26 United Kingdom
26 May 2009 8:23AM
I've been an amateur photographer for quiet some time and see myself become better and better all the time. A while ago I decided to go to university for a degree course in photography to turn my hobby in to profession. Although I don't sell pictures or offer services I do charge people who approach me. I usually took a portrait and gave one A4 and two 13x18 prints for 25 or so to make it worth my while.

Recently I've been in contact with a Photographer who offers services which range from about 200 to 500. For example, one of their offer is a 1-2 hour studio session for 200 and you get 30 6x4 prints in an album.
I've asked them how they gotten into the photography business and the reply was that it all started as a hobby and turned into a profession which they are now doing as a job. I was sent an email with loads of links. Some of them to picture profiles on Photography sites and some promoting their work on other peoples sites. So I went through those links and looked at all the images. Generally they were nice BUT most of them were just not what you would expect from a professional.

So I was thinking, you probably need to offer absolutely outstanding quality work or something unique to survive in a market that is overcrowded by professional amateur Photographers.

Any thoughts?


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samfurlong 12 2.5k United Kingdom
26 May 2009 8:44AM
There are lots and lots of so called professional photographers out there whose work is quite frankly sub standard but if the client is happy then who are we to argue..

Well actually... it does impact of what proper professionals can charge. The client generally does not have the insight to make the distinction between ill equipped , ill experienced weekender and what I call professional. To them the weekender is half the price and often they will got with them for that reason alone. That is the reason I will do weddings now and then for friends and family after seeing a couple very very dissapointed after their so called wedding photographer charged almost 1000 for pictures which to be honest were awful.

So yes I agree with your statement, offer outstanding work to the client at a price that reflects the quality of it. You will get less work but you'll earn more when you do. Personally I would rather do less hours for the same (or more) money that slog my guts out on the cheap.

Also, judging by the standard of some of the work out there, being outstanding shouldn't be that hard.
Graflex 15 488 United Kingdom
26 May 2009 9:24AM
Never judge a book by it's cover..
Partly to blame are the general public,they should look more deeply into someones background,e.g.their work,before booking.Moaning afterwards is a bit late.

Unfortunately,the cowboys of the business know the public are gullible and hoodwinked in believing what they are getting is first rate..in otherwords it's second rate.Perhaps third.

If the pictures appeared at a newspaper/magazine office they would be 'spiked'..or put in the bin.

From the point of the photographer,he believes his work is wonderful,we all dream,and cannot see anything wrong.

In this world,some people are very gifted as photographers,they have the eye and business acumen to go with it.This is rare.

We have loads of gifted 'amateurs' that could knock spots off of 'professionals',where do you draw the line.It's up to the world to judge them as great photographers.

One other thing,sometimes seeing for the first time,the pictures maybe brill in an album of your work-the next clients could turn out terrible.

It's the same with 'Britains Got Talent' TV show,as the judges said,first time round,Brill,second time around,and being live,you have second thoughts.It's never the same.

A great artist is PERFECT all the time.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
26 May 2009 12:00PM
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the public!

There are some dreadful photographers who make a superb living because they have the business skills. Also, many of the 80% of new-start professionals who fail within their first two years are excellent photographers.

You just learn to play the system!
uggyy 12 2.1k 9 Scotland
26 May 2009 1:28PM
Well from my experience in the last 6 months or so. Looking at my local competition, quality isn't high on the agenda (one exception aside).

Also some of the local wedding togs, well less said the better. One in question I'm positive has stock images on their front web page, as the lvl of the work in question is low inside there albums. BTW we are talking an established tog and not cheap.

So as the rest says, the public can be funny and its your business and people skills that sell more than your portfolio in most cases.

I wouldn't say a great artist is great all the time but the real trick is being good enough to keep the client happy even on a bad day...
thewilliam 9 6.1k
26 May 2009 4:41PM
Some of the less scrupulous photographers use pix taken at "portfolio days" or a seminars and this is getting more common. In both cases, the images would have been taken by the photographer concerned but under the guidance of a master.

You'll know this is the case if there are two distinct qualities of image on the website. As Uggy says, the better ones go on the front page, so look at some real wedding work.

I'm amazed how "professional" photographers get away with this for so long. BBC Watchdog recently "exposed" a Somerset full-time "professional". On the programme, a spokesman from the British Press Photographers Assoc said it was obvious from the website and pointed out which pix were stock.
uggyy 12 2.1k 9 Scotland
26 May 2009 5:56PM

Quote:so look at some real wedding work

Only problem doing that, is that many for good reasons password protect the normal gallary on show for customers.... So Joe Blogs only gets to see a very short selection of photos and money on thats the "Portfolio Day" shoot. Wink

I know what you mean on the Portfolio Days, I have been honest on some Ive did at a self set up shoot and marked it as so. I find honesty to be the best way, to the point I know its won me customers over other togs in my area..
Graflex 15 488 United Kingdom
26 May 2009 6:02PM
In the old days (hark at me),it would be the local milkman/postman that would be doing a bit of moonlighting at weekends,snapping the local wedding,BUT under the wing of the local professional wedding photographers shop.
He(in charge) couldn't cope with all the orders flooding in...

That's when weddings were weddings,& churches had standing room only at weekends.Brides took turns at the alter.

Johnnie come lately has taken over with no rules,instructions,brief,anything...not even vetted for quality.
mark_delta 10 1.3k
26 May 2009 6:50PM

Quote:johnnie come lately has taken over

A guy I know is a full time wedding pro, his cheapest package is 1750 and his normal rate 2250.
He is booked up for 7 months solid with only a handful of slots until may 2010.
His contract forbids any second shooters, guests or relatives from any form photography at the wedding insisting this is placed on the invitation and he takes a 500 cash non returnable booking fee deposit to reserve the diary.
He will often clean up around another grand on framed prints from relatives.
To watch him work, he really is in total command the second he arrives, dresses to impress and detaches himself from all distractions, reminds me of a royal buttler crossed with a bus inspector...

I think when people get Johnnys price they give the real guys a call and there is no shortage of those looking for the small handful of high end pro's.
What there is a shortage of is high end pros confident enough to demand what they are worth.
Graflex 15 488 United Kingdom
26 May 2009 7:09PM
A couple of stories:High end snapper does wedding,posh do,the couple by the end of week seperate,mother-in-law goes spare,plates fly,honeymoon off...bridegroom runs off with bridesmaid..print order nil.Lost deposit.
Why do you need pictures....
Johnny jack the lad sets up camera at wedding (no experience,semi pro) because he cannot handle crowds,he gets the thumbs down from half cut guests,giving him grief.
Ends up a bundle of nerves,pictures half at sloop,brides eyes closed,captured mick the slob in background putting 2 fingers up,charge 50 Quid,a DVD...and Im off!,jobbie.

Stories true:in other words keep out of kitchen and retire from weddings.
SuziBlue 15 16.2k 10 Scotland
27 May 2009 12:57AM
I think it's shameful that people will charge for work they don't care about or don't have a feel for. Personally I'd not want to do a wedding unless I'd had specific training and had shadowed a wedding photographer. However I'm confident and good at people pics for small family events and intimate, thoughtful studies.

The only occasional difficulty I have is with some men (and some women) who think that because I'm middle aged and don't make a big song and dance about myself, that I'm simply a point and shoot snapper. I had someone ask me the other day if I knew how a compact camera works, and wanted to find out if I knew how to take proper photographs. I find that a bit tiresome but I let the results speak for themselves. Naturally though, I have a contract Smile

What it comes down to is that we shouldn't take on work with the intention of ripping people off with substandard images.
uggyy 12 2.1k 9 Scotland
27 May 2009 1:23AM
LOL Suzi... Reminds me of something that happend to Sharon a few weeks ago... She was at the Falkirk wheel doing some shots for colledge. As she has just gotten her brand new shinny D300 she was desperate to use it for HDR and thus she was bracketing...

Well there she was sitting with the tripod low to the ground and about 5 other togs with various big cameras and interestingly not a single tripod.. She was blasting away with bracket on and could hear them all behind her talking and wondering. Next thing one of them walks up and asks is she knows she was on fast and she could see he was thinking she didnt have a clue what she was doing Smile

So she answers she was bracketing for HDR and at 1ev on 9 and using AP, poor guy walked off looking confused Smile Sharon just plods on lol. Cracked me up when I heard about it Smile
Picture_Newport 9 659 19 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 7:55AM
A local lady who is wanting to become a social photographer will be attending a few weddings with me this year to help give herself an understanding of how it all works.The first she attended with me was last Sunday.

On the way home she told me how that the last photographer she shadowed was charging 300 per wedding, to attend from the arrival of the groom up until the start of the wedding breakfast. He would tell his clients that he is not a Professional and that if his clients could afford one then they should book one as apposed to himself.

Once he had taken the photographs, he would go to a local Supermarket, get all the images printed straight out of camera at 7x5 and deliver them to his client at thier reception. Apparently he is fully booked for the whole of 2009 and most of 2010.

The lady showed me one of his cards. His business title was 'The Budget Wedding Photographer'.

PhotoFreak 10 26 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 8:09AM
I am always again surprised of how little people think of their responsibilities in the job they do. I take pride in everything I do, especially my work and photography. As I will be studying I made myself a rough plan of how long it would take to become a competent professional and I was thinking:
3 years Bachelors degree + 1 year masters degree + about a year as an assistant to gain field experience + about another year to go through specialized workshops and trainings = about 5 or 6 years until I will be ready to offer any kind of good services.
I just can't get how some can think to offer professional services without having the necessary skills and knowledge. I find it creates a lot of problems for both photographers and clients.

Absolutely nothing against people making money from their pictures but offering professional services should really be left to the real professionals.

Edit: Paul that seems ok to me to offer something like he does as long as he is making his clients aware of everything but I was mainly talking about people who give themselves as professionals but in reality are not.
Henchard 13 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 8:29AM

Quote: As I will be studying I made myself a rough plan of how long it would take to become a competent professional and I was thinking:.................

Absolutely nothing against people making money from their pictures but offering professional services should really be left to the real professionals.

Good luck, but I think you are being a tad over dramatic. Many of those considered the best photographers in the world never had a lesson in their life. Photography is just a job like any other; it may or may not be a profession (this has been discussed in the forums before) depending on your definition.

Probably best to remember before signing up to those courses

"Those who can, do, those who can't teach"

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