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Author Topic: Where the money is in photography  (Read 2654 times)
feppe
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« on: May 16, 2011, 12:18:03 PM »
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Scott Kelby revealed on his latest blog entry that nearly 10,000 people have downloaded an iPhone app which allows Kelby Training subscribers to watch their videos on the go. That's 10,000 people who are paying $25 per month or $200 per year for Kelby Training access (I'm one of them). 10,000 x $200 = $2m per year!

But that's only a fraction of the revenue: not all Kelby Training subscribers have an iPhone, and not all those who have one have downloaded the app. Assuming a generous attach rate of 10% of overall subscribers, that's 100k subscribers and $10 million annual revenue - a figure which at least one quick google search agrees with. There are lot of inaccuracies with these figures (attach rate, taking their many and generous discounts into account, yearly vs. monthly subscribers, their DVD, book and seminar sales, etc.), but gives a directional insight into the rather large size of the business.

Note that this is revenue, and doesn't take into account the cost of producing, distributing and marketing their videos. Their production values are good to excellent, they have incredible talent on their payroll/contract, and the bandwidth costs for streaming their content must be astronomical.

It's a clear sign of the times when award-winning and widely published photographers find training to be better business than actually doing it.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 01:13:44 PM »
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Goes back to the old gold rush story where the people who made the money were not the gold diggers but the ones that sold the shovels and trained them in how to use them - some business model, different shovel.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
feppe
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 01:43:29 PM »
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Goes back to the old gold rush story where the people who made the money were not the gold diggers but the ones that sold the shovels and trained them in how to use them - some business model, different shovel.

Good analogy, and probably accurate given the flood of people suddenly getting access to cheap and easy-to-use cameras with the emergence of digital.

I always wondered if that gold rush story was a myth, but it's apparently based on a real person.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 03:16:03 PM »
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"It's a clear sign of the times when award-winning and widely published photographers find training to be better business than actually doing it."


This is true, but it also depends on the type of work of which you speak.

There certainly was a 'golden age' of photography, often disputed in these pages, and I refer to commercial photography in which I include industrial, press, fashion, architectural, advertising etc. To my certain knowledge, based on my observations by actually being around at the beginning of the time-scale I select, the mid-fifties to at least the late eighties were pretty good to many of us; however, even as early as the late seventies particular areas were starting to turn a little sour. In my territory, Scotland, many industries were dying or being taken over by English companies, resulting in the work drifting inevitably southwards. I saw engineering photo units (where I started out professionally) close, and outside studios catering for those industries without their own units also died the death. Knitwear was a huge fashion market in Scotland: it morphed into about two companies at best, the main PR lady being very big in London. I did a great deal of well-paid work for big chain stores - they stopped doing much promotion too...

It's not at all simply about the wannabe with his digital masterpiece; the markets for a hell of a lot of photography have vanished, and that's the problem. The good markets were never going to use Uncle Harry and his fancy camera, any more than they were going to place their expensive ads in the local freebie. It was the woeful state of fashion that turned me to calendars - thank God I knew how to do some design thanks to long hours spent inside art directors' studios delivering/discussing photo projects and using my eyes.

I really don't think that it's the shamateur's fault that the pro is suffering; yes, these guys don't help, but neither do they get their noses around the right doors. The problem today seems to be that many of those doors just lead to empty spaces.

But, even in these hard times, there are will always be those pros who get it right and do very, very well. All power to their elbows!

Rob C
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 03:18:03 PM by Rob C » Logged

feppe
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2011, 06:18:30 PM »
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The golden age of photography is right now. There has never been such good quality cameras and glass available to practically anyone with a roof on top of their head, and information available how to get most out of the gear is available on internet for free, or for a pittance on sites like referred in the OP.

And any industry which is based on artificial barriers to entry is doomed to obsolescence or being overtaken by amateurs. If a stay-at-home mom snapping photos during weekends poses competition, no wonder the industry is suffering.

Good thing they're not interested in cash flow analysis or contribution margin calculations Tongue
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 06:22:12 PM by feppe » Logged

louoates
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 09:07:43 PM »
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The golden age of photography is right now. There has never been such good quality cameras and glass available to practically anyone with a roof on top of their head, and information available how to get most out of the gear is available on internet for free, or for a pittance on sites like referred in the OP.

And any industry which is based on artificial barriers to entry is doomed to obsolescence or being overtaken by amateurs. If a stay-at-home mom snapping photos during weekends poses competition, no wonder the industry is suffering.

Good thing they're not interested in cash flow analysis or contribution margin calculations Tongue

Absolutely the golden age of photography is right now. Think about the geometric increases in every aspect of photography technology since the digital age began. Young folks today who keep on the cutting edge can find all kinds of opportunity to cash in. Look through any major photography magazine and you'll see products that never existed a few years ago. And companies that no one anticipated just a few months before they were formed. The smart college photography majors should be challenging their schools to provide career guidance in this rapidly changing business. Smart college administrations should be riding the digital photography curriculum hard.
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2011, 09:23:15 PM »
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I've done jobs for celebrities, doctors, inventors, in short fabulously wealthy high end clients.
The size of jobs I used to handle quite frequently were from large houses to bonafide mansion estates.
The budget on these projects were generally from say 10-15K to well over 30K for my specialty contracting business.
The wages commanded by folks like myself right down to the brand new entry level apprentice was a comfortable living even here in the highest $ housing market in the country.
This has all changed.
In the span from about 1995-98 till currently,
the illegal and um not exactly legitimate workers flooding the construction industry has pushed the wage down until really as an entry level man you're competing with folks that are darn happy for $100 days.
There are whole parking lots full of these guys that will do almost anything for the $$
Asbestos removal w/o proper gear, working outside their skill level on dangerous applications-
Hell, who am I kidding?
I simply don't even hustle work anymore knowing that guys that used to be the highest priced have dropped their bids to below what I can even do it for.
In short you pro guys see what it is like for we contractors everyday for 10-15 years now.
All because nobody said NO!
We won't accept this as a natural condition.
Lowest bidder cheepskates trying to get it cheeper than the cheepest to date.
I'd rather be poor and do mediocre photography as an outlet than hire 1 man willing to go a little cheeper than the last.
It's over for me as a contractor, it sounds like it's over for many of you as photographers for exactly the same reasons-
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 09:26:04 PM by Rocco Penny » Logged
louoates
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2011, 09:44:37 PM »
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Rocco,
  I hear a lot of "how it used to be". How are you adapting? You've been reading the handwriting on the wall for five years...I hope you don't lose heart.
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EduPerez
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« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2011, 01:00:54 AM »
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Probably the real money is nowadays in micro-stock photography... that is, owning a micro-stock agency.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2011, 02:40:41 AM »
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Probably the real money is nowadays in micro-stock photography... that is, owning a micro-stock agency.



On the button!

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2011, 02:50:43 AM »
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The golden age of photography is right now. There has never been such good quality cameras and glass available to practically anyone with a roof on top of their head, and information available how to get most out of the gear is available on internet for free, or for a pittance on sites like referred in the OP.And any industry which is based on artificial barriers to entry is doomed to obsolescence or being overtaken by amateurs. If a stay-at-home mom snapping photos during weekends poses competition, no wonder the industry is suffering.

Good thing they're not interested in cash flow analysis or contribution margin calculations Tongue



Equipent has absolutely nothing to do with any photographic 'golden age'. There was always great equipment available; as I tried to indicate, golden ages are about the market, the supply and kind of work out there.

Talk about adapting isn't the point either: the point is that more and more are chasing less and less. That's the crunch. Whether you expose to film, a sensor or a movie camera doesn't matter at all: you need somebody who needs your services. As to whether all work is equally attractive, that you'd like to spend your life doing it, that's another subject altogether.

Rob C
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Josh-H
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« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2011, 04:06:11 AM »
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Probably the real money is nowadays in micro-stock photography... that is, owning a micro-stock agency.

At the rate they are going out of business I have my doubts!
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2011, 09:46:41 AM »
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Rocco,
  I hear a lot of "how it used to be". How are you adapting? You've been reading the handwriting on the wall for five years...I hope you don't lose heart.

LOSE HEART?!?!
No indeedy- I realize if it's hearts I'm competing with it'll be me as the loser.
Scrabbly Mexicans have more heart than any I could muster.
Guys kill each other all the time over their "hearts"
The difference between being born in the North of that hellhole or the South can mean your death when you're from that cesspool.
No it isn't heart I'm losing.
What I'm losing is my belief that we as a nation will survive the influx of illegal and generally 3rd grade educated scrabbly Mexicans ready to do anything for $100 a day
The trades for mavericks like me aren't anyplace fun right now.
If I worked for $100 a day I'd be asked to learn Spanish.
The silver lining is the scrabbly dudes can't legally run jobs.
Although the latest statistics say that only about 5% of construction projects are done legally, using legal labor, permitting, inspections, and covering the taxes and insurance for all personnel, there's still the 5% we can all fight over.
No I haven't lost heart.
I have completed a course of training with over 300 hours and a few certifications to position myself for a new career if we ever straighten things out.
I'd like to be an investigator exposing all the illegal construction happening around my area/
Root out the cause and expose the real culprits here.
Cheepskate owners and project managers/contractors willing to do anything to be wealthy.
How do you suggest I stay current?
It's a craft that hasn't changed since before MichaelAngelo painted the Sistine Chapel
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feppe
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« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2011, 12:05:32 PM »
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Equipent has absolutely nothing to do with any photographic 'golden age'. There was always great equipment available; as I tried to indicate, golden ages are about the market, the supply and kind of work out there.

You are conflating the business of photography with the art of photography. The business has been allegedly wrecked by 8-12% salary decrease per year for photographers since year 2000, but the art is benefiting from easy and cheap access to information and gear - which is a very new phenomenon.

Assuming you are right that golden ages in arts have been historically driven by the business, but we have an entirely different economy than, say, Shakespeare's London. Dilettantism is not limited to the offspring of the elite, especially in the welfare states of Europe, and there's plenty of free time available even for professionals working in another industry.

There are thousands and thousands of struggling art school grads (and dropouts) and serious amateurs out there producing (fine) art because that's what they want to do, not because they need the money to survive another winter. Many of those wannabe artists couldn't afford the gear and training before digital capture revolutionized photography, and either had to learn to paint or start flipping burgers.

Quote
Talk about adapting isn't the point either: the point is that more and more are chasing less and less. That's the crunch. Whether you expose to film, a sensor or a movie camera doesn't matter at all: you need somebody who needs your services. As to whether all work is equally attractive, that you'd like to spend your life doing it, that's another subject altogether.

Adapting is the point. Buggy whip and typewriter manufacturers had to find another job, and so will the photographers whose competition are the stay-at-home moms. To bastardize an Einstein quote, one should seek what is rather than what should be.

And photography is not the only industry where new technologies and race to the bottom is wreaking havoc, not by a long shot.
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2011, 02:09:10 PM »
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You are conflating the business of photography with the art of photography. The business has been allegedly wrecked by 8-12% salary decrease per year for photographers since year 2000, but the art is benefiting from easy and cheap access to information and gear - which is a very new phenomenon.

Assuming you are right that golden ages in arts have been historically driven by the business, but we have an entirely different economy than, say, Shakespeare's London. Dilettantism is not limited to the offspring of the elite, especially in the welfare states of Europe, and there's plenty of free time available even for professionals working in another industry.

There are thousands and thousands of struggling art school grads (and dropouts) and serious amateurs out there producing (fine) art because that's what they want to do, not because they need the money to survive another winter. Many of those wannabe artists couldn't afford the gear and training before digital capture revolutionized photography, and either had to learn to paint or start flipping burgers.

Adapting is the point. Buggy whip and typewriter manufacturers had to find another job, and so will the photographers whose competition are the stay-at-home moms. To bastardize an Einstein quote, one should seek what is rather than what should be.

And photography is not the only industry where new technologies and race to the bottom is wreaking havoc, not by a long shot.
[/quote:




As ever, we approach the same things from different angles... whilst I accept your answers as accurate, I think they apply to points slightly different to mine, but it doesn't really matter, anyway. For me it's academic: my time has long past and I'm really rather glad I lived the business in another era.

Rob C
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2011, 08:58:06 AM »
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Considering the business side of the question dictates stepping back and reading the lay of the land so to speak.
So, let's say
you're an excellent hand,
with the ability to impart neophytes with your sensitivity,
and an innovative business model,
seeking a market that drives itself on the thirst for your services,
and the market is jumpy and looking for all new ways to appease the demand for
satisfaction-
hmmm
yep sounds like business.
I like the buggy whip and typewriter analogy above,
and life is no analogy,
so live your dreams
don't take no for an answer,
and when faced with business,
competing with the wrong crowd will kill you.
And that's no analogy.
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2011, 09:54:16 AM »
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... I'd like to be an investigator exposing all the illegal construction happening around my area/Root out the cause and expose the real culprits here ...

Would you want us to send flowers, or donations to charity?  Wink
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PierreVandevenne
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« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2011, 10:44:46 AM »
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And photography is not the only industry where new technologies and race to the bottom is wreaking havoc, not by a long shot.

This being said, the commercial photography market as a whole keeps growing. It's just that the number of "commercial photographers" keeps growing faster. There are ample opportunities to evolve into new roles. Not so sure about havoc: I can't remember a time when photography was more abundant and of higher overall quality than today.
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feppe
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« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2011, 11:41:00 AM »
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This being said, the commercial photography market as a whole keeps growing. It's just that the number of "commercial photographers" keeps growing faster. There are ample opportunities to evolve into new roles. Not so sure about havoc: I can't remember a time when photography was more abundant and of higher overall quality than today.

You don't think 8-12% salary decrease per year is not bad? It's a rather dubious figure and uncited, but even if it's directional it's what I would call havoc.
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PierreVandevenne
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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2011, 01:11:21 PM »
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The whole market is expending as it never was. It's just a specific role in that market that is suffering a bit from overcrowding. It's my feeling (based on talks with quite a few pro photographers) that the really good ones, offering or taking part in large packages, have never done as well as they do now. It's at the bottom (in terms of turnover, not necessarily talent) that there's a big issue. But you've got to be realistic: there was, for example, a huge amount of bottom feeding in the corporate event/wedding market. The production in that segment sucked big time. Why did people use them back then? Because most of the consumers weren't able to guarantee their films would be at least OK. Fuzzy images, film lost, etc... etc... The barrier to entry in that segment of the market was basic technical know-how and a routine that guaranteed that the results, if not pretty, would at least exist. That barrier to entry in that segment is now gone.

At least, it is still a be hard to subcontract the photography of a wedding to a Mumbai based office...  Wink
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