Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reality Check

I was talking to my good friend Wesley today about staying afloat.

The continuing advances in technology is causing a major upheaval in many industries and especially in photography. It is relatively cheap to become a photographer. With a decent portfolio, almost anyone could be a photographer. But what type of photographs do you want to take? And how do you actually make it all pay? These are questions without simple answers.

What are the difficulties of becoming a photographer?
1. There are many people aspiring to be professional photogaphers today, and with the level of technology available today, it is easier to get the shot than it used to be.
2. Clients believe that there is a material cost savings and that should be passed on to them. Clients do not realize that there is heavy investment in computer equipment and time to touch up images and it is the photographer that loses out on this score in general.
3. For the commercial photographer, a lot of companies are turning to stock images instead of hiring someone to shoot.
4. In a practical society, a representative image is sufficient. The art of photography is not valued. So photographers who get the job done at a lower price will get the job.

I fear that these factors can hinder the growth of photography. In general, it is difficult to do really creative work now and get paid a decent salary for it. There are a few at the very top who can make it, and some who take the grunge work and make a living from quantity photography. The question is how does one move from grunge work to high end and still survive and still do creative work?

I do not have the answers to these questions. What I do know, is that having a good photographic eye does not guarantee you a career in photography. Photography is a business and there has to be some sort of business model, mass market or high end. A photographer must understand the business of photography, i.e. how to charge, how to write contracts, how to promote oneself. A photographer must also have a plan for growth, i.e. where is it safe to start learning photography, how to get the first few jobs and how to move on up the photographic career.


töes said...

"2. Clients believe..."

From a (muchly realistic) consumer's point of view, i'm compelled to think that ur overhead costs should not be credited towards my expenses.

On the other hand, i would expect minimal D.I. if i were to hire a digital photographer. And in that sense, i prefer to stick to film photographers since manipulation/touchup is essentially equivalent to the photographer's photographic and not computer software skills.

Just my one cent worth.

eadwine said...

i totally agree with u on this. its not which photographer gets the deal, its the better salesman who gets the deal.