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Thread: Thinking of earning from photography?

  1. #41

    Default Re: part of the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by ckuang View Post
    Just a piece of obeservation, I don't thinks schools like NAFA, LA Salle, the Polytechnics, are doing the photographic community any favors.

    They are churning out hundrerd of aspiring photographers every year with no business sense. So far i have found interns from these schools terrible at the business of photography. I think the local art schools should follow the Brookes Institute of Photography which make it mandatory for their students to do a year's worth of classes on the business of photography.

    Perhaps that would help. Many students don't know you can become bankrupt by being a photographer as well.


    any NaFa student reading this .. !!!

  2. #42

    Default Re: part of the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by ckuang View Post
    Just a piece of obeservation, I don't thinks schools like NAFA, LA Salle, the Polytechnics, are doing the photographic community any favors.

    They are churning out hundrerd of aspiring photographers every year with no business sense. So far i have found interns from these schools terrible at the business of photography. I think the local art schools should follow the Brookes Institute of Photography which make it mandatory for their students to do a year's worth of classes on the business of photography.

    Perhaps that would help. Many students don't know you can become bankrupt by being a photographer as well.
    Looking at what you wrote, I wonder if the purpose of NAFA, La Salle, Polys,etc is to churn out photography businessman, or to teach photography?

    Are architect students taught the business of running a architecture firm? Are engineering students taught to run a business?

    Or is it more likely that the new architects and engineers are expected to be attached to some firms and learn the rope on running a business?
    Last edited by student; 20th October 2006 at 05:24 PM.

  3. #43
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    Default Re: part of the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by student View Post
    Looking at what you wrote, I wonder if the purpose of NAFA, La Salle, Polys,etc is to churn out photography businessman, or to teach photography?

    Are architect students taught the business of running a architecture firm? Are engineering students taught to run a business?

    Or is it more likely that the new architects and engineers are expected to be attached to some firms and learn the rope on running a business?

    Actually yes, an increasing number of universities [in the states, don't know aobut singapore] do now include business classes in their professional courses. As mentioned, the Brookes institute is one of them.

    The uni i went to made it mandatory for students to take business classes on their respective degress as well as graduate level law classes and I'm glad i took them now.

    The difference between NAFA, LA Salle etc, from Objectifs is that they are awarding their students "professional diplomas/degres" but only teaching photography. Difficult to the a pro based on that alone.

    Personally, if you uni/school is not including some business classes in your course/degree, i'd be very very very worried. It's my opinion that the new economy requires everyone to wear quite a few hats no matter what your field or work or study.

  4. #44

    Default Re: part of the problem

    It's kindda tricky to comment on education, but with what little I know, one of the things that distinguishes an educational institution from being able to bestow a diploma versus a degree would be a well-drawn programme to map and prepare for the student's employability, or rather, the ability to generate income and carve a career with the equipped knowledge gained from the educational institution (I know this is perfectly arguable, but I'm just relaying what some of the 'pros' in education told me); in that respect, I'm inclined towards agreeing with Kuang. Well it certainly won't hurt.
    Last edited by shinken; 25th October 2006 at 02:55 PM.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belle&Sebastain View Post
    transport cost.

    meeting the clients needs time and money,

    confirming and collecting the retainer/deposit cost time and money.

    meeting a few days before the client's wedding cost time and money.

    going down to cover the wedding needs time and money.

    going home to rest in-between the festitivies cost time and money.

    going back to the dinner venue cost time and money.

    returning home from the long day cost time and money.

    meeting your clients to deliver your work cost time and money.

    that is just transport cost.

    albums,

    sample albums, sample prints, sample pictures, sample CDs
    electicity costs

    computers need power

    cameras need power

    flashes need power

    electric bills are going up again.
    hardware cost

    cameras cost money
    camera parts cost moeny
    lenses cost money
    lens hoods cost money
    filters cost money
    memony cards cost money
    batteries cost money
    flashes cost money

    camera bags cost money
    computers cost money
    ram cost money
    harddisk cost money
    monitors cost money
    mouse, keypads, card readers, cost money
    extention cords cost money
    tables and chairs that you sit to edit your photos cost money
    going to buy these equipment cost time and money.

    softcopy costs

    photoshop cost money
    software to enhance your pictures cost money
    other photo editing. enchaning slideshow software cost money
    anti-virus software cost money
    internet cost money




    real or fake software, also need money to buy.

    bills

    phonebills need to be paid
    servers need to be paid
    marketing tools need to be paid
    salary needs to be paid

    cost of sales

    CDs need money
    DVDs need money
    covers need money
    paper need money
    ink need money
    paperback need money

    office?

    rental bills, car bills, tables, chairs, lights, water, fridge etc........

    albums,

    sample albums, sample prints, sample pictures, sample CDs
    I have similar sentiments, but in a different trade. Sometimes, clients just do not realise that going to meet them, discuss with them and so forth cost you time and money....
    I love big car, big house, big lenses, but small apertures.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?





    Quote Originally Posted by Belle&Sebastain View Post
    transport cost.

    meeting the clients needs time and money,

    confirming and collecting the retainer/deposit cost time and money.

    meeting a few days before the client's wedding cost time and money.

    going down to cover the wedding needs time and money.

    going home to rest in-between the festitivies cost time and money.

    going back to the dinner venue cost time and money.

    returning home from the long day cost time and money.

    meeting your clients to deliver your work cost time and money.

    that is just transport cost.

    albums,

    sample albums, sample prints, sample pictures, sample CDs
    electicity costs

    computers need power

    cameras need power

    flashes need power

    electric bills are going up again.
    hardware cost

    cameras cost money
    camera parts cost moeny
    lenses cost money
    lens hoods cost money
    filters cost money
    memony cards cost money
    batteries cost money
    flashes cost money

    camera bags cost money
    computers cost money
    ram cost money
    harddisk cost money
    monitors cost money
    mouse, keypads, card readers, cost money
    extention cords cost money
    tables and chairs that you sit to edit your photos cost money
    going to buy these equipment cost time and money.

    softcopy costs

    photoshop cost money
    software to enhance your pictures cost money
    other photo editing. enchaning slideshow software cost money
    anti-virus software cost money
    internet cost money




    real or fake software, also need money to buy.

    bills

    phonebills need to be paid
    servers need to be paid
    marketing tools need to be paid
    salary needs to be paid

    cost of sales

    CDs need money
    DVDs need money
    covers need money
    paper need money
    ink need money
    paperback need money

    office?

    rental bills, car bills, tables, chairs, lights, water, fridge etc........

    albums,

    sample albums, sample prints, sample pictures, sample CDs

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Just to add to this useful thread, sharing my experiences from freelancing as a graphic designer:

    Its not just about dollars and cents when it comes to earning money from any freelancing job. I guess a lot of aspiring photographers missed out on an important fact: Opportunity. Your skills, business development will only come to play when there's a business opportunity. Shinken has mentioned a lot of good things about how to run your business and even broke it down very nicely. Kudos to him.

    Time after time, I have to remind all friends to always keep a lookout for business opportunities and keep up to date with current issues. You'll need more than just your camera to start a business. Monitor your clients and costs carefully, I am sure your business will do just fine.

    Most of the time, I noticed photographers sit and wait for business to fall onto their laps. They invest a huge sum of money on equipment hoping to reap in more money but instead they should be investing their time going out meeting new and possible clients.

    A good start for aspiring photographer would be to pitch jobs with small event companies. Offer your services at good rate and work you way through. There's isnt any short cut to this unless your relatives have 'connections' with wealthy 'datoks' or ministers... I am sure life would be much easier.

    I gave up the freelancing world because I couldnt keep up with the pace and I ran out of patience. Hope that shed some light to those who are looking for answers. Cheers!

  8. #48

    Default Re: part of the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Luval View Post
    any NaFa student reading this .. !!!
    *quietly raises hand*

    But back in the days when I started shooting, I went through the whole apprenticeship with a real pro (I was lucky to follow a good master) and he taught me everything the hard way... which I appreciate later in life. Many students are not so lucky or they are simply filled with beautiful idealistic thoughts when they buy their first camera thinking that they are going to be the next (fill in name of superstar photographer) just because they have started to take some good pictures.

    But reality will soon catch up. People grow up over time. And you are right... the education system plays a part in teaching them the business aspects of art. Whether is it designing or photography or music or dance... I think schools should include some form of business education and business ethics in their syllabus.

  9. #49

    Default Re: part of the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Luval View Post
    any NaFa student reading this .. !!!
    At least the Nafa student is willing to put in money in order to learn.

    It beats the "I'm here to learn some techniques and maybe some experts with passion will meet up and share with me" syndrome.

    The thread starter posed many interesting points for discussion. In every business, there exists many different segments, and every segment has the kind of photographer going for the kind of job.

    Artist

    As a photographer, the most important aspect of the craft is ART. Business is a matter of common sense, and a mix of trial and error. Without the appreciation of the meaning of ART, and being able to relate to the subject how is one going to produce a good picture? In my limited understanding, commercial photography is more than just snapping a pretty face and editing it in Photoshop. I wish it is that simple.

    You play many roles, from attempting to coordinate the colors and lightings for a fashion runway shoot, and for that you will need to understand how to appreciate colors and the significant of those colors and how to use them to maximize the effect of your shoot. At another situation, your tool might be the video camera and not the DSLR. At another situation, you could be just using the old point and shoot camera and the same expectation of the effect which you are reliant on must be created as well. I can go on and on about the other areas that photography can be applied in but I think I'll just stop here.

    It is a constant journey of being aware of the surrounding.

    Business

    Business is about relationship and credibility. The basic of which is your cost. But in order to develop your business, you must be prepare to spend some money to gain that credibility and build that relationship. It is easy to assume that everyone wants to do for big names. However, not everyone has an eye for the art. So in the process, in order to sustain the business one should start to get in customers, starting from a base price.

    Pricing

    Your margin should be low in order to gain that credibility through an increase number of customers. Its not exploitation, but a matter of sustainability. Its your choice to take 6 projects of $300 for 6hrs or 1 project of $1000 per week, if you are not in a position to bargain.

    After the usual word of mouth, and a series of references, you can start to increase your markup using the famous term (fees revision). Its up to you how often you revised your fees, but it should be at an acceptable level of between 6mths to 1yr before you revise your fees. At the same time, substantial relationships with customers would have been established by now. This is what you guys probably call "reputation".

    Equipment

    Contrary to popular believes, one does not need expensive equipment to start off with some simple wedding shoot photos. A 2nd hand point and shoot camera with a 35mm lens or 50mm lens is probably sufficient to get you started. Film is cheap and you can always convert to CD later if you want. Later, though its not neccessary, if you want you can upgrade into the Dslr if you want. Given all the consideration about cost, and all the expensive storage cards and memory space is eliminated and all your cost to incur is film which is cheap ,durable and has much richer detail that digital. A 2nd hand camera these days cost almost nothing.

    Production Pipeline

    Every commercial photographer has a workflow that he follows. He will also have an equipment framework that is interchangeable to support this pipeline. All equipment are modular and can be increase or decrease at will. This manages resources efficiently and you do not need to buy unnneccesary equipment or equipment that can't fit into your pipeline.

  10. #50

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Obligation:
    "As with all paid services, the payer has certain demands and expectations. These expectations could be straightforward and explicit. But some demands could be tacit and only surface when 'things go wrong'. I'll go into this list of 'things gone wrong' later. The demands can be in terms of the number of shots. The angles of shots, the colours, digital enhancements, prints, print sizes, form of presentation, punctuality, time-extension, change indates. It would be good to come up with an exhaustive list as far as possible on what is expected of the deal, as well as agreed clauses to defend your interests, and allow your client to add on. Please add on the list of obligation from here."

    re: Its a basic normality to itemize everything as part of the contract. A contract will need to be fair to both parties. And every photographer should maintain a level of professionalism from understanding the specific needs of the customer and fulfilling them above and beyond their expectations. There are probably many good lawyers out there who can assist those who want to draft a proper contract.

    Consequences of not fulfilling obligation:
    "I'll let 'pros' like vince fill in the legal obligations, or the lack of here. One of the other consequence is reputation. This is applicable to those who are more serious who want to consistently take on more assignments. For not fulfilling the obligation or expectation of the payer, the degree of hurt can vary. It can hurt very badly for wedding photography. The word gets circulated amongst brides faster than an expensive ad in the magazine. And the bad reputation can last for a long time. It wouldn't bother you if you're just in for a quick thrill and quick buck. But if you're serious about making it your part time job, or even full time career, it is extremely difficult to rebuild a hurt reputation. At least for wedding photography. Feel free to add on other consequences from here."

    re: From the least of all, one lose credibility. That is worse that any amount of monetary compensation that the failure to fulfil obligation. If the photographs are relating to certain coverage or events, and the photographer is the direct cause of the lost of business, you can be claimed for the loss of profit and of course the legal fees.

    Right of the Photograph/Artwork

    Most photographers probably do not know that if one cover events , fashion or even wedding shoot for any media, press, organization or person, the rights to the photograph even though the photographer took the shot, it actually belongs to the organization and if one want to display it in public, permission need to be seek. Imagine in a wedding dinner, there are some celebrities, some politicians among others, and you snap a photo of those people. By proper ethics, permission would need to be seek with either the organize or with the person in the picture. If not, there might have some legal implications should the person take offense at where the portfolio is displayed or published.
    Last edited by firepingo; 28th October 2006 at 10:04 AM.

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by hazmee View Post
    Just to add to this useful thread, sharing my experiences from freelancing as a graphic designer:

    Its not just about dollars and cents when it comes to earning money from any freelancing job. I guess a lot of aspiring photographers missed out on an important fact: Opportunity. Your skills, business development will only come to play when there's a business opportunity. Shinken has mentioned a lot of good things about how to run your business and even broke it down very nicely. Kudos to him.

    Time after time, I have to remind all friends to always keep a lookout for business opportunities and keep up to date with current issues. You'll need more than just your camera to start a business. Monitor your clients and costs carefully, I am sure your business will do just fine.

    Most of the time, I noticed photographers sit and wait for business to fall onto their laps. They invest a huge sum of money on equipment hoping to reap in more money but instead they should be investing their time going out meeting new and possible clients.

    A good start for aspiring photographer would be to pitch jobs with small event companies. Offer your services at good rate and work you way through. There's isnt any short cut to this unless your relatives have 'connections' with wealthy 'datoks' or ministers... I am sure life would be much easier.

    I gave up the freelancing world because I couldnt keep up with the pace and I ran out of patience. Hope that shed some light to those who are looking for answers. Cheers!

    i 2nd tat.. biz is abt network... tho i am in the video industry and photo is just for hobby. but i think it applied the same theory. network will bring biz.. and biz will bring network.

    but.. but.. i think we shd also have to know our own value... i wont accept job which below my worth. tat will not oni spoilt the whole mkt, but will oso spoilt your own value too.
    we are not selling a particular product tat u can buy in different shop of different price..

    jus my tot

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    just some advice..

    Photography is different in business or career, and sometimes it is not as fun as like in hobby stage.

    When u are doing it as a full-time pro-photographer, u may think your photos were very well taken. However, your clients may have different taste or certain preferences ! Your creative director or editor may have other opinions very different from yours ! and since you are paid to do the job, you have to follow their instructions to produce what kind of results they want, not what you want or like.

    Doing a business in photography requires much more about just skills and talents.

  13. #53

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Wow... This thread is kind of like an eye opener, esp to a newb like me.
    Never realised all these implicit costs and implications only those in the trade can tell you of. Thx to TS and everyone else who shared their views.

  14. #54

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by raincool2005 View Post
    just some advice..

    Photography is different in business or career, and sometimes it is not as fun as like in hobby stage.

    When u are doing it as a full-time pro-photographer, u may think your photos were very well taken. However, your clients may have different taste or certain preferences ! Your creative director or editor may have other opinions very different from yours ! and since you are paid to do the job, you have to follow their instructions to produce what kind of results they want, not what you want or like.

    Doing a business in photography requires much more about just skills and talents.

    Not all good photographers are good businessmen. One good example of a photographer who is a good businessman is Gary Fong.

    Made a 90 cents plastic cost 90 dollars. And the idea is really simple. But the thing is... many people are still buying them.

  15. #55
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I don't think you should be belittling people's ideas, after all, hindsight is always 20/20.

    Perhaps since it is so simple and easy, you can also come up with a "simple" idea and perhaps make a 20 cent product sell for $200.

    Quote Originally Posted by blue monster View Post
    Not all good photographers are good businessmen. One good example of a photographer who is a good businessman is Gary Fong.

    Made a 90 cents plastic cost 90 dollars. And the idea is really simple. But the thing is... many people are still buying them.

  16. #56

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    I've to start off with a disclaimer. I'm probably the least qualified to be making this thread to give advice on commercial photography. But this is my 2 cents I can afford to give back to the community I had benefitted from. This is a feeble attempt to "educate" those who need advice on making money. Hopefully, a more consolidated one where other professionals and experienced part-timers can correct me where I am wrong, and add on to what I have to say.

    Another disclaimer is, the intended audience of this thread is for the uninitiated. If you are experienced professional, part-time photographer who have already established your own business practices, feel free to correct me, or add on. It's not meant to dispute your practices.

    The intention of this thread is for those who want to gain more experience, more exposure by going into commercial photography. Here, I loosely define commercial photography as paid photography.

    Introduction
    You have your nifty DSLR and some assorted of lens you are pretty happy with. You got a few keeper shots at your cousin/friend's wedding. You bought a light tent and some basic lighting setups and did some product shots you're happy with. You had been shooting runways and Junction 8 and pleased with what you saw. In a nutshell, you feel ready to take on the world of commercial photography. Hey, I enjoy doing it, why not make some money while doing it right?

    Obligation:
    As with all paid services, the payer has certain demands and expectations. These expectations could be straightforward and explicit. But some demands could be tacit and only surface when 'things go wrong'. I'll go into this list of 'things gone wrong' later. The demands can be in terms of the number of shots. The angles of shots, the colours, digital enhancements, prints, print sizes, form of presentation, punctuality, time-extension, change in dates. It would be good to come up with an exhaustive list as far as possible on what is expected of the deal, as well as agreed clauses to defend your interests, and allow your client to add on. Please add on the list of obligation from here.

    Consequences of not fulfilling obligation:
    I'll let 'pros' like vince fill in the legal obligations, or the lack of here. One of the other consequence is reputation. This is applicable to those who are more serious who want to consistently take on more assignments. For not fulfilling the obligation or expectation of the payer, the degree of hurt can vary. It can hurt very badly for wedding photography. The word gets circulated amongst brides faster than an expensive ad in the magazine. And the bad reputation can last for a long time. It wouldn't bother you if you're just in for a quick thrill and quick buck. But if you're serious about making it your part time job, or even full time career, it is extremely difficult to rebuild a hurt reputation. At least for wedding photography. Feel free to add on other consequences from here.

    What can go wrong?
    It could be as simple as your flash not working. Or your CF card failed you. Or you don't have enough CF cards. Or your lens is not long enough. Or your 3 weeks old DSLR suddenly stop working. Or the CF card you brought home after the shoot doesn't have any images in there. Or you don't have enough batteries for the flash or the body. Or the lens AF mechanism failed, and you are lousy with MF. It can be other people interfering with your shoot. People in the way doesn't mean you don't need to deliver. What happens when people get in your way? What happens if you cannot tell this people off or push them away? Predict and pre-empt this situations. Talk to other people with experience. Please add on potential screw ups from here.

    This is a good piece of information to have as a sticky. Some people have great creative skills and don't know what they're about to get into. I say to them, research before you jump in because it can get scary yet it can also be extremely rewarding.

    When I was starting (9 months ago) I found this article and it helped a little. It wasn't the be all and end all but it did get me thinking. I then read another article from the same place that told me why I shouldn't start up my own photography business (that was tongue in cheek though). I've included the links to both articles below and I hope they help someone.

    starting a photography business

    why you shouldn't start a photography business

    Kitty

  17. #57

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I applaud to this thread.

    This will educate those who will accept assignment at exceptionally low fee and willing to be exploited.

    Photography business is not as simple as some may think.
    Charge low fee, Hurt yourself, hurt the industry, hurt your fellow photographers.

    Think wisely.

    Poor people will not go ard asking for people to feed them abalone, neither they will go ard looking for good photographers at a low fee.
    Btw, I am a middle income person and my wedding I never hire any photographer cos I can't afford it, I just ask my friends to help.

  18. #58

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Learnt new things !
    I am NOT a PROfessional photographer and photography is NOT my hobby

  19. #59

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by vince123123 View Post
    I don't think you should be belittling people's ideas, after all, hindsight is always 20/20.

    Perhaps since it is so simple and easy, you can also come up with a "simple" idea and perhaps make a 20 cent product sell for $200.

    Don't think in any way I was belittling his idea. On the contrary, I am praising his ingenuity. The LSP does what the omni-bounce was doing, just that the omni-bounce neglected the front-fill when flash is tilted upwards. Even if there is, its too little light to fill due to the small area when flash is tilted upwards.

    I believe many pros knows of this short-coming, and hence used a bounce card. But improvising it and marketing it to become a sucessful product, you need a businessman to do it, and this is where photographers might fall short.

  20. #60
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Okay

    Quote Originally Posted by blue monster View Post
    Don't think in any way I was belittling his idea. On the contrary, I am praising his ingenuity. The LSP does what the omni-bounce was doing, just that the omni-bounce neglected the front-fill when flash is tilted upwards. Even if there is, its too little light to fill due to the small area when flash is tilted upwards.

    I believe many pros knows of this short-coming, and hence used a bounce card. But improvising it and marketing it to become a sucessful product, you need a businessman to do it, and this is where photographers might fall short.

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