September 17, 2014, 04:06:18 AM

Author Topic: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!  (Read 14539 times)

neuroanatomist

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #30 on: May 13, 2014, 03:18:01 PM »
Can you answer, for me, one question?
"Why would I hire you instead of getting any of the other people doing the same thing?"

This is the key, IMO.  I have three kids, and I have the gear necessary to take good portraits of them.  Still, every year I take them to a local studio for Easter/Spring portraits.  Compared to the studio, at home I have better lights and modifiers, a better camera, better lenses, a more comfortable setting, more time to take the pictures, more time to post-process the images, and I can get prints cheaper through Mpix.

So, why do I take them to a studio for Easter pics?  Two words…LIVE BUNNIES.   :D
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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #30 on: May 13, 2014, 03:18:01 PM »

Orangutan

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #31 on: May 13, 2014, 03:57:47 PM »
Can you answer, for me, one question?
"Why would I hire you instead of getting any of the other people doing the same thing?"

This is the key, IMO.  I have three kids, and I have the gear necessary to take good portraits of them.  Still, every year I take them to a local studio for Easter/Spring portraits.  Compared to the studio, at home I have better lights and modifiers, a better camera, better lenses, a more comfortable setting, more time to take the pictures, more time to post-process the images, and I can get prints cheaper through Mpix.

So, why do I take them to a studio for Easter pics?  Two words…LIVE BUNNIES.   :D

I'm surprised you weren't aware that LensRentals now stocks live bunnies.   :P

jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #32 on: May 13, 2014, 04:04:45 PM »
Can you answer, for me, one question?
"Why would I hire you instead of getting any of the other people doing the same thing?"

This is the key, IMO.  I have three kids, and I have the gear necessary to take good portraits of them.  Still, every year I take them to a local studio for Easter/Spring portraits.  Compared to the studio, at home I have better lights and modifiers, a better camera, better lenses, a more comfortable setting, more time to take the pictures, more time to post-process the images, and I can get prints cheaper through Mpix.

So, why do I take them to a studio for Easter pics?  Two words…LIVE BUNNIES.   :D
Are we talking about the bunny ranch... because I wouldn't take my kids there... though I'd happily spend Easter with some bunnies.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #33 on: May 13, 2014, 04:07:09 PM »
It isn't about the gear.... always... my kid will make goofy faces at me because she assumes my time isn't worth as much as a photographer's... then she gets in trouble and the day is ruined... So it can be worth having someone else tame the kid's photos.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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East Wind Photography

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #34 on: May 13, 2014, 04:37:36 PM »
This has been going on for years since the affordable development of the personal camera.  It is nothing new that has come about since the digital revolution.

Only the fittest survive my friend and there is not much that can be done about it except to change your attitude about the matter.  I agree with other posters here that its about people management and often word of mouth referrals.

Photography is not the only profession that suffers from this.  Make your customers happy and they will boast to all of their friends about the wonderful job you did.


drummstikk

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #35 on: May 13, 2014, 05:25:14 PM »
I was once gainfully employed in a dying industry -- book publishing. After several months of escalating mutual hatred between myself and my employer, they gave up trying to build a paper trail on me and offered me 6 months salary if I would just LEAVE. Having a recent track record of several years making between 10-15 grand a year on a dozen odd weekends without even really trying that hard, I took their kind offer went freelance in 2006. This, by my reckoning, was precisely one year before I and every other pro in the market was devoured by the beast that goes by many names: "Timmy's Mom." "Lisa's Dad." "Billy's uncle."

Yes, the youth sports photo market deserted me right when I needed it most. Photography is unique in this way as far as I know. Every week, people go out and buy a Rebel kit on Saturday, *maybe* read part of the manual while on the crapper on Sunday, and then start handing out business cards on Monday. Since these people have "day jobs" they have no concept of what the price of the services they plan to offer are worth ("Is $50.00 for a wedding too much?") and drive their local market down by working for hobby prices. Nobody invests in a set of tools and then starts doing auto repair or carpentry or plumbing for cheap or free. But this happens in photograph ALL THE TIME.

As much as this is a kick in the gut to people like me who have honed their craft for over three decades, I can't whine about it. I could hope for amateurs to respect the craft, learn something about the business they are pushing in on, and at least charge a fair price. And, while yer at it, let's have peace in the middle east and  the *WORLD SERIES CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS.*

If you still get the job asking a fair price, then congratulations, you've beaten me in the marketplace fair and square. But it you are giving your work away or charging hobby rates, you are hurting somebody, whether or not you even know who he or she may be.

The reality as I have found it to be in recent years is that photography skills are secondary (distantly) to marketing skills. Which is precisely why I get my butt kicked every year. I suck at marketing and always will. I don't have the personality for it. The thought of "developing my brand" makes me nauseous.

But I love the work and can't walk away. I make far too much money at photography to just leave on the table, but not enough to live on. So, I do my one-off jobs and service my contracts for part of my income, and clean toilets and mow grass for the rest and for insurance. That's my choice and I am not crying over it. Damn sure nobody else is.
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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #36 on: May 13, 2014, 05:25:50 PM »
Can you answer, for me, one question?
"Why would I hire you instead of getting any of the other people doing the same thing?"

This is the key, IMO.  I have three kids, and I have the gear necessary to take good portraits of them.  Still, every year I take them to a local studio for Easter/Spring portraits.  Compared to the studio, at home I have better lights and modifiers, a better camera, better lenses, a more comfortable setting, more time to take the pictures, more time to post-process the images, and I can get prints cheaper through Mpix.

So, why do I take them to a studio for Easter pics?  Two words…LIVE BUNNIES.   :D

I'm loaded with live bunnies, we have two does and a buck, June is coming, and  bunnies are popping out all over.  I'm eating one as I surf CR right now.

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #36 on: May 13, 2014, 05:25:50 PM »

Janbo Makimbo

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #37 on: May 13, 2014, 06:25:11 PM »
I find your topic a bit offensive really... There are Pros and Pros... One mans Pro is another mans amateur!!
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 07:27:52 PM by Janbo Makimbo »

jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2014, 06:36:09 PM »
I was on prostituterumors.com the other week... and there were some prostitutes complaining about the same thing.  Something about "just giving it away"... so photography isn't the only industry affected by an influx of amateurs. 
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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Tabor Warren Photography

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #39 on: May 14, 2014, 02:17:15 AM »
Hi Scott,

To preface: I booked 1 wedding in 2012, 8 in 2013, and now approaching 40 so far for 2014. I actually began as a 'faux'tographer with a T1i and kit lens, but I have upgraded along the way. Just last December, I left my doctoral program, my wife left her job as a CPA, and we both pursue wedding and portrait photography full time and have actually begun hiring employees to help with growth. It was difficult to get away from the amateurs, yes, but once out there is no turning back for us.

Do you have a website where your work is stored? Also, what type of work are you wanting to dominate the market for?

I would love to help pitch some ideas your way.

All my best,
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dancook

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #40 on: May 14, 2014, 05:04:48 AM »
I could hope for amateurs to respect the craft, learn something about the business they are pushing in on, and at least charge a fair price.

If you still get the job asking a fair price, then congratulations, you've beaten me in the marketplace fair and square. But it you are giving your work away or charging hobby rates, you are hurting somebody, whether or not you even know who he or she may be.

Who are the amateurs you refer to?

Friends and family have asked me to take photos (portraits,baby,pets) - payments have included a Jessops voucher and a bottle of gin.

I have two friend's weddings to shoot this year. The latter one will be booking my Wife and I a room at the venue, which is payment enough.

My barber would like photos of her and her horse, she's mentioned it on my last few visits over several months - I haven't committed to anything though.

The weddings I was reluctant to accept, but other low pressure scenarios (baby photos, pets) - I'll jump at the opportunity to get experience.

koolman

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #41 on: May 14, 2014, 06:35:17 AM »
This is a great topic. Taking pictures is one thing - running a business is something totally different.

Like many others here already mentioned - there are many components about getting people to pay you for your work. It is very much a function of the clients PERCEPTION of your service.

The client needs to perceive that he is getting a good deal, that you are special, that he too is special and will get the best service from you. There need to be added value factors to the overall package beyond just getting pictures such as Bunnies :) , gifts, a surprise extra enlargement, etc. etc.

Selling yourself and your service - are not things you learn in a photography class. Closing a deal, making sure you get paid, getting more leads, are all part of what you learn in business school.
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Old Sarge

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #42 on: May 14, 2014, 08:03:59 AM »
I'm loaded with live bunnies, we have two does and a buck, June is coming, and  bunnies are popping out all over.  I'm eating one as I surf CR right now.
As I recall from my childhood, two does and one buck kept a family of four eating rabbit at least once a week for most of the year (we may have froze some for the winter).  And I haven't ate rabbit since those days.
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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #42 on: May 14, 2014, 08:03:59 AM »

Logan

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #43 on: May 14, 2014, 09:34:59 AM »
I was once gainfully employed in a dying industry -- book publishing. After several months of escalating mutual hatred between myself and my employer, they gave up trying to build a paper trail on me and offered me 6 months salary if I would just LEAVE. Having a recent track record of several years making between 10-15 grand a year on a dozen odd weekends without even really trying that hard, I took their kind offer went freelance in 2006. This, by my reckoning, was precisely one year before I and every other pro in the market was devoured by the beast that goes by many names: "Timmy's Mom." "Lisa's Dad." "Billy's uncle."

Yes, the youth sports photo market deserted me right when I needed it most. Photography is unique in this way as far as I know. Every week, people go out and buy a Rebel kit on Saturday, *maybe* read part of the manual while on the crapper on Sunday, and then start handing out business cards on Monday. Since these people have "day jobs" they have no concept of what the price of the services they plan to offer are worth ("Is $50.00 for a wedding too much?") and drive their local market down by working for hobby prices. Nobody invests in a set of tools and then starts doing auto repair or carpentry or plumbing for cheap or free. But this happens in photograph ALL THE TIME.

As much as this is a kick in the gut to people like me who have honed their craft for over three decades, I can't whine about it. I could hope for amateurs to respect the craft, learn something about the business they are pushing in on, and at least charge a fair price. And, while yer at it, let's have peace in the middle east and  the *WORLD SERIES CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS.*

If you still get the job asking a fair price, then congratulations, you've beaten me in the marketplace fair and square. But it you are giving your work away or charging hobby rates, you are hurting somebody, whether or not you even know who he or she may be.

The reality as I have found it to be in recent years is that photography skills are secondary (distantly) to marketing skills. Which is precisely why I get my butt kicked every year. I suck at marketing and always will. I don't have the personality for it. The thought of "developing my brand" makes me nauseous.

But I love the work and can't walk away. I make far too much money at photography to just leave on the table, but not enough to live on. So, I do my one-off jobs and service my contracts for part of my income, and clean toilets and mow grass for the rest and for insurance. That's my choice and I am not crying over it. Damn sure nobody else is.

I have to respectfully disagree with you on the point that this is a photography-specific problem. I'm a fabricator, and every week there is some new welder, fresh out of school or no school at all, buys a truck and slaps a welder on it, charges 70$ an hour. Now in a shop with a few million dollars worth of equipment and an electric bill that would make you gasp, you cant charge that little. You have to charge a bit more. Do you lose business to the guy with the truck? yes. Does it matter? No. He ends up screwing up jobs that come to you to get fixed, or doesn't have the tools to do it right, or it takes him 3 hours to do what you can do in 1.

Switch back to photography, after they have a bad experience with your underpriced competition, they will be happy to pay your rates with less moaning then if they had come straight to you. If the competition does work the customer is 100% happy with for 10% of your price, then they would have been horrible customers for you, complained about the price, and not appreciated the work.

The OP may be in a situation where there simply is a market for cheap photography and is no market for his overpriced crap (in the eyes of the market). Like others have mentioned, Mercedes doesn't compete with kia, and kia dominates some markets entirely. I also agree that he IS the amateur the pros are complaining about, could it be that the established pros are posting on another forum "what to do about overcharging amateur giving us a bad name"  I have been in both situations as a customer, sometimes you have money to burn on an event and need world class photos for marketing, and you pay a pro. Sometimes you just need a live body with a camera taking pictures that isn't you, in that case someone with a rebel and a 50$+Beer day rate is what you need, and no amount of marketing will make you need a more expensive photographer, in that case the photographer has a market problem, not a marketing problem.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 10:44:18 AM by Logan »

AcutancePhotography

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #44 on: May 14, 2014, 11:48:31 AM »
I was on prostituterumors.com the other week... and there were some prostitutes complaining about the same thing.  Something about "just giving it away"... so photography isn't the only industry affected by an influx of amateurs.

Well played!  (golf clap)  ;D
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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #44 on: May 14, 2014, 11:48:31 AM »