Hey!! You are back!!!A down under perspective.
Firstly Zohan has effectively echoed what I've been saying for years (Jed will probably remember me lecturing him about the importance of the business side when he was here in Perth years ago) and that is that professional photography is first and foremost a business and should be treated as such.
There's way too many "starving artist" types in professional photography and I for one like big fattening meals, not mouse fodder. The average starving artist type lasts about 4 years before bankruptcy gets them or they wake up to the fact that all the artsy fartsy BS doesn't put food on the table, what puts the food on the talbe is hard contracts with not escape clauses for the client, massive penalties if the client pays late (I charge a 10% accounting fee per month for late payment, that sure gets the cheques flowing) and a no BS or hyperbole method of dealing with clients, no wishy washy promises and realistic timelines for major jobs.
In terms of payment, well the days are now over where it was possible to pick up a 140K for 3 months or so assignment in some $hit-hole covering the locals butchering each other, now it's more likely to be 10-20K maximum. Why? Because globally the traditional print media are in deep financial messes, with falling readership, and a subsequent reduction of advertising revenues and competition from the InterNet. This has all been reflected in the rates paid to members of the press corps and other areas of professional photography in many countries.
On the commercial side of the game the rates are still quite good here, sure there's some price undercutting from amateurs and the new professionals but since most of these folks are charging peanuts they don't impact much on my earning capacity as if you pay peanuts in photography you get a monkey taking your shots. Quite a a few clients wake up to this after one or two amateurs have butchered the job. We are blessed with several quality professional associations as well as the Media Allience that sets most of the minimum "going rates" or day rates for photography at a professional level and most professionals stick to the pricing, thus ensuring most of us get a good return for our work and skills.
I really do feel sorry for the average professional in Singpaore, it's just too bad you guys can't get your act together as an industry and start charging rates that reflect the actual commercial realites of professional photography in the new millenium.
As I've been saying on CS almost since it's inception, professional photography calls many people, but accepts few. - Think about this before you attempt to make a living out of photography!