Professional photographers swamped by a Tsunami …..of expensive garbage

I cannot believe the number of supposedly amateur photographers asking for higher prices for photoshoots than most pros. It just proves that its who you know, not what you know as most of the “amateurs” produce absolute garbage, with the odd fluke, but not knowing how it “worked out” No wonder most of the public do not value photography when they see “garbage” masquerading as professional

Public expectations of Professional Photographers

Someone(a customer),made a very curious comment to me recently, and what they said fitted with further comments made when we provided a professional service.People seem amazed when they receive their photographs, that they are better than they expected.The comment made recently was “I am looking to see if they are professional quality” While I was not sure why he remarked that way, I thought about it for a few days. My thoughts are, does the public no longer see photography as a profession, and/or do people these days have lower expectations due to “everybody” taking photos,many of whom are amateur, but cashing in with their camera, delivering less than professional results.

When will the professional price spiral end?

I caught an advert by a photographer in country NSW. The offer was 2 hrs photography, up to 150 photos on disc, 10 6×4 prints and 5 5×7 prints, all for $40. Admittedly it was a special offer, but the photographer is begging for work, or the other possibility…experience. Either way more photographers will face increasing opposition with their service charges, and unless they work for fun, they should get a real job.

Photographic Stylists

I have grabbed this info from the net, its relevant to my thoughts.

Studios should not underestimate the value of a stylist,I have often believed that a stylist is as important as the photographer.

“Photographic stylists assist photographers in setting up props and other necessary materials which will form the subject of photo shoots. In many instances, this role will be performed by the photographer. However, stylists are usually an essential part of the team in shoots where the subject is food, fashion or other commercial products.

Photographic styling involves collecting the necessary materials and props from various suppliers, arranging objects in the desired fashion and setting up lights and special effects (e.g. fog, wind or rain).

You may also be required to maintain a comprehensive database of all the images taken on a shoot, so that they can be presented effectively online or in a catalogue.

Most stylists are also photographers-in-training, established photographers, To be a photographic stylist you should have:

creativity and a good eye for shape and colour
excellent attention to detail
an understanding of photography and lighting
good communication and ‘people skills’
patience and concentration
calmness under pressure and the ability to ‘think on your feet’
an organised and practical approach
the ability to work well in a team and take instructions
keen interest in and knowledge of fashion and trends
willingness to work long hours when necessary
determination and resilience
commercial awareness.”

Will the Professional Photographer survive?

As the thirst for photographic knowledge increases at lightening pace, we, the professional, can feel the world shrinking. Surely our traditional base is being eroded,and it is, in my opinion. Times are changing and the professional is being asked to do the same. As the older pros move away from this industry, the gap is being filled by part time photographers, but have they gained the practical training from a practicing pro in a traditional studio. In a world of endless filters and special effects, is the quality of photography being masked, does a “normal” photograph “stack up”, or do the new breed need the latest “effects” to impress their audience, or are the more traditional photographers putting their head in the sand?

Shoot in 16 bit to improve your Landscapes

We all know that a 16 bit image has much more colour information than 8 bit. We can be lazy when converting raw images. Some photographers convert to 8 bit jpg or tiff, bypassing 16 bit completely. Some do not shoot raw at all.For landscapes, especially those with blue sky, I recommend 16 bit. When editing a 16 bit landscape the amount of information in the sky is so high that unless you push the edit to extreme, you will not see banding, as is often the case with 8 bit edits. It just makes sense to edit your landscape in 16 bit to get the best quality.

Film , revival of an old staple.

As I watch the current crop of photographers, most of whom only familiar with digital photography, I wonder why I would ever use film again, therefore I find the use of film as only a curiosity or an interest in a era where capturing an image was expensive, delicate, unknown, and yet magical. Processing alone was so time consuming and the health side effects was dubious. It has been about 10 years since I last shot film, and I do not miss it at all.Film is more expensive, harder to get, and has less options for processing and printing, and oh so slow. I believe digital has surpassed the quality of film long ago, especially if you control exposure with a higher quality camera such as the canon 5d mk 2, or 3, or the nikon d800, which I believe has an extraordinary Dynamic range. So the newfound passion for film may appeal to those not hamstrung for years with its weaknesses such as extremely poor dynamic range of photographic paper, costly and poisonous processing, and slow turnaround. The greatest asset of film, was the negative, especially black and white, which, if exposed and processed correctly was capable of at least 9 fstops of dynamic range. Alas a straight print could only show 3 or 4 of those fstops. At least now a good scanner , and a good digital printer, and precise file preparation can yield a print of superb quality. I for one will not be going back to the past, the future poses plenty of challenges.

Who should be setting Commercial Photography prices?

Over the last three months I have received two invitations from local councils to apply for photography shoots. On each occasion the budget was set, and was inflexible.I have no problem with councils having a budget, its responsible. However, I find the outcomes expected are way beyond the money offered. In fact on both occasions the brief was more suited to a agency and not a freelance photographer with limited resources. An agency of course would charge at least 5 times the money offered. Somehow local government have decided to tighten its belt, and are setting the playing field whereby local photographers are being asked to deliver agency results on pauper wages, and limited resources.Good if achieved I suppose, but I worry about photographers remaining profitable when they have a budget themselves,  these “offers” only drain their time and money .

When is the best time to upsize your file and why

Many photographers leave file to print preparation till last as that’s usually the correct protocol. There is one important variation if your image is to be output substantially larger than the camera’s native file size.If you know or suspect that you need to dramatically up size your file for output, we always shoot raw, and we up size during the conversion.We output the file as a 16bit tiff,at the size of the expected output dimension. We do this because the raw file has maximum information (colour most importantly), and is not degraded in any way. You can always output the camera file later as a normal size if you do not require the up sized file.

Perception could be misleading

Last weekend I was asked to photograph a event. I was invited because the client did not want a photo booth, but wanted fun and journalistic photographs of her event. She wanted a custom backdrop to match her theme, but also wanted a coverage of the event in general. So you may well ask, so what? In reality I was asked to photograph something that I have always been able to do, and yet now  we may be the alternative. Or was I? As it turned out my client wanted a custom shoot that no photobooth could provide, and as she later remarked, i was cheaper and better, and provided her what no machine could ever do. As for me i had done nothing different than i have ever done, and yet photo booths have become popular.The notion of a cheap picture out of a machine, with no artistic talent has become more desirable than a professional photographer, and the machine costs more and does less……perception?