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Why cant I seem to get paid work

User_Removed 12 4.6k 1 Scotland
22 Aug 2012 9:01AM

You begin the thread with the title "Why can't I seem to get paid work?"

And you have this photograph in your portfolio:


Then, when someone points out that your work does not seem to be up to standard, you complain, "But to rubbish my work is just cruel".

Maybe you are being over-sensitive to fair criticism. And maybe you have answered your own question.
mikehit 13 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 9:16AM
One other thing to remember is that a client may well search your work on the internet and take what they see as indicative of your abilities - so if they pick up your EPZ portfolio they could likely have the same thoughts as the critical ones above. The difference is, the potential customer will give a flat refusal with no indication as to why.

However, you are getting some commissions and some repeat work (always the easiest) so you are obviously dong something right Grin Have you asked those customers if they mind one or two photos going on your portfolio?
Good luck.
thewilliam 14 6.1k
22 Aug 2012 10:53AM
Never underestimate the power of a good portfolio.

One regular on our local business network circuit works for a nationally known company and he gets a couple of dozen calls per week from newly graduated "commercial" photographers offering to work for free. Most don't even want expenses but then digital photography doesn't cost anything to create, does it? The product is very distinctive and what they do want is permission to use the pix in their portfolios. They can then casually say, "this is what I did for 'household name' company".

Things really are that tough. I wouldn't want to be starting out in this climate!
Focus_Man 12 481 631 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 11:04AM
Another idea to help you to learn the trade, why not upload your pictures into the "Critique Gallery" you will get the best advice available in there. In the general gallery , where you are presently uploading to, the sort of comments pictures receive are more reciprocal-complimentary if there is such a term. I mean contributors admire each others work whatever because no critique should be given. It is more a display case, so think about the Critique gallery.
User_Removed 18 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 11:43AM
It's not nice having people find fault with your work but if you want to compete with other professionals (which is what it comes down to) your product is going to be scrutinised.

Don't take the comments personally, take them professionally.

I think you've dressed and made up some of your models very well, you've then took photos with a half-decent camera (rather than a cheap compact or phone) but that's it. I don't think you've taken time to learn much about the photography side. In the shot I linked to you're shooting a stationary model at a very fast shutter speed and a noisy high ISO.

There doesn't seem to be a good reason for those choices. I think it's because you've not learned about camera settings and how to get the best out of your equipment. However you do want to compete against people who have bothered to learn that stuff some of whom are getting the paid work which you don't get.

Do the critique as suggested above and use a camera sim and a good book to learn how to get more from your camera.
Focus_Man 12 481 631 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 5:42PM
Something to think about, I walked into a coffee / snack bar this afternoon. I came away with an order for 6 framed copies of local scenes. (10x8 and A4)

No the kind of work from which you will make a living alone, (I am retired now, well for the last 7 years) but when I deliver I will see if I can arrange for him to sell copies of them on a commission basis. I will also suggest he buys more to use on a rotation basis. ---- That is called managing business albeit in a very small way, but if you could do something similar you will soon become known about.
User_Removed 12 4.6k 1 Scotland
22 Aug 2012 8:15PM
thewilliam 14 6.1k
22 Aug 2012 11:13PM

Quote:Something to think about, I walked into a coffee / snack bar this afternoon. I came away with an order for 6 framed copies of local scenes. (10x8 and A4).

Now if you could roll that out nationwide ........
Scottelly 10 35 United States
22 Aug 2012 11:40PM
A very good photographer I know tells me that there is no money in photography anymore. I know this is false, but there is obviously no money in what he was doing for a long time. He is trying his hand at creating stories with photos now. I hope he succeeds. He definitely needs to do something different. There are big changes in the business of photography now, especially with the economy the way it is, but even before the bad economy, digital was making paupers out of excellent and previously successful photographers. The barriers to entry are down low now. It does not cost a lot to practice with digital. The bar has been raised too. The industry has changed immensely. Still, you are experiencing the same problems that most new photographers experience. You believe in your work, and it may even be very good, but that is not the only key you need to unlock the door. This door is big and it has many locks. You need more keys grasshopper.

Good marketing is another key.

Good luck.

(P.S. I have taken myself out of the market, realizing what is involved. I have decided to become the artist, and it will be years before I have the experience, money, and other resources to fully enact the plan I now have in motion. I have changed my goals into the most difficult and challenging of photography. I have decided to shoot for the elusive print artist spot. That was never something I dreamed I could succeed with, because of how difficult I know it is, but none-the-less, that is now my goal.)
pulsar69 18 1.6k 6 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2012 11:44PM
and the very best of luck to you Smile
Scottelly 10 35 United States
23 Aug 2012 12:17AM
I have a little more for you Olaa. Years ago I sold my home and bought thousands of dollars worth of new equipment. I proceeded to travel across the country, in an effort to build my portfolio. I didn't really know where I was going or what I was doing yet, though I had worn out one digital camera already. (I had been a photographer for a long time, starting in the era of film, long before a DSLR ever existed.) That new camera (a Canon EOS 5 D) was a good learning tool. I learned to shoot raw with it. I learned much more than I already knew, and my work improved. The new lenses (Canon L glass - super wide and a top-of-the-line 70-200) helped me improve my work too. Still, I was not where I needed to be.

I should have gone to school for photography and really learned. I am hard headed though, and I did not do what I should have done. I still am not in school, though now I do know I need to learn more. Surely you do too. Clients trust a photographer who has a degree in photography and a big new camera much more than an artist. Yes, the portfolio is all important, but in a client's eyes, that is only part of the formula. People who do not know about photography judge by what they see "all the pros" doing or using. If they see your huge Nikon, Canon, or Hasselblad camera, then they will believe that you are a pro and maybe hire you. If they see you are sponsored by a big company or published in a big magazine, then they might hire you. They might not though. Maybe you are talking to the wrong customers or approaching them the wrong way.

It takes time. Yes, there are some stories of photographers who got lucky or knew someone. That is often how success goes. Look at Obama. Look at Herb Ritts. Nobody deserves that kind of fame. They just got lucky . . . but they were in play too. You have to be in play in order to take advantage of the luck that comes along, when and if it comes. You need to be prepared. I suggest getting a master's degree from a respected school. Then you should intern somewhere or better yet, work as a famous photographer's assistant for 5 years or more. THAT will teach you a thing or two. All the while, keep learning and keep improving your work. One day you WILL get paid. If you stick with it and excel, you will get lots of paid work one day.

Can you succeed without going to school? Many have. Can you get clients without a big, expensive camera? Many do. Do you need to follow advice from others? Maybe not. Still, think about it. Reason it. Does it make sense? Yes. The Nikon D800 is the best high-resolution camera available for under $5,000 today. Do you need one? Maybe not, but if you had one (and a slew of high-end lenses), you would be respected more for it. People laugh at someone who uses a point-and-shoot at a photo shoot. Why?

Again, your portfolio doesn't tell the whole story. Neither does being able to do it all. Have you tried to hire a really good makeup artist with 10 years of experience? Did they do a better job than you? Ask yourself why. Ask yourself if the same could be said about the hair stylist the lighting engineer and the fashion stylist. Do you use an art director? What if you did?

Someone recently told me about a new photographer who graduated school with a degree in photography and floundered for a year or so, even though he had good equipment. Then he spent $60,000 over six months, developing his portfolio. A couple years later he is making money, with big clients paying him thousands of dollars per shoot. I know we don't all have that sort of money to invest in our portfolios. I certainly don't. Still, this is the type of thing that your competition is willing to do. What are YOU willing to do?

Again, good luck.
DT01 13 69
25 Aug 2012 11:17AM

Quote:Look at Herb Ritts. Nobody deserves that kind of fame.

There are some who may beg to differ on that one!!

JackAllTog Plus
13 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2012 11:27AM
10 Million EF Lenses sold in the last 9 months - That's a fair bit of potential competition out there. I'm sure its similar for Nikkor, Pentax, Sony etc.

Quote:Why cant I seem to get paid work

thewilliam 14 6.1k
25 Aug 2012 1:01PM
The photography market is changing and more rapidly than ever before. Nowadays, everybody is a photographer and a fine specimen tree can easily get lost in a forest.

In the good old days, there was a balance between the output of graduates and the available jobs. And this was in most fields and not just photography so I was able to consider 6 jobs, apply for 5 and get offered 3 of them. When I graduated about 40 years ago, some 5% of the population went to university, now it's around 50%. The new graduate has to distinguish him or herself.

We also have a recession where even the most prosperous enterprise has to be careful with its money. Many colleagues are leaving social photography because they can't make it pay and these are battle-seasoned professionals. Big budget photography is a thing of the past.

There are more fashion magazines than ever before and each is getting an ever smaller slice of a shrinking cake. Many lesser magazines use "free" when they can. They certainly delay paying their bills and try to avoid paying them at all.

Life has never been so tough!
ade_mcfade 18 15.2k 216 England
25 Aug 2012 6:41PM
People buy from people....

That's something to bear in mind.

Not sure judging someone's ability based on their EPZ portfolio is really a fair benchmark - I'd be screwed if that were the case Wink Really depends on what you're using it for... it's a fun (allegedly) sociable place to enjoy rather than a professional's gateway to work Wink I bung all sorts of stuff up for a laugh - see how it gets on Wink

I think you need a lot of time and luck to build a business at the moment

Time to develop yourself, get confidence, get known, meet people, make your mistakes....

Then luck - meeting the right person, putting photos in the right bar, joining the right networking group, getting seen working by the right people...

All the planning and hard work go into this of course - but you can to go to 1000 networking meetings and get no leads at all.... or you may go to one and meet that perfect client. I met a business contact at a barbeque, pissed out of my brain, playing with my 5D. Friends on facebook the next day, he loved the photos I'd taken - we've done loads of jobs together! Installing a load of pics with him on Thursday, a client HE found and cajoled Wink We've both had a couple of grand from a conversation HE had last year.... I just take the pics Smile

Who you know counts

The right contacts can be gateways to thousands of pounds of business - if you build the relationship...

and you know what - most of what I said isn't really "photography specific"....

After nearly 2 years... well I just hope that all the seeds I've been planting start to grow when the recession lifts or it's porridge and baked beans forever Wink

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