I applaud the TS. How many people spoil market. People need to know we do not need to spoil market to gain recognition. If you are good at your trade, jobs will come. BUT provided you market yourself, I am still surprised to find so new photographers in the trade do not even have a name card.
In fact I agree with the TS so much so I think I will increase my rates.
Dave: I've seen your work and the good news is, for your kind of work you should be targeting at least the higher-mid range clientele. I don't think lower to lower-mid market cares much about the sort of artistic works that we are trying to create. I've been there before and mid range pricing not only got me very little jobs, but at the same time, I was dealing with clients whose expectations are far more than what they are paying for.
Sgbrides may be the most established wedding forums out there, but when you'll find out from the kind of posts that the place is where the bargain hunters hang out.
Put it this way, in 2008, I've got 3 jobs that came from sgbrides. The rest of the other jobs came from the magazine and client referal (which is actually the most effective and powerful marketing you can get). For 2009, even after raising my fees in Jan 09, I've set a record in terms of number of jobs, but only ONE referal came through sgbrides. Biggest irony is that the advertising avenue that I paid the least per year, got me the most publicity and referals.
Recession or no recession, people still get married, people will have a budget for their wedding and in recession year, it's about which components they can live without/pay least attention. At the end of the day, it's not about competiting with the other photographers by charging low, but instead how you convince the couple why they should allocate more for you than the other vendors. Think I mentioned this point during the Clubsnap Live@SAM event, that out of the weddings I've shoot in 2009 so far, I've only encountered ONE professional videographer at the wedding. In 2008, I've met at least 10 videographers during the first half of the year.
Great analysis there, Canturn!
Its true... From the point of view of a "getting-married-soon" here... Me and my wife-to-be already set aside a certain budget for photography and videography ($3k for AD PG & VG + $500 for our ROM PG).. So, when we were looking around for PG & VG, we just need to look at those that falls around that range, rather than finding the cheapest...
Here are some pointers from the point of view of a client...
These are the criteria for us choosing the PG & VG:
1) Photos & Videos suit our style
2) Price falls around our budget (I dont mind paying abit extra if i really like the PG or VG)
3) Can communicate and "feels good" with the PG or VG (This is one of the most important point for us after meeting up with 4 PGs... Some are pretty "weird" which we totally reject after the meeting even though he is the cheapest...)
4) Must look professional (from websites, meetups and presentations as well as email liaison) One PGs disappear after our first meetup, the meetup was pretty good.. and i was considering himto be my PG... Even if you feel that you dont want to do my business, please do not just disappear cos this kind of things spread pretty fast... After that, i do not recommend that PG.. And mind you.. Some of my friends are getting married soon and willing to pay for PGs... So, ultimately that PG are losing potential referal clients...
5) My current PG is alright in most stuff... except one thing.. He never replies to email.. and its quite difficult to discuss with him about my ROM plans and all that even like 3 days before my ROM.. I know its just a routine for you guys.. but its the biggest thing in our lives...
I know you guys are very busy and I might not be the client who fetch you the most money.. But once you accepted the job at the agreed fee, you should be professional and treat every client with equal attention no matter how much each of them are paying...
I am in fact not a troublesome client and did not expect much cos i know the price i am paying is peanut... In fact, i just told my PG to take whatever he likes and feels are important, and i had an argument with my wife over the amount of the Ang Pow for my PG... I wanted to give more cos I know the hardwork involved (the photography part and the PP) but my wife feels otherwise so no choice, we have to come to a compromise...
The most important thing, i feel, is customer satisfaction.. If i am happy with my PG... I will definitely recommend to my friends (and mind you, alot of friends are getting married too cos we are reaching that age.. haa.. old already).. This is the so called referal case as mentioned by Canturn...
I read alot about the hardship of a wedding photographer over here... Jiayou everyone...
Last edited by hongwen37; 16th July 2009 at 02:09 PM.
Well you know there are a few of us who are on the same route as u. Its really nice to know of like-minded individuals who believe in the good of this industry then for themselves.
We can't control the the amount of new blood or freelancers looking to make quick bucks. Some of them don't feel the pinch because they still have a fulltime job. However we can all help one another in making this industry not made of Styrofoam bowl but nice porcelain ones.
I am not a full-time Wedd PG but i do sympathies with the Full Time Wed PG.
There are many newbies Wedd PG (me included) that flood the SG market. With cost of equipment becoming more affortable and learning from DSLR becomes faster, most newbies after acquiring some experiences from shooting their relatives or friends ROM or AD will start to market themself as a Wedd PG.
Many of the newbies will start off by offering low cost or doing much more that require. GOOD or BAD. GOOD for the couples but BAD that it spoilt the market.
So it is a good thing that we come together (Newies, PT & FT PG) to discuss or share our intentions and the next step forward.
There are many AD or ROM year in and out so I guess there will job for everyone if we strive to keep our price competitive and maintain the Wedd PG "Code of conduct" if there is any.
Looking forward for a gathering for Wedd PG alike.
thank you, never expect such many responses.
Just want to address 3 points:
Pt1: Reason for this thread
Pt2: To hongwen37 and photographer's ethic
pt3: Cut price, discount to attract business
Pt1. The reason for this tread is to give some encouragement to wedding photographers and just for that. I hope it will not be turned to a "Spoil market" thread. Resentment is not good for one's self.
In fact I've never felt new comers who charge low spoil my market. My rates is above $2.6k
so really not much reaction for them. Anyway everybody starts somewhere and we chose the route we want to take. If you are curious, my 1st job was $1.6k excluding album.
I understand very well that standard of works is very important equality important, to understand which age group prefer what kind of style: including color treatment. So I've never complain or blame anyone for my lows in my life (applies to other area of life)
One thing, I always give thanks to my God for the blessings in life. Right now may not be in form of money but I believe this is my moulding period. Few months back I was photographing Oliver Stone and this statement he made I can still remember:
Develop yourself as a person 1st before developing yourself as a film maker.
I see a lot of photog here who has very good skill but the way they commend about others reflects very badly on themselves.
May be a bit off track but why I am saying this: if we start to count the blessings in our live, big or small, with a heart of thanks giving, then we can even be a blessing to others. And we will be a happier person. Hey we all deserve to be happy right?
Pt 2. Especially to hongwen37: I thank you for your understanding for the people behind the lens. I also appreciate the "difficulties" a couple has to go through. I believe beside the budget management for your wedding, you have a lot more to handle when you have kids (which is a blessing) I believe you will handle very well.
However don't let anyone belittle you just because of your budget. When I am shooting a package of $2.6k, I still have a few below $2k package backlog to clear, but doesn't mean I put in less effort for those so called "budget couple".
In fact I really don't know how to switch mode: best skill for $2.6k couples, sub-standard skill for others. As of 2day, my artistic sense is with me all the time, I have no control over it. You get a 100% Dave Koh in all your photos regardless of package.
Pt 3. As for discounts which I never give, reason: I believe a person will put his money where his mouth is. Those who come and tell me they have a tight budget, my respond is:
we need to appreciate that everybody has their own challenges. If they can only spend this money, I suggest why not explore photographers who offer packages that better suit their budget.
On a personal note: I never and will not complain about new comers spoiling market. (FYI
I am also a new comer, just switched from videography to taking photo last Nov 08)
If I do so, I'm comparing myself to them. Not looking down on anyone but how we look at ourselves is how others look at us, too.
3 core values to share with you about my business:
1. Photography standard
2. Customer service
3. Attitude towards customer and fellow photographers. Never badmouth other photographers.
Ok that's it.
The impression generally given by the numerous applications for post of freelance assistants which i've recieved is percieved as "The pro end market is charging a somewhat premium rate eg. $500/day, and i cant be that bad so i'll start with 180 or 200/hour which is way below the high end's market" This is derived from the applications which reads expected salary: $150/hr for assistant job.
I'm not lamenting about how this influx of new photographers are "spoiling" market. But i'm asking all those reading this now, espcially the full timers. "How are we going to now market ourself by means of practices and/or ideals which allows the market to see the difference between the pro end market and the low-mid range or freelance part time market." Reason being, these days, couples are spoilt for choices so much that many not all are disillusioned by the price wars rather then the question of "How do you put a price on memories?".
It really is disheartening to step back and see how the market has prospered over the last 5 years and now become quite messy as it is. It really is nice to see alot of "Passion" going around. But then are these passion being directed in the right path is also another question.
So i think if there really is a possible movement in which the professional level guys can come in and share and perhaps direct these new guys in the right way, Something good might possibily come out. And at the same time boost the standards across the board.
Like you, i dun think by means of cutting prices is healthy in any level as well. But then at our level, there are a few photographers who will do the, "who have you seen, how much did they offer you?" technique. For one i do know of some who will just say, "I'll do it for 500 lesser". this really saddens me.
So once again, for all those feeling the pinch of the industry. Hang in there. Hopefully once the recession clears, we'll see a "cleansing" of some sort and also a new path for a greater economy.
Hey Chris, I feel that part timers or hobbyist are allowed to charge whatever rate they like if the quality of their photos as well as service are top notch and comparable to full timers... Doesnt mean part timers have to charge at the lower end market than the full timers right?
I'm not aiming at a price war. I'm aiming at needing a seperation between the upper end fulltime market VS the hobbyist and part time market.
I can't help but use the example of made in PRC stuffs. Our good friends in PRC have this knack of copying european products and selling them at quarter of the price. One thing they haven't been able to do successfully are camera lenses, ie, things of high precision and finese - simply because finese means lots of QC involve, which goes against the model of REPLICATING things fast and cheap.
Now, put it in perspective of wedding photography. Clients who wants to spend big money on wedding photos won't just settle for a shoot-and-burn photographer who can deliver the photos on the same evening. They want to see distinct style, they want to see finese products, they want to see works that has DI refinement.
One thing for sure, what separates the weekend hobbyist and the full-time pros is the ability to dedicate the x number of hours in the post-production, and you want to make sure client pay well for it.
Another point of differentiation for everyone to consider, why stop at just giving digital images on CD + coffee table album? Selling prints can be a very lucrative business too, and I mean high quality fine art prints, not those printed in neighborhood labs by nail-filing sales girl who knows nuts about photography. Now that many labs are slowly dying, plus most labs these days are producing crappy quality prints, which I can fully understand because chemicals are probably not replenished as often to give you that optimum print.
Think about it, selling premium print is not just about the revenue, but also about doing justice to the work that you put your blood and sweat in the crafting process. One of the biggest reasons why I stop giving hi-res files to client is because they bring the files to some cheap labs and print a crappy piece at 20x30". Best part is, they display this low-quality work at the dinner banquet, the rest of it, I can leave it to your imagination. This is double whammy, not only did you miss the opportunity to sell a print, but they've displayed a big photo that is a poor representation of your work.
I've basically gone one big round, but the question of what is it that I can do now that others can't is something that I ask myself EVERYDAY. My assistant hears the same things from me for every photoshoot when we are on a location "What is it that has not been done by the other guys?" "Is this too cliche/cheezy/overly done?"
Its not by coincidence that the COE prices exactly mirror the charts of many counters, STI/DOW..... But earning 100K and then splurge on a 60K car for which you have not much use and is a liability....I think its a bit I'd rather pour everything back in, practise delayed gratification, only when you reach a certain level then enjoy. Recession....not a problem if you have financial stability. They do not teach such things in the local education system (and the way I see is droves of youngsters splurging as if there is no tomorrow, sometimes no thanks to well-to-do parents).
Yes... I like your attitude!!! A lot of PGs are too busy worrying about "whether their business will be snatched by the $50/hour newbie on the block" to even care about upgrading themselves or thinking about their own shoot...
A lot of these "never been seen" photos are often replicated by other PGs.. and soon, every part timer or hobbyist PG's website portfolio appears to show the same kind of photos... So, we (i mean photographers in general) have to constantly find new ideas to the same old story to differentitate ourselves...
I know of some full time PGs who put very little photos on their website and only show couples his other portfolios when they requested... This is so to prevent people from copying their styles and photos... These are some of the many things that the possible Wedding PGs meetup should focus on, I think... But I am just an observer from the outside world who just happened to be interested in these wedding stuff... So, i shouldnt say more...