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Thread: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

  1. #21
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by Shahrie View Post
    The thoughts of being label as a 'cheap' and a 'so-so' photographer scares me. I do value my work and I don't want to be struggling trying to break out to the upper market in future.
    Pricing is one of those things, really.

    Some while ago I saw someone advertise their wedding photography at less than S$40 an hour.

    This included all the images that were captured throughout the day, edited digitally.

    From a photographer who had relevant photographic education and experience.

    Why the price point? The answer was provided too, because the photographer was only doing it for extra pocket money...

    Alternatively, can you come up with another reason?

    Other than preferring to earn $40 an hour pocket money over say, $100 an hour?

  2. #22

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    Pricing is one of those things, really.

    Some while ago I saw someone advertise their wedding photography at less than S$40 an hour.
    well, if threadstarter wants to write about signalling, he can also reason out that low pricings are a signal that you are rubbish. for example, if i were an employer and the potential employee comes in stipuatling that he wants to earn $2/hr for what is normally a $10/hr market rate. obviously there is something wrong with this guy. even if there isn't, i would think twice. the fact that he's willing to work for $2/hr would mean that he probably can't get a better rate elsewhere.

    of course there are exceptions to this rule. there are obviously competent photographers who are doing this as a sideline, and while they aren't exactly as good as the really good ones who do it full-time, they can certainly charge more than what they are charging.

    similarly, there are also incompetent photographers who are aware of this and masquerade as "good photographers" by charging a higher fee.

    this is why textbook examples cannot be broadly applied to a market in reality. if you notice, heading in this line of thought just leads towards an ad infinitum upwards adjustment of market prices, which is the direct opposite from what hoiri originally stipulated.

    at the end of the day, every photographer is a package that he/she is trying to sell to the client. in this package comes various things - value for money (quantity given for price), quality, bells and frills, mannerisms, style, branding, reputation, back records, testimonials, personal viewpoints, pricing. pricing is merely one of the few things that a photographer and his/her client are taking into account when playing the game of "who wants to hire me".. and it is simple, the ones who deliver what they are pricing to sufficient customers survive; the ones who don't either adjust their prices or give up; the ones who can charge more will charge more, and the ones who can charge less will charge less. all things balance out in the long run - one can only fool people for so long. and even if it doesn't balance out, it means that the photographer has to be doing something right that allows him to remain in the market.
    Last edited by night86mare; 10th May 2010 at 05:31 AM.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    the fact that he's willing to work for $2/hr would mean that he probably can't get a better rate elsewhere.
    Generally quite true. And why I found it tickling that the photographer I mentioned in my previous post found it necessary to justify the low cost.

    I also get tickled a lot by seeing the raft of "cheap and good", "quality but economical", etc photography services being offered.

    Mm, yeah.

    I need to charge more >.<

  4. #24

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Client at the mid to high end market aren't stupid so just have expensive price without any other factors won't make one appear to be "plum" photographer.

    Low end market may be, definitely not in the mid- high end market as they will look at the "product" and "brand" that they are buying and hopefully the service is good enough to exceed their expectation and hence they are willing to pay whatever one is command.

    What i see is many so call photographer bought a camera and by chance capture 1 good shot then they start to call themselves so and so photography. It has nothing wrong with this kind of confidence but my suggestion is the same as ckuang in this area. Only start offering your work when u are confindence enough to "lead".

    Many charge low price and hope that the client don't feel dissapointed if they dont produce enough good work... On the otherhand, at any price point there is very high expectation and even at low price point don't make it any less.

    Once you have charged what you consider as enjoyable work then chances are you will be ok.

    Your price is also true to be a reflection on your no of job + brand + product + service. But i would suggest you work on the other 4 areas before you touch the pricing.

    True is, if you have unique product, brand prestige, excellent service and lot of jobs then it is time to increase the price to drop the volume of work so it is more enjoyable.

    I believe most of us want to enjoy photography... So i would say make it happen and its not that difficult once you get your basis right.

    Hart

  5. #25

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Everyone starts out as a fresh lemon. A photographer can be technically competent, or a plum in food/product/landscape photography but will definitely be a newbie when attempting wedding photography for the first time.

    Any form of photography or job takes time to nuture from a lemon to a plum, thru experience. Being good with a camera doesn't naturally makes a person a plum wedding photographer.

    The present $125/hr photographer might had to start his career at a lower price point at the beginning. So even if he dare to charge $125/hr for his 1st job, he might have been a lemon for the first few jobs(when his price is high and quality not on par) due to the lack of experience.

  6. #26

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    OT a little....

    Thing with experience is something that we should not be sitting on.

    If one thinks that one has wealth of experience, they will based on experience alone while creativity taking a back seat.

    In photography, if we look at "brand" and "product" alone, creativity counts a lot and experience don't. With my work, i can never be too experience in handling children. They are very different individuals which makes experience go out of window.

    How much to charge is not an equation on how experience you are but it is a combination of things that i mentioned before hand.

    It is always tempted to use price point to be a selling point, its ok for the first 3 months to establish your foundation. However, if u stretch this strategy longer than 6 months, you will have trouble of moving forward with your pricing in the future.

    When starting a business, the first 6 months is very crucial to get known and it really makes or break your next 3 years.

    Hart

  7. #27
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    if purely on the rates, then i think you got the theory correct but the actual market should be far more complex than the simple supply and demand curve.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSS_2 View Post
    if purely on the rates, then i think you got the theory correct but the actual market should be far more complex than the simple supply and demand curve.
    Agreed.

    Furthermore, TS' argument about asymmetric information applies in all industries, from employment right up to cars and jumbo jets. The buyer takes on the risk that he/she is buying a possible lemon in all buying situations. Even a branded company that produces plum products/services can produce a couple of lemons too. Hence, it is nothing to be alarmed about. The only way out of such problems is consumers' rights protection enacted by law as well as consumer education.

    Also, a low price doesn't necessarily equate to a lemon. Prices are but a tool to compete and different entities use different competitive advantages (pricing, branding, exclusivity/monopoly, market segmentation, etc) and hence should not be used as a criteria to filter out lemons. Furthermore, consumers will not expect a BMW for the price of a Cherry. Niches exist and so do market segmentation strategies with accompanying price points. Luxury items like Ferrari and such do not lower their prices in response to a threat by Cherry QQ entering the market because of they target different market segments. Exclusitivity and lifestyle is what Ferrari offers. Cherry offers affordability. It will be ridiculous for someone to expect Ferrari to be priced at the same price point as Cherry with all the features. However, Cherry will probably have to react by cutting prices if a vehicle brand which is competing for the same market segment starts lowering their prices.

    Having said all these, i find your piece an interesting read especially with the diagrams included.
    G

  9. #29

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSS_2 View Post
    if purely on the rates, then i think you got the theory correct but the actual market should be far more complex than the simple supply and demand curve.
    yes exactly.
    sorry if my tone in the previous post was skeptical however I find it abit dangerous to apply theory without experience (together with graphs and charts!) because it can mislead people.

    Every industry has complexities way beyond simple economic theories.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    yes exactly.
    sorry if my tone in the previous post was skeptical however I find it abit dangerous to apply theory without experience (together with graphs and charts!) because it can mislead people.

    Every industry has complexities way beyond simple economic theories.
    Hence the assumptions. To state them means that if any of these assumptions are absent, then the theory should not hold. So the theory presented only holds if the assumptions hold. It can still provide certain insights that of course should be tested empirically to validate the insights.

    You're right, complexities exist in all manners, in life and not just industry. Theories are meant to de-construct these complexities to its bare essentials (to simplify it) and look for any correlations, and test it before adding the insights to the world's bank of knowledge. I don't think it's safe or dangerous. Like many things, it's double-edged.

  11. #31

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    this lemon dilemma is an article by George Akerlof, Nobel Prize winner
    however is used to describe a 2nd hand used car market due to asymmetric information

    such that in the end, all bad cars will fill the market because buyer cannot differentiate btw the good from the lemons

    theory is the same but don think can really apply to photography services
    cos photography is not a merely a physical goods

    moreover photographs are subjective ..
    u can see lots of pple say "nice photos" when the photos are CMI .. lol

  12. #32

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    I came here to relax from my exams but I spoke too soon. Haha!
    Good read!

  13. #33
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by soeypixels View Post
    theory is the same but don think can really apply to photography services
    cos photography is not a merely a physical goods

    moreover photographs are subjective ..
    u can see lots of pple say "nice photos" when the photos are CMI .. lol
    You're right, it's Akerlof's winning work on AI.

    Yes, the criteria to judge the quality of a photograph is more difficult to determine than the quality of a car (where can work means good car!). I guess that is the limitation of this theory to be extended to a good where the quality is not exactly easily decided.


    Quote Originally Posted by subisisniki View Post
    I came here to relax from my exams but I spoke too soon. Haha!
    Good read!
    Erm, I wrote this to practice my revision. LOL. Maybe you should adapt whatever you are revising to photography. So you can claim that you are studying while on the CS forum.

  14. #34

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    The purpose of this thread is revision for your exams?
    there's actually a subforum for that....
    Last edited by mattlock; 10th May 2010 at 07:03 PM.

  15. #35
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock View Post
    The purpose of this thread is revision for your exams?
    there's actually a subforum for that....
    Oh, you got it wrong. The purpose of this thread is to apply what I've learnt in economics to a passion I enjoy (photography) to derive one or two insights in the process. Managing to revise my work in the process is just a side benefit.

  16. #36

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Nice try on the game theory and asymmetric information portion, but obviously those theories were formulated based on certain assumptions - and one of those is that there is a barrier to seeking out information and knowledge, therefore information remains asymmetric.

    Obviously when you're in the market for a photographer you'll ask for a portfolio and other viewable works, and that alone can serve to mitigate the asymmetric information to an extent. And consumers can continue to seek out forums and other given feedback to seek out plums, and that further mitigates asymmetric information.

    Your analysis was simply based on the assumption that adverse selection is bound to take place when there is asymmetric information where a barrier to information and knowledge upgrading exists, and obviously that isn't the case in real life.

    So while this is an interesting insight (though sorry, not original, and you simply had to replace "car dealers" with "photographers"), it's not viable to fully explain the workings of the photography market.
    Last edited by sequitur; 10th May 2010 at 09:22 PM.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by hori View Post
    Oh, you got it wrong. The purpose of this thread is to apply what I've learnt in economics to a passion I enjoy (photography) to derive one or two insights in the process. Managing to revise my work in the process is just a side benefit.
    Thanks for posting though. it was still an informative read and I learned something new. (mathematical equation).

  18. #38

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Quote Originally Posted by hori View Post
    Much vigorous debate has been focused on the Singapore photographer’s fees....
    Hello Hori,

    Thanks for your insightful post. I have been in the business for quite some time and have seen the rise and demise of a few photography businesses since the early 90s. What you have described is pretty spot on. Of course, there are real world considerations and other factors that come into play as the rest have mentioned.

    Btw, the conclusion from Prisoner's Dilemma has also given me much thought about the state of professional photography in Singapore, both for the present and the future. I have seen this in action in the professional field.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma

    Perhaps we can have a chat over coffee and explore more of your viewpoints. FYI, I am not a economist nor a trained businessman. I have been involved and observing photography businesses over the last 20+ years. I feel/think that there is a pattern but I need help to discuss this with a person who is more academically inclined.

    Best
    Wesley
    Last edited by wesley; 11th May 2010 at 05:57 PM.

  19. #39

    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    Best starting post in a while i must say. Keep it up!

  20. #40
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    Default Re: The ‘Lemons’ and ‘Plums’ market for photographers in Singapore

    nice read, thanx, reminds me of my econs lectures... seems much more interesting now than last time! lol...

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