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Thread: Thinking of earning from photography?

  1. #61
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I started running a business this year (not photography) and during this year I have learnt a lot from my partner whom has been in it for a while. In every industry we face the same problem, consumer want cheap and good. There are exception which i gladly say about 60% of my customers are people whom are quite willing to pay for quality and safety.

    The consumer don't usually look beyond your service, unless they are running businesses themselves, most of the people work for huge company without having to worry for the running cost, so to them it is only natural for us to lower the price if we want the business if not there's always another sucker offering a lower price.

    I started off worrying about not being able to secure deals and thus considering lowering my price to get business. You cannot help it, out of 10 people calling in, 9 say oh so expensive and hang up the phone, its very demoralizing. Because we have black sheep out there trying to win by playing the price war. about 80% of these price war suckers don't last more then 3 years in the market. But new ones will pop out after a while.

    And kudos to all the people whom have stuck to their prices believing that their works is worth that much. and not succumb to the temptations of the price war. I don't believe in providing good service to people whom are not willing to pay.

  2. #62
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    On the note of getting paid, or rather, not getting paid, you may want to consider getting a retaining fee, or what's popularly referred to as "deposit" here in SG. When I started out and was targetting lower end clients, they were unwilling to pay a deposit. Some even describe the act of collecting deposit as "unscrupulous sales tactic", which made me scared to ask for a deposit, despite advice from my mentors and seniors. When a couple played me out, I decided either it's a deposit or no-go. With my targetted market now, non have any objections with paying a deposit upfront. I understand events seem to work differently from my very limited experience, so I can't comment on how it works for other fields.

    But seriously, even if the amount is small, collect a deposit. Otherwise the bargain hunters who find a better bargain tomorrow could just very well ditch you for another photographer who's undercutting you with a better deal. Or worse, refuse to pay upon delivery.
    One point to add, you're running a business, not charity. Whether it's a friend's wedding or not, deposit is MANDATORY. Until some form of deposit is collect(at least 40%), there's no committment on the side of the couple or the photographer.

    Also, couple should have paid the balance on their wedding day no matter what. They've trusted you to turn up for their wedding, which you did, and they should trust that you won't run away with their money. Otherwise, you'll find that 3 months down the road, couples still haven't choose their pictures or worst, if you've printed the album for them, they'll take forever to collect. This is one mistake I made when I started out a few years back and the 4R prints are still collecting dust in my cupboard.

    Your job is to create nice pictures, not to be their personal banker.

  3. #63

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Appreciate from those whom have contributed to this thread.

    Here's my thoughts:

    For those who are thinking on improving the bottom line or turning your passion into a trade, should seek and talk to businessmen or friends who are into their own businesses, but not necessary photography related trade. Have nothing to do with the art and technical of photography -- and don't consult anything about business with weekends photo buddies or photographers whom are into too much equipments talks and superficial matters.

    For those who are thinking of ways to improving your photographic vision and the so-called the "photographic eyes", i would highly suggest that you should learn to draw and attend fine art classes.
    No, such classes are not going to turned you into an artist or painter, but to train your brain to visualise better, and see the world in 'another realm'. When you have been 'enlighten' and begins to SEE, you'll realised that see and shooting ( using your photo gears ) comes very naturally. 2 years in such classes will beats shooting "blindly" for 10 years, and yet still finds your photos mediocre.

    After feeding your right & left side of your brains with the 'correct foods', then the success rate in Photography business will be very High. Remember, for every 10 guys that ventured, 9 have had failed.

    Good Luck !

  4. #64
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Enchanted View Post
    Remember, for every 10 guys that ventured, 9 have had failed.

    [/I]
    Thumbs up to Shinken for this initiative.
    Like any business start-ups, there are many challenges. 9 flops out of 10 are about the statistics for most business start-ups (not sure about photography). Perhaps 1 is successful and 2 are struggling out of 10. Photography is one of those few hobbies that can make some monies. Turning a hobby into a business is like a dream come true for some, nightmares for others.

    The realities of business management have changed the mind-sets of many of the photogs whom are long enough in the trade, some learnt the ropes to survive, and some are just simply successful. Passion in photography and passionate about the business are the key different; it needs both to be potent. It’s not difficult to see why most don’t make it.

    CS is an interesting forum to learn a trade, free advices on technical and ideas to improve.
    Salute to all selfless advisors for the spirit of sharing, the trade needs to be more professional with ethics.
    just1book, no kidding!

  5. #65

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Thumbs up for the TS. .....

    I had ever met this couple... tell me budget.... explain to them why i charge like this like that... they said ok... I got the job.... paid me the deposit..... then 2 weeks before AD, call me and say they wan a refund becos they wan to engage another photographer who is charging lower than me.... I say the deposit is non-refundable....and it was already mentioned in my quotation T&C and they signed it. ( They make a fuss... and claim to go to CASE... I say go ahead.... and I explain to them why .... )

    After the deal is off, I got another job on the same day as theirs... and guess what... I met them in the same hotel as my wedding couple but different ballroom. I saw their photographer is very young ... early 20s.... Imagine the look of the couple when we met face to face...

    Sometime it is not the way of how we handle our business , it is the business that make people do thing in a certain way....
    Last edited by WKK; 27th December 2006 at 12:38 PM.

  6. #66

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by WKK View Post
    Thumbs up for the TS. .....
    Sometime it is not the way of how we handle our business , it is the business that make people do thing in a certain way....
    This is very true for Event Photography. Corporate clients have the most miserable budgets and as official photographer to a number of corporate clients whom I had selflessly served for two years, I should know from first hand experience of not being paid enough. I hear the situation with events is the same in Singapore so much of what I share here may have common grounds.

    Why then if the rates are low and I still continued to shoot for them? Without disclosing actual figures, "low" may be quite OK for many. I am a freelance professional who live about 200 kms (return journey) away from where 98% of my portfolio is located, to compete with the seasoned pros for this market, I would commute 3 hours to cover an official opening that lasted 3 hours and not paid for the time I'm on the road but yet I persevered for 2 years doing this every other day. I became popular because of the way I captured corporate folks at conferences - candid with emotions, mood of the venue and participants and post process them like I would a wedding shoot and ultimately deliver the photographs in matt white-bordered Kodak prints presented in 4R black pocket albums. The "market" is used to receiving photos in cheap hand-out sleeves, gloss prints. Very soon this became a standard corporate clients have come to expect and made things very difficult for many photographers who wish to compete in this space. But Why have I chosen to do this and not just go with the flow? I realised I am on a high here and how long it would last to continue this mad schedule I don't know but the demand for my work made a lot of economic sense [before I finally succumbed to stress from the commuting].

    Before I entered the realm of professional photography I had already gathered enough market intel from people in the industry (photographers, mini labs, corporate clients) to make informed decisions about how I would carry myself in this business. Mini-labs are hurting and on an ever increasing effort to offer more like mug printing, crystal presentation, Kiosk self serve stations ... things that have proven to not help the business in any significant ways.

  7. #67

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post

    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.
    As a professional Events, Commercial and Wedding photographer, I don't even know where to begin if this was intended to be educational. Many have read my Blog on shooting "favour" weddings for relatives and the consequences other pros have found themselves in. Read and avoid such sticky situations with family relatives.

    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.
    Now this one I want to give my 2 cts. A lot can and have gone wrong. I once shot a wedding and my Canon CP-E2 battery pack failed to work just as pang teh started. I had a bunch of fully charged 1800mAh batteries and one of them had failed prematurely, taking down the entire lot and killed power to the 550EX flash. Under the circimstances, had no choice but to switch over to ISO 800 and shot the rest of the morning using available window light. After that day, I bought a Quantum Turbo 2x2 with enough power to last a day's shoot.

    Another heart-stopping incident was with the 20D's BG-E2 Vertical Grip . Both had design problems with power losses due to flexing and also poor contacts resulting in "low batt" battery indicator. Very daunting when equipment is new and you're all charged up for the wedding (no pun intended) only to have your day nearly brought to a grinding halt by these unplanned and unforseen issues. I have since modified the BG-E2 and it no longer flexes and power from both batteries is great!

    The number of problems one can encounter can go on and on. When I had my 1DMkII I problems focusing. Yes, this famous twin-RISC processor pro body has issues finding focus when there's lack of contrast and resulted in missing so many shots, only way to overcome this was manual focusing. Then, there's the flash refusing to fire even when there's adequate power. I've had a number of situations where my Speedlite 550EX flatly refused to fire and I was in the middle of a wedding group photo and when it began to fire it was doing so intermittently.

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I read every single post on this thread. Thank goodness when I re-kindled my interest in photography, I made up my mind that I will not try to earn any money from this hobby of mine. Many have asked me why...I just tell them I don't need the stress that comes with it when you start charging (besides I can make much more from my profession, after being in my profession for more than 30 years).

    One thing that has been missing in this thread is the word STRESS

    I'm guessing but I know that any budding pro photog will suffer from stress in the following areas:

    1) Professional competency in capturing images

    2) Fear of equipment failure - CF cards/negatives/battery failures/camera bodies not functioning/etc etc

    3) Not making enough money to pay this month's rent/ buy baby milk powder/ putting enough bread on the table for the family, etc

    4) Buying new equipment to keep up with others, esp. when new products are launched

    5) Bad debts/collection from clients

    6) Weather - what if it rains - my equipment going to get soad\ked?

    etc etc etc

    At the end of the day, after a year or two, the BIG question - Am I making this profession work or should I find a proper job?

    Of course all these problems will apply to most other start-up businesses. And I know from experience, there is a 90-odd per cent failure rate in all new start-ups.

    Hence I say this to all new aspirants - think carefully before commiting yourself to a full-time profession!

  9. #69

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    good thread!

  10. #70

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by syl View Post
    I read every single post on this thread. Thank goodness when I re-kindled my interest in photography, I made up my mind that I will not try to earn any money from this hobby of mine. Many have asked me why...I just tell them I don't need the stress that comes with it when you start charging (besides I can make much more from my profession, after being in my profession for more than 30 years).

    One thing that has been missing in this thread is the word STRESS

    I'm guessing but I know that any budding pro photog will suffer from stress in the following areas:

    1) Professional competency in capturing images

    2) Fear of equipment failure - CF cards/negatives/battery failures/camera bodies not functioning/etc etc

    3) Not making enough money to pay this month's rent/ buy baby milk powder/ putting enough bread on the table for the family, etc

    4) Buying new equipment to keep up with others, esp. when new products are launched

    5) Bad debts/collection from clients

    6) Weather - what if it rains - my equipment going to get soad\ked?

    etc etc etc

    At the end of the day, after a year or two, the BIG question - Am I making this profession work or should I find a proper job?

    Of course all these problems will apply to most other start-up businesses. And I know from experience, there is a 90-odd per cent failure rate in all new start-ups.

    Hence I say this to all new aspirants - think carefully before commiting yourself to a full-time profession!
    STRESS is just a concept to budding/aspiring photographers until they have done enough and then realise even after doing for a few years STRESS remains a factor of which you cannot ever get rid. Every major corporate event or wedding I've undertaken, there's a risk of tyre puncture on the way there (1.5 hours one way) and traffic conditions you have no control over such as motor accident or landslide from an overnight storm that resulted in road closure or stress from your child suddenly developing high fever from previous night and you had been woken up at 2 AM and you need to leave for the Bride's residence at 6AM. Or discovering that you've left ALL your CF cards at home! Or working with an associate in an event but he habitually turns up late.

    Stress 4) is plain silly. If you are rich enough buying new equipment is not stressful at all. But buying new gear just to keep up with trends or from peer pressure that's just asking for trouble. I would buy new gear if/when my 20D has problem that cannot be fixed (because Canon has deemed the parts obsolete and have discontinued support). I'm waiting for news on the new 20D/30D successor as I need a backup body and the 20D has clocked some serious high mileage.

    Some of the above has been my reality and it does not get better - you just learn to cope!

  11. #71

    Talking Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by janshim View Post
    STRESS is just a concept to budding/aspiring photographers until they have done enough and then realise even after doing for a few years STRESS remains a factor of which you cannot ever get rid. Every major corporate event or wedding I've undertaken, there's a risk of tyre puncture on the way there (1.5 hours one way) and traffic conditions you have no control over such as motor accident or landslide from an overnight storm that resulted in road closure or stress from your child suddenly developing high fever from previous night and you had been woken up at 2 AM and you need to leave for the Bride's residence at 6AM. Or discovering that you've left ALL your CF cards at home! Or working with an associate in an event but he habitually turns up late.

    Stress 4) is plain silly. If you are rich enough buying new equipment is not stressful at all. But buying new gear just to keep up with trends or from peer pressure that's just asking for trouble. I would buy new gear if/when my 20D has problem that cannot be fixed (because Canon has deemed the parts obsolete and have discontinued support). I'm waiting for news on the new 20D/30D successor as I need a backup body and the 20D has clocked some serious high mileage.

    Some of the above has been my reality and it does not get better - you just learn to cope!
    Yeah like what Jan always tell me "you have NO idea about stress". I took only a few paid assignments as favours for fren's wedding...well one there is money involved, you gonna deliver, and deliver quality

  12. #72

    Question Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Erm...I was asked by a friend to shoot his wedding...and after reading this thread, I reckon I'd really have to discuss payment with him.

    It has been hard for me to say, "Ok, so you want me to shoot this and that for you and your bride...we're going to go here and there for some shots...lets talk about payment, shall we?". I don't have a clue how much to charge either as this would be my first paying gig - if I ever get round to discussing it with my friend, that is.

    Thanks for the input all of you have kindly shared in this thread. Now, if I could just gather enough guts to let my friend know I am in need of money as well...
    Patience. Aim before you shoot :sticktong

  13. #73
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    One of the things I notice on this forum is that there is a lot of people shooting weddings for friends and not knowing if they should charge or not, and if so how much, etc. Just to share, my take for shooting for friends is as follows. I will either shoot for free, but by doing so I have no obligations what so ever.

    That means I can turn up on that day or not if I don't feel like it. I can go home before the dinner is over, and most importantly, I shoot what i want with no obligations to produce anything. ie, if I want to shoot their shoes and only their shoes the whole day long, that is what they will get.

    The alternative is that they will pay me my full professional rates, by which they will get my full service like any other client.

    In the past I have found that when friends get a discounted rate, this is when the most problems occur because the expectations of the photographer and the friend only diversifies even more with a discounted rate. Ie, photographer expects to not have to work as hard or produce as high a quality of work because of the discount, and expects time to enjoy the party etc, but friends expect the same level of quality, if not more, because the photographer is a friend.

    That's why it's either free or full price for me. Nothing in between because that's the one which is the most difficult to deal with.

  14. #74
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I totally agree with this point of view, when you do things for free, the obligations are not the same as accepting money for it. Once you accept money, it is then a slippery slope to say that you pay $1, I give you $1 of service.

    Its far easier to make the distinction of free, and full normal rates.

    Quote Originally Posted by ckuang View Post
    One of the things I notice on this forum is that there is a lot of people shooting weddings for friends and not knowing if they should charge or not, and if so how much, etc. Just to share, my take for shooting for friends is as follows. I will either shoot for free, but by doing so I have no obligations what so ever.

    That means I can turn up on that day or not if I don't feel like it. I can go home before the dinner is over, and most importantly, I shoot what i want with no obligations to produce anything. ie, if I want to shoot their shoes and only their shoes the whole day long, that is what they will get.

    The alternative is that they will pay me my full professional rates, by which they will get my full service like any other client.

    In the past I have found that when friends get a discounted rate, this is when the most problems occur because the expectations of the photographer and the friend only diversifies even more with a discounted rate. Ie, photographer expects to not have to work as hard or produce as high a quality of work because of the discount, and expects time to enjoy the party etc, but friends expect the same level of quality, if not more, because the photographer is a friend.

    That's why it's either free or full price for me. Nothing in between because that's the one which is the most difficult to deal with.

  15. #75

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoky View Post
    Very materialistic world.... everything about money... no wonder pple commiting sucide or turn to terrorism...

    here it sounds like you're saying that the reason behind suicide and/or terrorism is.. money and materialism...?

  16. #76
    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoky View Post
    Very materialistic world.... everything about money... no wonder pple commiting sucide or turn to terrorism...
    You think perhaps it's out of boredom?

  17. #77
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by ckuang View Post
    In the past I have found that when friends get a discounted rate, this is when the most problems occur because the expectations of the photographer and the friend only diversifies even more with a discounted rate. Ie, photographer expects to not have to work as hard or produce as high a quality of work because of the discount, and expects time to enjoy the party etc, but friends expect the same level of quality, if not more, because the photographer is a friend.

    That's why it's either free or full price for me. Nothing in between because that's the one which is the most difficult to deal with.
    I think it just shows the level of friendship you have with your friends. I do shoot at discounted rates for friends though usually I tell them I'll rather be the guest to sit and enjoy. However, they still insist that I shoot and pay me.

    I still shoot as per normal minus the stress cos I will always have 1 or 2 tables of friends to hang out and party in between shots.

    They too understand that I'm shooting in a more relaxed manner than usual and do not demand anything specifically.

    I only shoot for buddies at discounted rates. All other "friends" pay a separate "discounted rate"
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  18. #78

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    There is one last thing that is not touched on in this thread. Being a photographer puts you in the middle of all the action. And it is not pretty. So far this year, I have been blasted at by pyrotechnics, vomitted on the face by the GOH, slammed in the face by a TCS8 video camera and elbowed in the face by Dick Lee.

    A number of my ex partners all experienced back pains and 2 with slip disks. Cameras are not light. So, does this justify charging $xxx per hour?

    Yes

  19. #79

    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I am very grateful that this thread is started. Thanx shinken.

    I am also considering to go into commercial photography. Guess I have to be alittle more prepared than I thought I already am.

    and abt the materialistic world and everything is about money issue, I guess that the ugly truth abt this world.

  20. #80
    Senior Member dennisc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking of earning from photography?

    I've been shooting for sometime. One of my friend loved what she saw in my portfolio. Asked me to shoot her engagement. I took the trouble to wake up early, skipped breakfast as I was late, took a long journey to her place. Spent 8hrs at her place, shooting the guests, bride and groom to be etc, poses the usual stuffs. I told her I'd charge her discounted rate as she's my friend. She knows darn well my full rate. So after 8hrs wasted and 1 1/2 months afterwards, I was given SGD 100. I have captured a lot of precious candid moments and took a lot of effort standing for the entire 8hrs! carrying the heavy nikon f2.8 17-55 and 70-200 lens (you should know how heavy those are!).
    It seems everyone loved the pics. She kept showing it off and printed multiple copies for her relatives and friends, geez even her printouts cost more than my crap sgd 100!
    Now she's asking me to shoot her wedding, I know what my answer would be.
    Last edited by dennisc; 28th December 2007 at 10:49 AM.

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