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Thread: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

  1. #1

    Default A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    EDIT - The issues in this thread have been addressed by forum members - thankyou. I've left this thread open in case it generates more discussion - END EDIT.


    For many years I have played with the idea of setting up a photographer’s shared studio here in Singapore. I have always imagined it to be a hive of activity with photographers doing their work in a large, comfortable, creative and supportive environment.

    Having identified what I consider an ideal space to create this studio, I thought I better do some market research to see if my idea can fly before committing to a lease.

    And this is where you guys come in. I need some insights from professional photographers and aspiring photographers to assess whether it’s a good idea that can work or big mistake best avoided. Some questions can be found and the end of this entry.

    I know this is a forum for all photographers, but I ask amateur photographers to state their situation when responding, so I know where you’re coming from.

    The idea is not designed to make a heap of money. Frankly, it’s designed to satisfy my urge to help other photographers, to have access to a ‘happening’ and creative studio and to develop a network of professionals who can help each other out. I could rent a smaller space, keep it all to myself and save a buck – but where’s the fun in that?


    Concept:

    The “Photographer’s Incubator” encourages professional photographers and emerging professional photographers to grow their customer base, expand their photographic experiences, increase their service offerings and make better images by providing a creative space and studio in central Singapore.

    It is envisioned that the incubator would be a hive of activity where creative photographers can work, dream, relax, socialize and create in a supportive and energetic environment.

    The incubator space is offered on a cost-effective, semi-casual subscription (monthly contract) to allow the photographers a degree of flexibility in their usage of the facility. It is hoped that each photographer’s business will grow to the point where they can justify their own studio – hence the name, incubator.

    No photographer wants to lead a client to a studio that has someone else’s name above the door, so the studio will have generic signage on its exterior to give the appearance that the studio could belong to the photographer.

    Basic lighting equipment (4x500w Bowens heads) will be available to users initially. Other equipment to be identified by market research will be added where necessary. Studio users are encouraged to share their lighting and studio equipment to benefit each other in the spirit of co-operation. A co-operative approach to booking the studio will be expected. That is, studio sharing (where possible) is encouraged and studio hogging is discouraged.

    Subscribers are strongly encouraged to share their expertise with other subscribers (where appropriate).

    Subscribers are strongly discouraged from ‘stealing’ other subscriber’s clients.

    Studio users can expect a certain degree of privacy on their sets and the booking system will include a ‘closed set’ option.


    Expected Users:

    The incubator is designed for the following groups of photographers:

    1. Emerging or aspiring professional photographers starting out in their career. They may have a few clients but aren’t in the position to start their own studio. Their need for a well-priced space to work from, exposure to the industry, mentors and credibility are satisfied by the incubator.
    2. Established location photographers who occasionally need a studio, but want to expand their service offering by having regular and cost-effective access to a studio. They are also probably tired of working from home and want a space dedicated to their work.
    3. Established studio photographers who recognize the benefits of a cost-effective and active studio.
    4. Casual studio users who want to immerse themselves in a creative working studio at realistic half-daily prices.


    The Space:

    The 1,600 square feet space is located in the Tan Boon Liat Building in Outram Road (next to the Holiday Inn or old Concorde Hotel). The building is light industrial with a smattering of retail outlets. It’s presentable enough to bring clients, but comes without the exorbitant rentals of retail spaces. The space has high ceilings (not measured at this stage) and north-east facing windows.

    The studio will be divided into three areas. An estimated 400 square feet will be dedicated to desk space. The remaining 1200 will be dedicated to studio space. Flexible partitions will allow the studio space to be divided into two to allow consecutive shoots. One studio will be a darkened studio. The other will be a natural light studio with large windows.

    The space will not be luxurious, but will be painted stark white with a hip-industrial feel to it. Simple furnishings will emphasize the working nature of the facility but some fun touches will be included to remind users that it is a creative space.

    The building is very central and conveniently positioned with good bus routes going by.

    There is a large carpark with reasonable rates at the building.



    Proposed Pricing:

    The most important aspects of pricing the incubator subscriptions are:

    1. The pricing needs to be cost-effective to the subscriber.
    2. The pricing needs to reflect that the incubator is a service to the professional photographers of Singapore.
    3. Pricing needs to be accessible to emerging photographers.
    4. The pricing needs to justify the operator taking the risk of setting up the facility and reward him for his efforts.
    5. The pricing needs to be fair.

    Based on these principals the following prices are proposed:

    --------------------------

    Gold Monthly subscription

    Includes 24-hour access to studio (based on co-operative booking system), desk / bench, lock-up cupboard, electricity and mail collection.

    $890.00 per month.

    --------------------------

    Emerging Photographer’s Subscription

    For subscribers under 26 years of age.

    Includes 24-hour access to studio (based on co-operative booking system), desk / bench, lock-up cupboard, electricity and mail collection.

    $775 per month.

    ---------------------------

    Location Photographer’s Subscription

    Includes 24-hour access to desk / bench (not studio), lock-up cupboard, electricity and mail collection. Three half-day’s access to studio per month during daylight hours plus studio usage from 7pm to 7am (based on co-operative booking system).

    $450.00 per month.


    ----------------------------

    Casual Studio User (short notice booking, where available)

    Closed studio (approx 600 sq ft)

    Half day (four hours) - $260.00
    Full day (eight hours) - $480.00


    Daylight studio (approx 600 sq ft)

    Half day (four hours) - $260.00
    Full day (eight hours) - $480.00

    Combined studio (approx 1200 sq ft)

    Half day (four hours) - $600.00
    Full day (eight hours) - $1100.00


    Funky breakeven report:

    …without spelling out all the numbers!

    One subscriber:

    I’m stuffed – I’d be better off just renting a small space or continue working from home.

    Two subscribers:

    I’m somewhat stuffed - but I’ll be paying in rent what I would be for a reasonable sized studio without the hassle of collecting money from photographers every month.

    Three subscribers:

    The remaining rent is give-or- take what a subscription is, so I’m as happy as the next person, but I’ll still have the stress of running things.

    Four subscribers:

    Is where I kind-of break-even. This is an ideal number for me. Not too many photographers, not too few. It’s just the right amount to create a buzz and a network of photographers, but not too many to cause jams.

    A maximum of four subscribers is anticipated.


    Who’s the organizer?

    EDIT - Name removed by thread starter - END EDIT

    I’m a full-time professional photographer who rarely shoots in the studio but wants to add another string to my bow by offering studio shots. I shoot mainly under-paying magazine location jobs for clients who far too long to pay their invoices! I shoot a lot of people, a lot of food and some interiors. I love what I do and wouldn’t want to do anything else with my life.

    In the near future I can see myself promoting my services more to corporate and commercial clients. I might also encourage some more family work to keep me on my toes. I like diverse projects and rarely say no to a job offer.

    I’ve been based in Singapore for a number of years, and want to do everything possible to stay here. I have a deep desire to make a difference in other people’s lives by helping them help themselves. I guess this is part of reason why I am thinking of setting up the incubator.

    My website is three years out of date, but feel free to have a look – EDIT Address removed - END EDIT.


    My market research questions:

    Am I crazy thinking this concept could work? What the chances of this project working in Singapore?

    What are your concerns about this proposal?

    How could this concept be tweaked to make it more attractive to you?

    Would you have a need for this service?

    Is the pricing right? Why not?

    What the chances of this project working in Singapore?

    Are there any cultural / local issues that would prevent this project from working (disclosure, I’m Ang Moh!).

    What have I missed?

    Do you think this studio could support 5 photographers (four subscribers and me) without them tripping over each other and overbooking the studios?

    What do you think about the idea of photographers sharing their own studio equipment with others (remembering that this is meant to be a helpful co-operative where everyone wins)?

    Please don’t flame me with nasty unproductive comments.

    Thanks for reading this far.

    EDIT - Name removed by thread starter - END EDIT
    Last edited by saracenjones; 29th March 2007 at 07:34 PM. Reason: Issues Addressed

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    unfortuntately, this is not a new idea or concept ..... there are already photographers working together to achieve economies of scale or synergy

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    unfortunately this sounds more like a studio renting advertisement.

    if you intend this to be a real incubator, fundamentally, you'll need a holistic system that

    1. keeps track of accounting

    - who owns the fund paid by subscribers? --> who owns the studio and studio property?

    - how is the money going to be used, other than paying utilities, such that subscribers benefit continuously? --> e.g. providing periodic workshops and seminars for subscribers

    2. keeps track of members' progress

    - there should be a tracking system that follows members' progress in phases.

    - there should be classification like start out, intermediate and independent.
    subscription should be limited to genuine newcomers

    - for example 1st 6 months to 1 year is considered start out phase, members use facilities cheaply, at least like 50% lower than actual costs in open market rental. this is to help members built up portfolio and customer base with low start up cost

    - 2nd year onwards (or shorter period based on member's income performance) considered intermediate phase, members in this phase have a stable customer base and income, but do not have enough capital to run the business indepently

    - and then the independent phase where members are considered full fledged commercial photographers who can afford to manage their own studio in the open market, this group of members either will not be allowed to stay in the incubator or be charged the full market rate

    like what AhV mentioned, alot of photographers work in collaboration already. and it's definitely easier (and alot cheaper) to form groups of 3 to 4 and share a studio convenient for the group than to operate under a restricted system with less control in a public studio with high risk in usage competition (especially when you're inviting casual users)
    Last edited by eikin; 29th March 2007 at 03:08 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cheesecake's Avatar
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    may i add to that, it's cheaper elsewhere.
    You'll Never Walk Alone! - i have the best job in the world!

  5. #5
    vince123123
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    A similar idea was done in another photography forum, but somehow it failed to take off - there were too many ifs/buts/who owns what/ etc

  6. #6
    Senior Member glennyong's Avatar
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    i like the idea for the emerging photographers. but sadly. not many under 26s will be able to afford that kind of cost.


    well. if you can have something catered for our younger photographers who are still schooling. i think it would be a great idea.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    transparency is very important.

  8. #8

    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    How about bringing in the "time-share" concept? Will it work?

    1. 10 studios (all over SG) divided into 2hr blocks for 24hrs.
    2. Tier-pricing (value units) by peak vs non-peak, prime locality vs heartland.
    3. Each subscriber per share = XX units of value
    4. Purchase of additional units should be available.
    5. All booking thru internet with each subscriber assigned ID and password.
    6. Unused units may be "carried-over" for each subscribing term, and follows the "time- share" owners/or new owners.
    7. The use of the studio booked is transferrable (so effectively the owners of the time-share may sell such block to his buddies)
    CS says, "We can't help you ignore yourself."

  9. #9
    Senior Member glennyong's Avatar
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    haha...

    do it the bbdc book class kinda thing.....

  10. #10

    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    i had Some bad experiences with something liddat...u can PM me to find out more details...it will give u and idea what COULD possibly crop up and how to avoid that.

  11. #11

    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    Wow. The members of this forum have given some really good and considered feedback for my request for other's ideas.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply - the info has been useful.

    In responce to some specific replies:

    AhV - You're right, it's not a novel idea. Because it has worked in the past makes it a good idea I would say.

    eikin - It isn't what it sounds like because it doesn't even exist yet. If it did exist, yes it would be one big ad!

    It was just a request for feedback.

    Your ideas about a photographer's progress record are good ones and would be useful if (a big if - see below) the incubator were to be created. It's these kinds of procedures that would make it truly an incubator. As a fulltime photographer with my own time constraints and worries, I now realise that I am probably not the person to be running this.

    Cheesecake - cheaper elsewhere? oh cool, where? Maybe I should consider joining up with these groups.

    vince123123 - Thanks for the heads up!

    glennyong - too dear? yeah, probably. I guess I will stick to mentoring young photographers.

    smurfman - transparency is important, yes. Hence my funky break-even analysis.

    Caspere - wow - I thought my idea was complicated. I'll leave this one to you! Good luck!

    plsoong - thanks for the offer. Looks like I won't be needing your advice after all (see below).

    I've decided that the idea needs some more thought, with the feeling that this project may not be a goer. Writing the outline I posted helped me think long and hard about the pros and cons, and the cons seem to far outweigh the pros.

    Looks like I'll just find a smaller location and set up a studio within my means. This is a pity, because I still see the idea of a vibrant, sharing, creative and progressive studio as an exciting opportunity.

    Regards,
    Last edited by saracenjones; 29th March 2007 at 07:35 PM. Reason: Privacy

  12. #12

    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    Quote Originally Posted by saracenjones View Post
    Wow. The members of this forum have given some really good and considered feedback for my request for other's ideas.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply - the info has been useful.

    In responce to some specific replies:

    AhV - You're right, it's not a novel idea. Because it has worked in the past makes it a good idea I would say.

    eikin - It isn't what it sounds like because it doesn't even exist yet. If it did exist, yes it would be one big ad!

    It was just a request for feedback.

    Your ideas about a photographer's progress record are good ones and would be useful if (a big if - see below) the incubator were to be created. It's these kinds of procedures that would make it truly an incubator. As a fulltime photographer with my own time constraints and worries, I now realise that I am probably not the person to be running this.

    Cheesecake - cheaper elsewhere? oh cool, where? Maybe I should consider joining up with these groups.

    vince123123 - Thanks for the heads up!

    glennyong - too dear? yeah, probably. I guess I will stick to mentoring young photographers.

    smurfman - transparency is important, yes. Hence my funky break-even analysis.

    Caspere - wow - I thought my idea was complicated. I'll leave this one to you! Good luck!

    plsoong - thanks for the offer. Looks like I won't be needing your advice after all (see below).

    I've decided that the idea needs some more thought, with the feeling that this project may not be a goer. Writing the outline I posted helped me think long and hard about the pros and cons, and the cons seem to far outweigh the pros.

    Looks like I'll just find a smaller location and set up a studio within my means. This is a pity, because I still see the idea of a vibrant, sharing, creative and progressive studio as an exciting opportunity.

    Regards,
    i think u can still do it..but i think the main issue is whether the rest of the photographers and you CAN WORK OUT something.

    To be honest, i've been toying with this idea for a damn long time.... but am also hesitant to ask people about this now esp after some undesirable incidences last time.

    Some of the guys in CS and another forum went thru things like that b4....so i guess it pays to be critical when selecting "partners", and whether anot they are emerging is totally another question altogether

  13. #13
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    Quote Originally Posted by plsoong View Post
    i think u can still do it..but i think the main issue is whether the rest of the photographers and you CAN WORK OUT something.

    To be honest, i've been toying with this idea for a damn long time.... but am also hesitant to ask people about this now esp after some undesirable incidences last time.

    Some of the guys in CS and another forum went thru things like that b4....so i guess it pays to be critical when selecting "partners", and whether anot they are emerging is totally another question altogether
    i feel the same.i had fail in other business dued to some issues.best is to write down a list of can do or does not.a pc of black and white is important.....trust no one!
    but by putting trust ,and to had more partners chances are to bring in more business ....its a gamble.....nothing much to loose.
    Life is a gamble.......................................try it!If fail,try harder!I'm always trying

  14. #14
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    To Saracenjones -

    Good idea, nothing new, as already stated by others. I'll leave the negatives of that as it is dealt in reasonable detail.

    And mentoring young aspirants has its pluses and minuses too. The bad ones are many enough, but the good ones can really make your day. I have been, and still am doing a similar thing, albeit in my own ways. Sometimes you get a lemon and he steals your client(s), steals your equipment. Sometimes you get a gem and he brings value-add to you. It is good to see the young ones take flight!

    Perhaps you'd like to meet up for a cuppa someday? Drop me a PM.


    Cheers.

  15. #15
    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    Without going into the nitty, gritty details of your proposal, there are some considerations I believe you need to think of from a business perspective.

    Control
    Who calls the shots in this enterprise? Are you making the decisions and everyone on-board toes the line; or is every one supposed to be a partner and expected to put in an equal share of money, business, time, effort? The reason many partnerships fail is because at some point, one of the partners is perceived (real or otherwise) not to be pulling their own weight into the business.

    Stakeholding
    What's in it for those joining in? If there isn't a financial commitment and an expectation of a return on that commitment, what's the point of teaming up. If you don't consider this, the business model won't last beyond what people put in and expect to get out of it.

    People
    You're pretty vague on this. Going into business is tough enough alone much less bringing on board people you don't know or have no idea whether they can be trusted, committed or merely give lip-service. Talk is cheap but unless they can bring tangible and proven value, you're wasting your time as you're always going to test whether those coming in can stand up to what you expect or can be relied upon to bring to the table what they can promise.

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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    Quote Originally Posted by saracenjones View Post
    I've decided that the idea needs some more thought, with the feeling that this project may not be a goer. Writing the outline I posted helped me think long and hard about the pros and cons, and the cons seem to far outweigh the pros.

    Looks like I'll just find a smaller location and set up a studio within my means. This is a pity, because I still see the idea of a vibrant, sharing, creative and progressive studio as an exciting opportunity.

    Regards,
    Don't give up, you've given a lot of thoughts, time to draft and feedbacks. On a few negative feedbacks, that because you've not thought thru. If it's not perfect, fine-tune it. If you stop at this point based on these few comments, you may not forgive yourself in a couple of years time for not getting started.
    Just try harder, just do it.
    just1book, no kidding!

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    Default Re: A call to all professional and emerging photographers in Singapore.

    Quote Originally Posted by saracenjones View Post

    I've decided that the idea needs some more thought, with the feeling that this project may not be a goer.

    Looks like I'll just find a smaller location and set up a studio within my means. This is a pity, because I still see the idea of a vibrant, sharing, creative and progressive studio as an exciting opportunity.

    Regards,
    Your most important starting point is your ability to get the right people into this project with you. The “right” people means those who have proven integrity and honesty for no company can survive or prosper for long if it has dishonest people. Take a look at the huge companies, they often have a high level of integrity. Just ask yourself this question:

    Can you give sincere genuine service if you and your partners are lacking in honesty and integrity? You would benefit by spending more time in seeing more people, talking to them and get their thoughts and the type of philosophy they adopt.
    Eliminate people who try to bluff their way through trying for a free ride to get on board. The more you are disappointed even with close friends the better for the more adversity you go through the more you learn on the way to setting up this entrepreneurs attempt. Never trust your close friends if they showed the lack of integrity.

    Once you have the proposed team it is time to map out the working manual and behavior pattern, so call the company code of conduct or ethics. Your major goal for the company to survive is to go national and gobal. Make sure all partners agreed to upgrade the perception of your new venture. Experienced partners will enhance your chance of survial for enough experience in this field will make the team wiser in every step they put forward.

    ----------------------------------
    Managing a company is like writing in the snow:
    You have to go over and over the same words as the snow
    falls if you want your writing to remain legible.
    - Harold Geneen


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