Put it another way. Stock photography is on the wane, it is seriously under threat more so than commercial photography, from a multitude of different angles. Travel photography has been essentially stock photography for ages now, so I'm not sure travel photographers can migrate towards stock cause the majority of them have been stock for a while.
The end user might be using more stock, but that doesn't mean the stock industry is in a good state. Not by a long shot.
The future of stock photography is plenty bleak. Ergo, it won't become "part (save a very negligible part) of almost all travel/commercial shooters' income".
I am already serving the 'foreign talent' market actually. I also agree with you on their expectations on standards. However, local photographers here in SG are actually pretty talented. We are actually fast learners who are genuinely passionate about our craft. If you ask me, at least where wedding photography is concerned, I see the a phenomenal growth in both the quality and quantity of new talents. Standards is not an issue. It's the sheer supply size, and more importantly, the fact that while we make huge progress in our art, many of us actually neglect the business side of things. Again imho, many of the newcomers, with their quality of work, can easily command a much higher fee if they were to work elsewhere. But in order to get work, usually their solution is to sell themselves short. Which seems to be the most natural thing to do. Only that in the (not so) long run, the market will get their expectations met at a lower price.
Embedded in your sharing somewhere also suggests (apologies in advance if I had inferred wrongly) that these 'foreign talents' would be more willing to pay. I remember there was a time when I scoffed at how locals are 'spoiling' the market by charging really low rates to shoot a wedding. Guess what, photogs on craigslist and such in the US are also selling themselves for 500 bucks for full coverage, with coffeetable album to boot! I'm not sure exactly if these are part-timers or full-timers there, but it certainly is a growing trend there, where downward price pressure is concerned. 2 years ago the full-time wedding photogs there were very much against giving away digital negatives (clients only get the files of the photos they purchase), but now, it has become a frowned-upon but accepted norm.
It was then I realize that we're looking at a global phenomenon. The industry behavior is actually shaped by bigger forces. Low barriers to entry is not unique to SG at all. Even with their PPA in the states and such, photogs there are lamenting about how easy it is for newcomers to join the industry. Undercutting, price competition, hordes of new-comers, weekend warriors... these are not unique to Singapore at all.
Ultimately, I also agree that optimism is indeed an essential pre-requisite for anyone who wants to survive and thrive as a full-timer. A positive spirit will definitely help us endure the more trying times.
Last edited by shinken; 30th December 2009 at 12:05 AM.
I shudder to think ... it is a problem not only in the photographic world but also in every facet of Singaporean mindset.
You and I would definitely want the best photos at whatever cost but sadly the majority of Singaporeans don't share that sentiments. To them it is just one of the "must have" and it is chuck in the storeroom after the novelty wears off. Don't believe? Ask any stranger in a hawker centre.
i don't exactly get what you're trying to imply in your first paragraph.. otherwise, i agree with you that it is on the wane, but some travel photographers i know do shoot stock at least in their locality and it does give them some money,yes. But the majority of their income of course comes from shooting for Editorials etc.
I refuse to List my camer@ equipment here.
I refuse to List my camer@ equipment here.
There are 2 threats that every full-time photographer ignored as they seemingly couldn't do anything about it:
1. Photo competitions which has a underlying intention of massive reception of photos and their usage rights; and
2. Foreign photographers coming to Singapore to lure clients based on the photographers' familarity (and /or the clients' ignorance) of a foreign location for the proposed shoot.
The first threat is pretty deadly for full-time photographers.
Last edited by eyes; 30th December 2009 at 02:43 AM.
Tum podem extulit horridulum...日出東方﹐唯我不敗。
I do agree alot of ppl do not see the value of photographs anymore. But isnt that our problem as photographers to educate the clients? And also to educate the newcomers so they can in turn educate their customers?
I think this thread bashes alot of new comers alot. But it is also good to see where everyone is coming from. What i can suggest is within our own means, to try and influence the new comers or at least share your experiences with them so they may hopefully self educate themselves in the right direction.
Spoiling of market happens across all levels and it is caused by providers at all levels as well. So we cannot really blame anyone if we are having problems surviving. Because at the end of the day, it proves that our business models are not water tight enough.
I can't comment much for the commercial industry, but from what i gathered, the situation is really very very bad. "reputable" people have gone to the extent of undercutting each other by more then half the amount. So yes the situation is bad in many areas of photography.
SO for all those who are thinking about coming into the industry, I hope this thread serves its purpose to allow you insights on the industry. Because every thing mentioned here is very very real. And i really can't think of any other better ways to help you guys then to share these knowledge with you all.
Like they say...if the shoe fits...wear it. I don't suppose Chris is referring to you as a "new comer" but he is referring to new comers as a general phenomenon. Chris can hold his ground as a Pro. I respect his skill and his photography as an art form.
Every Pro starts off as a new comer. I have been taking photos since 1978 when my dad bought me a Nikon FM. It was a expensive hobby in those days. Today, a D700 is relatively cheap. There's no negative to process and I can get instant gratification by looking at the rearview.
I believe what most Pros are "complaining" is not competition. If the new comers comes in and raise the standards then it is generally good for the industry as a whole. But what we are seeing now is mediocre "snapshot" standard being offered at a cut throat price. By doing this, you "break" the rice bowls of the Pros and one day they will be just a memory. The future generation will lament why the standards never improve.
You correctly said "everyone influences the industry" as a new comer. To influence the industry by raising the standards then by all means we welcome you but to influence the industry by lowering costs then most of us will think twice.
By the way I don't take photos for a living but I feel good photographers who are making a living with their skills should be respected, encouraged and patronised.
It's certainly true that the pictures are chucked in the storeroom. Why not? In the case of wedding albums, I haven't seen anyone who will blatantly place them in the living room or even bedroom to admire everyday. Who will do such a thing?! Perhaps only the newly weds. It's a natural thing; you want to make space in your home and get on with the daily affairs of life.
The only problem is, it is often human psychology that gets in the way of us. What do I mean? Has anyone often bought stuffs (souvenirs, whatever) when traveling, only to realize upon reaching home that those stuffs are just rubbish waiting to collect dust? Has anyone ever bought cameras or lenses with such excitement only to find weeks or months later they are not useful at all? (No surprise why in the B&S section people are selling stuffs less than few months old.)
The way our human minds work is that, we get influenced easily by the people around us, the mass media, our environments, the situation we are put in, etc. We buy and do things on the spur of the moment, or feel like we cannot lose out to the Tom, Dick and Harry around us.
So in weddings, some couples go thru elaborate procedures to sign up for expensive gowns, glamorous dinners, and of course, expensive photography. There's nothing wrong with these. After all, it's not always they get to experience their own wedding (I hope!). But very often, they spend way beyond their means. That's where to me, it's not wise or that it's wrong. (And why should the guests be made to bear the costs by forking out $150 or more worth of ang bao just cos the couple have chosen some posh hotels with usually lousy foods to hold their dinner? I totally disdain this practice.)
So as far as weddings are concerned, some couples will spend like $10k just on photography. Much more than what they earn individually. They think they want good quality stuffs. But I'm not sure if they realize what they want is just a photographer who can record their weddings with a reasonable standard and who charge much less.
A lot can be said about how one should preserve wedding memories through photography. BUT, ultimately, the albums certainly get chucked in the storeroom. It's just another event in your life. Like birthdays and graduation. Life will have to go on.
To me, what's important is spending within your means. And thankfully, that's where the free-lance and semi-pro photographers come in. Not every couple will (and rightly so) want to spend big money on photographers to capture a day's event (no doubt it's an important one) which will soon pass.
As to the competitive nature of the market, we have to thank (or blame?) digital.
Last edited by kiwi2; 30th December 2009 at 10:36 AM.
Another problem I see with the pros worrying about newcomers grabbing a share of the market is that there is no proper education and training for these enthusiasts.
One reason could be that there is no pro in Singapore who is good enough to share photo techniques and the business of the trade with the newbies. Pardon me, I can't think of any name here. It's either a closely-guarded secret (cos they are not good enough themselves?) or that we have that local kiasu mentality -- If I teach, I will lose out.
So then what do the newbies do? They go out seeking for assignments, promising cheap rates and hopefully, they learn the trade the hard way.
You can get good at what you're doing without someone else holding your hand. They might make it easier, or quicker, or ultimately make you better, but there is nothing to say that you can't get to a good standard if you expend the time and effort.
The problem though, is more that the people on CS for starters are more interested in what lens to buy next than getting better at taking pictures. As I've been at pains to point out, if you're taking pictures (which you need to do to get better, mentor or not) then you'll know what lens you should get next.
I'm not commenting about whether I'm good enough to share, but in my time I certainly enjoy sharing and teaching; I have conducted workshops for the University photographic society, my local camera club, and I happily share with people who approach me who seem like they have some clue.
Sorry if I'm being a tad self-centric in my argument (even if, as I said, I am happy to help people along in person), but why knock pros for not sharing and fear of losing out, when there is no real gain in doing so? (aside from some intangible greater good)
There are plenty of people out there who conduct workshops in return for remuneration. Including here on CS. Unless you're accusing them of holding back on their knowledge for fear of losing out, then there are people that share.
Put another way, why is no one in Singapore who earns more than me sharing any of their income with me?
You went off-tangent.
1. The issue is not whether you can learn photography yourself or if you are successful through self-taught methods. You have totally misread my point. Sure, you can be talented in soccer without much coaching, you can be a child prodigy on the piano, or a math genius or a Paul McCartney without formal music lessons. But that's not where my argument is heading.
I'm not concerned how you learn your photography or where you got your skills.
What I'm saying is, without proper education, the newbies have no idea what photography entails. The serious aspects of doing the business, for eg. So there are many young lads (obviously not married for many of them) going out to do weddings without realizing the importance of the event. Moreover, they may also not know what the entire process of doing weddings may be cos there is no one to guide them. It seems simple from the outside. But to do a good job, a wedding photographer has to put in a lot of effort.
Now, if there's such an education, perhaps then we will see many give up the trade cos they are simply not up to it or that it's not their cup of tea. Right now, what I'm seeing is, people are "just doing it" based on what they think it is, rather than knowing what SHOULD be the way of the trade.
2. Whoever said you have to teach for free?
3. No, it's not ironic that I pointed out about the kiasu syndrome. Not sure if you're well-traveled or have been to other forums/courses, be it photography or other matters. Yes it can happen anywhere, but being kiasu is particularly strong here.
In case you don't know (but I don't think that's the case), there are many photography courses conducted in many parts of the world where people share info. For a fee of course. There are no good ones here. Those that do so right now are mediocre ones. And these overseas pros who conduct the lessons are never afraid to lose out cos they are so outstanding in their trade that even if they reveal everything on how they capture a shot, you will never be able to replicate their style exactly in the same way. I can't think of any photographer here who has reached this stage.
4. No real gain for the pros to teach? Cos your mentality is that teaching has to be done free. Why should it be so? Charge the participants of course!! But like I've said, the problem is that, we must first find such people who are so darn good that they can teach without worrying that their techniques can be copied.
5. Sharing of income is just a ridiculous analogy that is off-tangent again cos you misread the intention of my earlier post.
Last edited by kiwi2; 30th December 2009 at 11:13 AM.
Because you said,
"One reason could be that there is no pro in Singapore who is good enough to share photo techniques and the business of the trade with the newbies. Pardon me, I can't think of any name here."
I can think of quite a few that DO conduct courses in Singapore for a fee. Including some that advertise on Clubsnap. So the assumption is, you are discounting those people because their concern is maybe business through education, rather than education for the sake of it.
My mentality is not that teaching has to be free, but from the tone of your last post that implication was very much there - that the burden was on the professional community who are not fulfilling this responsibility and therefore letting the newcomers down. Now if I have misunderstood your post in this regard then I apologise.
You also just said, in relation to conducting courses,
"There are no good ones here. Those that do so right now are mediocre ones."
Which is it? You can't think of any? Or they're not good?
Maybe you want to name a few LOCAL names here who conduct serious few days studio/wedding photography courses? Maybe charging S$1000 or above? I can't find any. Seriously. Many of those courses conducted really just to introduce you to photography. They don't go in-depth into the nitty-gritties. Honestly, we can learn those ourselves, like you say.
Yes yes yes! That's where all the CS tit-for-tat comes cos people here are too ready to assume! I did not blame the pros and neither did I say they let the newcomers down. You assumed it right? I never did say that.
I reiterate here: All I'm saying is that the newbies lack guidance. That's why in a way they are snatching the bread and butter of the pros. Imagine if I'm a newbie who has just owned a DSLR and some lenses. I attend a wedding. See the photographer use his cam shoot here and there. Then I realize that guy charges $3k. Wow, I'm thinking, that's easy money for a day's work! So what do I do? I go out there, telling people, Hey, I can be your photographer for your wedding. People are charging ridiculous $3k or more. I can charge you $400 only with freebies thrown in. See my point?
Cos there is no proper education for these people. And they are multiplying cos cameras are getting cheaper and cheaper. If the pros are willing to only teach them, and the couples are wise enough to understand where their photographers get their training from, there would be less of under-charging and the standards of photography can be improved. Right now, it's the contrary. Newbies and those who are already in the trade as a free-lancer are doing it based on what they learn themselves which may or may not be right.
In case I get accused again. I'm also not saying the pros here are doing a lousy job. To the contrary in fact. There are many here who can take many good pics. But they are doing it as their main trade cos that's what they are good at. But teaching the trade is a totally different thing. As far as photography is concerned, I think to teach it and not worry that you are revealing too much of your secrets, you have to be a master. Right now, many of the usual pros are excellent in their skills as a seasoned photographer, but perhaps not as a master/teacher of the trade.
Another reason I thought of is that Singapore has a small market and it is an expensive place to live in. Inevitably, $$$ is a big issue for photographers. You can write or claim sweet words about how passionate you are in your job but at come on, be realistic. Don't lie that $$$ is not your concern. You got to think about feeding your family and retirement. In other developing countries, where $ is less of an issue, people can be more passionate in what they do and charge less perhaps. As for developed countries, the cost of living is high like Singapore. But then, photographers there can charge an arm and leg. It's a bigger market, anyway, unlike Singapore.
Please, I come in peace and to point out the issues and problems. Not here to accuse or blame the pros for not doing a good job.
Last edited by shinken; 30th December 2009 at 12:05 PM.