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JBrunner
02-11-2009, 11:23 PM
Jason, you are absolutely right today. What I'm saying is that in the next two or three digital product cycles (4-8 years?) we could see affordable high quality video that could make digital still cameras redundant.

From someone who shoots both, I would have to opine that it is unlikely. Not from a technical point of view but from a creative standpoint. I think hacks may advance the idea, but the difference between stills and motion are far greater that technical. Video does not translate into effective compelling images for still as a surefire concept. Also it's going to be likely at some point that the manufactures will reduce undermining professional gear with pro-sumer equipment. They will reach a point of no return at some point where they will have to.

markbarendt
02-12-2009, 05:57 AM
Also it's going to be likely at some point that the manufactures will reduce undermining professional gear with pro-sumer equipment. They will reach a point of no return at some point where they will have to.

I actually think the opposite will happen, that the development money will be focused on the pro-sumer, that's where the money is for Nikon and Cannon et al, the pro market is tiny by comparison.

The Pro lines may just end up there for marketing value to drag the pro-sumers up the food chain.

This change in the market does bring up the possibility of "pro" sponsorships like Fuji has started doing with people like Jose Villa and others to promote their film. Hey, if 400H is the magic bullet that makes Jose's work great, I want to use it too. ;)

We know better, but it's still a powerful marketing tactic.

djorourke
02-12-2009, 08:09 AM
Dan - Thanks for sharing your engagement slideshow. I'll respectfully disagree with you on your statement that 1000+ shots come handy for a slideshow since all that is needed are strong images with deep emotional impact. I deliver anywhere from 137-250 total images for the average 6-8 hour wedding day.



Riccis et al,

I posted the e-shoot slideshow to demonstrate where one might find value in shooting 1,000+ shots. I'm not actually interested in defending that approach. In point of fact, it's the approach I've moved away from (which is why the slideshow itself is from 2007). Though I do believe that those types of slideshows get passed around between friends/family and give my studio better exposure, but it's not the kind of thing I'm interested in doing any longer.

I'm more interested in providing the quantity of product that you're producing Riccis. I'll let the $600 togs deal with 1,000+ shoots.

Matt5791
02-13-2009, 12:04 AM
I shoot weddings on colour neg / B&W with Nikon 35mm and Hasselblad.

It's interesting what has happened to this business lately, although I'm speaking about the UK here, I don't know about elsewhere.

Firstly, photography in general, and Wedding photography in particular, has become an astonishingly aspirational profession. It seems there are more people trying to become Wedding photographers and shooting weddings on a part time basis than there are weddings each year. Prices attainable for shooting weddings have fallen like a lead baloon in the past 3 years because there are so many people shooting for 300 - 400 a pop.

There are few wedding photographers who command big money (Damian Lovegrove, Jeff Ascough), but the market is VERY small for this. However the aspirational types think they will be able to achieve this so these people cater for them with wedding photography courses, where they actually make most of their money with delegates paying 250 - 500 a head.

I wont shoot a wedding unless I can see myself earning a resonable wage for EVERY hour I spend on it. (Time is the most expensive aspect - even with film, processing and film is a small part of the cost.) There are many people out there working for less than the minimum wage because they only look at the wedding day itself as the time involved. Or they are just shooting jpeg and burning the image straight to a CD after the wedding without looking at them.

The consequence of all this is that Wedding photography has come full circle: Back in the 70' and 80's it was the fag end of the profession (for those of you in the US a fag is English slag for cigarette) It was the what the photographer from the studio, who drew the short straw, or was the new kid, got sent to do at the weekend. Throughout the 90's and into the new millenium it became much more of a profession in it's own right, with prices climbing considerably and, importantly, the quality improving too.

Then digital came along and lots of people percieved that anyone could pick up a DSLR and shoot a wedding - weddings in particular because they tend to happen at weekends and thus fit in around an existing job. The result of this, over the past 3 years in particular, is that the quality of work and the viability of wedding photography as a specialisation, has fallen through the floor, and I think we are back to where it was - the fag end of the profession.

Unquestionably, the biggest money in photography at present is in training. Hands down, no two ways about it.

Matt

Steve Smith
02-13-2009, 02:02 AM
weddings in particular because they tend to happen at weekends and thus fit in around an existing job. The result of this, over the past 3 years in particular, is that the quality of work and the viability of wedding photography as a specialisation, has fallen through the floor

Perhaps the quality has fallen in the last three years but the idea of fitting it around an existing job is nothing new.

My father was a part time wedding photographer from the 1960s to the 1990's. He provided high quality but for low pay. It usually seems to be the other way round now.

As a sideline, his full time job as a central heating engineer brought him into contact with Sangamo Weston sales reps (Weston also made central heating timers). This kept him stocked up with free light meters for many years!).




Steve.

Matt5791
02-13-2009, 03:08 AM
Perhaps the quality has fallen in the last three years but the idea of fitting it around an existing job is nothing new.
Steve.

Absolutely - I would definitely agree with that, there has always been part timers.

The difference now is that digital means more people percieve photography as being something they can get to grips with - they all have a PC and a DSLR and surely that's all they need.........When I got married in 2005, one "photographer" my mother in law approached openly suggested that with digital you didn't need any skill! Kind of an own goal as, understandably, he didn't get the job!

Further to this we have the economic downturn - there are record numbers of new businesses being started at present, generally and with record numbers of people enrolling on photography courses I'm sure many of those businesses are photgraphy.

I have been dealing with Warehouse Express recently and they have had record sales in January.

Matt

Gary Holliday
02-13-2009, 04:57 AM
I've had a look at some of the wedding photographers charging that top price and didn't see any skill that was different from those charging hundreds. But it's all down to marketing, the bride will then name drop that she has hired x photographer for her Royal Wedding.

I've seen a few new wedding photographers spring up in my area, even the guy who tried to sell me advertising space did weddings at the weekend...
"Yeah we do black and white as well. We convert it to black and white and leave the flowers in colour."

There are more cowboys and tacky photographers than professionals and people don't know any different, I'll let them get on with it.

I've seen these seminars training people up to be wedding photographers close to my area. Yes they'll earn thousands from that weekend, but I wouldn't be encouraging more people to compete with you!

markbarendt
02-13-2009, 05:50 AM
Firstly, photography in general, and Wedding photography in particular, has become an astonishingly aspirational profession.

I agree completely, when I look around me at all the people trying to sell photography it is crazy because I'd bet that maybe 1 in 50 has actually done a market survey or business plan.

That's not much of a way to run a business.


I wont shoot a wedding unless I can see myself earning a resonable wage for EVERY hour I spend on it. (Time is the most expensive aspect - even with film, processing and film is a small part of the cost.) There are many people out there working for less than the minimum wage because they only look at the wedding day itself as the time involved. Or they are just shooting jpeg and burning the image straight to a CD after the wedding without looking at them.

Been there, done that "less than minimum wage thing", good lesson; now I wont do any work that I don't get paid for either.

It wasn't too hard to figure out what reasonable rates were either. Labs that do wedding processing as a normal thing all have price sheets. I took these to heart, I figure if I can't get what they charge or more on an assembly line that I can't do it profitably as custom work.


The consequence of all this is that Wedding photography has come full circle: Back in the 70' and 80's it was the fag end of the profession (for those of you in the US a fag is English slag for cigarette) It was the what the photographer from the studio, who drew the short straw, or was the new kid, got sent to do at the weekend. Throughout the 90's and into the new millenium it became much more of a profession in it's own right, with prices climbing considerably and, importantly, the quality improving too.

I think what happened here is that a higher end market was actually created that could support people charging artistically.

As you suggest though this is a very limited market.

There is a middle market too that I think can support bread and butter pros, solid work for reasonable pay but it's limited too. This market feels the pressure from the aspirational shooters but my guess is just at the lower end.

I'd suggest that the challenge in breaking into these markets is driven more by marketing and sales than technique. I'm not discounting photographic skill here, I'm just saying that that's maybe 10-20% of the job required to succeed.


Then digital came along and lots of people percieved that anyone could pick up a DSLR and shoot a wedding - weddings in particular because they tend to happen at weekends and thus fit in around an existing job. The result of this, over the past 3 years in particular, is that the quality of work and the viability of wedding photography as a specialisation, has fallen through the floor, and I think we are back to where it was - the fag end of the profession.

At the low end of the market, I agree, the aspirational shooters you describe have flattened the market.


Unquestionably, the biggest money in photography at present is in training. Hands down, no two ways about it.

Matt

Just like the old time gold rushes, the general store is the business that made the real money, most of the prospectors went away broke.

Matt5791
02-13-2009, 06:38 AM
Thanks for your detailed thread there Mark - I guess there are many similarites with UK and US in this area. Infact I think a lot of the high end stuff did float accross the Atlantic, with Bambi Cantrell being relatively well known here - however, guess what, she's best known for training seminars.

For what it's worth, and I might be sticking my neck out a bit here, I believe that 1000 - 1500 is about the limit, at present, for good quality wedding photography from a photographer with a good portfolio. This would include a decent album and about 50 prints. This is what the discerning couple will be looking at. There are plenty of photographers asking for more, but I'm really not sure how many bookings they will be getting.

I was recently talking to a very well established photographer with a very good reputation www.simonjohn.co.uk He charges a "creation fee" of 595 + production fee of 995 - 1500 to cover album etc. Ie. total starting at around 1600. He says everyone is after a deal at the moment. It's a tough market.

Matt

Cheryl Jacobs
02-13-2009, 10:08 AM
Matt, the market is a bit better for wedding photography here in the US. $3000 for the photographer's time and an album is quite average and not at all hard to get, even in this economy, provided the photographer is halfway decent at what he/she does. From what I've gathered over the years, Americans tend to like to shell out money to wedding photographers more than the British do. Jeff Ascough (a good friend of mine) doesn't charge nearly as much as I believe he could in the US, and he does absolutely impeccable work (even if he has gone over to the dark side, the traitor.)

2F/2F
02-13-2009, 10:24 AM
Matt, the market is a bit better for wedding photography here in the US. $3000 for the photographer's time and an album is quite average and not at all hard to get, even in this economy, provided the photographer is halfway decent at what he/she does. From what I've gathered over the years, Americans tend to like to shell out money to wedding photographers more than the British do. Jeff Ascough (a good friend of mine) doesn't charge nearly as much as I believe he could in the US, and he does absolutely impeccable work (even if he has gone over to the dark side, the traitor.)

That sounds pretty accurate, though there is a ton of variation. The ladies I work for get about $1,500 to $2,500 for a digital file/negative buyout, plus travel. This means they don't concern themselves with any of the printing, which the two of them, and myself, hate doing, no matter how lucrative it may be. We'd rather have the free time. Knock us if you want, but I like lounging about scratching my arse when I can, instead of sitting in front of a computer for almost any amount of money. I was hired as an outside editor to reedit (AKA correct the original editors big screw ups) Getty's pix of the U.S. Open in '07. The pay was incredible for 24 hour's work (equal to what I normally made in a whole month), but I was about to slit my wrists after being in front of a computer for hours correcting some 8,000 images. Never again. I hate editing. I'd rather shoot and sell the pix outright for three weddings than shoot *and* print one. Besides, the types of people who want a buyout are generally more budget conscious (AKA frugal), so tend to jive with my bosses and my own personality much better than loaded types. We have never had a bad personal experience with a bride, bride's mom, or anyone else at a low-budget wedding. I cannot say the same for the higher budget ones. As you see, it not only depends on the clients, but on the shooters. We don't want to make as much money as is humanly possible. We only want to be paid enough to survive to provide something, while striking a balance with our personal free time. Other people feel differently about their wedding work. More power to each of us, IMO.

Maybe I would feel differently if I did not have much work, however. In that case, I might try to milk the couple for whatever I could.

At the same time, I gave a quote for a vow renewal for an acquaintance at $600 with proof prints, and they said their budget was only $300, and had a totally inexperienced friend with a DSLR do it. Go figure. I thought $600 sounded like a "favor" at less than half of what they should have expected to pay, but it goes to show that the clients matter quite a lot. I prefer low-income people and weddings in every way, but good luck making a living doing them exclusively. Low income people have every right to ask a family member to do it for cheap or free. When they do this, they know full well that they are going to get what they pay for...but that it is certainly better than nothing at all. Should the fact that someone's uncle has an SLR on P mode really cut into our business? I don't think so. It certainly has not for the people I work for, and we don't even do ritzy affairs like a lot of wedding photographers. I lost that job because of my acquaintance's budget combined with my refusal to do it any cheaper; not because Uncle Joe has a DSLR. I don't get sore about Uncle Joe and his DSLR if that gives the clients what they truly want for what they can afford. We usually shoot about 600 pix each in a candid style (the equivalent of about 35 rolls of film between the two of us; a lot, but nowhere near unheard of in a 12+ hour day of candid shooting by two people) and deliver about 300 to 500 pix. Yes, people do want hundreds upon hundreds of stupid-ass pix. Don't ask me to explain, but they do. The 2D image is validation of our existence and self worth for some reason.

markbarendt
02-13-2009, 11:48 AM
2F/2F, I think your plan is just fine.

Like you I hate the computer editing stuff. If a client wants an album I hire that out. My job is to shoot and sell. Lounging is cool!

markbarendt
02-13-2009, 11:58 AM
Dbl

Matt5791
02-13-2009, 12:00 PM
Matt, the market is a bit better for wedding photography here in the US. $3000 for the photographer's time and an album is quite average and not at all hard to get, even in this economy, provided the photographer is halfway decent at what he/she does. From what I've gathered over the years, Americans tend to like to shell out money to wedding photographers more than the British do. Jeff Ascough (a good friend of mine) doesn't charge nearly as much as I believe he could in the US, and he does absolutely impeccable work (even if he has gone over to the dark side, the traitor.)

Interesting, thanks for that Cheryl.

I did attend three seminars run by Jeff at Focus, the photographic exhibition here in the UK (conveniently held in Birmingham) and found it very entertaining and extrememly interesting.

I was the only one who put up a hand when he asked the question "anyone still shooting on film". Interestingly he responded "I wish I was" - and I wasn't too sure what that meant.

I would completely agree with you on Americans valuing decent photography more than people do in the UK - that has been the impression I have had.

Matt

Cheryl Jacobs
02-13-2009, 12:05 PM
Matt, Jeff was amazing with his Leica and noctilux. He went digital because resources for his film work were drying up left and right, and he felt he had no choice. I will say that his digital work is very good and tastefully handled; he was quite successful in carrying his style over through the change of medium.

2F/2F
02-13-2009, 12:08 PM
Matt, Jeff was amazing with his Leica and noctilux. He went digital because resources for his film work were drying up left and right, and he felt he had no choice. I will say that his digital work is very good and tastefully handled; he was quite successful in carrying his style over through the change of medium.

Good photographers have managed to do this. It is not all that hard. It is the "crummy" (:D) film shooters who have really been called out by the switch to digital, IMO...not to mention the ones who have always done everything digital.

markbarendt
02-13-2009, 12:43 PM
Trpl

Matt5791
02-14-2009, 01:07 AM
Matt, Jeff was amazing with his Leica and noctilux. He went digital because resources for his film work were drying up left and right, and he felt he had no choice. I will say that his digital work is very good and tastefully handled; he was quite successful in carrying his style over through the change of medium.

Interesting - now it all makes sense - much of his seminar revolved around how shooting film benefits you if you shoot digital, and anyone who has never shot film is at a considerable disadvantage.

Matt

Gary Holliday
02-14-2009, 04:32 PM
Here are some starting guide prices...
http://www.wpja.com/wedding-photographers/international/europe/england-photography.htm

http://www.wpja.com/

I can understand the frustration of editing thousands of images; but I feel that photographers who dump their photos unprinted onto discs, don't really care about their work. I do absolutely everything from beginning to end and take pride in my work. The reward is seeing the delight on the clients' face when they receive the pictures...this is the buzz that keeps me going in this job.

Why take 1000s? I use around 10 36exp films and we can easily pick out 40 album worthy images...don't press the shutter if it's likely to be binned.

markbarendt
02-14-2009, 10:09 PM
I can understand the frustration of editing thousands of images; but I feel that photographers who dump their photos unprinted onto discs, don't really care about their work.

Gary,

It's not about caring one way or another, it's about good business and offering products or services that the photographer is competent in providing and willing to do.

I used to do it all when I was digital, hated being behind the computer. Started offering shoot and burn and had great fun and made a lot more hourly. That's good business and the clients got good raw material because I care a lot about the shots I took. The customer got exactly what they contracted and paid for.

Let's turn this on it's head a bit.

If we were talking about a commercial job, instead of a wedding, would printed proofs or finished albums be an issue?