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Author Topic: How much does it cost?  (Read 8093 times)
fredjeang
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« on: October 13, 2010, 06:49:20 PM »
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I know...
I should just be positive, spread the forum with good vibes and go to Oprah.
But I'm afraid that is not what is going to happen in this topic.

Today I felt honestly moody, I had the blues.
I saw for the zillionth time a top photographer been gently replaced by some point-and-shooters-fashionists. It just happens too much in the recent years to be only a coincidence.
In short, a long time guy's client, big client, great works...today I came to visit him and while we where looking in the internet to a recent campaign, the man discovered in front of me that the latest client's pictures where from an unknown team and he was not advised. When we started to take a look, the pics where horrible: bad models, bad lightning, bad retouching, bad make-up, bad stylism or no stylism at all, bad everything...a complete disaster.
Big silence...looked at his face...let him talk:
"How much does it cost? That's the only thing they want to know today"...

It's not the first time that I see the global economy situation happily mining the profession, but it is the first time I realise how bad things can be when they reach the point that they don't even care for a minimum quality.
Doing more for less, yes, that is what the gurus are telling me all the time now: be preapared to do more for less. But this is a non-sense jungle.

How-much-does-it-cost resonated in my head during the rest of the day. I admit, I came back home with a weired feeling.

1) Is professional photography really dying?
 
2) How to escape all that bullshit???
 
« Last Edit: October 13, 2010, 07:03:03 PM by fredjeang » Logged
Joe Behar
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 07:13:20 PM »
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Fred,

Are the clients being that much different than a lot of members on this forum that say things like;

"I would never pay $XXX for that"

"Save your $$ and make a DIY lens alignment tool"

"I don't want any dealer support, just give me the lowest price"

It is indeed a sad situation.


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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 08:05:39 PM »
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The question should be how much is it going to cost them? 

A little while back an architect decided to hire me to do a job and wanted to get the contractor involved to help save on the cost.  It is common for more then one party wanting use and as long as they tell me this before I invoice the job, I will charge an extra 30% per party, then split the bill.  Kind of a win win.  The contractor was on the fence, so I told the architect that I would give him images with my name across to send to the contractor when the images were done and he would have a couple days to make a decision.  I sent the images and within a few hour the contractor was on board.  I followed up a few months later with the contractor.  They attribute the fact that they got a couple big jobs (5000+ residential projects, not that common in this market) to them using my images and already have a couple other projects in mind for me. 

So it is just about getting the word out and waiting for people to come around, and the economy to come around.  I am sure it will. 
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
"Try not to be just better than your rivals and contemporaries, try to be better than yourself."  William Faulkner
mingus
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2010, 04:24:04 PM »
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Hi all,
i have been reading this forum for years, seriously, but anyway, this is my first post. HI!

1) Is professional photography really dying?

In someway i think so, at least as we knew it, the business now is in a situation that lots of factors enter to play: the economic shock is the first to come to mind, anyone want to cut costs anywhere; the position that some superstar photographers took few years back asking horrendous mounts of cash to shoot is now only justify just for few holdings; the huge amount of new photographers that digital era has bring is now pushing things quite hard aswell, some are really good and working for nothing.
So, i think that before if a company wanted to have the job done have few options, spend much or spend much more, there wasn't any option C. Now there is that option and you must to look at them with pedestrian eyes, they are enough! just enough! but they have the minimum quality to get the job done. I think that combined with furious chairman knowing nothing about advertising but demanding cutting the costs is the perfect cocktail for the bad work now. Sure there is much more stuff involved but that's firt come to mind.


2) How to escape all that bullshit???

as Joe said, i would try to keep the good work and waiting for the right time.
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2010, 06:14:56 PM »
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1) Is professional photography really dying?

In someway i think so, at least as we knew it,

Yes, as we knew it. The industry has changed, we have changed, it's a new playing field and people need to adjust to new ways of doing business. That's life.

And what is a professional anyway? It used to be easy to define, it was the guy with the Blad at the wedding or the guy from the local paper etc. Now it ranges from the consumate professional who has no interest in photography as such, just in the business ( and I know people like this) to the enthusiast who sells a couple of prints on the internet. Where do you draw the line.

Personally I am keeping myself informed and adjusting my business accordingly. There are still lots of opportunities in the world of imaging.
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Nick Rains
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2010, 04:22:28 AM »
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And what is a professional anyway? It used to be easy to define, it was the guy with the Blad at the wedding or the guy from the local paper etc. Now it ranges from the consumate professional who has no interest in photography as such, just in the business ( and I know people like this) to the enthusiast who sells a couple of prints on the internet. Where do you draw the line.



Interesting; the examples you quote represent the parts of photography that, in my era, where thought to be fringe players in the industry. The only one that did fall into the concept of 'professional' in your list is the entrepreneur who ran a studio but seldom clicked a shutter. As for internet sellers, they didn't exist, and their influence, apart from the microstock murders disaster, is still irrelevant to professional shooters; Chanel doesn't go to twitter and choose a guy for the next campaign any more than does Ford, GM or Mercedes, Heinz, Rolling Stone or Vogue. The real threat is the new guy with no business sense who thinks he will make it by cutting the throat of the established fellow. He will not make it; he will just fade away, leaving behind him the graves of those he killed in his dumb attempt to buy success.

Rob C
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 04:25:12 AM by Rob C » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2010, 04:58:21 AM »
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Fred

It isn't just in fashion, either. When we decided to base our operation in Spain, it was because we had a lot of calendar work and I was with Tony Stone for stock, as big as it got in Britain and, probably, anywhere. The reason to be here was the locations. The calendar work was very seasonal - much of the time the clients didn't need to see me at all, so I filled it with work for travel brochures etc.

For those brochures, I quoted a per hotel or apartment charge, based on the fact that I could then choose the day depending on weather and occupation of properties - you can't/won't shoot with clients in residence! I worked for Thomson and several other such companies. It was interesting; the first year or two it was as per my quoted price, and then, I would get requests to cut down the charge. I usually refused and lost the contact. And that was as far back as the 80s!

One company, for whom I had shot several whole brochures, went down just after their brochure went on display in the travel agencies; I did not get a penny. To my surprise, the same brochure reappeared with no changes other than with a new name over my cover. I immediately got in touch with them and sent in a copy of my invoice. I got a 'phone call in return, suggesting they owed me nothing, that they had NOT bought over the dead company but simply taken their hotel allocations. I asked them if they had any idea about copyright, and they said of course they did; I evetually got between half and three-quarters of my fee and the next couple of shoots.

Then, I was contacted again and told that my per/location fee was not acceptable any more, and that they wanted me to do it on a basis of a week's shoot. I replied that I lived on the spot, had perfect communication with their manager here, that I could judge the right time of day to get the best shots and also was on the spot when the properties were briefly between clients. It didn't matter; they wanted a package. I refused. Ciao.

So yes, there is such a thing as an ignorant client too. I have no idea who or what replaced me. But it is nice to have earned your fuck off money.

Rob C
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2010, 05:12:24 AM »
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Yes there are plenty of young photographers out there trying to make it in the profession, like me.  But not all of them have bad business skills.  I know how much I have to charge to make a profit, pay myself, and pay my business, and for those that do not, they will not be business much longer.  They will either wise up to it and start charging more, or go back to there old job thinking photography is nothing about luck, telling everyone that in order to make it you need to be in the right place at the right time with the ...  Just like everyone else who started a business and did not take the time to figure it out and learn from others in the industry.  

But that is the nature of every service industry, no matter what you do.  There will always be someone else who is willing to undercut you, no matter what you price is, to get the job.  It does not matter if you are a photographer, or a housekeeper, or a environmental consultant, or an architect, or whatever.  I know this because I talk to a lot of people and they all fell the same about it.  But the ones doing the best (which is not that good right now) dont think about it and they do not lower their price because of it.  They sell on satisfying the clients needs.  

People will see a need for quality; they will see the business they are loosing or the name base that is not as strong because of the lousy images they are using and hire good photographers again.  We just need to wait it out and not do anything that will degrade our reputations, like low balling.  


PS  The funny thing is that I run into these hack photographers sometimes telling me that they are more competitive by charging $150/200 for a day shooting while meeting all kinds of new people.  But what I know is that at that amount, with what I charge, I shoot two days a month, I will have already made more if they shoot every day they can that month.  And all the new people that they have met and made connection with are not people that will respect the work and ever pay a fair wage.  And last, without even looking at the work, I know the quality will suck, because lets face it, at $200/day, you have no room left to bring anything besides a camera. 
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 05:24:26 AM by JoeKitchen » Logged

Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
"Try not to be just better than your rivals and contemporaries, try to be better than yourself."  William Faulkner
mingus
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2010, 07:56:24 AM »
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We need a french revolution.

i'm afraid you will not see any french revolution in Spain, i'm spanish myself and i know how things are doing down there, and i'm quite sure they stay the same as before i leave.
The problem in Spain is the same as everywhere plus it has a little scene, there are few clients, few magazines and everyone know each other. That means a hard place for anyone who has something different to say and a hard place to work if you don't follow their rules. I know great photographers that were top few years back and now they don't want to follow the new rules so they are out, there is no alternative, there is not any other scene; the same for newcomers, people with brilliant ideas that doesn't follow the rules are kicked out and one kick out in spain is that you don't have a second chance. So at the end of the day all they want is, someone who press the shutter, say yes to everything and don't bill for much.
Your example of chinese stores in Spain say it all for me, that's the hard reality that Spain have. No credit to quality at bargain price and with someone telling you: "si, si, si, si".
I think that the blame must go to the people who pay, but then, maybe it's the final consumer who we must blame to... They are not consuming enough, companies struggle, companies have fear, that fear goes to editors and ad agencies, those don't want to risk their asses so they dont risk with new ideas, new people, or fair budgets, anyone dont want to take the credit just in case things go wrong with the pictures, but if it cost nothing then it will be a great work anyhow the quality. So at the end we have the same cheap bullshit because anyone want to push boundaries because of fear from the final consumer that will stop consuming. In a country without tradition for quality that's what you have.

« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 08:21:07 AM by mingus » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2010, 08:28:13 AM »
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i'm afraid you will not see any french revolution in Spain, i'm spanish myself and i know how things are doing down there, and i'm quite sure they stay the same as before i leave.
The problem in Spain is the same as everywhere plus it has a little scene, there are few clients, few magazines and everyone know each other. That means a hard place for anyone who has something different to say and a hard place to work if you don't follow their rules. I know great photographers that were top few years back and now they don't want to follow the new rules so they are out, there is no alternative, there is not any other scene; the same for newcomers, people with brilliant ideas that doesn't follow the rules are kicked out and one kick out in spain is that you don't have a second chance. So at the end of the day all they want is, someone who press the shutter, say yes to everything and don't bill for much.
Your example of chinese stores in Spain say it all for me, that's the hard reality that Spain have. No credit to quality at bargain price and with someone telling you: "si, si, si, si".
I think that the blame must go to the people who pay, but then, maybe it's the final consumer who we must blame to... They are not consuming enough, companies struggle, companies have fear, that fear goes to editors and ad agencies, those don't want to risk their asses so they dont risk with new ideas, new people, or fair budgets, anyone dont want to take the credit just in case things go wrong with the pictures, but if it cost nothing then it will be a great work anyhow the quality. So at the end we have the same cheap bullshit because anyone want to push boundaries because of fear from the final consumer that will stop consuming. In a country without tradition for quality that's what you have.


Mingus, your description about Spain matches with mine. I agree 100%.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2010, 09:11:40 AM »
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Disclaimer: I'm not a pro ...

What I hear from people I know here (Germany) is:
Consultants in advertising industry working 60+ hours a week and earning less than a room cleaner working 40 hours.
"What does it cost" question everywhere and all the time and quality seems to matter less and less ...
Marketing / advertising budget in the company of someone else I know shortened from 4.000.000 € down to 1.800.000 € within one year (2009).

I also hear, that people in agencies and other customers don't pay like before and get amateurs and low-end pros doing jobs, because these people seem not be able to see the difference in the results.

So - what I ask myself is: How could pros doing good photography justify their price if the customers simply don't see the differences?

Why do theatres, classical music, high quality books and such sell worse than cinemas, pop music and bad magazines? Quality requires some education on the side of the consumer.

I believe if I were a pro, I'd run a blog or something and show the differences. What is quality photography and what is crap photography, knowing this wouldn't change too much in the end.

Educate your consumers and pray ....

Just my € 0.02 ...
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fredjeang
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2010, 09:16:30 AM »
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Consultants in advertising industry working 60+ hours a week and earning less than a room cleaner working 40 hours.
"What does it cost" question everywhere and all the time and quality seems to matter less and less ...
Marketing / advertising budget in the company of someone else I know shortened from 4.000.000 € down to 1.800.000 € within one year (2009).

I also hear, that people in agencies and other customers don't pay like before and get amateurs and low-end pros doing jobs, because these people seem not be able to see the difference in the results.

So - what I ask myself is: How could pros doing good photography justify their price if the customers simply don't see the differences?

Why do theatres, classical music, high quality books and such sell worse than cinemas, pop music and bad magazines? Quality requires some education on the side of the consumer.

I believe if I were a pro, I'd run a blog or something and show the differences. What is quality photography and what is crap photography, knowing this wouldn't change too much in the end.

Educate your consumers and pray ....

Just my € 0.02 ...
That is absolutly true! Exactly the same here. My building keeper used to earn more/mouth that any super skilled retoucher or stylist now.

« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 11:30:13 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2010, 09:33:52 AM »
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I was thinking about you guys as I was sitting in the local bar having lunch today. I had their copy of the newspaper Ultima Hora and came across this article on a beauty competition to be held in Madrid. You might be able to raise it on the internet.

The contest is called Dama de España, the girl interviewed is from Mallorca, and she is called Laura Navarro. She is asked about modelling here and about what she can expect to earn. Her reply: "You can't live off fashion in Mallorca. Agencies pay €65 per day and the insurance gets paid by the agent," She also has "worked for €50 a day and €90 per day for German film makers here."

Go figure.

The interesting thing is this: a local agency also shows pix of German girls who work here at times - I wonder if they are on the same pay level or just pick up stuff if here on holiday or whatever? Some friggin' industry.

It seems to me that the whole thing is like the Titanic.

Rob C
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Oh this shows up in here!


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« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2010, 11:04:13 AM »
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As for internet sellers, they didn't exist, and their influence, apart from the microstock murders disaster, is still irrelevant to professional shooters; Chanel doesn't go to twitter and choose a guy for the next campaign any more than does Ford, GM or Mercedes, Heinz, Rolling Stone or Vogue. The real threat is the new guy with no business sense who thinks he will make it by cutting the throat of the established fellow. He will not make it; he will just fade away, leaving behind him the graves of those he killed in his dumb attempt to buy success.

I'm no pro, but I'd imagine when you bring up photographers who shoot for Vogue or Mercedes in a general pro photography discussion is like talking about Shaquille O'Neal in a pro sports discussion - relevant, but not indicative of what the vast majority of pros experience.
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2010, 12:14:34 PM »
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I posted this a couple of days ago in another thread, but it seems more relevant here.

An acquaintance of mine, Richard Blair, was working as a full time professional commercial photographer in San Francisco with a $3000 day rate. A few years ago after over three decades in the business he lost his corporate clients almost overnight to young "talent" willing to work for $500 day rate. Currently he is surviving at least in part from sales of self published books on California and the Bay Area.

From gear point of view, in the film days he used to shoot with 8x10 Sinar and Hasselblad V, but digital work is all Canon. I asked him about it recently, and he feels that MFDB would not help him sell more books or prints.

The trend to cut costs is in almost all sectors world wide. I work in healthcare and see insurance companies telling physicians what to do and when to do it. Some healthcare organizations insist that doctors
follow a flow chart for a particular diagnosis and financially reward them for saving money by withholding needed tests or treatments. Sorry for the digression.

Yes, Fred I agree that there is need for a French style revolution. The robber barons will not easily give up their stranglehold of the working classes.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2010, 12:25:06 PM »
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Maybe that's a very naive post, but why not a sort of sindicate, something like in film industry to control all abuses worldwide?
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2010, 12:40:49 PM »
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I'm no pro, but I'd imagine when you bring up photographers who shoot for Vogue or Mercedes in a general pro photography discussion is like talking about Shaquille O'Neal in a pro sports discussion - relevant, but not indicative of what the vast majority of pros experience.



feppe, I shot for Vogue; I'm here, chatting with the rest of us. I shot for Teacher's Whisky, Glayva Liqueur, Tennent's Lager, the International Wool Secretariat (IWS) and so what? That was then and this is now, and the fear is that soon there will be only those sipping the edges of the cream jug (jugs again!) and for the same pennies that are now thrown into the business like confetti at a poor wedding, followed by those paying for the work they get so they can look good...

Sport is a whole other basket of madness. But it is popular, the anaesthetic of the masses; of course the money will always be found.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2010, 12:53:03 PM »
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The trend to cut costs is in almost all sectors world wide. I work in healthcare and see insurance companies telling physicians what to do and when to do it. Some healthcare organizations insist that doctors
follow a flow chart for a particular diagnosis and financially reward them for saving money by withholding needed tests or treatments. Sorry for the digression.

Yes, Fred I agree that there is need for a French style revolution. The robber barons will not easily give up their stranglehold of the working classes.


Your medical experience I have already encountered; certainly in private health it happens: one of my wife's oncologists mentioned its presence and how he reacted to the insurance company concerned. I've been having problems of my own with meds, and that's in the public sector - we abandoned private - where drugs are substituted without notice and downwards to generic brands; were they all the same, I would not have the odd blip that I get from the new ones that the original did not give.

But revolution? Absolutely not. What is needed is common sense laws and control, exactly what they talk about doing with finance, but seem incapable of achieving. I wonder if those in politics have too many private fingers in too many pots?

Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2010, 09:58:04 PM »
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Rob,

Your points are well taken. I am afraid that I allowed my frustration with the working world to get the better of me. Perhaps "common sense laws and control" will prevail if political will is there. It seems that economies will improve when balance is achieved between government, business, and the working classes.

Richard
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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2010, 01:14:28 AM »
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Greed will always outdo common sense. The working classes are there to be exploited, they always have been and always will be unless there is a revolution and that won't be next week?
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