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Gary Holliday
02-15-2009, 08:28 AM
The fact is that the photos are going to end of being printed at the cheapest mini lab on glossy paper. All photographs require manipulation whether it's cropping, exposure or burning in. Friends of mine took the shoot and burn option and I sat back and listened to all the comments when the photographs were handed around the bar.

The photographer in question had MPA Photographer of the year for "region". I doubt that if the MPA saw those photographs when they were judging, she wouldn't have been awarded the honour. She traded on a reputation that didn't reflect all of her services. My opinion is that those friends wasted 500 on shoot and burn in an attempt to save some money.

2F/2F
02-15-2009, 08:41 AM
The fact is that the photos are going to end of being printed at the cheapest mini lab on glossy paper. All photographs require manipulation whether it's cropping, exposure or burning in. Friends of mine took the shoot and burn option and I sat back and listened to all the comments when the photographs were handed around the bar.

The photographer in question had MPA Photographer of the year for "region". I doubt that if the MPA saw those photographs when they were judging, she wouldn't have been awarded the honour. She traded on a reputation that didn't reflect all of her services. My opinion is that those friends wasted 500 on shoot and burn in an attempt to save some money.

We do not do a "shoot and burn", as you call it. We do a basic "printing" of everything, just no Photoshop, no layers, etc. I do all my work in Canon Digital Photo Professional, and they do theirs in Bridge. These programs let you relatively quickly, yet totally manually, do the basic things that you do in a wet darkroom (density, contrast, color balance, cropping) without having to open stuff in PS. If it is not 90% editable in one of these programs, it is no good to begin with, IMO. When someone wants hundreds of pix delivered on a CD as part of the contract, and no prints, that is their decision, not mine.

markbarendt
02-15-2009, 10:19 AM
All photographs require manipulation whether it's cropping, exposure or burning in.

Frankly Gary that is just your opinion. That may be very true for your chosen workflow and style, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I would say that any image can be "changed" to manipulate it's look but it's by no means a given that improvement can be made. Improvement can only be defined when the expectations for the job are known.

For my own work it depends on how hard I worked at the shoot and how well I've defined my "normal" processes for a given film. My goal is to be completely done creatively when the shutter drops. This is especially true of weddings.

I crop with my feet and my zooms, I look for natural vignettes and frames and context, I use flash, skrims, and reflectors to burn and dodge and control contrast.

At the end of the day I'm pretty well done and the film can be processed "normally" and printed without special work in the enlarger.


She traded on a reputation that didn't reflect all of her services. My opinion is that those friends wasted 500 on shoot and burn in an attempt to save some money.

This is only true if there was something less than full disclosure on the photographers part. If the client was informed of the pitfalls and chose to press ahead there no reason to berate the photographer.

There is no sin in providing great camera work and letting someone else do the rest.

Matt5791
02-16-2009, 07:17 AM
There is no sin in providing great camera work and letting someone else do the rest.

I'm not so sure about that - If you allow the client to print, and this is done poorly, then this can, at best, take away the impact of a great shot, but at worse give prospective clients a poor impression of your work.

I can understand being protectionist about who handles / prints the negatives / files. Plenty of photographera will only supply a finished album or framed prints.

Matt

markbarendt
02-16-2009, 08:38 AM
I'm not so sure about that - If you allow the client to print, and this is done poorly, then this can, at best, take away the impact of a great shot, but at worse give prospective clients a poor impression of your work.

The issue is not any specific great shot that the photographer likes, the issue is serving the market the photographer has chosen to be in profitably.

In business the perfect intent is to make a profit, photography in this sense is just a means to an end. In business the only tests of a great shot are "does it meet the specification of the job (is the customer happy) and the business plan (Is it making me money)?"


I can understand being protectionist about who handles / prints the negatives / files. Plenty of photographera will only supply a finished album or framed prints.

Matt

Protectionism in this sense is just about marketing, maintaining the reputation you want.

If your business plan calls for selling prints by all means you should avoid work without prints.

If somebody else's business offers just negs well so be it. They have chosen to serve a different market.

JBrunner
02-16-2009, 09:10 AM
Mark hit it square on the head. There are so many ways to be a photographer, and so many methods within any given way. My portrait work, which is starting to go very well, is based on being the anti. In other words, I offer something that very few do. I know people around here that could, but it isn't where they are putting effort, so in effect, I'm the only one. The draw of my work is the print. Price shopper aren't part of my business plan. Folks who want something unique and are willing to pay for that are. There are many fewer of them, but I'm one of the only one meeting that need, so for me there are a lot. 10,000 cheapos for 10,000 photographers that serve that market, or 1000 folks for just one photographer. Not a tough choice.

Matt5791
02-17-2009, 12:02 AM
The issue is not any specific great shot that the photographer likes, the issue is serving the market the photographer has chosen to be in profitably.

In business the perfect intent is to make a profit, photography in this sense is just a means to an end. In business the only tests of a great shot are "does it meet the specification of the job (is the customer happy) and the business plan (Is it making me money)?"



Protectionism in this sense is just about marketing, maintaining the reputation you want.

If your business plan calls for selling prints by all means you should avoid work without prints.

If somebody else's business offers just negs well so be it. They have chosen to serve a different market.


I agree with you, totally. I was simply saying, in my opinion, in the field of wedding photography, I think allowing the customer to print could be counter productive if your objective is to build a particular reputation. I am sure there are plenty of photographers earning a living and operating a profitable business and giving away copyright at the same time - as you say a different market.

JBrunner
02-17-2009, 12:10 AM
I agree with you, totally. I was simply saying, in my opinion, in the field of wedding photography, I think allowing the customer to print could be counter productive if your objective is to build a particular reputation. I am sure there are plenty of photographers earning a living and operating a profitable business and giving away copyright at the same time - as you say a different market.

Actually, most (but not all) of the people giving away copyright are the hangers on, the weekend warriors, the Moms with cameras, GWCs etc. They usually aren't profitable in any business sense. Most of them are actually losing money, but haven't figured it out. By the time they do, their place has been taken by the next crop. The only way you can compete with them is to lose money yourself, so don't bother to try. Go for the quality client.

markbarendt
02-17-2009, 06:37 AM
I think allowing the customer to print could be counter productive if your objective is to build a particular reputation.

This statement can be true, but that truth depends completely on the market and particular reputation someone may be wanting.

As a photographer I'm not without control here even if the client is going to print on their own. I view it as part of my responsibility to know how the images will be printed.

If I know that they will be printed by a minilab I know that I need to avoid using techniques that require some thought or judgment on the labs part. Shoot snap-shot style if you will.

If it's commercial work, I need to shoot to the specs their lab expects.

I can still provide value and show my style, I just have a narrow range to do it in because I can't fix the mistakes I make in the camera at printing time.

Nicholas Lindan
02-17-2009, 08:19 AM
Actually, most (but not all) of the people giving away copyright are the hangers on.

The ones I have met are just trying it out for the fun of it, and the clients they have aren't really into elaborate weddings. It's weekend warrior or Aunt Mabel. They get what they pay for, but as they don't want much they don't pay much.

In Britain, judging by my cousins, almost all wedding photography is done by hordes of relatives with P&S's.

Gary Holliday
02-20-2009, 06:50 AM
Frankly Gary that is just your opinion. That may be very true for your chosen workflow and style, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I would say that any image can be "changed" to manipulate it's look but it's by no means a given that improvement can be made. Improvement can only be defined when the expectations for the job are known.

For my own work it depends on how hard I worked at the shoot and how well I've defined my "normal" processes for a given film. My goal is to be completely done creatively when the shutter drops. This is especially true of weddings.

I crop with my feet and my zooms, I look for natural vignettes and frames and context, I use flash, skrims, and reflectors to burn and dodge and control contrast.

At the end of the day I'm pretty well done and the film can be processed "normally" and printed without special work in the enlarger.


I do all of those things, but in fast-paced documentary weddings, you don't always have that luxury. I will make minor adjustments to the balance of composition, straightening and apply some artistic licence to the tonal range of the photograph using burns and dodges, all those things that a mini lab will not do. A bit like trying to sell a house with shabby DIY.

I've had a google for wedding photographers and there are some shabby DIY photographers with logos of 'pro organisations' on the main page...cliched gimmicks and shoot and burn for pennies. I doubt very much that these guys will "inform the client of the pitfalls"

Am I on my own for wanting to deliver the highest quality?

markbarendt
02-20-2009, 09:38 AM
I do all of those things, but in fast-paced documentary weddings, you don't always have that luxury.

A little context is wonderful. You made a choice to sell to this style, nothing wrong with that. Choosing and focusing on a market is essential to succeeding in my estimation.


I will make minor adjustments to the balance of composition, straightening and apply some artistic licence to the tonal range of the photograph using burns and dodges, all those things that a mini lab will not do. A bit like trying to sell a house with shabby DIY.

For weddings right now I'm really selling my camera work because it's what I'm skilled at, creative at, and what I enjoy most.

When I become truly skilled, efficient, and reliable in my developing and printing I may add those services to what I offer, but just maybe. That foray will depend purely on me being able to enjoy that work and a real business necessity. If I can get to the point of making a comfortable living in my current business model I'll probably just stick with it and save my developing and printing efforts for portrait and fine art work where I can limit the volume and maximize the profit/hour spent.

For now I build into the sale (and make a profit on) the cost of pro film and the processing costs at a high quality pro-film-lab to do my back end work to get high quality proofs for the client.

This is the end of my work as a photographer in a business sense for weddings. Past this I'm a merchant selling the services and products of others.

I will sell albums and prints, but I hire out for this and I make a merchants profit, instead of a creative's profit, to cover the work I do of organizing and selling those "commodities".

I'm happy to make those sales but many times just as happy not to because they are not the core product of my wedding business, my camera work is.

Yes, my business plan views the lab work and albums as commodities. High quality commodities, but commodities non-the-less. They are pre-priced by the labs, available to any pro, there are various labs/album companies that can do the work who competing with each other for that business, they are inexpensive (when compared to my time), and they are reliable and fast in the grand scheme of things.

This makes for what is viewed as a nice high-quality product for my market and for me. It allows me to get paid nicely for my creative work, have good quality control, to keep prices low, and to do other things like spend time selling more camera work.

This does pose a problem for people like you who do your own back-end work and who RIGHTFULLY expect to be paid creative wages for that work instead of commodity wages.

You have to be able to sell that extra value.


I've had a google for wedding photographers and there are some shabby DIY photographers with logos of 'pro organisations' on the main page...cliched gimmicks and shoot and burn for pennies. I doubt very much that these guys will "inform the client of the pitfalls"

That may be true, but poor communication will bring the wrath of their clients which will either teach them to behave or drive them out of business.

What I don't see here is the connection between the shoot and burn market and the market you are selling to.

Ferraris, Chevys, and Yugos do not compete with each other. These brands market to decidedly different clienteles. The Yugo buyer isn't even going to look seriously at a Ferrari and vice-versa.


Am I on my own for wanting to deliver the highest quality?

No, but you do have to be able to sell that "extra" level of quality to your market at a profitable volume and price or you won't be in business long.

There are very few buyers capable of or interested in buying 40 professionally printed 40 inch Ilfochomes to document a wedding.

The product may be truly stunning and of the highest quality but who could buy such a thing?

Gary Holliday
02-21-2009, 07:44 PM
What I don't see here is the connection between the shoot and burn market and the market you are selling to.



No, but you do have to be able to sell that "extra" level of quality to your market at a profitable volume and price or you won't be in business long.

There are very few buyers capable of or interested in buying 40 professionally printed 40 inch Ilfochomes to document a wedding.

The product may be truly stunning and of the highest quality but who could buy such a thing?

I'm up against every photographer who does weddings. "Why pay 1000+ when I can pay half that and get the images on disc also?"

I had a chat with my ex-boss who went to America. We were discussing prices and in the US, they can charge big bucks. The UK won't pay for those copyright fees because they feel the photos are theirs and they should be able to print the photos themselves, so there's a very narrow gap between top and bottom because nobody is willing to pay much.

Shoot and burn photographers are allowing this idea of self printing to thrive and become the norm. If people think it's fine to do the photos in a mini lab we as professionals should not be encouraging them.

Creating an amazing photo in-camera can be ruined in two seconds by a poor printer, so I don't see the argument. Printing is half the battle in creating a good image and I feel we should be overseeing the whole process whether it's done in a pro lab or by ourselves.

I don't do documentary 40 inch Ilfochromes by the way! Who does??

markbarendt
02-21-2009, 11:08 PM
I'm up against every photographer who does weddings. "Why pay 1000+ when I can pay half that and get the images on disc also?"

.... there's a very narrow gap between top and bottom because nobody is willing to pay much.

Gary, I'm sorry to hear there is so little difference between top and bottom. That is truly a problem.


Shoot and burn photographers are allowing this idea of self printing to thrive and become the norm. If people think it's fine to do the photos in a mini lab we as professionals should not be encouraging them.

The genie is out of the bottle, it's too late.

Actually I think technology has done this, not the low dollar shooters.

IMHO digital technology has turned normal wedding photography into a commodity. Think about the shift from painted portraits to photography, a lot of painters were probably a bit peeved as their monopoly crumbled.

I shot digital weddings and did digital albums and digital prints and all the blah, blah, blah.

I could not make it profitable while doing all the back end stuff, the market I was trying to sell to wouldn't pay properly, so I gave up on the back end.

That was the market's choice.


Creating an amazing photo in-camera can be ruined in two seconds by a poor printer, so I don't see the argument. Printing is half the battle in creating a good image and I feel we should be overseeing the whole process whether it's done in a pro lab or by ourselves.

Noble thought, as a business though it only works if you can find enough brides willing to pay for it.

This is a business plan question, not an artistic one. Your product needs to fit your market.

My question is, are you getting paid fairly for the services rendered?

If not you have three choices; 1-market where you can charge more or 2-provide less in your current market or 3-stop selling wedding services.

Giving away your professional time and reversing the course of history are both fruitless endeavors.


I don't do documentary 40 inch Ilfochromes by the way! Who does??

Nobody I know either, that's the point.

The normal wedding market won't support that level of quality or cost, it may not be able to support your preferred level of quality either. (this isn't a reflection on you, it's a reflection of the market.)

Film, Pro-labs, and keeping the shot count low makes weddings a profitable venture for me and provides a quality step up for my clients.

Me doing back-end work kills my ability to make a profit because I'm slow compared to the labs I use and it uses up the time I need to sell more work, and my family time, and my sleep time.

Gary Holliday
02-27-2009, 08:00 AM
I don't want to go into too much detail as I've got work to do! But if I'm printing photos myself I expect to be paid a printers wages not a 100+ per hr photographer. If I don't have time, it gets sent out to the lab, but as long as I retain quality control.

I don't think the change in technology should have provided this self-printing idea to emerge. A hi-res file is the original whether it's on film or pixels. Back in the day were you one of those photographers who would hand over the negatives?

Good luck, at least we are not travel agents. Do people still use them?

markbarendt
02-27-2009, 06:03 PM
if I'm printing photos myself I expect to be paid a printers wages not a 100+ per hr photographer. If I don't have time, it gets sent out to the lab, but as long as I retain quality control.

That is perfect, my biggest concern for anybody in our business is that they get paid properly for every task they do.

What I saw in the digital realm was a tendency for people to give away the post-processing by never figuring it into the real costs. That's tougher to ignore when using film because of the hard currency paid to a lab or to buy supplies.


I don't think the change in technology should have provided this self-printing idea to emerge.

Actually this is exactly what companies like Canon promote. For years they have essentially been screaming "Buy our camera, buy our printer, do it all yourself, you don't need a pro photographer or a lab, digital is free!"

This revolution only became practical with digital, a darkroom in every home was never feasible, but a camera, a computer, and a printer in nearly every home is.

Plain and simple technology and the hard-goods suppliers that make those goods and the software companies that piggyback on that mass market created the self-printing revolution.


A hi-res file is the original whether it's on film or pixels. Back in the day were you one of those photographers who would hand over the negatives?

I still am depending on the job. Here's my business logic for this on weddings.

With the exception of a celebrity wedding, the entire market for the images I shoot at a given wedding consists of the Bride, the Groom, and the immediate family. My only practical hope for making more beyond that is from referrals that lead to more work.

There is a certain amount of profit I can reasonably expect to make on a given wedding in a given market. If I can out-do that normal amount of profit by "giving" them the negatives, I will.

From a business perspective they can either let me reduce my costs or pay me extra, to get me to that point, I don't care which. They also get full disclosure with regard to self-printing issues.

I learned this the hard way when post started kicking my tail. The more I shot and the bigger the album the harder I got kicked. People wanted big albums but weren't willing to pay fairly.

I make more real dollars now with my "shoot and proof" product because the cost is really low, my time commitment to a job is low, and it's something my market is willing to pay for.


Good luck, at least we are not travel agents. Do people still use them?

That is exactly my point, there are still a few but from what I can see it's a real niche, the market for their services is limited, same with portrait painters.

I believe that most brides do not care about how we make our art, what really matters to them is the style and the look.

What we can get paid for well is things that they can't or don't want to do. Where we can show that we are different artistically or practically we can be paid nicely.

wendy g
06-12-2010, 02:11 PM
"Where's the wedding togs?" I'm here! I'm relatively new to APUG.

Started shooting film when I was 13.... it became an obsession. Many years later I became a wedding photographer using film. I added digital (the immediacy and overly saturated colors were addicting) and in 2007 became all digital. Two years later I kissed digital capture goodbye and decided film was for me.

Many of the statements in this thread are interesting. I also agree that digital technology and those who sell it have created myths (among pros and among consumers). That it's free. That it's easy. That it's a great way to make easy money. That "having more control" (being a photographer AND a color corrector or lab) is true freedom. That it's the camera that makes beautiful images. That it's the number of megapixels that makes beautiful images. That it's one manufacturer or another (Nikon v Canon). In fact every facet of digital imaging is sold as the ONE THING that will make your images beautiful. The camera, lenses, storage media, printer, software, computer, imaging software, imaging software actions, etc, etc. The understanding that the PERSON capturing the image matters has been obscured. Some wedding couples understand this but the average consumer who has no real visual vocabulary doesn't. They bought the hype.