Some thoughts on photography..

jks9199

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A couple of things have brought this up, and I'm putting in General Martial Arts though it could be put a couple of other places, too.

More and more people today are taking better and better pictures IN GENERAL due to the increased availability of better cameras, with reduced processing costs since film has been so largely replaced by digital media. On top of that -- programs like Photoshop, GIMP, and even Paint can do a lot of photo editing and processing that used the be the province of professionals.

One thing I've noticed in MA as well as other sports is that some leagues/events hire a photographer who proceeds to take professional pictures during the event. Sometimes, they have a booth around, too, and do portraits. These hired pros for the event frequently post what amounts to contact pics on their websites, or otherwise provide people an opportunity to buy professional quality photos of the event. Often at kind of high prices... but prices that reflect professional quality work, and probably take into account that it's largely done on speculation, hoping that the pics sell.

Meanwhile, you get the photography buff team mom/dad who has a decent quality camera and starts taking pics during the events. But they post these pics up on Facebook or Flickr or some other photo sharing site and make them available for free to the teams/participants. Usually they haven't processed them much (maybe red-eye reduction or something like that... but not much beyond that).

Here's the thing... They're well meaning -- but they're also undercutting the guy who makes his living on it. And they encourage treating the real pros in the field of sports photography badly and unprofessionally because they've got these folks doing a "good enough" job, for free.

Not exactly sure where I'm going, because I can see the side that says "We're pros and should be treated as such, and paid appropriately" as well as the "these poor kids/parents can't afford all these fancy pics, and mine are nearly as good anyway" point of view.

Thoughts? Opinions?
 

Mark Lynn

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A couple of things have brought this up, and I'm putting in General Martial Arts though it could be put a couple of other places, too.

More and more people today are taking better and better pictures IN GENERAL due to the increased availability of better cameras, with reduced processing costs since film has been so largely replaced by digital media. On top of that -- programs like Photoshop, GIMP, and even Paint can do a lot of photo editing and processing that used the be the province of professionals.

One thing I've noticed in MA as well as other sports is that some leagues/events hire a photographer who proceeds to take professional pictures during the event. Sometimes, they have a booth around, too, and do portraits. These hired pros for the event frequently post what amounts to contact pics on their websites, or otherwise provide people an opportunity to buy professional quality photos of the event. Often at kind of high prices... but prices that reflect professional quality work, and probably take into account that it's largely done on speculation, hoping that the pics sell.[/QUOTE

jks

Good topic thanks for posting it. One of my students is a photographer (who teaches photo classes at the Rec. Center where I teach), I also have had my own kids, my sons and my daughter varying in ages from 10-16 all take pictures of my students in class as well a at tournaments or during belt exams and I have posted them on facebook. I have also taken pictures of our students and posted them on the school's facebook page.

First off the digital photography has revolutionized the business of picture taking. People can now take better pictures off of their cell phone then just a few years ago with a high end digital SLR camera. My phone even takes higher quality videos than my camcorder. With more pictures it has opened the door for more people to express their creativity (through taking, editing and manipulating photos) then ever before. With that now potentially anyone can take "good" photos. Even my 10 year old daughter took some good photos out of some 800+ I posted on facebook 20-30 maybe (if even that). My 15 year old son took 350-400 photos at a tournament and I posted 20 maybe. At that shear volume yoou are going to have a certain percentage that are "good" while the vast majority of them will be mediocre at best.

Anyway I hired a professional company to come and take pictures of my students in 2010. They came out and sold my students packages of which quite a few were shocked at how expensive they were. In short they priced themselves out of the market. While the pictures were OK the cost was pretty expensive. This past year I wanted to do another photo day and I had my student take the photos (our discussion about the event was what helped lead him to become one of my arnis students). What we did was have everyone get their picture taken during class time, he brought in a backdrop, lights, the whole nine yards. Some of the parents purchased the photos others didn't, I will say that he did a much better job that the previous company did.

Meanwhile, you get the photography buff team mom/dad who has a decent quality camera and starts taking pics during the events. But they post these pics up on Facebook or Flickr or some other photo sharing site and make them available for free to the teams/participants. Usually they haven't processed them much (maybe red-eye reduction or something like that... but not much beyond that).

Here's the thing... They're well meaning -- but they're also undercutting the guy who makes his living on it. And they encourage treating the real pros in the field of sports photography badly and unprofessionally because they've got these folks doing a "good enough" job, for free.

Not exactly sure where I'm going, because I can see the side that says "We're pros and should be treated as such, and paid appropriately" as well as the "these poor kids/parents can't afford all these fancy pics, and mine are nearly as good anyway" point of view.

Thoughts? Opinions?

I don't think the Mom and Dad cut into the Pro's picture money, cause I see them in two different things and I'll explain. From the above example the first company who came out in 2010 was taking pictures like a portrait studio selling packages with different background, composites etc. etc. No one else was taking that type of picture. These were the type that families wanted. Likewise in 2011 when my student did the same thing again he took portrait type photos during class not pictures of the students training during class. I could have had him do that but you are right in that myself or any of my kids could have done near the same thing with a digital SLR however portraits we can't do since we don't have the training, the lights, the high end flashes, backdrops etc. etc.

However due to everyone being able to now potentially to take a "good" shot of little Johnny or little Lucy in their sparring gear or kicking during class etc. etc. it makes it much harder for parents to spend big bucks on posed shots. However the posed shots are in a sense much higher quality that the free shots. Times are tight now so it is harder for families to afford classes, and then shell out big bucks for pictures. Like wise though the photographer has the cost of the equipment, his time, etc. etc. and I believe he needs to charge for his product as well.

What makes a good picture though? Two things a good photographer and someone who knows how to coach the kids to get the right shot. Let me tell you it is the difference between night and day and I believe worth the extra money. For instance my student at first couldn't get the kids to do the techniques right, I went over and they felt more comfortable with me so they kicked right etc. etc. Then over time my student got more creative and use to their timing and so he tried slightly different angles and the pictures I believe really improved. We started becoming more daring and staged two students together as if sparring and or doing say an arm bar. Or siblings together and so on. All in all they came out a lot better, and in the end we had the students (my brown belts) all doing jump kicks after bouncing on a mini trampoline, talk about awesome pictures for first attempts. It was a great time for all and a very positive experience for the students, the photographer and myself. All of this wouldn't normally be possible with just a mom and pop trying to take pictures, the quality wouldn't have been there no matter how many pixels the camera was rated.

This has been my experience with taking photos of my students.
 

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My daughter coaches a cheer leading team, they recently went to a very large competition where there were signs all over the place banning photography and videoing for safety reasons. They of course had a professional company taking photos and video which are expensive to buy. The videos I can understand having a pro do, we do at MMA events but most parents just want a photo of their child and their group not photos of the whole event. Parents felt that the signs were purely there so the professionals can make money, it left a bad taste tbh. Most went outside to take photos with trophies etc.
We don't have a photographer come into our martial arts club, if parents want photos they can take them of their child, if of a group they have to ask all parents, not our rules but from Child Protection.
 
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jks9199

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Safety is actually another legitimate issue. If the organizers hire a photographer, he assumes the risks of being on the floor, to both his person and his gear. Also, hopefully, they either know or are given some guidelines on where to stand and be safe. But some team parent wandering around -- they might wander right through a weapons kata in another ring (I've seen it happen, in truth!) or get hit by accident. Not only might the parent get hurt but there is also the possibility of a law suit.

But, at the same time, I can absolutely see the "they're only prohibiting photos to make sure their guy gets the money!" view...
 

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Couple of things going on here. First, as my friends on the right wing are fond of saying, we're a capitalist society, and frankly if the demand for professional quality portraiture dries up, it won't be the first job that was eliminated by technology. If the pictures taken by the amateur are "good enough," then they are good enough.

The pro, in my opinion, needs to do a couple of things to survive. First, he or she can retreat to some other venues where professional photography is generally still accepted, such as weddings and graduations. Second, they need to do a better job of explaining the difference between "good amateur" and "professional." Third, maybe they're overvaluing their services and should consider lowering their prices.

Ultimately, the tone of the OP seems backwards to me. It's like the vendor is blaming the customer for not wanting the product. If your product no longer sells, you're either not selling it well or there is no demand.

All of that being said, there are pros that photograph the major BJJ and MMA events, and they get some great pictures. They also seem to make a decent living at it. At the international IBJJF events, you'll have the pros right down on the floor and they get some outstanding shots.

http://www.aliciaphotos.com/Brazilian-Jiu-Jitsu-Submission Alicia Photos is a big one for jiu jitsu. This is how to make a living at sports photography. She gets some excellent shots, and it seems to me that the competitors would love to purchase some of these for their walls.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Uncle Bob:
Entry level DSLR, bought at Walmart, Target, Best Buy with kit lens. IE: Canon Rebel
Locks the camera in "Auto", shoots with on-camera flash.
Back drop is a spare bedsheet tacked to the wall.
He prints on his $49 inkjet at home.

Cousin Lou:
Basically an Uncle Bob who bought that 'fancy zoom'
Might have some lights, usually the "Home Depot Light Rig" (silver reflectors and some big bulbs), sometimes the $79 '3 light, silver umbrella' kits.
Usually shoots in Auto, sometimes switches to a 'mode' to be 'prefresional.'
Has the editing software that came with the camera, can usually get the red eye out and turn things 'purty'.
He prints at Walmart/Costco/Walgreens on glossy paper, usually the 4x6 special.

Professional Shooter:
Uses mid-range to high end gear such as a Canon 7D/5D or the 1 series.
Pro glass.
Knows what a light meter is, and can use it.
Understands the concept of in-camera color balance and can pull it off.
Has several years of experience and the only time he shoots auto is for quick light and area checks.
Light rig cost a good buck, and he carries spare flash tubes 'in case'.
Back drops are muslin, vinyl, canvas. He leaves the bed sheets on the bed.
Has a spare camera and lenses, along with extra batteries, media and more.
Has Lightroom/Aperture/Photoshop and can use them.
Uses a professional photo lab. Prints on real photo paper using pro standards with color profiles.
Pays 'self employment' taxes on top of everything else.


Right now the industry is being flooded with Uncle Bob's. The cost of low end DSLR's have dropped, and even point and shoots and cameras on phones have decent optics these days. Hell, I posted a few landscapes I shot on my Droid recently and people thought they were pro shots. At the events I've been at this year it seemed like everyone had a camera out. Hell, the instructor lecture periods looked like presidential news conferences there were so many, lol.

The days where an aspiring shooter can show up and shoot on spec are IME pretty much gone. In 6 years I don't think I've sold more than 10-15 event cd's. Doing on-location prints also wasn't profitable.

The difference between the Pro and the "Uncle Bobs" out there is simple: Gear, Eye, Experience.
The pro has better gear. He has the eye to catch things and the experience to compose the shot right.

Cousin Lou, he's up and coming. He's the guy I'm losing shoots to. He shoots 'good enough'. Some of these guys shoot better than 'the mall studio' which is many peoples bench mark for 'professional'. (Sad to say, that's like calling McDonalds fine food, but I digress) He's the guy you call when the professionals are 'too expensive'.

Professionals have overhead.
We have insurance. Neither "Bob" or "Lou" do.
We have back up gear. Neither "Bob" or "Lou" do.

We can't afford to shoot for 'lessons', 'lunch' or 'Ill make it up to you next time'.

But lets break down a professional shooters cost.

Most people snap their shots, go home, dump them on the computer and start uploading to Facebook.
"Bob" & "Lou" might do a little editing.
Neither of them need to make money so their time isn't accounted for.

A pro will meet with you ahead of time, check out the location, get an idea of what you expect.
They have gear to set up.
That's 2 hours maybe, and no shots taken yet.
Time for the shoots much also be factored in. They are working, not playing.
Breakdown time as well.
So a 4 hour school / event shoot is already 6-7 hours.
Post processing varies depending on how much time is needed. Basic mood shots/crowd shots it's minimal. I can do the 'simple' edits in a minute or 2 each. Much is scripts and actions. For portrait work, it's more complex. Skin blemishes, glare on glasses, braces, lint, dust, puffy eyes, bruises, cuts, stray hair, all take time to edit out. Some portraits I've worked on for 6 hours retouching. An 8 hr wedding for example has 24-40 hours of post work done (thats why wedding shoots are so much). Average time though for post on a school shoot with basic retouch we'll call it 5 hours.
So 11 hours for a 4 hour shoot. But we're not done yet.
Now we package things up and send to the printer. That could be another hour or 2 depending on how many people were photographed, and what they ordered.
When the order comes in, we have to do the individual packaging, invoicing etc. Unless we paid extra for the print shop to do that for us. (Mine charges $5 per. Great job, but that's more out of my pocket on an already tight job).
Add in delivery or time spent at the post office shipping.

So a 4 hour school shoot took 15 hours.
Spread that over 2 days, and you've got 30-40 hours eaten up.

I've done school shoots where people all took the 'cheap' print. I made $4/hr at the end of the day. Fed. Min Wage was more.

Schools want perks too.
So now factor in that 'free' shoot for the instructor(s), the 'free' prints to them, the class picture composite (that can take an hour or 2 to assemble)

I recently announced my 'retirement' from martial arts shooting. I can't compete against people who don't have to make money. Considering I've had calls from all over the country from people looking for 'professionals' to shoot at their schools who were unable to find locals to do it, it looks like other pros also have left the martial arts shoots to the Uncle Bobs and Cousin Lous too. Those calls all wanted me to travel on pure spec. When told things like 'trip charge' and 'minimum guarantee' I heard about 'Bob' or 'Lou' and how they didn't do that. I do. I'm a professional.

More on the "Why Pros cost what they do" (It's from a modeling site, so may not be work safe.
http://www.modelmayhem.com/educatio...-do-professional-photographers-charge-so-much



Oh and Steve, great shots on that site. She's got a good eye.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Something else:
Walmart, Sears or any other big-box store hires people off the street more on sale ability than camera skills. Pay is close to min-wage. They lure you in with the $10 coupon, but expect sales to be about $80 per.

I can't compete with them on price, any more than I could McDonalds on the price of a burger.
But give me $10 and I'll make you a burger that'll floor ya. ;)



On posing:
Despite running MT for 11 years, hanging out with hundreds of great folks, and training in a dozen different arts over the years, I suck at posing -your kids- the way -you like-.
3 different EPAK schools will have enough variation in their 'perfect pose' to cause complaints. You'd be surprised how many schools don't know terms like 'horse stance' or 'roof block'.
It's why I insisted that during any school shoot I did, especially with young kids, that an instructor was available to help pose people. -You- know your art better than I ever will, and while I can get people in rough position, you are the better qualified to tweak and adjust.


On 'No Photo' rules:
I understand them. I see them all the time in wedding contracts. I don't agree with them mostly. I have the eye, I have the gear and I know how to use it. You aren't going to get my shots unless you stand right over me, and I will tell you to back off. Now I will insist I'm the only hired pro there (exclusivity clause, so no competing with the booth next to me). But I won't stop or ask that parents not shoot. My stuff will be better. The rules there to try to funnel people through the pros booth, but my experience has been that people will wait until you turn your back then sneak a quick shot on your backdrop rather than pay you $10 for a shot.

Giving people everything on CD.
Tried that, hasn't been too profitable for me, but has covered my lunch and coffee for the events.
 

Bob Hubbard

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For giggles.
I went to google and googled "Martial Arts Photography"

These were the results. Note: 2, 3, 9, 11 & 12 are me. (Yeah, I'm almost half the first page. Go me, LOL). Offerings, terms and photos are all good, but I'll leave personal opinions on 'best' to the reader (I'm biased of course)
  1. [h=3]Welcome to Robertson's Martial Arts Photography[/h]www.rmapco.com/
    Welcome to Robertson's Martial Arts Photography. We specialize in photography for martial arts studios all over the United States. For more information about us ...


  2. [h=3]Martial Arts Photography[/h]martialartsphotography.net/
    The art and techniques of Martial Arts Photography.


  3. [h=3]Martial Arts Photography and Photos[/h]martialphotos.com/
    Jan 27, 2011 – Welcome to Hubbard Photography's Martial Arts Photography site. Hubbard Photography consists of the husband and wife team of Bob and ...

    photo.jpg
    You shared this


  4. [h=3]Fusion Martial Arts Photography[/h]fusionmartialartsphotos.com/
    Fusion Martial Arts Photography captures the fighting spirit of you dojo.


  5. [h=3]Images for martial arts photography[/h] - Report images


  6. [h=3]Striking Image Photography: Martial Arts, Dance, Gymnastics ...[/h]www.strikingimage.com/
    Blacklogo. Dynamic Photography for Martial Arts,. item2 繚 item1. Martial Arts. Dance, Gymnastics. item3.
    Martial Arts School Photography ... - Dance School Photography - Home


  7. [h=3]KICKPICS.net - Stace's Martial Arts Kicking Gallery[/h]www.kickpics.net/
    My name is Stace Sanchez and I'm the founder and owner of the world-famous website, KICKPICS - home of the hottest martial arts kicking photos on the planet. ...


  8. [h=3]Photo-Kicks.com - Martial Arts Photography[/h]photo-kicks.com/content/view/10/21/
    Photo-Kicks - Your Source For Action Photography, Graphics, and Marketing.


  9. [h=3]Martial Arts Masters Portraits Martial Arts Photography and Photos[/h]martialphotos.com/martial-arts-masters-portraits/
    Our Master's Portraits are a high quality unique artistic vision. Each one is individually designed to emphasize the subject's status as a master of the martial arts. ...

    photo.jpg
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  10. [h=3]Martial Arts photography? - Photo.net Sports Forum[/h]photo.net › Community › Forums › Sports
    8 posts - 8 authors - Last post: Mar 11, 2009
    I live in Tokyo and photograph martial arts on a regular basis. As martial arts uniforms often come in a variety of extreme colors (white for karate ...


  11. [h=3]Martial Arts Photography | Facebook[/h]www.facebook.com/.../Martial-Arts-Photography/116660428362062
    Martial Arts Photography - Join us as we explore the methods, techniques and concepts of Martial Arts Photography. - Description: Join us as we explore the ...


  12. [h=3]Martial Arts Photography Photography by Bob Hubbard, Buffalo NY[/h]bobhubbardphotography.com/services.../martial-arts-photography/
    Bob and his wife Susan offer a wide range of services to the Martial Arts industry, including Master and Instructor Portraits, Student Photo Days, Fund Raisers ...

    photo.jpg
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jks9199

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Looking at those, Bob, what I see is basically portraits. I'd love to hear from the handful of other schools there about how successful they are. Honestly, I'm not wowed by what I saw... unlike most of your work. Maybe I'm biased by acquaintance, but they're just doing portraits. None of them really seem to target the tournament/seminar scene other than a "you can get your portrait taken" booth.

With regard to the question about the original post, I'm not trying to blame the customer or vendor. I thought it would be an interesting topic for discussion. As I've become acquainted with more professional photographers, my opinions on photography have changed. For example, I once found it nuts that I couldn't simply get copies made of a portrait. After all -- it was MY face, right?! But now I understand more of what goes into making a good portrait, and processing it, and getting good lighting and poses, so I see why the restrictions are there. Or people using a picture they found on the web... What was the harm? How about the work & time the photographer put into making that image? In fact, I was rather annoyed in one of the links Bob posted when I realized that the company wanted to obtain an irrevocable right to use the images, without any further approval. I can see that causing lots of problems under a number of circumstances...
 

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Don't get me wrong. I see your points. I just don't agree that Joe Blow is under any obligation to avoid undercutting the professional photographer. My main point is that if the pros want to make a living, they have to provide a service that is in demand. And if they're not, as a group, creating the demand and are instead taking the market for granted, they will find themselves out of a job.

And that's the way the cookie crumbles.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Don't get me wrong. I see your points. I just don't agree that Joe Blow is under any obligation to avoid undercutting the professional photographer. My main point is that if the pros want to make a living, they have to provide a service that is in demand. And if they're not, as a group, creating the demand and are instead taking the market for granted, they will find themselves out of a job.

And that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Of course hes not under any obligation. No more so than the guy selling karate for a case of beer is to the guy who has to pay rent at the strip mall and charges $150 a month.
What I'm saying is that people don't want it, when they do aren't willing to pay what it's worth, and mostly don't understand what the difference is anyway.

As to this: "if the pros want to make a living, they have to provide a service that is in demand" I agree. That's why I've dropped my event coverage on spec.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Looking at those, Bob, what I see is basically portraits. I'd love to hear from the handful of other schools there about how successful they are. Honestly, I'm not wowed by what I saw... unlike most of your work. Maybe I'm biased by acquaintance, but they're just doing portraits. None of them really seem to target the tournament/seminar scene other than a "you can get your portrait taken" booth.

With regard to the question about the original post, I'm not trying to blame the customer or vendor. I thought it would be an interesting topic for discussion. As I've become acquainted with more professional photographers, my opinions on photography have changed. For example, I once found it nuts that I couldn't simply get copies made of a portrait. After all -- it was MY face, right?! But now I understand more of what goes into making a good portrait, and processing it, and getting good lighting and poses, so I see why the restrictions are there. Or people using a picture they found on the web... What was the harm? How about the work & time the photographer put into making that image? In fact, I was rather annoyed in one of the links Bob posted when I realized that the company wanted to obtain an irrevocable right to use the images, without any further approval. I can see that causing lots of problems under a number of circumstances...

Regarding the prints, what it is is you bought a piece of paper that happens to have a picture on it. That 'artistic' representation falls under copyright law and unless the creator (ie photographer) says you can make copies, legally you can't.

Regarding the folks in that Google list, I think everyone on there shoots some events, but the portraits are the 'money'. I heard about some shooter in Canada who set up some printers and churned out a ton of paper, and sold well. My experience has been different so I don't even bring my in-house printer anymore. I've assisted as a couple events and the 'standard' I saw was either some $100 dye-sub units, or a couple home ink jet printers. I've got a $100 dye-sub unit I use for $5 quickshots (straight out of the camera, no correction) or hand outs. But the folks who set up for Santa use $1,500-$3,000 printers. My print shop uses $250,000 gear. Walgreens has a $10,000 unit, by way of comparison.

Now I'll say this. If you as an event host hire/contract with a pro to cover your event, you need to make sure people know a-he's going to be there and b-he's going to be offering stuff for sale. In todays PDF/Forum/Email based promotions, there's no reason you can't include repeated mentions that you've got a pro coming, what they'll be offering, and so on. I've lost track of people who on the way out on a Sunday comment about 'If I'd known....". Sale time is now, not a week from now when the excitement's cooled, and everyones flooded Facebook with blurry shots of demons dancing. :D
 

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The milkman doesn't come anymore. There is no elevator operator. Diaper delivery services are a thing of the past. Film is dead. And so on. (Yes, yes, there are niches where they still exist, but in reality; all are gone for all intents and purposes).

The point is, things change. There was never any guarantee that photography would remain the realm of the professional, or that a person could make a living at it.

If one reads history, there was a similar situation at the dawn of photography. For the longest time, important people and the wealthy had their portraits painted. Those less well-off had miniature portraits done. There were artists that specialize in such things, catering to every price range. Then came silhouettes, and those were all the rage for a time. And then came photography. Suddenly, many could afford to have their portrait done, even if they were not wealthy. Entrepreneurs rushed into business, creating first Daguerreotypes and later photographs, and making the silhouette artist and the miniature portrait painter obsolete nearly overnight.

Even then, however, it required an investment in capital and some training to be able to wield the tools of this new trade, but not for long. Even as photography evolved, it became simpler to use. Wet collodion was replaced by dry plates, and then Eastman Kodak replaced dry glass plates with flexible film, and suddenly it was "You press the button, we do the rest." Overnight, everyone was a photographer.

However, even then, specialized knowledge and equipment was needed to create certain types of photographs. Portraits and commercial artwork and events were left to the professionals; amateurs rarely had the talent or the equipment to produce high-quality photographs in those areas.

Now we have another revolution. Not just digital imaging, but the capability for many of these cameras to produce well-exposed, well-focused photographs quite often; despite the lack of talent of the amateur behind the shutter. Now wonky lighting and odd shadows and out-of-focus and red-eye are truly being banished, and the photographer is none the wiser; they don't know why they should or should not do any particular thing; the camera does it all for them. About all that the camera can't do is come up with composition, it seems.

And these amateurs, they're everywhere. Every phone has a camera in it. Every Joe and Sally fancies themselves a photographer, and they do not refrain from stepping and taking photos and video at every event they attend. If the event is professionally covered; say a wedding or a sporting event, that doesn't stop them from stepping in front and taking whatever they please, and then, worse, giving it away for free.

In the area of photojournalism, it has gotten to the point that some media centers have in just the last couple months fired their entire photographic teams. They now equip their reporters with point-n-shoot cameras and rely upon reader and viewer-source photographs for news coverage. And why not? If there is a traffic wreck, or a fight involving a celebrity outside a nightclub, or a civil disturbance, you can bet that someone will be there with some form of camera, taking video and still photos long before the photojournalist could even be in his or her vehicle driving there. The public has eyes and ears now, and the public is everywhere and willing to share.

Is the quality the same? No, it is not. However, that's not the question. The question is, who cares? The public does not seem to mind crappy photos. They are the final arbiter, like it or not. If they don't know the difference between a good photo and a bad one, or if they know but don't care, then that's it. You can't fight it, you can't say they have to care, that's life breaking it off up in your butt, too bad, so sad. Move on.

Photography as a business must change. I've always said it's more about business than it is about photography, and that's the truth. A good business person will do well; their photographic talent is important but somewhat beside the point. A lousy business person can take the best photographs in the world; so what? Yawn. Get a job, you won't survive if you can't run a business. It's no different than martial arts as a business - your skill does not matter as much as your ability to run a business. That freaks out purists; photographers and martial artists alike. They want to believe that high quality matters; it doesn't in the business arena. Do you want to be a photographer or do you want to run a successful photography business? Choose one, live with it. If you're lucky, you can do some of both; but if you have choose one and put bread on the table, choose to be a good business person.

Personally, I have about given up frequenting photography-based forums. They're full of angry bitter pros who lament that these kids are giving away their photographs and destroying their business, stealing the very bread off their tables. Well, yes. But it's not going to change; no law will be passed and the kids won't let you up; so adapt or die.

I contend there is still a place for the professional photographer; but the business is evolving and changing, and it's a wave that one has to ride if one is to succeed. Time will tell how things will end up. But one thing is fairly certain; it's not going to go back to the way it was.

My 2 cents.
 

Steve

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Of course hes not under any obligation. No more so than the guy selling karate for a case of beer is to the guy who has to pay rent at the strip mall and charges $150 a month.
What I'm saying is that people don't want it, when they do aren't willing to pay what it's worth, and mostly don't understand what the difference is anyway.

As to this: "if the pros want to make a living, they have to provide a service that is in demand" I agree. That's why I've dropped my event coverage on spec.
It's worth what people will pay for it and not a penny more. This misunderstanding of the "worth" of the craft is exactly where the disconnect is.

It was once worth more than it IS worth today.
 

Bob Hubbard

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I'm not willing to pay $1,500 an ounce for gold. Doesn't change it's worth. Changes the demand.

This past year Walmart closed 500 studios because they lost more than Walmart wanted to absorb. That's 'bottom tier' studios.

I make money shooting portraits for people who want a better photograph than "Uncle Bob" can do, and who want more personal one-on-one time than the chains will give you.
Try and get Sears to cover your karate event. Or wedding.

The business is evolving, things are changing.
For me, I've dropped shooting events unless someones paying me to be there.
It means I'll be shooting less events in 2012. Less still in 2013. Possibly none.
I'm not doing school shoots short of a guarantee of $1,000 + travel.
Means I won't be doing many if any of those.
I'm ok with that.
Time will tell if I can survive in that field...part of why I have multiple business lines (including MT).
 

Steve

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What??? Something is worth what it can be liquidated for. Gold is worth around $1600 per ounce because it IS sold for that much. Whether you are willing to pay for it or not is irrelevant. It's genuinely amusing that you hold yourself in such high esteem, but the gold market doesn't revolve around you in any way at all. Your willingness, or lack of, to buy an ounce of gold at value isn't the definition of demand. People buy gold at value all the time. It's christmas, and you believe that the value of an oz of gold has had no influence on the price of the jewelry people are buying? Come on, Bob. You say you wouldn't pay that much, but of course you would if you wanted to buy a piece of jewelry.

Your photography is "worth" what you can sell it for and no more. If there is no demand, then there is no monetary value.

Of course, you can argue that there is value on an artistic basis, and I'd agree. There are measures of worth or value other than money. But, the only measure that puts food on the table is cash value.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Steve, a photo sells for nothing. It sells for hundreds of dollars. It's as 'liquid' as gold. The difference is 1 ounce of gold is pretty much the same as another. A photo...is unique.

By your argument "Something is worth what it can be liquidated for." gold is not worth $1,600 because -I- can't sell it for that. Not according to the guy I had quote on some rings a few weeks back. His "offer" was in the double digits, not 4 digit range. I of course said "no".
But we digress.

By the 'worth what you can sell it for' argument, my last 6 years shooting have been a waste.

Here's the bottom line for me. My time is worth money. The work I put in, the time I put in, the skills I bring to the table, the equipment I bring, all have a part in what my offering is worth.
You as a customer will either pay it, or not.
If enough pay it, I make money. If enough don't, I go under.
I as a provider must convince you of the value. If I fail, you don't buy and I don't make money.
Simple really.
So far, I have been unable to convince people that there is value in my work as a martial arts event photographer to make it a profitable focus of my time.
While people seem to like my event shots, and ask for them, and compliment me on them, they aren't of enough value to the participants to purchase in quantity, or to the hosts to compensate for the time spent on them.
So, I'll focus my time on events that do appreciate that work such as weddings. (My minimum wedding shoot is listing for $2,200 btw)
I'm not worried there about the $500-everything on a dvd in a week folks either. ;)
and I'm way past shooting a wedding for a free dinner and chance to 'network with the preacher'.
 

Steve

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Steve, a photo sells for nothing. It sells for hundreds of dollars. It's as 'liquid' as gold. The difference is 1 ounce of gold is pretty much the same as another. A photo...is unique.
You've slipped into a different discussion. We were talking about selling a service. We are now talking about selling a product. Selling art is a little slippery, but selling a service is much more concrete. But there are photographers who make a good living selling a service. See an image you like? Click here to buy it. X size costs Y dollars. This is such basic common sense, I am frankly at a loss.
By your argument "Something is worth what it can be liquidated for." gold is not worth $1,600 because -I- can't sell it for that. Not according to the guy I had quote on some rings a few weeks back. His "offer" was in the double digits, not 4 digit range. I of course said "no".
But again, this is a different thing. Given time, if you were patient, you could surely get more than if you're in a hurry and want to sell your ring to the dude at the mall offering cash for gold. But the point is that gold is sold for that much ALL THE TIME. People are routinely paying market value for gold. Does that mean it's unavailable for less than market value? No. But that has no bearing on it's worth.
But we digress.

By the 'worth what you can sell it for' argument, my last 6 years shooting have been a waste.
Waste? I don't know. It could very well be that your last 6 months have been a waste. Maybe not.
Here's the bottom line for me. My time is worth money. The work I put in, the time I put in, the skills I bring to the table, the equipment I bring, all have a part in what my offering is worth.
Sure, your time and skills are worth something. What they're worth is a function of what the market is willing to pay you. Your time may not be worth as much as you believe. If you are charging $70 per hour for your time and no one is paying you, your time is worth $0. Your time may not be worth as much as my time. My time may not be worth as much as a plumber's time. A plumber charges $70 per hour. That's how much his time is worth because that's how much he gets.
You as a customer will either pay it, or not.
If enough pay it, I make money. If enough don't, I go under.
Right. And if you go under, you are simply acknowledging what the market was telling you. You're not worth as much as you think. You were overvaluing the worth of your time and your skills.
I as a provider must convince you of the value. If I fail, you don't buy and I don't make money.
Simple really.
Yes, except that I honestly believe that you are confusing the effect and the cause. You have them mixed up.
So far, I have been unable to convince people that there is value in my work as a martial arts event photographer to make it a profitable focus of my time.
While people seem to like my event shots, and ask for them, and compliment me on them, they aren't of enough value to the participants to purchase in quantity, or to the hosts to compensate for the time spent on them.
So, I'll focus my time on events that do appreciate that work such as weddings. (My minimum wedding shoot is listing for $2,200 btw)
I'm not worried there about the $500-everything on a dvd in a week folks either. ;)
and I'm way past shooting a wedding for a free dinner and chance to 'network with the preacher'.
Great. Good luck to you. I hope that your market doesn't dry up. Weddings, kids and graduations all seem to be pretty stable fare for photographers.
 

Bill Mattocks

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All due respect, I think you're confusing value and worth.

I value my time at say $200 per hour.

But no one will pay me $200 per hour.

So my time is not worth $200 per hour. It is worth what the market will bear.

I can set my price at whatever value I like. If I can get that amount, then that's what my time is worth.
 
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