Points about Photography Business


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CYRN

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Nov 14, 2002
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#1
Now that there's a photo biz sub forum, I hope we can share our experience and provide interested photogs to look at the business aspect seriously either now or in future.

Now, lets get to business.....

Starting a photography business:

The thing about photography business actually isn't about photography at all. It's ALL about business. By business, I mean finding clients, marketing, salesmanship, keeping tabs on expenses and incomes, finding your niche...etc

However, photography in Singapore where supply in rapidly out number the demands, in such an elastic (easily substituted) market the very FIRST consideration is actually basic common sense that I'm not sure it's covered in business classes or not. It's about SETTING PRECEDENCE.... the below quote from POTN I found aptly describes the situation. Note the underlined and bold-ed.

POTN Post said:
We used to give proofs to our clients, knowing that they would -- the had to -- come back to us to get high quality prints.

Then scanners became easy to own and operate. We began to lock our prints into plasic pages, and emboss them to protect our copyright. To protect our income.

Then came Napster. Videotapes were always easy to copy... cd burners made music easy to copy. People began to expect that when they bought one copy of a piece of art (weather it be music or movies or photos) that they didn't have to pay for any more copies.

There is always someone in any business world ready to find an edge... to find the Purple Cow that others are not offering, and offer it themselves.

For, you see, Wedding Photography is an expanding field. One that is now open to many, many more participants -- due to numerous factors.

Our business world of wedding photography has now entered the 21st century. We are not quite at the kill or be killed stage. But, many markets are feeling the pinch of more and more people entering their markets as photographers.

As these new folks enter the market they will search for the Purple Cow, the thing to get them noticed. That cow will almost always be price and options -- lower prices and options like digital negatives for FREE. Until they are well trained, and have developed their own style, and built their referral network, these new entrants will need that Purple Cow.

And when they do get better, when they do excell, most will continue to offer their purple cows, because there is yet another new batch of entrants ready to take their place in the ladder, with their own Purple Cows.

Unfortunately, when the existing professional's referral network, and bookings are depleted they too begin looking for their own Purple Cow. At first, they believe that their experience and professionalism will conquer the new influx of photographers. Then they find out that they need a purple cow more than what they were.

Client expectations change over time. Soon, the expectation for the Purple Cow will permeate every corner of the market. People will expect to own that which they think they paid for.

There will be a battle between the client that expects to own all -- and the old-time photographers fighting the change in our business model. Even now PPA is fighting a protracted battle with other lobbyists over copyright legislation -- the "orphaned works" issue.

The music and entertainment industries are fighting to control their copyrights, and make the money that fuels their business. But what do photographers have - as an industry - to protect their copyrights, in the face of competition. In the face of other photographers that want to enter the market, to build their skill set, to achieve their own dreams?

How will "Big Photography" protect it's copyright when the members that make up that group are the very ones creating the business model that kills the protection of their income, of their livelihood?
Not that I'm saying it's a no-hope situation, but like most population distribution, only the top few percentile would be able to differentiate themselves from the "middle-class" and "lower-class" and command a premium in fees. This would ultimately squeeze out the "middle-class" and have the "lower-class" overrun by hobbyist/student whom does not need to rely on photography for income.

And if I may further expand on the above, the jump to distinct oneself from the "lower-class" to the top few percentile is liken to those striking 1st prize for toto. ie there would always be some outstanding newbies waiting to be spotted but the disparity in the 2 classes would be very great.This implies that those at the top would sooner or later face "aging" issues unless there's sufficient lower-rung photographer with flair and business mind to maintain the premium pricing at the top.... all it need is sufficient percentage of "top" photographers to start looking at the wrong purple cow (pricing) and the pricing at the top would also suffer.

Comments?

 

CYRN

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#2
My last Saturday presentation was :sweat: :sweat: I forgot my script and the intro was pretty dis-connected. :embrass:

So, I've decided to put it here for the benefit of everyone and hope it clarifies points that aren't put across properly then.

The original intent of my presentation was more about basics of getting into business of wedding photography.

Business of wedding photography - Motivation

As with all businesses, the main motivation is to recover cost and make a profit-

Cost is summarised as below, it varies for individuals.

Infrastructures and Equipments cost and depreciation - Office space / Studio lease (??), PC and softwares, 2 years depreciation ($4K-$5K). Cameras, 2 years depreciation ($5K-$10K). Lenses, 5 years depreciation ($5K-$10K).

Production Cost - Albums, Prints, time spent in post production.

Marketing and promotion cost - Web design, Web Host. Advertisement in Sg Brides (about 3K per year), WPGA...etc

Making a living -
Salary (Self and others, eg secondary photog or stand-in), medical coverage and insurance, retirement cost like CPF (Employer AND Employee portions) etc. If you follow corporations that have all the employee benefits..etc, your equivalent "salary" would be about $230 per day for someone whom takes home $3K per month. This have to be distributed to the number of assignments you can reasonably handle per month or per annum,. (and dun forget about incentives such as year end bonuses...etc)

*I missed this* Business risks -
Considerations have to be given to "favorable" or "unfavorable" dates. ie double 7th lunar month in 2006. Most importantly risk leading to loss of income for extended period.

Expand portfolio
Acknowledged for your work
Going regional / global / high profile shoots
 

CYRN

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#3
Personally I've partitioned wedding photography into 4 main aspects and they are: Hardware, Software, Artware, Heartware.

Hardware is only as good as how it can suit your style of photography, personally I've used E5700 to cover weddings before.

Software means your photographic skills. How you set and control your camera to get the photos you want. Your composition and awareness of the framing.

Artware means how artistically different you can differentiate from your competitors. In my case, I use lensbaby for outdoor shoots.

Style - build / evolve your own style. Below 3 basic category of styles I see in standard wedding photography.

Happy / Candid
Lovely / Togetherness
Emotional / Romantic

Don't try to cover everything. You'll end up only with more shots to sift though and delete during post processing.
 

CYRN

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#4
Wedding photography - Heartware.

Heartware means your inter-personal relation skills and how you handle the people you encounter and also knowing to be in the right place at the right time.


Videography is getting very common, Working with videographer

Understand that videography requires continuous shots

Avoid standing opposite the videographer unnecessarily

The highlights of the video shouldn’t be your speedlites

Bride and groom must understand that no 2 perspective can be the same in the same instant. In the event that you see a likely conflict in positioning that can’t be resolved between you and the videographer. Consult the couple and let them decide which one would take the less than ideal perspective. (Normally the one who charges significantly lesser would have to give way :bsmilie: )
 

CYRN

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#5
Preparation

Meeting up / communication with clients on final confirmation of sequence of events

Transportation during the day, how are you getting around? Do you drive yourself to the different locaitons?

Checking your equipments, give sufficient time for reaction in case something goes wrong. Recommend to have check 1 week in advance, if your equipment really fails, at least it can be repaired and collected before the AD.

The night before, charge you batteries, insert your (clean) largest capacity card into your cam.

Check your camera settings (ie Nikon, double check the curves used. Canon, picture style)

Have your own contingency plans, what if you fall sick. Met an accident on the way.


Control of Situation

Sometimes you have to tactfully control the situation to get the shot you want.

Interaction with client's family/relatives/friends, get them accustomed to your presence so that's the photos would be more natural/candid.

Be sensitive, some might be conscious of themselves or for that matter, their house and don’t like too much background to be included.

They might not remember / know what to do. At times when everyone is confused, they might just ask you.

Table groupings, some just refuse to move.


Bride and groom

They're aren’t talents or models , let them do things naturally and keep poses simple.

It their big day, most would be more stressed than you. Be patient with them.

Once the MUA leaves, you have to help keep a look out for makeup smudging

Look for opportunities to cover the couples getting ready in their suite.

Most hotel just repeats standard decors. However even if your are familiar with the hotel decors, make sure you know the sequence.
 

Hobbesyeo

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#6
Hi,
I think you did a pretty good job in your presentation, and I enjoyed it. Thanks for posting up more of your "notes" here. :thumbsup:
 

CYRN

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#7
Typical actual day sequence for Chinese / Christian wedding

The following list is not exhaustive and may occur in various combinations and sequences. Best discussed with the bride and groom before the actual day. And on the actual day, link up with the person-in-charge of schedule. This is only a rough guide for you to know where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to capture.

Morning – Bride's house
Bride's Make-up
Arrival of groom
Receiving of groom
Entrance to house
Entrance to room
Unveiling of bride
Kissing the bride
Departure to groom's home

Morning – Groom's house
Receiving of bride and groom
Entering the bridal suit
Tea ceremony
Change of dress
Return to Bride's house
Tea ceremony
Proceed to hotel/church/break

Church
Arrival of guest
Arrival of bride
Flower girl
Father and bride entrance
Presentation of Bride to Groom
Hymns/Prayer/Praise/Sermon
Matrimony
Ring Exchange
Unveiling of bride
Kissing the bride
Signing of Marriage cert
Items/performance by church mates
Bride and groom march out
Presentation of Bride and groom
Thank you speech
Group shots
Reception
Proceed to hotel/break

Evening - Dinner
Makeup in hotel room
Reception
March in
Cake cutting
Departure
Second march in
Champaign pouring
Couple's toast
Toast to The guest
Table shots
Farewell

Post shoot follow up
Post processing.
Sifting through a thousand odd photos
Double checking "useable" photos for proper technical parameters
Choosing those good photos for "show-case" purposes like montages
Detailed touch-up for "show-case" photos
Burn/Print
Billing
 

CYRN

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#8
*forgot this also* :embrass:

Final note:

If you intend to shoot someone's wedding. Do it with all the professionalism and flair you have. It's repeated till death already... it's once in a life time experience. DSLRs pics are meant to be post processed, shoot-burn and deliver just shows your lack of respect to both the couples and the craft of photography.

If you have confidence to cover a wedding and deliver the above, charge professionally. Else, just do it for free.

Even if you are charging $1 or $10K. You owe the couple the above professionalism in your deliverables at least.
 

nyxx88

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Nov 17, 2004
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#10
Thanx for sharing :)
 

Hobbesyeo

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#11
Maybe the Mods want to consider making this a sticky. :think: This is good stuff for all those aspiring to be wedding fotogs.:thumbsup:
 

Virgo

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Dec 23, 2003
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#12
You did a great job trying to educate all of us. Lotsa good stuff in your presentation slides. It's not how you speak, but the content in there that matters. We all understand what you're trying to convey across, so no worries.

Great job well done bro! :thumbsup:
 

CYRN

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#13
You did a great job trying to educate all of us. Lotsa good stuff in your presentation slides. It's not how you speak, but the content in there that matters. We all understand what you're trying to convey across, so no worries.

Great job well done bro! :thumbsup:
Thanks, most importantly is that the message gets across. Now I know at least it did.
 

nicholas68

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Jun 3, 2005
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#16
Just 1 more thing, how do you do your pricing.

I did some reading they ranges from $100-$3500 dollars.
 

forward

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May 27, 2002
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#17
Dear CYRN,

This is the first time that someone has come forward to put it
up on the Internet on the business of wedding photography. Though
I have been in the business for more than 30 years and had
conducted many classes in Wedding Photography since 1989 there
isn't such materials given by the current wave of wedding photography
courses. Congratulations and thank you for your sharing.

I am looking forward to more people willing to give than to take.

----------------------------------------------
Love, Ideals and Happiness Cannot be Realized By Oneself Alone
Living for others is the principle of creation and the origin of human
happiness. For example you might ask someone, "Why was I born?"

There are many distinguished guests here today who might say,
"I was born to be the best person I can be, for myself."
But originally, a man is born not for himself, but for a woman.
No one can deny that man was born for woman.
The woman is made for man.
:heart:
 

Will03

Senior Member
Jun 28, 2004
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#18
yo cyrn.. thanks for the input...
hope more budding wedding photographers will put more thot into this...

drop by my place for kopi some day.. cheers..
 

hongwei

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Nov 9, 2006
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#19
DSLRs pics are meant to be post processed, shoot-burn and deliver just shows your lack of respect to both the couples and the craft of photography.
Thanks very much for sharing .... But this statement you made kinda confused me, can elaborate? ;p
Btw, how you guys started your first assignment when you are a newbie? You can't possibly walk in to any couple and offer yourself to them rite?;p
Or is it true that all first few assignment are done with relatives and friends free of charge?
Then what is the next step? How do you guys advertise yourself?

I am interested to become a parttime one ... not a full time ;p
 

CYRN

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#20
Thanks everyone for the positive response. It's very encouraging as I might be stepping on a minefield here.

nicholas68: I'll put up something about how to price your assignments sometime end of Jan... need to sort a few other things first. :sweat:

forward: Materials are all over the place if only one takes the effort to seek them. What I've done is consolidate them here and hope that this will be a stepping stone for enterprising photographers to setup proper business and not to de-rate the market... competitive pricing is allowed, but destructive pricing..is just destructive.

Will03: Onz bo? Tot you already BZ liao.

hongwei: Dun get it wrongly, if you are not comfortable, dun even do it for free unless you are approached unsoliciated. You might do a disservice to the couple if you miss something important. But opportunities exist to "help" as a backup/secondary photographer or just particiapte in the event as a brother would give you ample opportunity to observe the wedding customs..etc.

I'll follow up on the DSLR thingy later too. Lets just put it in the way that DSLRs pics is never optimised straight out of the cam most notably being less "sharp" as compared to P&S. While the couples might not appriciate it, IMHO, you are only doing a disservice to the craft of photography if you produce anything less.
 

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