Has ClubSNAP become a sourcing spot for cheap photographers. Are we being taken adv?

Are we being taken advantage off?


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szekiat

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Jan 19, 2002
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#1
As above. I've come to notice that there are a lot of ads for free photogs recently, with the photographer getting the bare min. No pay, no copyrights etc. Are we being shortchaged around here? More importantly, are we spoiling the freelance market in sg? I remembered back when freelancers could command up to 100/hr, now u'd be lucky for 50. Is it because places like clubsnap have become a sourcing pool of free and GOOD photographers? Are we underpricing ourselves?
 

hangdog

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I think people should give serious thoughts about why they are providing free/cheap services, and justify to themselves how is that going to 1) help themselves, 2) help their client??

factors they should consider:
  1. once you provide free/cheap service, its going to be difficult to start charging later. Look at the web and learn. Web sites have problem charging for services after providing free services, people start going away once the sites started charging.
  2. why should your client get free/cheap services?? is it justified??

I am not saying there people shouldn't do it. But they should jolly well do it for a bloody good reason.
 

vader

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#4
szekiat said:
As above. I've come to notice that there are a lot of ads for free photogs recently, with the photographer getting the bare min. No pay, no copyrights etc. Are we being shortchaged around here? More importantly, are we spoiling the freelance market in sg? I remembered back when freelancers could command up to 100/hr, now u'd be lucky for 50. Is it because places like clubsnap have become a sourcing pool of free and GOOD photographers? Are we underpricing ourselves?
Good photographers don't come free....or cheap :devil:
 

Jed

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#5
The problem is as much photographers who don't know better and take these things on. A little education goes a long way. An expensive camera on the other hand, leads to the mistaken belief by some that it also goes a long way, when it really doesn't necessarily do anything at all.

I'm not saying that all freebies are a bad idea, but a responsible photographer knows what he's doing. With x0000 members, we're always going to find a few who don't know better through inexperience or who just plain apathy.
 

vader

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#6
Jed said:
The problem is as much photographers who don't know better and take these things on. A little education goes a long way. An expensive camera on the other hand, leads to the mistaken belief by some that it also goes a long way, when it really doesn't necessarily do anything at all.
Well said, :thumbsup:
 

szekiat

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#7
i'm not blaming the clients. Heck, as a company, if i can save i will. If there are a bunch of guys willing to do a 400dollar job for free and can deliver the same quality, i'd pick them too. I'm just wondering if the ppl taking up the jobs are killing the market, and themselves.
"once you provide free/cheap service, its going to be difficult to start charging later. Look at the web and learn. Web sites have problem charging for services after " Esp to the same ppl whom u offered the last time.
 

vader

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I'll do it if it's for charity, and I'll get to use the pics for my porfolio and they must have my credits there. I treat it as advertisements or marketing for my services
 

espn

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#9
Charity is fine, not if the charity demands the rights after we shoot for free, we're not demanding royalties, but just simple credits.

Shooting for free is not a good idea not only because it kills the market, but if you pay peanuts/nothing you get monkeys.
 

kiwi2

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Well, DEFINITELY! This topic has been quite well-discussed. I would like to take a different perspective.

I think technology has a big part to play in this. How come? See, film SLR cameras these days are packed with so many features. An entry level one has many features found in pro cameras. Think back to the mid-80s. Would there be so many freelance photograhers? I seriously doubt so. Cos cameras then were more difficult to operate. You might not have your AF (think Minolta was the first to formally introduce it back in 1985), you need to calculate the flash output manually, etc. And cameras aren't cheap then.

As a Canon user, I'd like to give an eg. When the EOS650 and 620 first hit the market back in 1987, those were my dream camera bodies. They were darrrrn costly! Body alone would set you back some $2000, if not more. Today, these cameras are gathering dust. Used ones would probably be worth less than $400, if anyone is ever interested. With an EOS30/33 today, you get many more features. Bodies are so cheap even a student can own it and shoot on the spot without learning much about photography. With 7 point AF, 35 exposure areas, ultrafast USM lenses, E-TTL and what have you!!! Man, it's a matter of the camera asking the photographer: "Are you ready to press the shutter button? I'm ready whenever you are!!"

I mean think about it... Just 3 years ago, owning a DSLR is a dream... At close to $5000 for a body, only the serious pros can own them. Now? Prices are dropping like crazy and more amateurs or complete beginners are rushing out to get mid-level DSLRs. Even the no-frills auntie next door might own a fairly sophisticated $600 compact digital camera.

Another reason is that we now live in a century of "quick-fixes"... countless fast food joints, SMS, Internet explosion...Wedding photography is no different. You have the camera and a bit of experience, BOOM! Time to make some money by being a free-lance. It's so easy. And moreover, I personally find in Singapore, people don't appreciate photography as much as in the West. They'd rather spend a bigger sum on an extravagant 40-table wedding dinner than employ an experienced photographer.

My take on the topic? It's unjustified to spoil the market by charging so low even for a freelance job. But no matter what we say, I think the harm is already done and... simply put, I think it's sad. It's as difficult as asking people not to rush onto MRT trains. Cheap photographers will continue to increase and it's become our culture here. Reputation of photographers here has gone down somewhat too (I know some consider them as "camera-man" and address them as "Where's the guy with the cam?), unless you're one of those well-known names.
 

Darren

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Jan 16, 2002
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#11
Well, it takes two hands to clap, and there are always going to be organisations looking for "freebies" as well as photographers who are willing to provide services for free or low fee.

The basic knowledge to instil is to make sure that the photographer knows his/her rights and do not blindly give them away.

Something that I may not be 100% sure about is the issue of "ownership" of the photos - if someone has paid/commissioned you to take photos, the rightful "owner" (in my mind) for the those photos is the one who paid for it, and not necessarily the photographer.
 

#12
kiwi2 said:
Well, DEFINITELY! This topic has been quite well-discussed. I would like to take a different perspective.

I think technology has a big part to play in this. How come? See, film SLR cameras these days are packed with so many features. An entry level one has many features found in pro cameras. Think back to the mid-80s. Would there be so many freelance photograhers? I seriously doubt so. Cos cameras then were more difficult to operate. You might not have your AF (think Minolta was the first to formally introduce it back in 1985), you need to calculate the flash output manually, etc. And cameras aren't cheap then.

As a Canon user, I'd like to give an eg. When the EOS650 and 620 first hit the market back in 1987, those were my dream camera bodies. They were darrrrn costly! Body alone would set you back some $2000, if not more. Today, these cameras are gathering dust. Used ones would probably be worth less than $400, if anyone is ever interested. With an EOS30/33 today, you get many more features. Bodies are so cheap even a student can own it and shoot on the spot without learning much about photography. With 7 point AF, 35 exposure areas, ultrafast USM lenses, E-TTL and what have you!!! Man, it's a matter of the camera asking the photographer: "Are you ready to press the shutter button? I'm ready whenever you are!!"

I mean think about it... Just 3 years ago, owning a DSLR is a dream... At close to $5000 for a body, only the serious pros can own them. Now? Prices are dropping like crazy and more amateurs or complete beginners are rushing out to get mid-level DSLRs. Even the no-frills auntie next door might own a fairly sophisticated $600 compact digital camera.

Another reason is that we now live in a century of "quick-fixes"... countless fast food joints, SMS, Internet explosion...Wedding photography is no different. You have the camera and a bit of experience, BOOM! Time to make some money by being a free-lance. It's so easy. And moreover, I personally find in Singapore, people don't appreciate photography as much as in the West. They'd rather spend a bigger sum on an extravagant 40-table wedding dinner than employ an experienced photographer.

My take on the topic? It's unjustified to spoil the market by charging so low even for a freelance job. But no matter what we say, I think the harm is already done and... simply put, I think it's sad. It's as difficult as asking people not to rush onto MRT trains. Cheap photographers will continue to increase and it's become our culture here. Reputation of photographers here has gone down somewhat too (I know some consider them as "camera-man" and address them as "Where's the guy with the cam?), unless you're one of those well-known names.
spot on! :cry:
 

#13
sad sad sad!

time to cut the pie and share it with everyone else.
in the end, everyone will get a much smaller portion and most will not be happy.


i wonder if there's any way out for the younger generations now? :(
 

Zplus

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Mar 16, 2002
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#14
kiwi2 said:
Well, DEFINITELY! This topic has been quite well-discussed. I would like to take a different perspective.

I think technology has a big part to play in this. How come? See, film SLR cameras these days are packed with so many features. An entry level one has many features found in pro cameras. Think back to the mid-80s. Would there be so many freelance photograhers? I seriously doubt so. Cos cameras then were more difficult to operate. You might not have your AF (think Minolta was the first to formally introduce it back in 1985), you need to calculate the flash output manually, etc. And cameras aren't cheap then.

As a Canon user, I'd like to give an eg. When the EOS650 and 620 first hit the market back in 1987, those were my dream camera bodies. They were darrrrn costly! Body alone would set you back some $2000, if not more. Today, these cameras are gathering dust. Used ones would probably be worth less than $400, if anyone is ever interested. With an EOS30/33 today, you get many more features. Bodies are so cheap even a student can own it and shoot on the spot without learning much about photography. With 7 point AF, 35 exposure areas, ultrafast USM lenses, E-TTL and what have you!!! Man, it's a matter of the camera asking the photographer: "Are you ready to press the shutter button? I'm ready whenever you are!!"

I mean think about it... Just 3 years ago, owning a DSLR is a dream... At close to $5000 for a body, only the serious pros can own them. Now? Prices are dropping like crazy and more amateurs or complete beginners are rushing out to get mid-level DSLRs. Even the no-frills auntie next door might own a fairly sophisticated $600 compact digital camera.

Another reason is that we now live in a century of "quick-fixes"... countless fast food joints, SMS, Internet explosion...Wedding photography is no different. You have the camera and a bit of experience, BOOM! Time to make some money by being a free-lance. It's so easy. And moreover, I personally find in Singapore, people don't appreciate photography as much as in the West. They'd rather spend a bigger sum on an extravagant 40-table wedding dinner than employ an experienced photographer.

My take on the topic? It's unjustified to spoil the market by charging so low even for a freelance job. But no matter what we say, I think the harm is already done and... simply put, I think it's sad. It's as difficult as asking people not to rush onto MRT trains. Cheap photographers will continue to increase and it's become our culture here. Reputation of photographers here has gone down somewhat too (I know some consider them as "camera-man" and address them as "Where's the guy with the cam?), unless you're one of those well-known names.

Errr... to help put things back to perspective... wedding photogs in the US are getting somewhere in the region of US$2K. So are you cheapening yourself even more by offering freebies?

Look at it this way, no doubt digital photography is getting cheaper but the job of post processing is now back to the photographer and the creativity part has not changed. Its sad but true, quality is not really synonymous with Singaporeans... just look at people rushing for cheap $1 deals, cheap 2nd hand text books and cheap staples for needies. eah, I sometimes wonder how the culture here became like that.
:confused:
 

chaotic

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#15
Zplus said:
Errr... to help put things back to perspective... wedding photogs in the US are getting somewhere in the region of US$2K. So are you cheapening yourself even more by offering freebies?

Look at it this way, no doubt digital photography is getting cheaper but the job of post processing is now back to the photographer and the creativity part has not changed. Its sad but true, quality is not really synonymous with Singaporeans... just look at people rushing for cheap $1 deals, cheap 2nd hand text books and cheap staples for needies. eah, I sometimes wonder how the culture here became like that.
:confused:
http://www.ppa.com/public/articles/details.cfm?id=922

just in case you think the average us wedding photographer earns a lot. take a look at the above url.
 

#16
espn said:
Shooting for free is not a good idea not only because it kills the market, but if you pay peanuts/nothing you get monkeys.
a friend of mine had his wedding solemnised a couple of months back. the bride and groom engaged a Pro each. So on the solemnisation, there were 2 pros. Then, between them come friendly competition to capture the 'moment of acceptance' by the groom (the most important requirement by the couple). Unfortunately, both ended up without THE moment.

what can be done? the scene cannot be reenacted. Fortunately, a friend of his offered free service to be a sideline photographer and guess what? he got the moment! He offered the neg over to the PROs to be included in the wedding binder but neither wish to take it up. He ended up offering nieghbourhood lab quality prints, FOC, just to see the couple smile. I think not all 'shoot for free' photogs are 'monkeys'. Without the pressure of undue expectations, competent newcomers may well achieve better results that will help their skills grow.

just my opinion though.
 

Jed

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#17
Szekiat,

I have no problem with companies saving money. If they can pay x amount or no amount for the same quality level, then it would be stupid for them to pay x amount. However, it's not as simple as that. I'd like to think that more often than not, the quality level is *not* the same. And it doesn't detract from the fact that the person charging no amount is doing photography a disservice; both as a profession, as an art, and to himself and other photographers around him.

Kiwi2 is right, this topic has been well discussed, and I've usually been involved at one stage or the other because it causes me great concern. And having seen the market in Singapore and the UK, it's not something that is easily swept under the carpet either.

The whole problem with this issue is the perception of photography, be it in Singapore or wherever. But until the profession is taken as exactly that - professional - we are forever going to have an uphill struggle. Not offering credits is just one such example of people not appreciating the photographer. In Singapore in particular (although not exclusively), the photographer tends to be seen as a machine operator rather than a creative artist. If you look at it that way, then it's no wonder that credits are not respected and honoured.

Same thing with what Kiwi2 has been saying; there is a general public (mis)conception that an amateur with more equipment and less experience and skill will do a better job. Sad to say, photographers themselves have a misconception that the inferior work turned out by lax part timers will not necessarily be acceptable to clients; very often, clients don't expect anything more, and it's a vicious circle. Pay drivel, get drivel, expect drivel.

Darren, with regards to ownership of photos, it's a dodgy one. It depends a lot on the basis of hire, as well as any explicit agreements beforehand between client and photographer. The problem with the lack of appreciation of the creative aspect of photography, as opposed to just machine operators (see above), is that people expect to get copyright for S$200. To them they don't value the work beyond that, so that's all they're willing to pay.

Wedding photography over here depends on the scale again. I would say the average professional photographer earns about £1000 gross per wedding. But they go as low as about £450, and obviously at the high end the sky's the limit. The main difference between here and Singapore is, we don't have many freelancers diving in to the market. And by that I don't mean serious freelancers who do 10-12 weddings a year, I mean the occasional freelancer, of which there are plenty in Singapore.

Some of that may have something to do with the relative level of kit the amateurs own here, and this is another thing I always bang on about too. Most amateurs here have entry level SLRs, and by that I don't mean DSLRs, or F80s or EOS30s, I mean F65s and EOS300s. If that. A lot are pottering around with manual focus gear that are very well used indeed.

At the England v Denmark game last week, I counted one D2h. Among about maybe 60 photographers, with about half being Nikon users. Each photographer would have had at least two cameras, some three. A good number are still on the original D1. Not many had D2hs at the Rugby World Cup Final either. And here I was counting four CSers at least who have one already. No disrespect to any of them, they have the money and fair play to them, but that's an illustration of the disparity in the thinking towards equipment and the tendancy to spend money on it.

Obzervr, you are very right. Being a professional doesn't unfortunately mean that you are necessarily any good. In some instances the non-professional has an advantage. But sometimes it's also got to do with luck/timing/whatever you choose to term it. Doesn't matter how good I am, a photographer who's generally not as good as I am can still have a better day than me, and vice versa. Mind you, if they both screwed up, then they both need to do some serious self-examination. And what odds one if not both of them are freelancing part time?
 

ydanz

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#18
well well, nuf said from the rest, I'll keep my cents worth simple ...

The chinese saying goes," Yi Fen Qian Yi Fen Huo", for those who decide to hire cheap or even get free photographers should also consider the delivery aspects in the event that they screw up or cannot deliver as required. My company had paid a price for using a newbie photographer once even though I voiced objections as it was a major PR event and yesz, screw ups galore! Organising department has since learnt and set aside a budget for photographer!

As for the part that we are killing ourselves with the low or even free rates, we have only those who spoil market to blame right? For the deserving and experienced photographers, its better to "differentiate" yourselves from the rest of the competition.
 

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#19
this isnt only happenning in your industry but also in the entertainment / modelling industry.

many actors work for little or no pay because they want credit for their portfolio and also to be seen and heard. they may score an interview/photoshoot with a popular entertainment mag/newspaper which is more valuable to them than some pay, cos in the end, they get hired again (and usually for better stuff)

models agree to pose for free in magazines (and its not as if mags cant afford to pay them) because they want the credit and tear sheets for their portfolio and also for publicity.

hairstylists, makeup artist work for magazines for free too because, people will talk about them and they get credited in the mag. free publicity, and also gets them clients who book them for commercial work after seeing their work in mags.


see, it happens everywhere. if word gets 'round that you've got a superb working attitude and skill, clients wont mind paying for you the next time 'round. trust me, it happens. you just need patience and a back up plan in the meantime. :)
 

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