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Thread: perspectives on the market...

  1. #41

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Oh and Rgy, just to let you know the current rates national geographic offers for freelance are PER DAY. My professor recieved $800 per day plus costs covered ( for Nat Geo Traveler ).

    Photojournalism offers great job satisfaction, and the money isn't so bad if you're a staff photojournalist for a big magazine like Nat Geo. However you surrender copyrights to them if you're staff.

    It is hard to make money as a freelance photojournalist because of the fact that you have to pay for insurance,travel costs,equipment etc. Photojournalists use more expensive equipment like telephoto lenses, think tank modular systems, satellite modems etc.

    Btw, I highly recommend that you read "Photojournalism : The professional's approach" by Kenneth Kobre. It is a bible for photojournalists. Please make sure you get the 2008 edition. The book costs 80-100$ SGD but it's worth owning. After reading this book you would have decided if this is the career for you.

    cheers

  2. #42

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    There are like just a handful of Nat Geo photographer staffers, the rest are all freelancers.

    I used to work for a photographer who is a contributing Ed with Nat Traveler, and this was before the crisis. An assignment a year is a great year, and they wouldn't send you more than 2 weeks to cover an assignment. How do you survive the rest of the year?

    My friends from Condenast are just dropping out of the industry in a very bad way, and this wasn't caused by the economic crisis; it was accelerated by the climate, as the print and circulation industry was already spiraling downwards.

    Many have already predicted photoj is going towards galleries and the way of grants. It will be indeed sad if that is how we would be able to appreciate photo essays in future.

  3. #43
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    ...
    $24k USD for 3 landscape shots.not bad?
    Oh definitely. How many can command this? As you correctly stated - only the best.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    ...
    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)
    I like this idea. And I personally also believe it is the way to go.
    As per many other companies that are uprooting their staff from home to be re-located overseas, photogs would certainly fare well if they are willing to exhibit the same flexibility.
    A good idea- create a Singapore brand, a Singapore style of photography and export this overseas. Why not?

  4. #44

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    One of the most fruitful threads that have comes a long way. With some many feedback and reply from all over...

    those pricing of $100k - 200k for a shot and $800 per day stuff will surely make many wannabes' mouth dripping. Maybe some will be claiming " how'bout I do it for 10k instead of $100k "

    Arrival of the Digital age had surely make many people out of job and businesses.

    Besides, in the darker side of this trade there exist back stabbing and bad mouthing of rival competetors too and also some unscrupulous behavior of some " professional " photographers.

    there once exist a professional photographers association of singapore ( PPAS ).

  5. #45
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by cabbySHE View Post
    ...

    there once exist a professional photographers association of singapore ( PPAS ).
    ... and what happened to PPAS now? Is it still around for the protection (if it is for this purpose) and representation of the professional photogs?

  6. #46
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Just went up to PPAS web site. It certainly looks nice with lots of advertisement.
    I leafed through it's mission statement and the latest message from the president who rightfully lamented that fees have not caught up.
    Importantly for me, if I were a potential client looking for a member of this body, I would like to be able to see my potential professional photog's name listed on a register that is available on PPAS. But I cannot find any such register.
    As a layman, I begin to ask - is the association receiving adequate support from its members and the pro photogs in general?

  7. #47

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    as it exist in any clans, association, professional bodies or what not....there resides something call " internal politics ".

    only when you join, you will know. it's quite common, even in offices...

  8. #48

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    My perspective is, the newbies with low prices simply is just putting market equilibrium in the economy. There is a counter balance to keeping high photography prices in check. Not everyone can earn 5k a month and a big slice of us cant afford a 1k photogrpher an hour sort of prices.So does that mean if we have a low budget, we cant get someone to take a photo for us? even if we are good photographers, we cant simply take pictures of ourselves on our wedding day right?Even the most top photographers cant simply put a camera on a tripod and take his own wedding.

    So stop hunting those who offer lower prices by giving an excuse that were protecting the image of the industry. its just another way of self protectionism. THere will always be customers who want big packages and those who can only afford a lower price photographer.The bottom line is, the industry is more alive today than yest and now almost everyone is accesible to get someone to take a photo for them. As long a as customers are happy, who are we to say that photographer doesnt deserve to get paid. THis means that the pros out there, got to be on their toes and walk the talk and deliver their price and quality.Thats a good thing for us customers right?

  9. #49

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    more and more though i see people that might pick up a 450D or D60 or something, and putting up their services on a little blogsite at, well compared to the pros, relatively cheap prices... just wondering if there's any actual proffesionals out there (by that i mean you earn a living and put bread on the table through photography) that can share their opinions on this? is the market being "eaten up" in a sense by these people that offer a few cool snapshots although maybe without proper training as you guys have...
    are gone the days where a guy that knew how to take good photos one of the most respected dudes around?
    the market rules.

    as a job, you need to fulfill your client's needs, not your own. that is where staying a hobbyist has its charms. you get to shoot at your own leisure, there is no deadline.. you can do what you like, rather than what your client thinks he should like. how many people do you think have use for a punggol seascape?

    to me, the people offering snapshots are just representative of society as a whole. how many horrible hawkers that can't cook for nuts still manage to scrape by every month? how many sales personnel with horrible work attitudes continue to get employed? how many inept call centre personnel who create unhappy customers because they can't solve their problems seem to multiply by themselves?

    the thing is, each and every one of these people who can and should be perceived as "avoid as all costs" still manage to get something out of it. that amazes me constantly, but that's how it is.

    how do you define "proper training"? i cannot think of a single branch of photography that cannot be self-taught to sufficient standards. i doubt anyone is going to ask for "qualifications" much; maybe awards can help somewhat with a kickstart, but the portfolio and output always speaks for itself; like it or not, some awesome photographs happen to be a mixture of pure luck, a matter of being at the right place, right time, taking a snap and miraculously producing something wonderful.

    if you want to talk about evolution, then you should ask uncle catchlights to comment.. of course there's more than just one long-time professional photographer here..

  10. #50

    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    $24k USD for 3 landscape shots.not bad?
    oh dear. come to think of it, i wonder if there is any full-time professional landscape photographer in singapore..

    i highly doubt so..

  11. #51
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by limwhow View Post
    Jed, thank you for sharing. May I ask, as you are in UK and in a good position to advise, how different are the photog markets in UK/Europe/US (or even any other Asian markets) compared with Singapore in terms of scope of work and remuneration (apologies, a sensitive topic)?
    I can comment about the areas I have direct experience with, and possibly where I don't have direct experience with but have some knowledge about but if my knowledge isn't first hand then I will state that.

    I'm not altogether sure what you mean by scope of work. I am guessing that essentially we do very similar stuff to photographers in Singapore. We shoot weddings, for example. But in each individual sector for example with weddings, there are different expectations, demands, etc. Over here a lot (not all) of the couples I work with only expect the photographer to turn up from arrival at church. In a sense different cultures mean that there isn't for example a requisite to pay respects to parents for example. However every wedding I shoot I go in early and be with them from the start of the day; the getting ready forms an important part of my photography maybe because of the fact that I started out in Singapore. But I am by no means alone in doing that, but the couples I've worked with that haven't seen my work beforehand, do not seem to realise the potential of the preparation part of the day. Also, after they look at my work, all of them are very happy to have me around from the start.

    In terms of photojournalism the prospects are better here than Singapore from what I know of the Singapore side of things. Having multiple newspapers certainly helps because there is competition. The top news photographers can earn a pretty packet, and the very top sports photographers earn a pretty good amount. That said, we're not treated as well as journalists for example.

    The news photography industry though is suffering from various bits. General belt tightening over the years has meant that in the last 5-10 years smaller agencies have struggled to do well, with big agencies able to offer more through economies of scale if nothing else. The very biggest agencies have bought out big agencies, compounding the problem. At the best of times, justifying spending additional money on pictures is difficult when you have a pre-existing contract with someone such as Getty, and given the economic recession it's become pretty difficult to generate picture sales in areas such as sport where you have no advantage (and at times a disadvantage) over big agency snappers. That said other areas such as papping is alive and well, and the newspapers still pay top dollar for good celebrity pictures.

    At regional level a lot of the photographers are overworked and underpaid. The last 24 months due to the recession has seen papers lay off a lot of staff (journalists, photographers, editors, support staff), and the photographers that were overworked before are having to do even more. But I've said this before, their work constantly amazes me and they usually subscribe very strongly to the "pride in their work" ethic. I am not up to date on the current photographic standard in Singapore newspapers, but when I was in a better position to compare both, the standard here was higher.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    Now we have kids who think they can do a bit of photoshop or take a few simple photos and then offer their services at dirt cheap prices just so they can buy the next iphone. The market then thinks we must lower our cost to match the kids. Who suffer? In the end the client get crap service and we loose our means to earn.
    This is a very big problem and I suspect for now it is more prevailent in Singapore - which is more affluent and the kids have a much higher disposable income, and also society as a whole is far more technologically savvy.

    The difficulty for anyone who says that this balances the market, or supply and demand will prevail, or if your work is better you have nothing to fear, is that we're not competing on a level playing field.

    As professionals we have to make enough to live. We also have a responsibility for our clients. So when we bill for a job we have to factor in the cost/depreciation of our equipment. Some of us have overheads such as rent. We have professional negligence and public liability insurance to factor in. Membership of professional bodies. Tax.

    Someone doing it part time on the side once a week is a bit like someone selling fish out of the back of a van. To the average part time student, part time photographer, they don't have to factor in equipment cost/depreciation since that's an expense they were happy to make before. So 10 profit is 10 more than they would've had anyway. For a professional it might be 10 less than a 40 operating cost. I would be amazed if someone found me a part time wedding photographer in Singapore that charges these cut price rates, that has professional negligence and public liability insurance. And most probably don't pay tax, legally or otherwise. (Actually, is there a minimum income threshold in Singapore below which a person doesn't have to pay tax?)

  13. #53
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    "Gary Fong apparently charged around $200,000 for weddings once he was recognized as one of the top wedding photographers)"

    Nope, he mentioned in his DVD he set his price 200K because he didn't want to shoot weddings anymore. He also mentioned he had never booked any weddings at that price. He made his money from property.

  14. #54
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by confession View Post
    The other school in fact welcomes it. The argument here is that yes, while it in a way erodes the value of the biz, the twist comes here when it actually forces the current players in the market to think out of their comfort zones and move into something that is different and stand out from the crowd.
    I have two responses to this argument. The first is that it is very similar to suggesting that we should all stop taking private or public transport to get from A to B, forcing us to run to get to places and thereby getting fitter in the process. And I can think of a million other similar analogies which might or might not fit well, but you should get the gist of what I'm suggesting even if it isn't the best analogy in the world.

    In response to aiding creativity and productivity in an effort to stand out from the crowd, that only applies if we believe the photographic profession was stagnant before. The fact is that photographers have always had an incentive to do something different and stand out from the crowd - to get ahead of their peers and succeed financially.

    Quote Originally Posted by confession View Post
    The thing is some of these hobbyist or amateurs are in fact very good at what they do and are able to bring something different to the table. So this forces or pushes the current market players to do things differently and take a different approach to the way they have been working so far.
    I cannot speak for every professional out there, but if this was the case then I certainly wouldn't have a problem whatsoever. The problem is that a lot of these hobbyists and amateurs are not necessarily very good at what they do, and the only thing they bring to the table is (in some cases greatly) reduced fees/prices.

    If someone can offer something I can't, and charges as much or more than what I do and gets the work instead of me, then fair play whether they are professional or have a different day job. If they do the same or worse and charge less then that's just price competition, and for reasons detailed in a previous post I can't compete. And if they charge next to nothing, then there's no way I can compete.

    A few weeks ago a prominent UK photography magazine contacted me. They were very complimentary about some of my work, and wanted to use it in the magazine. Naturally after a fair amount of pleasantries, the issue of payment had not been broached so I brought it up. The response was that they normally use istockphoto, so... no sorry they couldn't pay.

    I can't compete with that, I can't even give a good response as to why they should pay me anything for my pictures if they can get images from microstock sites for literally next to no money.

    There is a lot of microstock that is rubbish. A lot that is average. And a lot that is good. But all of that pales into insignificance when it sells for next to nothing. But read my previous post; next to nothing is still next to nothing more for a hobbyist who doesn't have to depend on it for a living, whose images would otherwise sit and collect dust. If they sell 50 or 100 copies of that even better still.

    Quote Originally Posted by confession View Post
    One thing that caught my eye was a hand painted pic of the couple which cannot be reproduced and it is one of a kind.
    I know this is not what you are insinuating, but it is something I am going to pick up on because it's one of my areas of interest. But this is something that photography suffers from, the whole concept that a photograph is not one of a kind, and the fact that photography can take all of a fraction of a second to complete, and the fact that anyone can take a photograph.

    Society as a whole struggles to attach much value to photography as a result. But it's strange that if I can't draw or paint (and I can't), no one will look at my doodling and think it's a proper drawing or a painting. But society looks at a photograph as a photograph. Anyone can take one of those...

  15. #55
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    Default Re: perspectives on the market...

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    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.
    I'm not sure that photojournalism is all about breaking news stories, sadly. Singapore or otherwise. It is only a small percentage that will shoot breaking, pictorally interesting news stories with any regularity.

    The day job is probably far less exciting. Doorstepping someone. Snapping someone as they go into or leave court. In the limited amount of news I've done I've photographed someone who waited 50 years for his war medals (hardly breaking, that...), stories about people going missing, a truck that had crashed into a pub, a baptism, a bank being sold...

    And this is in the exciting West...

    It's a bit like a lot of glamourous occupations I suspect. I'm legally trained and the obvious example there is, it's not all Matlock... (showing my age, too)

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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.
    To be honest, I think the world sometimes just needs reminding about what a terrible photograph is.

    But as others have pointed out... there is no real way to quantify good from great. My thesis examined some of the most iconic photographs in journalism, and in all honesty there's not a lot that can link them. Particularly when it comes to photographic journalism, what makes an image great is more through circumstances (content of the image, or what happens to the image afterwards) than anything the photographer does or does do (aside from get the picture of course).

    And also I have to disagree with this notion that only professionals can provide "great" photographs. There are plenty of very very good amateurs who have no interest in earning a living from photography. If the problem was "amateurs" earning money through good photography that's one thing, the issue as far as I'm concerned is "amateurs" earning money through cheap (and poor) photography.

    Inverted commas because in theory once someone earns money they are professional; I suppose the real distinction is full time v non full time photographers.

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    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.
    It depends on the market, but for photojournalism I've already gone into some detail in my previous posts.

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckuang View Post
    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.
    It's very interesting to see the contrast between America and Singapore. I personally feel that the whole undercutting thing happens the world over, and isn't just restricted to Singapore, but I feel the various circumstances that are very acute in Singapore exacerbates the problem; specifically, the fact that we have a very affluent society as a whole, and in particular the younger generation, as well as a technologically savvy society.

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    Quote Originally Posted by krishna91 View Post
    I think that amateurs in Singapore are very, very good photographers.
    Personally, I would disagree with that. There are some very, very good amateurs in Singapore, yes. But I think a disproportionately high number are more interested (consciously or otherwise) in the technological elements than in the aesthetic elements.

    Perhaps because Singapore has such a large pool of enthusiasts even though the "failure rate" (for want of a better phrase) might be higher, the total number of very good non-professionals is still high.

    Over in the UK the young generation tend to view technology as something they understand, rather than something they covet. While the older photographers try to get their head around it, but I suspect this is similar to Singapore.

    But by and large the photographers here are interested in the pursuit of photographs, and I am frequently impressed by the photographs taken by amateurs in camera clubs up and down the country, or for example from the work taken by the photographers that work for newspapers.

    If I can use an analogy. Liking fast cars doesn't necessarily make you a better driver. But focusing on becoming a better driver will. Liking cameras doesn't necessarily make you a better photographer. But focusing on taking better photographs will. Too many of the photographers in Singapore fall into the former category, in my experience of the two countries.

    Again, that is not to say in any way that there are not some very, very fine photographers (amateur and professional) in Singapore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by krishna91 View Post
    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.
    Absolutely. And it's not just about the time and the money, but shooting glamourous PJ such as for Nat Geo and in Afghanistan is also probably a one in a million type thing, not dissimilar to being able to play basketball and wanting to make it in the NBA. Most won't.

    As I've explained, most will end up doing boring old PJ work. Doesn't mean you can't dream but you have to be aware that for most it will stay a dream.

    And absolutely, there's rarely any money in PJ. In Singapore or the UK, and probably other countries.

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