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Thread: Where are we heading now?

  1. #61

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    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.
    But it is easy to infer a certain level of resentment you have about the pros in SG for not sharing the way you expect them to. Hand-holding them to guide them through the 'nitty-gritties'.

    I fully agree with Jed that it is not a local thing. In fact, it is not even exclusive to the photography industry at all.

    I'm not sure what experiences you've been through, and they are obviously pretty bad ones. The reason why I am extremely selective about my apprentices is exactly because I want to devote the time and attention to impart my skills and knowledge to each of them. And the reason for my philosophy is because I was a beneficiary of such tutelage. And no, I didn't need them to hold my hands through the nitty-gritties. I don't hold the hands of my apprentices either, but I always encourage them to question, and even train them on their questioning. I see CS as an extremely generous sharing ground, contrary to what you seem to imply. Unless you were really talking about step-by-step-tell-me-what-to-do-next kind of tutelage.
    Last edited by shinken; 30th December 2009 at 12:09 PM.

  2. #62

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

    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.
    Teaching the skillset is not the job of specific photographers.
    Training for business skills specific to the industry should be led by a union of sorts.
    ASMP in america is one of those, they publish educational material quite often too.
    The main guidance that newbies need are INDUSTRY RATES GUIDELINES that act as a STARTING POINT that they can use when negotiating with clients.
    I have various freelancer friends in different fields (not photography) who didn't know the industry rates and ended up undercutting. Not their intention but they didn't know where to get pricing ideas.

  3. #63

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    But it is easy to infer a certain level of resentment you have about the pros in SG for not sharing the way you expect them to. Hand-holding them to guide them through the 'nitty-gritties'.

    I fully agree with Jed that it is not a local thing. In fact, it is not even exclusive to the photography industry at all.

    I'm not sure what experienced you've been through, and they are obviously pretty bad ones. The reason why I am extremely selective about my apprentices is exactly because I want to devote the time and attention to impart my skills and knowledge to each of them. And the reason for my philosophy is because I was a beneficiary of such tutelage. And no, I didn't need them to hold my hands through the nitty-gritties. I don't hold the hands of my apprentices either, but I always encourage them to question, and even train them on their questioning. I see CS as an extremely generous sharing ground, contrary to what you seem to imply. Unless you were really talking about step-by-step-tell-me-what-to-do-next kind of tutelage.
    Another assumption on your part. Sigh... no wonder CS will always be CS because of people like you who like to assume and then a large part of posts is based on arguing for the sake of it.

    "Hand-holding and nitty-gritties." May I know how you define them? Hand holding as in after you do your business in the toilet you expect people to wipe the backside? Nope, that's not what I believe in. In fact, I think in learning, it's always good for one to have hands-on and to experience some failures. Did I say hand-holding to mean total 100% spoon-feeding? Did I even mention the word "hand-holding" in the earlier post?

    Nitty-gritties as in the details. Just another word. You want to pay $50-200 for a 3-4 hours course and say, Yup it was a good learning experience? Please tell me this is not so or I think you got to be kidding. There's nothing wrong with such courses. But they are at best "Introduction to xxxxx photography" of which there are tons of them here. Where are the advanced courses? And then some of you pros lament the newbies for spoiling the market by undercharging? Where's the problem here?

    Oh pleasse, I'm not talking about apprenticeship. Obviously that's charity work. To be realistic, how many of these "apprentices" can you accept? They are more like your assistants and you don't want any Tom, dick or harry to spoil your day. Of course you pros are working your butt off for pittance if that's how you want to survive in the trade. I'm talking, rather, about solid photography courses/seminars to educate and improve the skills of people who are interested in the trade.

    If the top level photographers are willing to share skills and the nitty-gritties of the trade with enthusiasts, you will improve the quality and standards of photography after some time. You will also sift out the wannabes from the truly interested and perhaps talented people.

    The problem is, who is willing to teach? So how can one blame the newbies for coming out seemingly from nowhere to take on weddings?
    Last edited by kiwi2; 30th December 2009 at 12:29 PM.

  4. #64

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    Teaching the skillset is not the job of specific photographers.
    Training for business skills specific to the industry should be led by a union of sorts.
    ASMP in america is one of those, they publish educational material quite often too.
    The main guidance that newbies need are INDUSTRY RATES GUIDELINES that act as a STARTING POINT that they can use when negotiating with clients.
    I have various freelancer friends in different fields (not photography) who didn't know the industry rates and ended up undercutting. Not their intention but they didn't know where to get pricing ideas.
    Newbies are not so dim-witted to not know that they are under-cutting. You don't need a black-and-white to know that $400 for a full-day wedding is grossly under-cutting.

    "Teaching the skillset is not the job of specific photographers."

    Hmmm, sounds depressing. Who to teach the skillset then, in the Singapore context? Is that why newbies are going out to use real weddings as their their first assignments?

  5. #65
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    Teaching the skillset is not the job of specific photographers.
    Training for business skills specific to the industry should be led by a union of sorts.
    ASMP in america is one of those, they publish educational material quite often too.
    The main guidance that newbies need are INDUSTRY RATES GUIDELINES that act as a STARTING POINT that they can use when negotiating with clients.
    I have various freelancer friends in different fields (not photography) who didn't know the industry rates and ended up undercutting. Not their intention but they didn't know where to get pricing ideas.
    yup, i'll have to agree that starting rates seem to be plucked from the air. and when newbies come and ask "what's the usual rate for a wedding?" people tell them to go figure it out themselves.

    "how much for a product shoot?" -- "you calculate your own worth based on time, equipment, etc etc"

    yes, i do agree that it's how rates should be calculated, but their opportunity cost is not worth the same as a professional. a weekend is probably worth $500 to a hobbyist with some expensive cameras and lenses, but it's $3000-primetime for a wedding photographer.

    so if you want to reduce the number of people under-cutting, let's start to have industry norms for various types of projects. this way, those who deliver crap at that sort of prices get left behind by the market.

    i'm not a professional, but i've done some jobs here and there, and make sure i quote prices where the customer complains and says its too high. but they still pay.
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  6. #66
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    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"
    .
    i would say that the mentality does not affect only Singaporeans. And not all Singaporeans expect that. Then again, they place a certain value on the deliverables they hope to get. What is the point of paying a lot more if the client can't tell a difference between $10/photo and a $1000/photo? Ultimately, the client decides what is worth sacrificing. Some clients are simply happy with the lower end of the market and that's all fine. However if they go for too good to be true prices and yet make unreasonable demands on the deliverables...
    G

  7. #67
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    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.
    I will even add that it is not unique to this photography industry too.
    G

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    they dun spend 50K on a wedding dinner bro. they get "reimbursed" by ang bao so much so they can even make from it.

    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.
    rather than putting the blame on new comers or the mentality of the clients, it is more effective to generate interest, innovate and educate them with the products and marketing materials one has. Chris has put it very straightforwardly that you got to create a niche and create your own market. The saying that "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door" doesn't really hold true anymore. Innovation and education is the way to go and to add value to your products.

    new-comers are what I will call necessary evil. My earlier posts have explored how they will impact the industry for good and bad. Whichever side you stand on, there is no way to stop the change from happening unless you are able to form a strong cartel with anti-competitive schemes in place.

    This thread does serve as good information for photographer wannabes.
    G

  9. #69
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by hotwork77 View Post
    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.
    generally, i feel that the fear of mediocre snapshots types being offered at a cut throat price will affect the industry per se. These players survive either because they serve a niche for cheap snapshot photos or they will be eliminated by their own bad reputation. Have anyone stopped flying any airlines when a certain few airlines in the world have very poor safety and high accident records? No. Flyers who treasure their safety will rather fly with more reputable airlines but flyers who can not afford to fly the reputable airlines will still fly those airlines with poor safety and high accident record along with cheaper rates.

    With all the new cars imported from China selling at cut throat prices (I leave it to you to judge on the quality since it is relative), have these cars wrecked the industry? Nope, the stronger players will survive the shakeup but they generally pull through with higher-value cars because they target a different market too.

    In any industry, the strong and competent business will survive. Unless a business evolve and innovate, its complacency will bring it to its ruins. Singpost did not fetter out and become obsolete when the mails being delivered dropped drastically due to advent of emails. It created more products, diversified and yet still handling mails. Public phones do not become obsolete due to the influx of cheap mobile phones and plans as well as VOIP, the operators target a different segment of the market - foreigners. And you even see new operators.

    I for one, think that the photography industry will get better as more products and services surface.
    G

  10. #70
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    Teaching the skillset is not the job of specific photographers.
    Training for business skills specific to the industry should be led by a union of sorts.
    ASMP in america is one of those, they publish educational material quite often too.
    The main guidance that newbies need are INDUSTRY RATES GUIDELINES that act as a STARTING POINT that they can use when negotiating with clients.
    I have various freelancer friends in different fields (not photography) who didn't know the industry rates and ended up undercutting. Not their intention but they didn't know where to get pricing ideas.
    INDUSTRY RATES GUIDELINES can be construed as anti-competitive measures if you follow the recent news in Singapore. Ultimately, to each his own. If Photographer A can deliver what the clients want in X amount of money without making a loss, what is there to stop him/her? If Photographer B thinks that's a ridiculously low amount of money to charge for that job, he/she must first understand what he/she is delivering in addition to what Photographer A is delivering and educate the market on the value of the extras. That is differentiation.
    G

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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by antacid View Post
    yup, i'll have to agree that starting rates seem to be plucked from the air. and when newbies come and ask "what's the usual rate for a wedding?" people tell them to go figure it out themselves.

    "how much for a product shoot?" -- "you calculate your own worth based on time, equipment, etc etc"

    yes, i do agree that it's how rates should be calculated, but their opportunity cost is not worth the same as a professional. a weekend is probably worth $500 to a hobbyist with some expensive cameras and lenses, but it's $3000-primetime for a wedding photographer.

    so if you want to reduce the number of people under-cutting, let's start to have industry norms for various types of projects. this way, those who deliver crap at that sort of prices get left behind by the market.

    i'm not a professional, but i've done some jobs here and there, and make sure i quote prices where the customer complains and says its too high. but they still pay.
    i feel that it is the right way to calculate based on their own opportunity costs and other tangible costs. It is weird to have a relative new-comer coming in to command a high price for inexperience. In fact, the advantage that this new-comer has will be his/her willingness to take a job for a lower pay to try out but the clients must always be aware that they face the risk of new-comers not meeting the standard. Both parties benefit.
    G

  12. #72
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by godzilla60 View Post
    i feel that it is the right way to calculate based on their own opportunity costs and other tangible costs. It is weird to have a relative new-comer coming in to command a high price for inexperience. In fact, the advantage that this new-comer has will be his/her willingness to take a job for a lower pay to try out but the clients must always be aware that they face the risk of new-comers not meeting the standard. Both parties benefit.
    Well, if only all clients adopt a certain standard of deliverables. Unfortunately, often they are willing to adjust their standards to meet the "budget".

  13. #73

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by godzilla60 View Post
    INDUSTRY RATES GUIDELINES can be construed as anti-competitive measures if you follow the recent news in Singapore.

    Can you point me to the exact law for this?
    Because I thought it was only for specific industries?
    And also because doctors and architects have industry rate guidelines, which I don't see contravening any laws?

  14. #74

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    Newbies are not so dim-witted to not know that they are under-cutting. You don't need a black-and-white to know that $400 for a full-day wedding is grossly under-cutting.

    "Teaching the skillset is not the job of specific photographers."

    Hmmm, sounds depressing. Who to teach the skillset then, in the Singapore context? Is that why newbies are going out to use real weddings as their their first assignments?
    you underestimate the dim-wittedness of people.
    I say this because I was "dim-witted" once and quoted very low.
    It's called ignorance, not being "dim-witted" btw.

  15. #75
    Senior Member Kit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    Can you point me to the exact law for this?
    Because I thought it was only for specific industries?
    And also because doctors and architects have industry rate guidelines, which I don't see contravening any laws?
    Erm..... doctors maybe do but not architects.

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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    Well, if only all clients adopt a certain standard of deliverables. Unfortunately, often they are willing to adjust their standards to meet the "budget".
    yup..... money rules....
    G

  17. #77
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    Can you point me to the exact law for this?
    Because I thought it was only for specific industries?
    And also because doctors and architects have industry rate guidelines, which I don't see contravening any laws?
    haha....do check with a lawyer on the exact law but they are clamping down on such guidelines. If my memory don't fail me, there were some uproar about the industry rate guidelines especially for consultancy fees charged by the doctors.

    I am not sure if it applies to certain industries but I doubt so.
    G

  18. #78

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    I think it's good to observe the market situation these days too.
    For my area of work, turnover in marketing roles is very high.
    Marketing goals have become more short-term too.

    The amount and types of media available have increased beyond print and TV.
    This equates to more money that needs to be spread out thinner, for more campaigns, on different mediums, by people who may not have long term brand considerations at heart (imagine if Apple suddenly had bad quality photos for one product, it would make the whole look inconsistent and mess up the branding).

    What I see going forward is that people are looking more for integrated solutions rather than specific suppliers for each medium (it's much easier to have a contractor who can handle all the parts of a job rather than have a specialist in each part)
    Quality may matter less except for specific companies because overall the reach of each image is less (thus less valuable and less important)

    -

    Because chances are most companies won't bother listening to 100 photographers try to educate them in different ways, it's better to have one organisation whose purpose is that and who's more official. It's also a bit less biased, sounds less like a sales pitch and more just a promotion of the art form

    I also advocate industry guidelines, because photographers tend to be solo or small companies, bigger clients will use all their tactics to try to force the price down. Having some sort of sense of "industry" helps. When pressed in certain situations I say that "the industry norm" is so and so, which works.

  19. #79
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    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    I think you missed the point bro. I was worried Chris misunderstood that I was singling out newcomers, which I wasn't. In many ways, I am indeed a newcomer to the industry. I don't mind the shoe at all
    No worries Bro. We can have tea with muffins and watch the world go round and round...
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  20. #80

    Default Re: Where are we heading now?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    ...
    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.
    Since you mostly target wedding photography, you must've known that WPN conducted a workshop partly addressing business issues with wedding photography in Singapore. Gabriel Mendes also did a 3-day workshop on the business of wedding photography. Baby steps perhaps, but steps nonetheless. I'm guessing these are not good enough for you? You'd also know that many of the overseas pros who are established do not conduct business/shooting type courses in their own area - they usually do so outside of their area. Not all, but most are like that.

    To me, it's not about educating photographers alone, it's also about educating clients. You may go on and on about wedding photography albums being chucked one corner, moving on with life, not choosing to spend on wedding photography etc. That's your perogative - no one can question that. But not everyone chucks their wedding albums aside as you seem to imply - if not, then I apologise.
    Last edited by knoxknocks; 30th December 2009 at 06:20 PM.

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