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Thread: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

  1. #1
    Moderator nightwolf75's Avatar
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    Default Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    quite an interesting read, by Zack Arias whether you buy it or not, that's another issue.

    i know we all have to start somewhere at first... but peanuts = monkeys (not the NKF kind of peanuts of course). so, i guess Arias' message is think long-term.

    food for thought.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Fully agree about what he says...

    I started that way too.... and we charge more because we want to enjoy our life a little more...

    I remember when I first started, it was really cheap and I could not afford to drive (not in Singapore anyway)... and I was having fever and flu... I live in the east and had to go all the way to the west to do a shoot which at that time cost my client slightly less than $150...

    So that's 4 hours for commuting, shooting plus extra time for post processing.

    I quickly realise that is not what I want to charge and make things a little different. It is killing me... Sick, light headed, fever and shoot under the sun is a recipe for short life I suppose.

    Anyway, I am glad that I did and have rise my business to a point that I do not need to worry about how to get a job, but worry about how much free time I would prefer to have per week/month.

    I have learned to say "no" while not sacrificing on the "money which put food on the table" and enjoy the whole process a lot more.

    I have a lot more freedom to choose the work that I do and enjoy the process...

    However, to my surprise, I do get people PM me and told me that they rather learn the business the hard way then paying for my course... well, I was surprise that someone actually spend time telling me that...

    I do see opportunity at any different level of pricing in photography business, but at the end of the day, you will have to ask yourself... What is the reason why you are in this business anyway?

    Perhaps to make a few thousands a month for extra pocket money?
    Perhaps you want to enjoy the craft of photography and pay for all the expensive toys?
    Perhaps you want to achieve life what you wish to have and enjoying your craft at the same time?

    I have never look down on photographer who charge less than me or market rate so to speak... but I do feel for them as I know it is not easy... especially when things happen...

    I was out on a shoot and my client's boy throw the ball straight on my camera and obviously it drops and damage the lens...

    Of course, you could argue with the clients and ask them to pay for it... or you simply change another lens and finish the job well so they will continue to come back to you year after year after year?

    I am quite glad that the amount the client spend on my service makes the lens that spoilt during the session just a very tiny extra expenditure... I was actually happy cos I can buy a new lens...

    In short, ask yourself why you are doing photography and how you want to enjoy your life... then charge accordingly...

    Regards,

    Hart

  3. #3

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Actually I noticed a new disturbing trend in CS Services wanted section. It is the cheap photographers' cheap section. Cheaper photographers are killing the lower-price range photographers. I know I am definitely not gonna be able to win their prices, but just for experiment's sake I tried quoting really low, something to the tune of a 40% discount. So in effect I am the cheap photographer, but not the bottom dweller, you know the $150 6-hours also take type? I contacted the guys in the Services wanted section, called up to chat etc..... what I feel now is that its much worse than those clients which I got from here in 2004/2005. Absolutely no take up, even though I have checked through the others galleries and there is no contest. People would not pay an extra say 300 bucks for much better photos and more experience. (I actually asked 4 of my family members to vet my pictures as well as theirs). Nowadays people can shoot decently and charge low. And a Manfrotto monopod I can remember clearly my wife purchased it as a gift to me then costed 80 dollars, now it is $128. So it is in reality *very much worse*. I may have the experience, give good service levels, reliability. But to quite a number of client, so what.... Very similar to the corporate world. My deduction is that, you ABSOLUTELY do not want to deal with the $500-700 range in the current situation, unless you have some good source of referrals, which I have not "cracked". Though I did not sample a high number, I also noticed that for the younger couples, they are not very friendly/appreciative type...you pump in the effort to explain the differences between you and the super cheap guys and its like falling on deaf ears....generally not a really nice experience. Pretty draining.... And yet during the TCSS sessions during buffet time @ weddings, I tend to get bros/sis complain stories about their freelancer photographer screwing up this and that, stuff which for us experienced PGs is part and parcel of the shoot, very simple stuff like dressing, punctuality, manners and dealing with family members. You find such stories in singaporebrides often.....

    Again, like in the article said, there is a place for the lower-end photography, I just got off the phone from a 22-yr old having a simple ceremony in the morning + luncheon. She is very nice, so nice that I am contemplating to just close the deal even if its not the price that I wanted. Once you have been in several years in this line, you easily can tell the diff between a genuinely appreciative couple who cannot afford > 1k packages but is appreciative of your works (some even apologise! Am sure you may have met some before), and someone who is out to get the best deal even if it takes them months and meeting > 10 guys. I still have a couple of the latter, not sure how they still slip through, the type who will print in Malaysia to save money (true story)....I find it funny coz overall they paid $1050 for my service.

    Bro Agetan, I started with $150 too, but 2 hours and its just 15 mins from my house by bus.

    I just lost a SB-600 last night. Just purchased a SB-900 to replace.
    I have somewhat lost a 28-75/2.8, 4 flashes (sure tube burn out, and I'm not the machine gunner type), 2nd hand AF-S 17-55. Actually lost a D90 too when it crashed to the floor and LCD displayed garbage, luckily it was in the last month of the extended e-warranty (1 year 3 months). I probably would not have survived if I continued to charge $700 rates on avg (pure-profit after taking out taxi, prints etc), in which the take-up rate would be good but logistics/admin is very taxing. You can take it if you are 25 years of age, But do this for 5 years and trust me it is a very different story when you hit 30 + having a regular 9-5 job and kids.
    I also somewhat choose the good clients,they need to come to my place where I meetup which is 5 mins away + confirmation via deposit. In 2005 I spent so much time meeting up because during a phone call the subject of meetup to view portfolio would spring up, the sign up rate was only like ~ 20%. Every meetup incld changing, transport, waiting, and finally changing back (and usually showering again) would be nearly 1 hour. Imagine if you always need to deliver prints to the MRT to their suggested timing (for me they come to my lobby). So at least this vetting puts me in touch with the nicer couples which in turn the chances of referral is significantly higher (long-term survivability), some are so nice that I always feel I have not done enough for their big day!
    Last edited by 2100; 15th November 2010 at 12:52 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Cheap photographers won't give a rat's ass what you guys are charging, nor the industry's. That's for sure.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Its not right to charge more than your worth..
    D3s / D3x / 18-55 f3.5 - 5.6 / 55-200 f3.5-5.6 / 50 f1.8

  6. #6

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Tell that to all the worthless cheap photographers.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    I recently put up a feedback that perhaps this is encouraged by the culture and rules of CS as a can opener to a huge can of worms. And all i got was "as per status quo".

    and this is even though feedback from many many people are saying that CS is encouraging this kind of attitude.

    So why not lets discuss about this here since the topic is out?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Interesting article by Zack though not the first of its kind. Many pros have come forth here in CS to share their experience (a la Zack), and have been applauded or challenged by others in the industry (just like those guys in the comments column).

    At the end of the day everyone wants to charge enough to earn pocket money/ cover their cost of equipment/ earn a living/ buy a 50k watch, but it boils down to our motivation. Motivation stems from many things not easily quantifiable - stage in life, love of photography, confidence...and everyone finds their own starting point. For some they are able to burst onto the scene with almost no portfolio and a 4k per job rate sheet and still think that they are quoting fairly, while others feel embarrassed to charge 800 for a full day's wedding shoot. If your personality is one of the two extremes, or falls somewhere in between, it is ultimately your choice where you want to start.

    From there onward your motivation can be severely tested - do you constantly reassess and fight to improve and push yourself upward, or do you wait for things to happen and continue what you are doing until you can no longer take it? Everyone has their own comfort level, and it is hard for an experienced person to tell a newbie else exactly what he is doing wrong; the former can only tell him of his own experience and hope the newbie digests enough of it to draw his own conclusions.

    The one thing no one should be complaining about is the lack of knowledge out there on this (entering the industry, positioning yourself, charging right etc). You can attend workshops, participate in forums, read books, or plain go out and make the mistakes and learn from them. If you have done all you can given your own unique set of motivational factors, and still charge 350 per wedding like that guy in Zack's article, that is the route you take, and it is neither right nor wrong. You may be ultra-talented but so meek that you price your services really low, or you may have just bought your first camera but are so uber-confident you only accept 1 out of 5 jobs...just because you do not like the faces of some of your clients.

    Only time will tell if that route is a long or short one, but it is uniquely yours.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legoz View Post
    Its not right to charge more than your worth..
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    I recently put up a feedback that perhaps this is encouraged by the culture and rules of CS as a can opener to a huge can of worms. And all i got was "as per status quo".

    and this is even though feedback from many many people are saying that CS is encouraging this kind of attitude.

    So why not lets discuss about this here since the topic is out?
    Nikonian since 2003
    F55 | D700

  9. #9

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    We can only do so much in sharing the business aspect to the new players of the industry. It is very true that eventually these cheap photographers will kill themselves sooner than they imagined. All it takes is an accident that cause a rented pro lens to spoil, they'll realize that the cost of repair they have to bear is equivalent to: trying to sell service to 3 couples, time meeting at least 3 couples and shooting 3 couples and also editing for these 3 couples. And this is only 1 example. There are many other more bad incidents that may happen which I have planned in my rates and also prepared for the worse for.

    Even if clubsnap one day decided to charge photographers who advertise in the service wanted sections, how will it guarantee that these photographers will actually move away from being cheap photographers. Yes, some may eventually increase their rates due to the new factor of advertisement, however there may be an equal percentage of those who thinks this way "charge cheaper than others, get more job, cover costs faster."

    Freelance and Fulltime professional photographers can help by sharing their experience, teach for the reasons of development and not for trying to get popular or famous. Everyone somehow do have egos especially when we have attain certain success. But we should not turn down those new players, just because they are new or immature in the industry. We can share the correct information, bring them along to assist, provide accurate business ethics to them. With such steep learning curve in this technology age, once there is an understanding how things which are not easily available on wiki, these cheaper photographers will understand the need to charge higher.

    We gain too because slowly we can go up higher too, when we have these new photographers to assist, it also means an extra pair of hands for lighting, reflector and also someone to accompany during an assignment. It can help produce better results and also mood when you have someone to chat and lighten the mood at the shoot. We may also learn from these new photographers because of something they read before that we didn't.

    I'm a believer of nurturing. I have only been shooting professionally for almost 3 years. My success today came from my mentors who have taught me what I've share in the last 2 paragraphs. One taught me from the very basics of photography and commercial photography, my 2nd mentor opened the doors to wedding photography to me and my 3rd mentor showed me the way to mastering my skills and techniques. All three of them need not tell me how much to charge, By the time I came out on my own, I was doing $200/hr and in about 2 years I've since doubled my rates.

    On another note of being cheap, other than not being literally a cheap photographer in the sense of dollars and cents. Do not be a cheap photographer in the sense of morals. Never back-stab another photographer, gossip and badmouth about others, preach about raising standards and rates but however undercutting here and there. No point being jealous of another photographer's success if one is forever building sand castles in the air without working hard. Most importantly is to mind you own business. Because this form of "cheap" photographer will also only end up killing themselves.

    Hope what I've shared is not too rough, if any part coincide or offended anyone, Its unintended.

    regards
    Bryan

  10. #10
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    for me... well i guess i have to see who is my potential client.

    if it is a small scale blogshop owner who is just selling her second hand stuff... i doubt i could charge a few hundred from her for product photography. neither would the expected product be on par with those who shoots ads professionally...

    i guess it is kinda like a demand and supply thing. if the market demands for cheaper photographers and perhaps lower quality (just an assumption that cheaper= not so good), then i guess we cant do much either.

    price youself competitively. currently schools are still willing to pay 400 bucks for an event photographer. hehe...

    my take is: dun undercut urself. but price competitively. i believe u guys arent playing in the freelance part time holiday student lower league...

  11. #11
    Moderator nightwolf75's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    I recently put up a feedback that perhaps this is encouraged by the culture and rules of CS as a can opener to a huge can of worms. And all i got was "as per status quo".

    and this is even though feedback from many many people are saying that CS is encouraging this kind of attitude.

    So why not lets discuss about this here since the topic is out?
    the reason why CS won't police is becos it is not the intention of why CS exist in the first place. the only 'line in the sand' the Admins/mods place in services wanted is no 'something for nothing' services - ie. i want ansel adams quality prints but no payment.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

  12. #12

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Hmm some interesting feedbacks about this. Cos i was once told by a Mod that "CS existed because it wants to drive and motivate photography as a leisure and good hobby for all of its members" So when all this charging for advertising fees thing came about. I remember reading or being told again that it is to deter people from having that mind set that CS is meant for making a quick buck by means of "free advertising". So my only gripe about this is.
    Perhaps this deterent created by the predecessors of Mods in CS should be carried on to the service offered section as well.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    I've always loved cheap photographers,

    They keep the dross (cheap clients) from wasting my time and time is money. Price yourself high if you can deliver the goods and really shoot under pressure and time constraints and you'll find that the cheap cheap scum clients won't bother you much. Eventually commerical clients learn that what you pay for is exactly what you get.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    I wonder if doctors complain about "cheap cheap scum patients" in their field and that time is money and that wasting time on cheap scum patients is wasting money. We live in a dangerous scum time it seems.

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    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Frankly speaking most people cant tell the difference of a good photo from a bad one. So in most case, got photo come out from the camera can already

  16. #16

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Quote Originally Posted by bunegg View Post
    Frankly speaking most people cant tell the difference of a good photo from a bad one. So in most case, got photo come out from the camera can already
    cheap cheap scum clients can tell the difference between a money-faced pro and a non-money-faced one though. And these money-faced pros charge higher to satisfy their material goods, not because their photos are better. They THINK their photos are better.

    Yes, i agree. Most couples wouldn't know what's a good picture, let alone why their camera man need that lexus for.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim View Post
    Hmm some interesting feedbacks about this. Cos i was once told by a Mod that "CS existed because it wants to drive and motivate photography as a leisure and good hobby for all of its members" So when all this charging for advertising fees thing came about. I remember reading or being told again that it is to deter people from having that mind set that CS is meant for making a quick buck by means of "free advertising". So my only gripe about this is.
    Perhaps this deterent created by the predecessors of Mods in CS should be carried on to the service offered section as well.
    I am glad enough that we have CS forum... people who start photography loves free advertising... But what I find it interesting is... CS is forum for photographer or people who enjoy photography... so by advertise your work here to get clients is beyond me...

    Whatever it is, CS is a great forum and of course, it won't be able to please everyone.

    Regards,

    Hart

  18. #18

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    I don't think it's nice to address the clients as "cheap cheap scum". There is a danger that some photographers are arrogant just because they don't deal with clients who cannot afford to pay higher prices. Is it their fault that couples want cheaper priced photographers due to their limited finances?

    And whoever says if you charge more, you are good? I can vouch I've seen lower charging photographers who take better pics than higher charging ones. Don't forget photography can be subjective at times.

    And also, not every rich couple will pay the top end photographers to do their weddings. I've already known 3 cases here where couple are very wealthy but they chose a low priced freelance photographer.

    Not true that every client can't appreciate the quality of photos. But some just don't need those "extra spices and ingredients". They know what's a good photo, but they might have other more urgent or better use of the money to be spent elsewhere.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    Quote Originally Posted by lancey View Post
    cheap cheap scum clients can tell the difference between a money-faced pro and a non-money-faced one though. And these money-faced pros charge higher to satisfy their material goods, not because their photos are better. They THINK their photos are better.

    Yes, i agree. Most couples wouldn't know what's a good picture, let alone why their camera man need that lexus for.
    I don't know about the Money face or non money face photographer, I know some photographer are driven by money and I suppose that was some of your point right Lancey?

    I don't really like the term cheap cheap scum clients... What I know is every client has their "budget" in mind... of course, those budget may not suit what you charge... but that doesn't qualify them as cheap client.

    I do know some minority of people think, expensive is good. One can hype about their work, one can use sales technique to get their job, but what the most important thing in keeping up your own standard is the level of satisfaction from your client who uses your service.

    Lets face it, Singapore is pretty darn small country... words travel fast... Good news spread slower and Bad news spread a lot quicker. I have seen too many so call "Hit & Run" business... but at the same time, I have seen quite a lot of honest business who offer value and services.

    What I always believe in is honesty in offering your service. I charge more, because that is one way to reduce the "volume" that I want to do. I want to enjoy photography and spend time with my family and I don't feel good rejecting client who want to book my service, but if you charge beyond client's willingness to pay, there is a good chance that they won't like to pay for your service. So that will reduce the "volume" naturally as I don't enjoy volume as it takes my free time away too much.

    I value my time more than money personally, life is too short...If God wants me tonight, I may not have tomorrow.

    As far as I know, the higher you charge, you tend to attract client who understand about what they really want. These clients typically won't bother wasting their time, but they will buy services which have the "product" that they want.

    Clients who has money and social status are very smart... they do KNOW what looks good and what is not, at least to their standard.

    Regards,

    Hart

  20. #20

    Default Re: Cheap photographers only kill themselves, not the industry

    fyi, the term "cheap cheap scum clients" not started by me..

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