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Thread: perspectives on the market...

  1. #21

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    as mentioned, look at the cost of business here.
    inflation has hit really hard in Singapore, and real-wages haven't improved much.
    Go see how much an editorial is paying 5 years ago and now. Pretty much the same.
    Commercial rates haven't improved much either, I'm embarrassed to pay my suppliers some of the rates that are still being paid these days.

    Photojournalism is something you better make sure you have passion for, cause I don't see much money in it. If you can work for the bigger news agencies that makes more sense. In fact so much photography for news is bought from a few big agencies.


    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    wow... thats pretty harsh...
    wouldn't that be the clients fault for saying such a thing though?
    true it might be a dog-eat-dog world, but isnt that the same as with a lot of industries? just that its particularly so with the creative ones like photography, design, music, etc...
    i suppose when the time comes my heart will decide whether i love the business enough to take the **** that comes with it... haha



    Hmm, well I myself am an Australian, having grown up for most of my life in Indonesia and being able to speak the language I believe gives me a kind of edge over other PJ's that might want to work in the region. Plus with the crackdown on terrorism around here, and other factors I'm sure this part of the world is a melting pot of stories waiting to happen... Although ultimately I'd like to be all over the place not just in South-East Asia, haha

    as for the markets, I would say as a Photojournalist to be purely working within Singapore, there isn't too much oppurtunity? I duno... singapore just isn't exactly the place that comes to mind when you think of breaking news stories haha. Back in Australia, my uncle use to be a photographer, retired now but he told me that in the 90's the market in Australia was not exactly booming, but stable enough to make a living out of... even if it was canberra haha



    Not sure where he is, but i think it'd be really cool to hear from asiansheperd on here, he's a PJ in afghanistan and some of his pics are incredible... i reckon it would be quite an experience to work in a place like that, and compare it to here, where we really take for granted the simple ability to walk down the road, grab something from 7-11 and come back without getting shot..

    just my perspective.. haha

  2. #22

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    It will help a lot to have a sort of union or association to bring photographers together to talk and to work on educating clients.
    Honestly if I have to pay $1000 a year for an organisation that actually takes time and effort to educate companies (marketing departments) on the value and cost of photography, that's pretty darn worth it already.

    Quote Originally Posted by stor View Post
    In this business, it is not what you could deliver. It is who you know and if you got good PR skills that can ensure your survival especially in this digital world. If you could not get good networks and have good PR skills, do not step in. You will find strong head wind even though you could deliver tip top images.

    Besides, as everything is going north, the price of photography is going south due to intense competition and customers will take every advantage of it. Can you swallow it when customers goes for lower cost and accept lower quality works because they need to meet their bosses budget?

  3. #23
    Member hotwork77's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by limwhow View Post
    hotwork77, does your industry have any regulating association? Of course it is a free market outside there. But in my opinion, that is where the respective associations/society's regulating or advisory body will be of importance in maintaining a certain level of proficiency in keeping a list of quality service providers from the rest of the non-affiliated ones.
    When I was working working overseas, my trade is protected by the unions and mandated by law. When you advertise as a photographer, you are a skilled photographer and you know your photography inside out. You obtain your diploma and your qualification is recognised by the industry. "Confession" is correct to say there are two schools of thought. However I don't suppose we are talking about theory. In real life simply buying a DSLR and then taking a good photo does not automatically qualify as a pro. Once I was working with a pro-photographer who within 3 seconds, whips out his camera and snap a picture on the fly without any camera support and photoshop effects and yet it has the oomps and the details and everything I wanted.

    Now I am working in Singapore and I see so many Toms, Dicks and Harrys claiming to be pro photographer and yet had trouble taking guerilla style photos and then wasting another week to touch up in photoshop. I myself have been taking photos as a hobby for the past 20 years and I never dared claim to be a pro.

    I have come to realise that in Singapore, everyone is interested to award the contract to the person that offer the cheapest price. Argument is to keep cost low. In the end whats left for us. We got to bring food home. We got a family to feed.

    To keep a long answer short, it is still viable if you are interested in photography as a career. You must offer your clients something that all the Toms, Dicks and Harrys can't offer and that is photography as an art. Work on it and develop a certain style that is unique to you.

  4. #24
    Member hotwork77's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    i wonder if the world needs reminding... of what is a "good" photograph... and what is a "great" one that only a proffesional can really provide.
    I think everyone knows what is "good" photograph and which are the "greats".

    But at the end of the day, they are only willing to pay you pittance for your pot of gold. It is prevalent in every trade you go into.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    as mentioned, look at the cost of business here.
    inflation has hit really hard in Singapore, and real-wages haven't improved much.
    Go see how much an editorial is paying 5 years ago and now. Pretty much the same.
    Commercial rates haven't improved much either, I'm embarrassed to pay my suppliers some of the rates that are still being paid these days.

    Photojournalism is something you better make sure you have passion for, cause I don't see much money in it. If you can work for the bigger news agencies that makes more sense. In fact so much photography for news is bought from a few big agencies.
    mattlock you take the wind out of my sails. I think you are correct in saying it and it is affecting everyone across the board.

  6. #26

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    nice thread. in my conversations with other commercial photogs, we always thought things on the wedding side is still pretty rosy (wedding rates has been increasing, you know your schedule 6mths down the road, you get paid in cash and equipment overheads are manageable). But things on the commercial side has been going downhill ever since the asia financial crisis in 1998. with every crisis, things just got worst. Cheap semi-pro DSLRs and new entrants are not as big a problem as is the general business/economic environment and clients expectations and A&P budget. A shoot that would be quoted $50k 10 years ago would maybe only be worth less than half now, and the demands now are even greater (more shots, more production value, more DI, more usage rights...etc).
    Is there still money to be made in the advertising and commercial market? Yes, but its not as lucrative as before. There are fewer jobs with lower budget to spread among more photographers. The golden era of the 80s and 90s are long gone. Now, more than ever, we need to be more resourceful about getting jobs and keeping cost down.

  7. #27

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    i wonder if the world needs reminding... of what is a "good" photograph... and what is a "great" one that only a proffesional can really provide.
    That's probably too subjective that even Pros will not have the same view among themselves.

  8. #28

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    As a working photographer, I started in the field of photojournalism.
    It is hard to make a living if your income come from magazines or newspapers.

    I have freelance contracts with most of the major players in the editorial industry, but even then, the rates are embarrassingly low and usage ridiculous.

    I recently did an assignment where I was required to liase with 3 different parties, the agency, the client (a big french brand) and their internal PR. It turned out to be a 20 hour work day, the pictures were glamorous, and the usage across the board across continents. The payout? Not even enough to buy a portable flash nowadays.

    Though the editorial rates have remained the same as they were in the 90s, expectations have increased dramatically. Photographers nowadays are required to have wireless internet anywhere they go (Inner Mongolia, anyone?), Photoshop CS4 to stitch HDRs, good cameras to handle the noise and even bring a few studio lights along for good measure. Oh yah, they also require you to handle all the captioning of every single photo, ftp stuff up to their site, and have a good big file transfer solution so you can send those 100mbs of files across the globe.

    For an up and coming photographer, this is pretty intimidating odds to make it out alive.

    Is it harder nowadays? Hell, ya!
    Is it still worth it? I guess so..

  9. #29
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post

    To keep a long answer short, it is still viable if you are interested in photography as a career. You must offer your clients something that all the Toms, Dicks and Harrys can't offer and that is photography as an art. Work on it and develop a certain style that is unique to you.
    Words of wisdom right there mate...

    anyone here have experience in other overseas markets, ie; america, europe, australia?
    I'm told its more competitive, but pays better there as people aren't usually as thrifty (no offence) as they are here.
    Last edited by rgy1993; 14th October 2009 at 07:17 PM.

  10. #30

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    When I was working working overseas, my trade is protected by the unions and mandated by law. When you advertise as a photographer, you are a skilled photographer and you know your photography inside out. You obtain your diploma and your qualification is recognised by the industry. "Confession" is correct to say there are two schools of thought. However I don't suppose we are talking about theory. In real life simply buying a DSLR and then taking a good photo does not automatically qualify as a pro. Once I was working with a pro-photographer who within 3 seconds, whips out his camera and snap a picture on the fly without any camera support and photoshop effects and yet it has the oomps and the details and everything I wanted.

    Now I am working in Singapore and I see so many Toms, Dicks and Harrys claiming to be pro photographer and yet had trouble taking guerilla style photos and then wasting another week to touch up in photoshop. I myself have been taking photos as a hobby for the past 20 years and I never dared claim to be a pro.

    I have come to realise that in Singapore, everyone is interested to award the contract to the person that offer the cheapest price. Argument is to keep cost low. In the end whats left for us. We got to bring food home. We got a family to feed.

    To keep a long answer short, it is still viable if you are interested in photography as a career. You must offer your clients something that all the Toms, Dicks and Harrys can't offer and that is photography as an art. Work on it and develop a certain style that is unique to you.
    I can tell you that developing a style unique to you is not going to win you a market.I had that mentality too but it works mainly overseas, in Singapore it's different.

    To make things work for everyone and get out of the "cheapest" mentality there is a need to talk to our clients and potential clients (which are alot of time marketing people) and convince them of the value of good photography and the cost involved.
    A lot of time there's the assumption that it's just a camera and lights, people don't see the overheads and hidden costs involved.
    They think they hire you for one day and they forget that you need to spend a few days post-processing.

    Why is it people are willing to fork out good money for an LV bag, or that architects are held in pretty high regard and paid properly, as are lawyers.

    The Singapore market is tiny, tiny tiny.
    There's money to be made if you really want to strive at it.
    But you need to be wise and also see whether this is an evolving trade or a dying trade.

    Look at the role that the actual media/medium that the images are transmitted on play.
    When pictures were in print and to print a book or a magazine involves a print run of at least 10,000 pieces to be viable, there are certain hard costs involve including the team that puts the book/magazine together.
    But when things go online, costs decrease. If I can host a website for 20 bucks a month and pay a web designer $5000 to create a spanking-full website, don't you think it would feel weird to pay a photographer a few thousand? I would want to scale down all my costs accordingly.

  11. #31
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    I can tell you that developing a style unique to you is not going to win you a market.I had that mentality too but it works mainly overseas, in Singapore it's different.

    ...
    mattlock, this is so very true.
    Agreeably this is the same situation in most industries that we find ourselves working in. This mentality will only begin to change when customers begin to understand the value of great artistic work. And this requires a transformation of the way the whole society view art. Art can never and must never be a commodity that trades on thin margin.

    When Singaporeans shed this 'commodity' view, then can we become appreciative of the efforts of Photogs in promoting this unique art form.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    Words of wisdom right there mate...

    anyone here have experience in other overseas markets, ie; america, europe, australia?
    I'm told its more competitive, but pays better there as people aren't usually as thrifty (no offence) as they are here.
    Well, the difference in pay also has to do alot with far more profound issues in society that permeate far deeper that the issue of whether clients are willing to pay or not IMO. what do I mean by that? while the wedding market has done well in Singapore, it hasn't really matched the astronomic rise in the wedding photography market in the USA. Part of the reason has to do with the difference in psyche between photographers in the 2 countries IMO.

    For example, one of the reason why wedding photography rates have run up so much in the US is because of the spirit of innovation and risk taking. Say a photographer charges $3k for a wedding shoot. Many photographers in that market will try to come up with a more unique style or innovative technique so they can charge $4K or $5k or $30k. So the market keeps innovating and the standard keeps going up and photographers are rewarded financially and clients are rewarded in turn with more innovative and unique photography.

    Singapore is very peculiar. Say a photographer charges $3K. Another photographer joins the industry. Instead of saying "hey, what can I innovate or improve to make $4k instead?" the situation in Singapore is that the newcomer will charge $2.5K and sit in the safety of what is "acceptable" market price and practices. And because I feel that the wedding photography market has reached a point in Singapore where many of us are sitting fat and happy instead of feeling the compulsion to innovate, I feel that the industry wide prices will not be rising the next few years and with rising costs, real income will just keep falling. but that's just my perspective anyway, hopefully i am totally wrong.

  13. #33

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Okay, i joined the forum just to reply to this post. I'm an 18 year old undergrad studying Visual Journalism at Brooks Institute of Photography, California, USA. I happened to grow up in Singapore so i frequently read this forum, however I never bothered to post :P. Some of my teachers are working professionals and are arguably some of the best commercial shooters in their areas so I will share my experiences with you.

    In the case of Singapore, it is a very small market compared to the USA, and there is not much wealth inequality in comparison, so the amateurs just cannot compete with the professionals. In the US, if you are a top class professional you might charge in multiples of $10,000 as there are people who are willing to pay that for a wedding photographer (Gary Fong apparently charged around $200,000 for weddings once he was recognized as one of the top wedding photographers). However, in Singapore, there are a few guys right at the top, and that is probably because they marketed themselves very well, and these guys will cater to the high society crowd. The middle class in Singapore is much larger in percentage than that in the USA so they will be satisfied with the price and quality offered by the amateurs. Just to let you know, I think that amateurs in Singapore are very, very good photographers. In the US, the middle income and lower income families usually hire someone they know locally, like their relatives, to do the photography, as many people are involved in the field.

    In the case of photojournalism, you've gotta work your butt off to make some real money. For example, Steve McCurry has been constantly shooting in dangerous situations such as the Gulf War and Afghanistan, and his work paid off because he spent lots and lots of time taking photographs. Also, networking is important. You need to know people in order to have a chance at becoming a staff or contract photojournalist at National Geographic and TIME. Many photojournalists follow this career because of their passion , and not because of money. If you want money, go shoot some Industrial/Corporate.

    cheers

  14. #34
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by krishna91 View Post
    Okay, i joined the forum just to reply to this post. I'm an 18 year old undergrad studying Visual Journalism at Brooks Institute of Photography, California, USA. I happened to grow up in Singapore so i frequently read this forum, however I never bothered to post :P. Some of my teachers are working professionals and are arguably some of the best commercial shooters in their areas so I will share my experiences with you.

    In the case of Singapore, it is a very small market compared to the USA, and there is not much wealth inequality in comparison, so the amateurs just cannot compete with the professionals. In the US, if you are a top class professional you might charge in multiples of $10,000 as there are people who are willing to pay that for a wedding photographer (Gary Fong apparently charged around $200,000 for weddings once he was recognized as one of the top wedding photographers). However, in Singapore, there are a few guys right at the top, and that is probably because they marketed themselves very well, and these guys will cater to the high society crowd. The middle class in Singapore is much larger in percentage than that in the USA so they will be satisfied with the price and quality offered by the amateurs. Just to let you know, I think that amateurs in Singapore are very, very good photographers. In the US, the middle income and lower income families usually hire someone they know locally, like their relatives, to do the photography, as many people are involved in the field.

    In the case of photojournalism, you've gotta work your butt off to make some real money. For example, Steve McCurry has been constantly shooting in dangerous situations such as the Gulf War and Afghanistan, and his work paid off because he spent lots and lots of time taking photographs. Also, networking is important. You need to know people in order to have a chance at becoming a staff or contract photojournalist at National Geographic and TIME. Many photojournalists follow this career because of their passion , and not because of money. If you want money, go shoot some Industrial/Corporate.

    cheers
    cheers for the insight...
    thats true, everyone tells me that photojournalism pay is enough to get by... but nothing compared the people that do your prada ads and all that jazz.
    Its a different style of shooting imo, even if you are risking your life... youre showing people what the real world is like out there beyond their routine, somewhat boring lives..

    i duno maybe its me im just kinda strange, most of my friends at school have high dreams of being in the corporate world, suit and tie job in a big tall building, etc. im like the oddball out of everyone hahah

  15. #35
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    [COLOR="Blue"]When I was working working overseas, my trade is protected by the unions and mandated by law. When you advertise as a photographer, you are a skilled photographer and you know your photography inside out. You obtain your diploma and your qualification is recognised by the industry. .....
    Yupe. They have already established a foundation for such a union overseas. I am not sure (maybe some of you can enlighten me) if back here in Singapore we have such a union or association. Because if we don't have such a strong body, and we want to establish one now to oversee the industry, it will certainly create an uproar as no precedence has ever been set.

  16. #36
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by limwhow View Post
    Yupe. They have already established a foundation for such a union overseas. I am not sure (maybe some of you can enlighten me) if back here in Singapore we have such a union or association. Because if we don't have such a strong body, and we want to establish one now to oversee the industry, it will certainly create an uproar as no precedence has ever been set.
    i think it would probably be a good idea though, to create one amongst the top studios and freelancers here... seeing as the general feedback so far is the market is spiralling downwards simply thanks to the influx of "amatuers" degrading work quality at a cheaper price...

    could be like, only approved photographers can carry a particular seal or get a certificate to show that their work is at least on par with a generalised standard..

    of course im just a humble 16 year old, but i believe it would be great, for the benefit of the pros here, to see that happen.
    Last edited by rgy1993; 14th October 2009 at 11:24 PM.

  17. #37

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    to give you an example of ad jobs, my friend who now works in singapore was in charge of an ad job for his company, a perfume ad.
    The photographer was paid $100k in total, the stylist about $30-$50k and the makeup artist about $10k
    all this for one shot.
    media usage was about $1m if I remember correctly

    All this is in USD

  18. #38
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    to give you an example of ad jobs, my friend who now works in singapore was in charge of an ad job for his company, a perfume ad.
    The photographer was paid $100k in total, the stylist about $30-$50k and the makeup artist about $10k
    all this for one shot.
    media usage was about $1m if I remember correctly

    All this is in USD
    An obscene amount of money. But then again, the photog must either be very good, or has a very good reputation in commercial photography. Am I right?

  19. #39

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by limwhow View Post
    An obscene amount of money. But then again, the photog must either be very good, or has a very good reputation in commercial photography. Am I right?
    only the best
    but these are the kinds of sums that were thrown around previously
    if you look at aphotoeditor.com also you will see that he put up quotations from photographers for ad jobs, where each photograph would be charged at a few thousand dollars. (of interest is that one landscape shot was specified to be done in Singapore)
    $24k USD for 3 landscape shots.not bad?

  20. #40

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by limwhow View Post
    mattlock, this is so very true.
    Agreeably this is the same situation in most industries that we find ourselves working in. This mentality will only begin to change when customers begin to understand the value of great artistic work. And this requires a transformation of the way the whole society view art. Art can never and must never be a commodity that trades on thin margin.

    When Singaporeans shed this 'commodity' view, then can we become appreciative of the efforts of Photogs in promoting this unique art form.
    One problem is that in Singapore we don't have many large local enterprises. Name me ten that actually advertise and use photography.
    The ones that advertise using advertising photography tend to be banks, telcos, government campaigns, insurance companies (not so much)

    The market is small and the reach is small so from a marketing point of view of course I as a marketer wouldn't see the point of spending too much money.

    Most of the market doesn't appreciate "art" either, art is a useful unique selling point for a more money-ed group of people, but in Singapore art is not as important and prestigious a way to differentiate yourself yet, as compared to countries like Europe and more recently Hk/China.

    we have very very talented photographers in Singapore, and quite a number of them focus on work overseas now rather than specifically Singapore. I think that's the smart thing to do. Perhaps part of the way forward is to aim to spread ourselves beyond Singapore, make Singapore photography more of a brand (hey we have alot of award winning photographers in Singapore, quite a number represented in different countries all over the world)

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