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Thread: Where are we heading now?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    So one way is to play up the importance and intangible nature of photography "oh it's so excellent and the reason you can't tell how excellent it is is because you are ignorant". This is the way a lot of other fields have approached the problem of intangibility (look at luxury brands, look at designer haircuts, look at upscale fashion designers)
    Actually, I think this is a very real problem, but possibly the analogy could do with a bit of tweaking.

    I am very much against the whole emperor's new clothes thing myself. I'm not quite sure how the other fields you mentioned have approached the problem of intangibility, but I suspect most of them can fall back on their brand. That's not something many photographers have the luxury of. But I don't get "contemporary" photography, in the same way that I often don't get modern art. As I've said before, Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock baffle me, and if that makes me one of the ignorant then great. But I feel the same way about photography.

    I know Ian's raised the example of Annie Leibovitz, whose work I make no comment on the quality of. But she is one of those people who could survive on a "brand".

    I like my photography to be real and tangible, and in many ways I think it can be tangible. I like photographs that make people go "wow" regardless of where they see it, not only because they've seen it in a museum or on a famous art website. That's fairly tangible, because they exist.

    So going back to the tweaking of the analogy; I think to me good professional photography is a bit akin to good quality bags or such like, in terms of quality of workmanship and materials used. Most people holding it in their hands would know it was a work of quality, rather than because they've seen a small logo somewhere. (Note: I am not saying that quality and brands are mutually exclusive.)

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    It would be nice if photographers actually got together and figured something out, like the way the wedding photographers did
    It's not going to happen. It's an unregulated industry unfortunately. And I know I've dismissed excessive connections between professional photography and art, but in this area they are linked - this isn't going to happen in the same way that you're not going to get a recognised standard of painters or sculptors.

    And personally, I'm not sure how effective the wedding photographers are in Singapore, so I'm not sure they have "figured something out". But over where I am in the UK I wouldn't say they've done it particularly effectively at all. At the end of the day for something like that to succeed, Joe Public (ie someone with no interest in photography at all) is going to have to know about that organisation. You need to be massive for that to happen. So for instance, ask someone with no interest in photography to name several brands in photography, and that organisation will need to be one of those names for it to work.

    I'd guess most would say Nikon, Canon, Kodak, maybe Fuji. Maybe one or two others. But we're talking major, major names. I would be amazed if more than 1 out of 10 wedding couples in this country have any clue what the Guild of Wedding Photographers or the MPA is, or any other similar organisation. In addition to knowing about them, they have to believe in what they stand for and believe in their quality. In all honesty, even Getty is a push, and they're to photographic agencies what Microsoft is to... erm... the known universe :P

  2. #22

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Making it in to the ranks of the immortals is as much a matter of pure luck as talent. Being in the right place for the right shot that strikes the chord with the general public is the key. Many highly talented photographers never get that break no matter what they think or achieve.

    Some do make it to immortal status by pure sales pitch (chutzpah) such as the IMHO contemptable and highly untalented Annie L from New York whose work always underwhelms me no end.
    I logged in just to say to the phrase --> "....always underwhelms me no end...."

    Will aim to use it soon.


  3. #23
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    New comers are not affecting the entire photo industry.

    You are not looking at the big picture.

    They are affecting the lower end of market, ie clients with no budget, photographers that charge cheap. This low end market is incredibly competitive as it is, and because majority of people are in this area, negative feedback is abundant, and people become aware of this 'problem'

    The line is still, and will always be very clear between these the low end and high end market, ie real corporate clients with a budget, professional photographers that charge 10k and above for shoots.

    You can't categorize the market into 'general public' and assume that it's affecting everything. The low balling photographers and clients will always be fighting in their little circle of low budgets, struggling to complaining till no end.

    It's like how Giordano doesn't compete with the likes of LV. No matter what sales gimmick Giordano or Bossini or any of these budget fashion outlets do, it won't affect LV or their customers. They live in completely different worlds. It's the same in the photography industry. Low balling clients will never get industry standard imagery, and photographers who deliver sub standard images will never get industry standard clients.

    It's either improve or die trying

    Know your target audience, know your competitors, and you'll know where you stand in the industry. When you know where you stand in the industry (the big picture) you'll know how the prices are and your chances of survival. Once you know that, you will know what you need to do, to either get out of your situation, or improve your standings.

    Once you know all that, i don't see the need to complain like so many people do everywhere. It's just a matter of getting things done.
    Last edited by airmj; 29th December 2009 at 02:10 PM.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    the standards of local photographers do not get a boost from client mentality that if they want a good photographer they'll just go overseas.

    also regarding business sense, it takes alot more than business sense when the market is not growing much and there are more photographers and clients are not keeping the budgets up. There are some big organisations I shoot for which you'd be surprised at the budgets.

    I don't think clients are so loyal that they'll go to you for every job, at least in the area I'm in. They will go to the photographer that best suits the direction they want. Visually sophisticated clients with some money will head that way whereas clients who just treat photography as a service may just stick with one photographer (the pay can be quite different in both situations)

    it also varies from market to market, I think that some wedding photographers are very well established and that's great, but commercial photography hits an in-between zone.
    ad photography is another different market

    quite a number of photographers have gone overseas (in a way we become the expensive foreigners, which is ironic but good)
    yup... somehow, u find clients who go for top-notch famous names are clients who incidentally are able to appreciate the art of delivering an image. Something not locals (generally, though exceptions apply) can do. The mentality of the market requires creative tackling and presenting of the services.

    Not surprised at big organisations with small budgets. Happens in all industries and sometimes they say "u give me this low price, i take your service. Next time, you can tell ppl that I am your client, helps to prop up your resume/portfolio/client list". Unfortunately, most of the price that they quote are so low that services cannot be delivered at the expected quality.

    Loyal clients can be had but it really takes a good mind to suss out the clients' mentality to find out what makes them tick as in all industries.

    Yup. No tactics or strategy works across all market segments. Even within that market segment, you have to have different strategy for different tier...hard work

    unfortunately, local brands are still perceived to be lower in quality than imported brands. That's why most ppl, especially in arts, go overseas to make a name for themselves before returning to singapore and everyone fights to say they were the first to recognise his/her talent...
    G

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by airmj View Post
    New comers are not affecting the entire photo industry.

    You are not looking at the big picture.

    They are affecting the lower end of market, ie clients with no budget, photographers that charge cheap. This low end market is incredibly competitive as it is, and because majority of people are in this area, negative feedback is abundant, and people become aware of this 'problem'

    The line is still, and will always be very clear between these the low end and high end market, ie real corporate clients with a budget, professional photographers that charge 10k and above for shoots.

    You can't categorize the market into 'general public' and assume that it's affecting everything. The low balling photographers and clients will always be fighting in their little circle of low budgets, struggling to complaining till no end.

    It's like how Giordano doesn't compete with the likes of LV. No matter what sales gimmick Giordano or Bossini or any of these budget fashion outlets do, it won't affect LV or their customers. They live in completely different worlds. It's the same in the photography industry. Low balling clients will never get industry standard imagery, and photographers who deliver sub standard images will never get industry standard clients.

    It's either improve or die trying

    Know your target audience, know your competitors, and you'll know where you stand in the industry. When you know where you stand in the industry (the big picture) you'll know how the prices are and your chances of survival. Once you know that, you will know what you need to do, to either get out of your situation, or improve your standings.

    Once you know all that, i don't see the need to complain like so many people do everywhere. It's just a matter of getting things done.
    generally, new comers do affect the whole industry... but if you look at the whole market as a pyramid, the effect is less pronounced as it gets higher the pyramid.

    new comers who charges low prices do not usually grab jobs away from regulars. They create opportunities for clients who would otherwise not have considered photography services to try it. Hence, the market actually enlarges because of the new comers and their unbelievably low rates because new market segment is actually created. After this is created, the new clients may start to become more aware of the photography service and become more demanding in their requirements. when the new photographers are not able to meet the new standards at the rate they used to charge, usually the new photographers will up their rate, drop the project, take up the project at a loss or deliver substandard work.

    Now if the new photographers up their rates, the client will compare the new photographer with the photographer that is known to be able to deliver the new requirements albeit at a higher rate. If the rates are comparable, the client may be adventurous to continue with the new photographer with the trust/bond over the past few projects or the client may decide to just move to the next "brand" of photographer (which in this case, prb called "upgrade"). If the client sticks to the new photographer and his/her new rates, the new photographer is on his way up to the next tier and since he now knows he can command such rates, he will be less willing to settle for less. if the client decides to "upgrade" / change photographers, the more veteran photographer will have this new business by virtue of the new photographer who first introduced the client to the market.

    Now if the new photographers drop the project, they will continue to offer their services to new/"virgin" clients which no photographers will take up. This works well because the new clients will not pay for something that they do not see the value of. Of course, this means that the new clients will upgrade if they wanted a higher "value" service, bringing new business to the more veteran photographer.

    Now if the new photographers take the project at a loss, they may do it for strategic reasons to boost their portfolio. But if the loss is too big or they take too many of such projects, they will not be able to survive and the law of survival will eliminate these photographers from the industry, creating more space for more new entrepreneurial photographers wannabe to step in and fill the gap. Ultimately, there are only so few clients who you can work for a loss but are able to boost your portfolio in a way that the loss is worth it. Hence, the new clients will move to the next tier or if budget is a critical constraint, drop the project or do it themselves.

    Lastly, if the new photographers take the project but deliver substandard work, these new photographers' reputation will first take a hit. From all the complaint threads in Clubsnap, you can see that clients will not take too lightly to substandard work. This situation will not hurt the market because this is only unique to that market segment as well as that tier of photographers. The whole market will be badly hurt if there is some industry-wide conspiracy going on that undermines the value of the entire industry. On the contrary, such complaints actually serve the existing players in the next tier and above well in 2 ways: (1) The new clients who suffered the substandard work will now be careful about paying peanuts to unknown photographers and if budget again is not a major constraint, they will rather pay for the next tier or higher photographers. (2) Future new clients who have yet to suffer substandard work will now be more wary and critical in their choosing for photographers to deliver their expected standard of work. Hence good photographers with good portfolios and reputation tend to gain the most out of this.

    Hope my 2 cents did not bore anyone to death...summary: change is necessary evil and the higher you are placed in the market, the less affected you will be.
    G

  6. #26

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Making it in to the ranks of the immortals is as much a matter of pure luck as talent. Being in the right place for the right shot that strikes the chord with the general public is the key. Many highly talented photographers never get that break no matter what they think or achieve.

    Some do make it to immortal status by pure sales pitch (chutzpah) such as the IMHO contemptable and highly untalented Annie L from New York whose work always underwhelms me no end.
    Ian, i completely agree with you on the luck part. Many great photos I've seen could have been taken by any competent, top level photojournalist.. it's just consistency which really counts as an attribute of the photographer i guess..

    Annie Leibovitz.. Typical 'Fine Art' photographer who achieves 'greatness' by making millions of dollars.. I've never considered her as a legend
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  7. #27

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Since the discussion has taken several divergent routes, I'll just like to address the title of the discussion - "Where are we heading now"

    I had coffee with a freelancer (shoots for nat geo every now and then, covers some major sporting events for some magazines periodically, some commercial assignments (product and fashion shoots) in between. He was curious about the market in Singapore so we swapped notes.

    In every market for every sub-industry (within the photography industry), there are definitely established players who get regular work for good money. In the same markets, there are strugglers who may never make it. Likewise, new-comers who try to break into the industry.

    Some commonalities we found -
    Barriers to entry are lowered (convenience and surging popularity of DSLRs)
    Significantly greater number of newcomers in the past 5 years
    Significantly more volatile entry and exit by players, barring the more established players
    Clients are less willing to pay top dollars in general (even for the bigger players)

    Nat geo and many other magazines and papers are not just turning to freelancers anymore. That was the gasp news of yesterday. A large proportion of the print media are increasingly turning to public contribution and stock photography. Even big names which used to pay big dollars for assignment are lowering their budget designated for photography, and that is not just happening in Singapore. When supply increases, demand drops, price inevitably (and ultimately) decreases as well.

    In the new economy, countless industries are facing changes. It seems that the changes to the photography industry is mostly exerting a downward force on the viability of the industry. The surge in the number of newcomers inevitably increase the supply. Most of the bros here might be thinking 'wedding', since CS seems to be a nice breeding ground for aspiring wedding photogs. But that's not just the case. There are many newcomers who are trying to break into the various sub-industries as well - the press, fashion, corporate, food, even school headshots and class photos. Many of these newcomers use the age-old-tried-and-tested strategy to break into the industry - price war, leading to self-cannibalism of the industry. The lowering of the market price floor will eventually cascade to the rest of the market inevitably. According to this friend of mine, no one is truly untouchable. Not even the big 'legendary' names we speak of. We imagine them to comfortably earn top dollars without challenge. That may not always be true in reality. The downward price pressure is slowly affecting them as well, together with the rest of the industry.

    Many photographers thus turn to stock photography for a little side-income. Which is actually the most logical next-step to take. And again, this is happening not just in Singapore. However, stock photography is killing the need for the press and other forms of print media to engage photographers in the first place. The photographer friend remarks with a cold laugh on how he is actually suffering the consequences of his own myopia.

    This would come across as an unpopular view, but imho, I foresee that photography will become less and less viable as a full-time profession. I also foresee the number of part-timers and freelancers to increase and photography will be a good side-income for sometime until that industry is cannibalized as well. The expectations of the market will continue to lower in terms of quality as a result of the absence of regulation and the majority form of competition being price competition and very little else, which will bring about an increase in the expectations on quantity, as photographers stumble upon each other to offer more for less.
    Last edited by shinken; 29th December 2009 at 05:02 PM.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    ^Agreed. This profession is looking bleak indeed.

  9. #29

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    To certain extend i dont agree with the saying business kills the passion for photography. It happen only if one is trying to oversell themselves and cant meet the client expectation as well as taking on any assignment that is around.

    I do agree that photography is competitive market, but if u enjoy what u r doing and learn how to exceed the client's expectation.

    Realistically, u need to ask u why u r in the market? What is ur aim. Without this aim all u do is comparing someone else success to ur own condition. I think it is pointless.

    In my view, the future of photography is rather optimistic if u know what u want.

    Competition is going to be stronger, instead of looking at it as negative, why dont use this to ur gain? If u know what i mean.

    Tricks and business strategy are quite short term but honest photography will take u further.

    To be honest, it is better to be in a unregulated business which present lots of opportunities if you can see it. In regulate business it is probably boring...

    So the future will still be quite messy for low end market and I don't see it will change any more than it is now. But the pressure is in the high-end market and mid-end market probably makes a comfortable stands now, but things will change in the long terms as Singapore has huge influx of overseas talent as well as local who are used to the standard that they used to while they are elsewhere, those will demand for high level of personal service and unique product. More and more photographer who willing to work hard and differentiate themselves will definitely share a bit or a chunk of this unique clientele. The thing is, this type of client can't be found, but rather, they will find you instead.

    For example, I can see some photographer just take on any jobs that they are ask to quote, rather than refer it to their peers who is specialised in it... with this form of 2 ways referral system, one will gain more insight into their business.

    I do enjoy taking photos and I do enjoy running the business... I think both are just challenging enough to keep me occupied.



    Regards,

    Hart
    Last edited by Agetan; 29th December 2009 at 08:29 PM.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Making it in to the ranks of the immortals is as much a matter of pure luck as talent. Being in the right place for the right shot that strikes the chord with the general public is the key. Many highly talented photographers never get that break no matter what they think or achieve.

    Some do make it to immortal status by pure sales pitch (chutzpah) such as the IMHO contemptable and highly untalented Annie L from New York whose work always underwhelms me no end.
    thumbs up.

    honestly? a good shot is 99% luck 1% skill.
    sometimes when it comes to competitions such as canon photomarathon, its luck tat prevails. and creativity is luck.

    my impression of the photo biz is tat its never easy. imagine. u need tat special shot tat could make ur customer come back for more. not easy eh. and its subjective.

    i remember ian gave me an advice. if u wanna start the biz? get urself a catalog of at least 200 decent pics.
    and i would like to thank him for tat advice.

    i jsut got approached by a certain group of people who said they wanna collaborate with me for shoots, after seeing my post on the biz section. when i asked them it turns out like they werent too well prepared yet.

    *shakes*

    photography as a business is hard. i'll admit tat. jsut getting ready a catalog is enough to kill ur interest. 200 shots, including post editing. now then u gotta think even further. for a lifetime.

    shivers.

    i believe partially is because of canon/nikon's advertising. see the latest ads? they make it look like having a dslr means ur pro. and tats a misconception. i have idiots coming up to me saying they are pros. ask then shoot how long? one year.

    and i'm guessing u people who work professionally had a good 20 years experience before calling urself pro.

    and its not just er. photos. u need to package, u need to have business acumen. getting clients and stuff. not easy i reckon
    Last edited by allenleonhart; 29th December 2009 at 09:39 PM.

  11. #31

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    well.. Yes, the profession looks bleak, because most photographers don't market themselves well enough.. This is what the Americans are good at (do not take me for an american though, i just study here) , and they maintain a good career because they have various organizations like APA, ASMP and NPPA which are very influential.. However the American market is so large that there are as many quitters and failures as successful professionals.. Some guys who graduated from my university live in Manhattan and make about a quarter million dollars a year at the age of 26 or 27.. And on the other hand there are photographers i know who don't make that much money, because they'd like to work a bit less and spend more time with their family and stuff like that.. And apart from that there are the usual measurbators and control freaks who *think* they wanna be photographers and end up quitting.. I cannot stress further on the fact that photography will never be something which would be a financially appealing career choice.. If somebody wants to switch to being a full time photographer.. I must tell you that it's very different to be shooting as a hobby and as a full time working professional.. The biggest joke in Singapore is that anyone who shoots a wedding or any event for money immediately transforms into a professional, regardless of how shitty/good their marketing skills or portfolio are.. Those who shoot for their passion and not money are usually photojournalists, and they earn ****.

    Commercial and Travel photography is headed towards stock, and photojournalism is headed towards multimedia and video..
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  12. #32

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenleonhart View Post

    and i'm guessing u people who work professionally had a good 20 years experience before calling urself pro.
    Everything in your post makes sense except for this statement. A professional photographer is someone who has great marketing skills and great photographic ability. It's not just someone who has 20 years experience. In my earlier post I mentioned people who are 26 or 27 years old, shooting commercial/wedding work and living in manhattan, making more or less $250,000 a year.. There are quite a few actually...

    www.joeyl.com - 19 year old photographer. look at his client list under 'information'..

    Vincent LaForet - he's 32 years old or somewhere around that.. Probably one of the most popular photographers out there today...
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  13. #33

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    GWC A shares with another GWC B on his lucky break of how he made some money shooting for someone.
    GWC B shares with GWC C on GWC A's lucky break and it goes on from there...

    With everyone posting pics, its not hard to mistake that photography is a simple affair... afterall, most shots nowadays are just ehh.. another snap. Its not difficult to mimic 90% of the pics shown in this forum.

    Regards
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  14. #34
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    In recent times, we have seen many treads and topics about how the newcomers are spoiling the photography markets in Singapore. This issue has been made more prominent in the last few years with the drop is camera prices, increase in consumer range DSLRs and lenses, as well as the common misconception that Photography means easy money cos all it takes is to click the shutter in and edit the images in the most artistic manner to earn a quick buck.

    But.

    It made me ask myself why the new comers or "now called GWC" have this kind of an impression that its easy to make photography into a choice of career. The answer i came up with is because, many people at the professional level have been giving the newcomers the wrong impression about the industry, as well as feeding them the wrong attitudes on practices and quality that should be upheld if the choice of career is picked to be that of a photographic nature.

    This is coupled with the many who starts calling themselves professionals with perhaps one experience of shooting for a friend or cousin who so happened to be in need of a photographer and decides to scrimge on hiring one, by making use of their own relatives and/or friends.

    I am not trying to start a war here with this post, But it will be good to understand how and what the new comers are really thinking when they are at the crossroads of making the decision to go fulltime or professional. It may even be good if some interested new individuals would like to have a coffee session with me, to talk about why they would like to join this profession and allow me to share a little with them on what i have been through the last few years.

    Looking forward to some replies from the incoming crowd.
    Singaporeans have a unique mentality. Expecting every goods and services to be dirt cheap. We are spoilt for choice whether we are selecting the service from some unknown "Pro" or some established Pros. Nobody can compete against price.

    I know of some friends who got married and when they engaged some "Pro" photographers, skill wasn't important. Budget was the issue. After spending some $50K on dinners etc, there's no more budget for photos. As long as the "Pro" promised the sky and the moon for $500 for a day's work will be assured of the job. To be fair, the standard isn't that crappy. Nikon and Canon DSLR can churn out pretty decent photos even when held by my 103 year old grandma.

    As majority of clients (including the company I work in) do not see the need to pay top dollar for photography assignment. All they need is to call out for tender. The fellow who quotes the lowest get the job. What happens? We get crappy photos which we can't complain. The photographer goes away embolden by the fact that he can get away with crappy work. Later he use my company's name as references to get some more work. Where does that leave the Pros?

    Unless, we form an association and have some form of accreditation, there is no way we can weed all the faux "Pros"
    .
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  15. #35
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Legoz View Post
    GWC A shares with another GWC B on his lucky break of how he made some money shooting for someone.
    GWC B shares with GWC C on GWC A's lucky break and it goes on from there...

    With everyone posting pics, its not hard to mistake that photography is a simple affair... afterall, most shots nowadays are just ehh.. another snap. Its not difficult to mimic 90% of the pics shown in this forum.

    Regards
    You are right. As I said earlier, my grandma could snap most of the pictures in CS. It's not that difficult given that the entry bar is now so low. Mistakes can be corrected by simply deleting a "mistake". It will cost you nothing to snap again.
    Dreamz is the Alternate Realty | Stand Up and Be Counted

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    [FONT=Arial]You are right. As I said earlier, my grandma could snap most of the pictures in CS. It's not that difficult given that the entry bar is now so low. Mistakes can be corrected by simply deleting a "mistake". It will cost you nothing to snap again.[/FONT]
    Not when you have a business to run.......

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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by krishna91 View Post
    Commercial and Travel photography is headed towards stock
    Anyone who says that the future of photography lies in stock just needs to have a look at the market.

  18. #38

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    Anyone who says that the future of photography lies in stock just needs to have a look at the market.
    Uhh, if you look at what i said once again , I'm sure that it was 'headed towards stock' , meaning that stock will be a part of almost all travel/commercial shooters' income, doesn't mean that it's the 'future of photography'. Let's just say it's a sidekick.
    I refuse to List my camer@ equipment here.

  19. #39

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    Not when you have a business to run.......
    strangely i had the exact same thought just before i scrolled down.


    And not anyone can churn out decent photos, espcially at a wedding.
    Last edited by Chris Lim; 29th December 2009 at 11:30 PM.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    Not when you have a business to run.......

    Problem is you are running a business but your competitor has a steady job already and he can afford to undercut you to just earn a few quid for the fun of it. How to compete with these people? They are like "pest" who won't go away.
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