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Author Topic: what the hell is happening?  (Read 10264 times)
James R Russell
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« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2010, 11:12:34 AM »
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I think this is a relevant place for this topic, because this section is semi-dedicated to the most expensive and singular use still cameras produced.  

The market for those cameras has historically been professional photographers, so it makes sense this is a place for a professional discussion.  Now with stuff like PODAS that doesn't seem to be exactly the case, or the sole directive of the camera makers marketing plan, but  they wanna sell stuff and I don't blame them for exploring every market.

I actually would like to see this section include video production, just because it has become part of our professional life.  I've shot video in combination with our still photography for years and though I don't see it as the end all and savior of the industry, I do see it as another service to sell, another medium to tell a story and actually find it quite interesting.

Without boring everyone, including myself the simple answer is the economy is in a severe world wide downturn.  No sector is immune, (except government executives and wall street) and the only reaction to this type of economy is to do more, offer more, get better.

That or get gone.   We all know this.

Then again a lot of this industry has always been about smoke and mirrors.  I get around to a lot of places, here a lot of stories and once you open the hood, you realize it's not always what it seems to be. Some photographers under the radar do better than you would think, some over the radar do worse.

Some photographers made their money as doctors, then became very good photographers, some have trust funds that are loaded with gold and lost it all, some began their life and career sleeping in their cars, using broken cameras and $50 lights and moved upward to do very well.  None of this really matters as long as the imagery they produce is good.    That's the only definition, to shoot damn good.

Lately I'll admit all the talk about doom and gloom effects me, hell it effects everyone in every industry, but if I've learned anything in my life, it's not to worry about what other's do, just do the best that I know how to do, in the way I know how to do it and try not to let the noise effect me.  The last one is difficult, but for everyone that can't succeed, someone always does.  That's the message I've always told myself.

As far as hard work, 14 hour shoot days, I have no problem with that, because I like to work, am compensated well and if I have to throw some sweat equity at it, it's not big deal.    Also when I work, I work with my partner, our crew, who are my friends, people I respect and spending 14 hour days in that environment is not a chore.

If I've given the impression that I work hard . . . then that's correct.   If I give the impression that I don't enjoy working hard, even have fun at working hard,  then I miscommunicated.

I also have to stay away from the pundits that keep telling us where the industry is going, because I've yet to hear a clear cut, real world answer of how the web will become the all encompassing advertising/editorial vehicle.   There is still room and growth in traditional media, even expansion of their markets through the web.  Heck, terrestrial radio is in a resurgence and I just saw a figure that 95% of all Americans tune in to some kind of radio station daily, whether it be in their car, or on the web.  That's interesting in the fact that one or  the earliest forms of "modern" media is showing growth.

I've gone through everything everyone else has.   First it slows up some and you get that kind of sick feeling in your stomach, then you complain about what's being demanded, then you just realize hey, nobody told me life was going to be easy, so you roll up your sleeves and hit it.

I've also come to the realization that It's none of my business if the New York Times or Forbes loses 20 million a quarter, or makes 50 million a year.  My role is to shoot the most compelling images I can given the subject, budget,  circumstance, deliver the imagery and go on with my life.  After a photo, a video, leaves my hands, it really is none of my business anymore, other than I hope it has success for the people that pay me.

I think I know that the web can make photography (or if you want to call it image creation) more viable and open up more opportunities for editorial and advertising to reach a world wide market.  What use to be a local magazine can have a world wide following.  What use to be a small confectionary shop in the East Village can now go international.   It's the same for our industry, it's the same for this website and forum.

Now the real bottom line is why I did this gig in the first place.  It wasn't to get rich, (though I've always made a good living), it wasn't to get famous as I have no desire for anyone to really know me.  In fact the only reason I've ever advertised, printed a portfolio,  built a web site, entered a competition, is because those are standard vehicles for getting your name out and getting work.  The only reason I ever moved from Texas to Chicago, Chicago to SF, SF to LA, LA to NY is to keep things fresh, but most importantly keep what's in front of my lens interesting.

In reality, I wish I had started my career under a pseudonym, maybe a name like B. Cooter, then I could have a separate, non photographic life under my real name.

I did this gig because I fell in love with the photograph, later became a business person so I could work, talk and communicate in a professional manner and I'm under no illusions (never have been) that this is anything but one of the world's  most difficult industries to have success.

To me those last 7 words are a positive reason to become a photographer, not a negative.

Technology hasn't changed that, in fact though there are more photographers than ever before, there is also more places to run our photographs than ever before, more clients to present to.  The trick is learning how to get compensated for it and if you keep moving forward, keep pushing those times will come.  Of this I have no doubt.

JR

P.S.   I've been working on this personal series about everyday workers.   I've shot still and video and the stories are fascinating and inspiring when you ask this simple question, "detail your working day".

Everyone is effected by the economy, everyone is working harder for the same or less, everyone, is doing their best to keep their spirits high, provide for their families and make the best of the situation.  Professional photographers are no more immune to this than anyone else and maybe I'm naive, (actually I know I'm NOT naive), but I believe in the end everything works out even better than before.

We can look at the changes as a negative or embrace the positive.  I know that sounds like some kind of corny line from an Ipad ad but let's get real, I'm writing on a computer, not a yellow pad, I'm sending this out to thousands not dozens and I'm sharing my thoughts with people I hope are willing to share back.

P.S.S.

About 8 years ago I was in a lab in LA and a photographer I knew was working behind the counter.  He said the business had changed, he didn't want to do it anymore, had a whole list of reasons, mostly negative.  I just looked at him, smiled, wished him well and had the best 8 years of my career and I feel the same way today I did 8 years ago.

I don't believe the golden age of image making, story telling, advertising is over, I believe it's just starting to get interesting.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2010, 11:39:34 AM »
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Quote from: James R Russell
I think this is a relevant place for this topic, because this section is semi-dedicated to the most expensive and singular use still cameras produced.  

The market for those cameras has historically been professional photographers, so it makes sense this is a place for a professional discussion.  Now with stuff like PODAS that doesn't seem to be exactly the case, or the sole directive of the camera makers marketing plan, but  they wanna sell stuff and I don't blame them for exploring every market.

I actually would like to see this section include video production, just because it has become part of our professional life.  I've shot video in combination with our still photography for years and though I don't see it as the end all and savior of the industry, I do see it as another service to sell, another medium to tell a story and actually find it quite interesting.

Without boring everyone, including myself the simple answer is the economy is in a severe world wide downturn.  No sector is immune, (except government executives and wall street) and the only reaction to this type of economy is to do more, offer more, get better.

That or get gone.   We all know this.

Then again a lot of this industry has always been about smoke and mirrors.  I get around to a lot of places, here a lot of stories and once you open the hood, you realize it's not always what it seems to be. Some photographers under the radar do better than you would think, some over the radar do worse.

Some photographers made their money as doctors, then became very good photographers, some have trust funds that are loaded with gold and lost it all, some began their life and career sleeping in their cars, using broken cameras and $50 lights and moved upward to do very well.  None of this really matters as long as the imagery they produce is good.    That's the only definition, to shoot damn good.

Lately I'll admit all the talk about doom and gloom effects me, hell it effects everyone in every industry, but if I've learned anything in my life, it's not to worry about what other's do, just do the best that I know how to do, in the way I know how to do it and try not to let the noise effect me.  The last one is difficult, but for everyone that can't succeed, someone always does.  That's the message I've always told myself.

As far as hard work, 14 hour shoot days, I have no problem with that, because I like to work, am compensated well and if I have to throw some sweat equity at it, it's not big deal.    Also when I work, I work with my partner, our crew, who are my friends, people I respect and spending 14 hour days in that environment is not a chore.

If I've given the impression that I work hard . . . then that's correct.   If I give the impression that I don't enjoy working hard, even have fun at working hard,  then I miscommunicated.

I also have to stay away from the pundits that keep telling us where the industry is going, because I've yet to hear a clear cut, real world answer of how the web will become the all encompassing advertising/editorial vehicle.   There is still room and growth in traditional media, even expansion of their markets through the web.  Heck, terrestrial radio is in a resurgence and I just saw a figure that 95% of all Americans tune in to some kind of radio station daily, whether it be in their car, or on the web.  That's interesting in the fact that one or  the earliest forms of "modern" media is showing growth.

I've gone through everything everyone else has.   First it slows up some and you get that kind of sick feeling in your stomach, then you complain about what's being demanded, then you just realize hey, nobody told me life was going to be easy, so you roll up your sleeves and hit it.

I've also come to the realization that It's none of my business if the New York Times or Forbes loses 20 million a quarter, or makes 50 million a year.  My role is to shoot the most compelling images I can given the subject, budget,  circumstance, deliver the imagery and go on with my life.  After a photo, a video, leaves my hands, it really is none of my business anymore, other than I hope it has success for the people that pay me.

I think I know that the web can make photography (or if you want to call it image creation) more viable and open up more opportunities for editorial and advertising to reach a world wide market.  What use to be a local magazine can have a world wide following.  What use to be a small confectionary shop in the East Village can now go international.   It's the same for our industry, it's the same for this website and forum.

Now the real bottom line is why I did this gig in the first place.  It wasn't to get rich, (though I've always made a good living), it wasn't to get famous as I have no desire for anyone to really know me.  In fact the only reason I've ever advertised, printed a portfolio,  built a web site, entered a competition, is because those are standard vehicles for getting your name out and getting work.  The only reason I ever moved from Texas to Chicago, Chicago to SF, SF to LA, LA to NY is to keep things fresh, but most importantly keep what's in front of my lens interesting.

In reality, I wish I had started my career under a pseudonym, maybe a name like B. Cooter, then I could have a separate, non photographic life under my real name.

I did this gig because I fell in love with the photograph, later became a business person so I could work, talk and communicate in a professional manner and I'm under no illusions (never have been) that this is anything but one of the world's  most difficult industries to have success.

To me those last 7 words are a positive reason to become a photographer, not a negative.

Technology hasn't changed that, in fact though there are more photographers than ever before, there is also more places to run our photographs than ever before, more clients to present to.  The trick is learning how to get compensated for it and if you keep moving forward, keep pushing those times will come.  Of this I have no doubt.

JR

P.S.   I've been working on this personal series about everyday workers.   I've shot still and video and the stories are fascinating and inspiring when you ask this simple question, "detail your working day".

Everyone is effected by the economy, everyone is working harder for the same or less, everyone, is doing their best to keep their spirits high, provide for their families and make the best of the situation.  Professional photographers are no more immune to this than anyone else and maybe I'm naive, (actually I know I'm NOT naive), but I believe in the end everything works out even better than before.

We can look at the changes as a negative or embrace the positive.  I know that sounds like some kind of corny line from an Ipad ad but let's get real, I'm writing on a computer, not a yellow pad, I'm sending this out to thousands not dozens and I'm sharing my thoughts with people I hope are willing to share back.

P.S.S.

About 8 years ago I was in a lab in LA and a photographer I knew was working behind the counter.  He said the business had changed, he didn't want to do it anymore, had a whole list of reasons, mostly negative.  I just looked at him, smiled, wished him well and had the best 8 years of my career and I feel the same way today I did 8 years ago.

I don't believe the golden age of image making, story telling, advertising is over, I believe it's just starting to get interesting.
Thank you James for this extensive and very interesting post.

I do beleive that attitude is very important, there is always two ways to see something.

I've just learned with your lines a lot more than in many times.

I'm very gratefull for that!

Cheers.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 11:46:04 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2010, 12:44:28 PM »
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Well, I suppose it's different looking at the situation from a retired person's perspective, but the one thing that comes over very clearly to me is that there is some confusion about the date when this decline began. Unlike some posters, I do not think that it dates from the current global banking panic of 2008. I am absolutely convinced that things were already sliding out of control in the late 70s. It had nothing to do with banks and sub-primes!

Now, I left an industrial photo-unit within one of Britain's largest engineering companies in '64 or '65. A very few years later I discovered that the unit had been closed. This unit did very high security work and it must have taken pretty hard thinking to close the unit down and take on the security risks that outside contractors inevitably represented. But is was done. Where did those other photographers who worked with me go? One, I know, went to work as a snapper in a shipyard a short time before the closure; after a while he left for another industrial company. Everybody knows what happened to Scottish shipyards.

I used to do a lot of work for knitwear manufacturers; eventually, their world went ass over elbow too, and I lost a very important source of work. Some even tried shifting production to Hong Kong but that didn't fix a damn thing. Large department stores I used to do huge advertising and point-of-sales display pics for: some consolidated, others bit the dust. Calendar clients: I used to do them over many years for the Hewden/Stuart Group, Britain's largest plant-hire and plant-sales conglomerate with huge business in civil engineering - they have long since appeared to have shrunk and were taken over by a Canadian firm. I did a series of calendars for one of Scotland's largest brewers - they seemed rock solid but appear to have slimmed down remarkably too. There used to be a string of independent camera dealers doing pro equipment - my 'blad dealer lost the franchise because, he told me, he couldn't sell enough of them, simply because he couldn't even get them from source at the prices at which London dealers could sell them. I think you have to look at the distortion that bulk buying from the manufacturer at different prices introduces. Why the hell should a mega supermarket chain be able to buy choc biscuits more cheaply from the maker than can the local grocery store? The economies of scale should indeed be advantages the mega store can introduce, but only via the economies it can make in-house! The small corner shop should face exactly the same cost per packet from the maker as the giant. Deny the small guy that level playing field - as is the case - and one day the supermarket will own the manufacturer too. And none of this is new - as I said, already in full flood in the late 70s.

Newspapers, magazines, these things are partly to blame for their own demise. Again, take photography: all of the magazines I ever saw ran the same sort of racket: how to d&p and the inevitable camera tests and 'for sale' columns. They are doing much the same today, except that in place of d&p and magic formulae you have the digital world and its own snake oil salesmen. But their problem remains: after a couple of years, you become terminally bored with them, as did my wife with her women's magazines. As she said, it's always the same thing: weddings, babies, kitchens, house refurbishing and dresses nobody really can afford or worse, would ever dream of buying. In short, the public is already sated to bursting point. The only way for these companies to find a new life is to offer something new and better, to remain interesting.

And people, too, are changing. From the perspective where I sit, the modern world is full of shit. The music (mainly, but with some great exceptions) sucks and is indistinguishable - I sometimes look through the music channels out of boredom and in the hope of finding something attractive to the eye, even if the sound is a lost cause - but, generally, nothing. The selling that goes on on TV must be aimed at morons. And maybe that's the underlying problem: the shit has hit the fan already.

I can remember the 50s and the end of WW2. Yes, Europe was pretty broke, but we did have fun! Who the hell looks like they are having any now? All I see on kids are sullen, dumb expressions; teachers hardly dare teach anymore and that, in turn, leads to the decline in usefulness of those kids leaving school; nearly all shops carry steel grilles or sit desolate in boarded up High Streets across the country. Why? Trade is tough and the local councils charge so much in rates to spend on keeping the worthless happy that many businesses can't keep enough from their earnings to stay open during bad times. Hey soos!

And worse, problems in one industry affect all other industries within the daisy chain. Photographers depend on good business in order to find work.

So no, it isn't a recent phenomenon at all; it's been going on for many years but has just achieved a critical momentum.

Rob C
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 12:48:56 PM by Rob C » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2010, 05:44:48 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
... So no, it isn't a recent phenomenon at all; it's been going on for many years...
How true... I believe there is a technical term for it: life  
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2010, 11:19:09 PM »
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This is indeed a very interesting topic and the answer to the posed question involes numerous social, political, and economic changes over the years that have affected virtually every sector of the working world. Below are listed several items gathered from lectures on economics, radio discussions, news, and one of the books by Thom Hartmann entitled: "Screwed: the Undeclared War Against the Middle Class.

1. For about 150 years up until late 1970s in USA wages were steadily increasing and most could see that each generation
    did a little better financially and in general standard of living than the last.

2. During the last 3 decades wages have been stagnant and in some cases even decreasing if inflation is factored in.    
    A few explanations for these changes:
   
        a) Introduction of computers has increased productivity

            More women entering the work force

        c) Increase in the number of immigrants from Central and South America

        d) Deregulation of many industries and changes in trade policies and tax codes

        e) Moving entire factories overseas and outsourcing

        f) Weakening of labor unions      

3. The effects of these changes on the business sector

        a) Upper managemenet thought they died and went to heaven; they have a work force that is constantly    
            improving in productivity with the same wages
       
            Profits have soared as never before allowing cash heavy companies to take over other companies and
            astronomical salaries and bonuses for upper management
       
        c) The discrepency between CEO and laborers has increased to the extent that an average CEO makes more money
            before lunch on the 1st working day of the year than a laborer does for the entire year
   
        c) During the 1st decade of this century 400 richest individuals in US have doubled their wealth

4. Effects on the working families

        a) Working harder and longer hours with less time off while being happy just to have a job

            Disappearance of pensions and introduction of planned retirement 401(k)s, etc.

        c. Instead of higher wages working classes are provided with credit cards (more funds float to investor classes)

        d. Increased cost of healthcare and education

        e. At the end of their lives when illness drains lifelong savings people are given a chance for a reverse mortgage
            So no inheritance for the next generation.

This outline is not meant to be comprehensive. It is from what I consider to be relieable sources and as best as I remember and it does reflect my own experience in the working world as a Registered Nurse in the hospital for over 30 years. Even doctors are struggling and some have left their private practices as they are tired of fighting with insurance companies and have joined HMOs. Believe it or not, HMOs and insurance companies tell doctors how to practice to a large extent. Some of my nurse friends have changed jobs and even occupations and have come to the conclusion that there is no where to go and
no place to hide. Most hope that they can last until their retirement.  

I am told that the brightest minds in USA have chosen not to enter medical schools. Instead, they have gone into insurance, management, or investment banking. That's one reason why there are so many foreign MDs in USA. And these minds are indeed bright; they don't have to deal with unwashed masses, they tell doctors what to do, they make a ot more money than MDs, and even when they run a company into the ground and fail, they end up with aseverence package/golden parashoot.

But, this is photography forum.... in the 90's just by word of mouth I made over 25% of my income from portrait work.
It all dried up when the new century started. And that is the same story I hear from professional commercial and advertising photographers  know in San Francisco.

My examples and information are US based, but from all that I have gathered the same scene may apply to other parts of the world. If memory serves me they are attempting to change labor policy in France - longer working week - to be competitive in the world market. And my relatives in European Eastern Block tell me they feel enslaved by the emerging corporate culture even with the high hopes of joining EU.

So the short answer to your question: "what the hell is happening?" - is what is and has been happening for a few decades is that increasingly more money and power has been going into fewer hands leaving the vast majority of the population in the industrialized world (working classes) destitute and struggling.

I would be very interested in reading ideas on this topic from different parts of the world.      
           
Richard
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 11:58:43 PM by rgmoore » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2010, 01:39:36 AM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
Maybe this profession would need a sort of international organism that fight for their rights (and duty).
It does exists for plane pilots, doctors etc...
Why not?

Because we passed the feasibility of that years ago.

Standards are only effective if you can enforce them and today's market is driven by cost, not value.

With medical malpractice suits at an all time high and not infrequent news of drunken or incompetent commercial airline pilots I think the professions you mention are struggling with their own issues.

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« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2010, 01:40:57 AM »
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Quote from: Slobodan Blagojevic
How true... I believe there is a technical term for it: life  

That may be true, but at the cost of being a defeatist.
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Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2010, 02:51:52 AM »
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I would dispute that being realistic equates with defeatism.

There is little sense in chasing around the place like a headless turkey on the killing room floor, spilling your blood in futile attempts to make it all go away and turn back the inexorable approach of Christmas.

As has been said in this thread, it's life. I happened to watch a tv show last night on the effect of the box container on Britain. From about 200,000 dockers befoe the invention of the container, the force has reduced to around 11,000 in total. Those guys had few other skills - if any - and where are they and their families now; ditto the miners? Who's going to break their heart or change government policy over a few professional snappers who, other than for a brief period during the 60s/70s when they were like pop stars, count for nothing in the public consciousness?

In the 50s when I left school, it was almost impossible to get into pro photography for two reasons: nobody knew anything about that shadowy world; it didn't qualify for deferment from military conscription, a device invented to keep down the unemployment figures and put young lives at pointless risk in countries far from the native heath. Imagine dying for your country (oh, really?) in Cyprus, the Far East, Kenya or Ireland or other foreign lands which would inevitably go their own happy way in the end. So, if you found a way into the trade, you were either going to be kicked out when you reached eighteen years of age, with slim chance of getting your old job back two years later or, alternatively, you were going to go the David Bailey route and get into it after that two-year hiatus when you reached twenty, a bit late for starting at the bottom again. In the event, it took me until my late twenties to find the moolah with which to try my luck as an independent.

That last sentence is probably what hurts most today: people no longer have to take any risk. All they need do is send some digital images to a penny stock shop; they still earn the peanuts.

Warhol was right, and we have had our fifteen minutes.

Rob C
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 02:54:08 AM by Rob C » Logged

fredjeang
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« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2010, 03:23:08 AM »
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France and Spain, some thoughts.

FRANCE (I'm french)
In France there is a current debate for implementing more legal working hours for a reason: Years ago, they implemented what was called the 35 hours.
35 hours / week paied 39 hours. 4 hours not worked but paied. (Before that law the legal week was 39 hours).
So basically they said, we will work less but been paid the same as before. And they did it.
That idea emerged from the philosophy that a rich country, an advanced society has to tend to more life quality, working less but being more wealthy.

It's been a long time now this law was implemented, and it worked quite well. France did not fall in a crash like a lot where saying, it is actually economically better than England where such a system is unthinkable.
So, reducing the amount of worked hours, AND keeping the salaries high has not affected the economy at all.
Now, logically, they want to come back to the 39 hours. Who said you could work less for more?  
First wired point.

Second wired point:
SPAIN (I'm living in Spain)
Here in Spain, all you hear about is crisis. And as it has been said, it is there.
But a deeper observation of the real situation shows that it is not as easy as it looks.
There is still a lot of money here, and the spanish middle class is still very wealthy. At least in the big cities.
What I'm observing with clients, is that they are paying less and ask for more, yes, but not because they can't pay, because they can put the pressure claiming the crisis.
My clients spend more and more money in pleasure and peripherical expenses. What they do not give any more in one sector, they will spend on another one.
This is a very important data.
Ironically, each time there is a long week end, Madrid is absolutly deserted, People travel, spend, and spend in bars, drinks, expensives watches, cars etc...and then they claim the crisis to cut down the price in the craft sectors.
I'm not saying that there is not a slow-down in economy, there is.
But I can tell you that I see that people here are spending like spoiled child. In a real crisis, you just can not do that.

But one important factor pointed by James Russel and Epd:
it is true that most of the photographers and videographers I know are having harsh times. Some of them are good photographers.
But it is also true that I know some few who are doing better and better and enjoy like James.
And I can see a clear correspondance in each case in: attitude, talent, enthousiasm, habilties to manage contacts and social aspects, proper style etc...

The equation is incredibly simple: the one who have a frighten attitude, that do not enjoy their talent, that do not manage contacts, that are not working harder to shoot better and better etc...are having really hard times
The opposite of all these (and I forgot), are having better times.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 04:19:33 AM by fredjeang » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2010, 03:45:58 AM »
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Quote from: Slobodan Blagojevic
How true... I believe there is a technical term for it: life  
 I've always liked very much your synthesis habilities Solbodan, but here you did it too much IMO.
Yes, that's the nature of life by essence.

But the characteristics (the how), are changing according to a time given.
The forces that are governing the world now are completly different than in the 16th century for example.

I guess we are not debating on the unmovable laws but on the current changes that where not there let's say 30 years ago.
And these are bringing different form of society etc...
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 03:46:57 AM by fredjeang » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2010, 03:56:00 AM »
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Quote from: rgmoore
This is indeed a very interesting topic and the answer to the posed question involes numerous social, political, and economic changes over the years that have affected virtually every sector of the working world. Below are listed several items gathered from lectures on economics, radio discussions, news, and one of the books by Thom Hartmann entitled: "Screwed: the Undeclared War Against the Middle Class.

1. For about 150 years up until late 1970s in USA wages were steadily increasing and most could see that each generation
    did a little better financially and in general standard of living than the last.

2. During the last 3 decades wages have been stagnant and in some cases even decreasing if inflation is factored in.    
    A few explanations for these changes:
   
        a) Introduction of computers has increased productivity

            More women entering the work force

        c) Increase in the number of immigrants from Central and South America

        d) Deregulation of many industries and changes in trade policies and tax codes

        e) Moving entire factories overseas and outsourcing

        f) Weakening of labor unions      

3. The effects of these changes on the business sector

        a) Upper managemenet thought they died and went to heaven; they have a work force that is constantly    
            improving in productivity with the same wages
       
            Profits have soared as never before allowing cash heavy companies to take over other companies and
            astronomical salaries and bonuses for upper management
       
        c) The discrepency between CEO and laborers has increased to the extent that an average CEO makes more money
            before lunch on the 1st working day of the year than a laborer does for the entire year
   
        c) During the 1st decade of this century 400 richest individuals in US have doubled their wealth

4. Effects on the working families

        a) Working harder and longer hours with less time off while being happy just to have a job

            Disappearance of pensions and introduction of planned retirement 401(k)s, etc.

        c. Instead of higher wages working classes are provided with credit cards (more funds float to investor classes)

        d. Increased cost of healthcare and education

        e. At the end of their lives when illness drains lifelong savings people are given a chance for a reverse mortgage
            So no inheritance for the next generation.

This outline is not meant to be comprehensive. It is from what I consider to be relieable sources and as best as I remember and it does reflect my own experience in the working world as a Registered Nurse in the hospital for over 30 years. Even doctors are struggling and some have left their private practices as they are tired of fighting with insurance companies and have joined HMOs. Believe it or not, HMOs and insurance companies tell doctors how to practice to a large extent. Some of my nurse friends have changed jobs and even occupations and have come to the conclusion that there is no where to go and
no place to hide. Most hope that they can last until their retirement.  

I am told that the brightest minds in USA have chosen not to enter medical schools. Instead, they have gone into insurance, management, or investment banking. That's one reason why there are so many foreign MDs in USA. And these minds are indeed bright; they don't have to deal with unwashed masses, they tell doctors what to do, they make a ot more money than MDs, and even when they run a company into the ground and fail, they end up with aseverence package/golden parashoot.

But, this is photography forum.... in the 90's just by word of mouth I made over 25% of my income from portrait work.
It all dried up when the new century started. And that is the same story I hear from professional commercial and advertising photographers  know in San Francisco.

My examples and information are US based, but from all that I have gathered the same scene may apply to other parts of the world. If memory serves me they are attempting to change labor policy in France - longer working week - to be competitive in the world market. And my relatives in European Eastern Block tell me they feel enslaved by the emerging corporate culture even with the high hopes of joining EU.

So the short answer to your question: "what the hell is happening?" - is what is and has been happening for a few decades is that increasingly more money and power has been going into fewer hands leaving the vast majority of the population in the industrialized world (working classes) destitute and struggling.

I would be very interested in reading ideas on this topic from different parts of the world.      
           
Richard
Very interesting panorama description.
I think your last sentence resume it perfectly.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #31 on: May 16, 2010, 04:38:25 AM »
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...In fact I do not think that a revolution in photography has happened yet,

I'd talk more about an evolution.

What is D3? an expensive digital adaptation of classic 35mm film cameras.

What is Phase+p65? a very expensive digital adaptation of a film Pentax 645

What is Photoshop? a cheap, efficient and practial digital adaptation of traditional retouching

What is a 5DII ? a digital bargain adaptation of cinema and film camera merged into a body

Etc...

These are almost the same tool. Any traditional photographer or videographer feels at home.
We can complain about how bad, better, unreliable, unstable it is, but we are not yet in another planet.

So the changes and adaptations requiered so far are pretty much managable. In fact, I think that it is more exciting for the creator, without being
break-ruler.

Remember, 5 years ago we had to do our website everything in Flash. Now we have to re-do everything in HTML.
Tomorrow we'll have to re-re-do everything in "HYPERSUPRAHTML or whatever stupid name they will find"
Not big deal, just minimal adaptations. We'll do fine.

Now, what are they cooking in the shade for the next generations?
When I say the next generations I'm thinking that we will see it pretty soon.

Maybe the current evolution in the craft is nothing less than a previous step to a real revolution, where the tools may be completly differents
as the one we know now.
And that adaptation will be IMO, much much drastic than what is happening now.

Global economy is affecting the professional photography, but I think technology will affect it in a much more powerfull extend.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 04:47:02 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #32 on: May 16, 2010, 05:29:34 AM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
...In fact I do not think that a revolution in photography has happened yet,

There are definitaly some revolutions

-looking on scene the screen on the back - makes the job easier to be an OK/adequate photographer - bringing lo ballers to the market

(and you know what the trainees and assistants I have with their 5d2s are really good - they only fall down on 20% of images - that hard ones)

-transmission of images ..

was a $50k hasselblad wire machine - operated generally by union reps - keeping people out of the market (press)

Then the Mac and $2000 coolscan - thats when I was able to fund going freelance before that I had to transmit throught the union people - my employers of the time

now - wifi $500 ?

Everyone can send

------

Another phrase is 'good enough' honestly the youngsters in many situations are 'good enough'

Thats why im pushing something that is harder to be 'good enough' with - motion


S
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 05:41:52 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
www.sammorganmoore.com -photography
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