Yesterday I blogged about the importance of setting yourself apart in today’s tough economy. In a world where the barriers to entry are so low, anyone with a DSLR can be a photographer and a filmmaker.
Many people who take up the craft of photography (or filmmaking) as a “business” are those whose spouses’ salaries cover all the living expenses. I made reference to this group of people, stating the challenge is that many of them do not charge for their services rates commiserate with the work involved. These are the people who can charge a couple of hundred dollars or less for a photo session and a CD full of images because they don’t need to charge more. As anyone in this business can attest, there are lots of photographers/filmmakers out there that fit that description. And as any veteran in the business can attest, there has always been some segment of the competition that makes the business challenging like this. It could be stay at home moms/dads. It could be college kids with little to no living expenses and gear bought by mommy and daddy. It could be retirees with lots of cash who want to take up photography/videography and don’t really need to charge that much (nor are financially pressured to do so). Whatever. This is the type of people in the industry to which I was referring. I was just stating it as a fact. I in no way meant to belittle or even denigrate these people.
Just so there’s no misunderstanding, here’s where I stand on the topic:
- I’m huge defender of the family unit and investing time in one’s family.
- There’s no greater defender of newbies in the business and chasing one’s dreams. (Note the name of my company and blog).
- If you’re in this to make a living, regardless of where your household income is derived, make an effort to charge well for your time and financial investment.
- If you are blessed enough to not have to charge “market rates” for your services but prefer to offer your services at low rates as a service to your community, more power to you. I would encourage you to serve those truly under-privileged, and charge everyone else market rates.
- If you’re a photographer or filmmaker trying to make it in this business, and are frustrated about newbies, stay at home spouses, rich college kids, or whatever, who are not charging enough, stop whining about it. Be different, set yourself apart, and go after the clients willing to invest in what you have to offer.
Now with that said and done. Go out and stand out!
[Note: I have no idea who the woman in the photo is. I just needed a Creative Commons photo that fit my blog description. 🙂 ]
Jason Groh says
Agreed! Besides great companies/artists don’t spend their time worry about folks like this. They are too busy innovating. Every industry has it.
Interesting as always, but i have to say what can you do during the times the people you want to target are coming to you how do you fill the gap ? like in USA in France we have a big group of people who charge 500 €/$ for a wedding and a full res cd of course i charge 5 times that amount but they tend to educate the clients that Photo/Film worth nothing and these can be the clients who can afford to pay !! i know that everybody are set to the “marketing geniuses” who said that “these are the client you don’t want” here is my point i want every client because everybody can spent 100 € on jeans, make-up, hairdresser etc… why not spent it on a 20×30 cm they spent whatever the price is on what they really want if they want something they figured it, i know a wealth family who had a cheaper photographer in their wedding, because in their mind it cost nothing but they can afford to pay and their pictures are…..they don’t even want to look at it.
ex: i had to buy a new car for my family it’s 20 000 € i don’t want to spend that money but I DONT HAVE THE CHOICE i’ve been educated that in order to have a car who is good enough you have to spend a certain amount of money. When it was film people didn’t complain about the photographer’s price because in their mind they knew that a photographer is expensive and because of the way Nikon, Canon etc… started to sell their digital camera with the “it cost nothing” (euhh let me think you need a computer, software, paper, ink etc….) people started to think that digital worth nothing, nowadays even clients who pay good money are complaining but it depends only on the people and their education i have clients spending 3 times their salary and taking a loan to afford me and i have rich people who can afford me easily who won’t.
so now i have nothing against these people but they crash an entire profession based on what the marketing guru are telling to them and it will takes time to recover In Photography/Film in today’s internet, news etc… the asking for images we must be the new millionaire and we will be the new poor, i had a heated argument with one of these people he was a marketing employee so i said to him where are you working ? he said in Paris in this building so i told him that on Monday i will go to his chief office and offer to work (marketing is my major) an entire month for his job for 100 € and what that F…..ing Bas….d told me “that’ s unfair”
Sometimes you have to take that job that is not your price but because you have to pay your taxes and by setting the average low business are closing one after another, yes i set myself from the crowd (a purple cow lol) but i tried one thing this summer i set my prices a little under and charged more after and it seemed to work for my market i was able to “capture” these persons who didn’t come to me because of the prices issue and converted them in Clients.
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for your comment Morgan. Determining how to reach those clients is indeed difficult. To fill in the gap, you just have to work as hard as possible and be patient. Take other kind of jobs you don’t normally do it it’ll help pay the bills. If you want to shoot weddings but you have an opportunity to make some money shooting a deposition, shoot the depositions if it’ll help put food on the table until you can get paid doing the kind of work you want to do and reaching regularly the kind of clients you want to reach.
Hey Ron, great comments, thanks for elaborating! 🙂
Ron Dawson says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving me the opportunity to elaborate.
I’ll put in my 2 cents. It’s called supply and demand. There is a tremendous oversupply of photographers/videographers. When that happens in any market it puts pricing pressure on the product. I don’t care how strong your marketing or brand is, numbers are numbers. If 10% of 1000 photographers get top dollar ($4000+ per client), that’s 100 “elite” photographers competing for the top 10% or so brides that can afford it. Now when there is 5000 photographers now it’s 500 “elite” photographers competing for the same 10% or so brides. There are roughly the same number of weddings every year(plus or minus a couple of percentage points). The sheer number of attendees and members, say at PPA, underscores the rise, like flood waters, in providers. Now of course I have simplified the numbers for easy math but every level of every price point has seen a saturation of providers. Because the barriers to entry are truly gone. Just about every school has some sort of media program, 10 years ago, you had to search for a quality program. So every quarter there are thousands of new media students pouring into our field, so what do the elite do? They teach… because work is drying up and they have more and more free time between clients who appreciate the value.