Friday, December 15, 2006

Pictage ROCKS!

***Good conversation in the comments*** As you all know Becker and I are great friends who run incredibly different business. I have tons of respect for him and what he's done with his business which honestly is the best "Do it Yourself" setup I've ever seen and he's a brilliant guy and that's why it works. I imagine he and I will be debating on this for awhile, maybe forever, and that's good because as long as nobody trips out I think these are killer conversations that make everyone better.

Read - Participate - and [b] cool! :)

-------------------------------------------

As is becoming expected Pictage delivers another revolutionary service!

FREE Color Correcting! Wow! This is great news for me (not so good of news for all the Photographers Asst's around the world) lol....

I'm so stoked! This makes things just too easy!

Click on the picture to read more!

161 comments:

Brady said...

Wow, that is really great, I think I may have to try that out for my next wedding :)

bradknapp.com said...

I'm such a jerk, but it looks like it's blowing out the detail in her dress.

OpenSourcePhoto said...

:) On my monitor it actually looks really good and the way their system works there definitely wouldn't be that problem.

Keep in mind that the image I uploaded is a 100k web file so it's been super compressed for my blog.

You may want to check your monitor too though because it really looks great on my screen.

Cheers,
DJ

mark said...

this is one people are going to just have to try out to see how well their AI works.
to bad they aren't releasing the software so we can run it locally. for our albums and such. that'd be so much better.

MelissaCarl said...

WOW THAT IS AWESOME!!!

This would work for most people. Not Jess Strickland cause she would say the dress is not blown out enough because that is her style. She has a funky fun look that she does to 50-60% of her images. (I think)

I think it looks great though!

Anonymous said...

Looks good on my screen...but what about the images that I upload that I've done sweet cc & color-related edits on? I wonder what their system will make those look like...hmmm

It would be sweet if you could go through the event site once it is live and select either the color corrected version, or the original. I'm sure that's a feature that will be added sometime in the future...

OpenSourcePhoto said...

I bet you could upload all your unedited pics - let them correct them and then upload your tweaked out ones. :)

...and Mark...I'd suggest letting your clients pick which pictures they want in their album on Pictage's website (they can just create their own folder) and then just have Pictage FTP those images back to you so you can do the design.

:)

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone... Pictage here!

Just to let everyone know how this works - you have the choice of color correction or non color correction for all your uploads. Also, once you request for color correction and you don't like it, we can always upload your original unedited images you've uploaded as they will be in storage. Happy Uploading! ;)

Susan Han
Client Trainer

Sarah Barlow said...

Wow!!! That is seriously amazing!!!
YEAH Pictage rocks!!

bradknapp.com said...

yeah, I think that the issue is with the tiny image (100k) and not the app itself. Which raises a good point: what do you use to calibrate your monitors DJ? I used the Pantone Spyder for years but have been using the Huey for the last year or so on my main workstation.

[ b ] e c k e r said...

if they actually did a good job, i'd be impressed, but i've never seen a good print from the big P. plus, for the prices they charge, they should have been color correcting the images all along.

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Come on B,

You, and the few others who bash Pictage were with them during their first two years. I'm sure glad most people don't judge me based on the first two years I was in business.

Pictage has great prints....and this new service is just one more way that Pictage can help you "Get Free."

:)

[ b ] e c k e r said...

dj, i already am free! i am not referring to the work they did in the first two years. they always did a great job on my stuff since i was "a name". my major issue with them was the cost involved. it took me a long time to learn, but it's not how much money you make that matters, it's how much you keep. i figured by self fulfilling my prints, even if i pay an employee to help, i still keep more money in my pocket than when i used pictage (and now i have more free time than ever). and as far as the quality goes these days, i can only judge the work i see from my friends that still use them. the printing is average at best. that may be ok for some folks, but i have higher standards and "good enough, isn't".

keep on hanging with me dj, you'll get it one of these days! i'll set you free bro!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

I think outsourcing is not only more profitable because it's a much more scalable model but it's also a more enjoyable way to do business.

B, I'm guessing you pay your employee 35-40k a year. I don't pay Pictage anywhere near that amount even if you added in the difference in print costs....and I make extra money because Pictage sells more products than I could ever sell on my own.

My definition of being "Free" deals with having the choice of working or not. It seems like you work a lot - you shoot 40-50 weddings a year. Everybody knows what it takes to do 40 weddings and it's a ton of work. That's definitely not the life I want...and what do you do when you don't want to shoot weddings anymore? Does your income stop? I guess you could teach but then you're working again?

... The way to Freedom is through income streams - "Pipelines." ...businesses that operate themselves.

I want to teach people how to stop "carrying buckets" and create the life they want - not simply the business they enjoy right now.

There's a big world out there.

[ b ] e c k e r said...

dj, we should have a real debate about this, perhaps mr. sanders could host a little something something, but for now, i'll just say, i do about 40 weddings a year, but i do not work a lot. i bet have more "free" time than you do.

i have infinite respect for what you are doing. this forum, show it, and the way you are always willing to help people is amazing and inspiring.

i do pay my people well, but the savings in the lab bill (compared to my pictage lab bills) alone pays for most of their salaries and the selling they do pretty much pays for the rest and then some! you don't pay pictage anywhere near that because you aren't doing the volume i (or a lot of photographers) are doing. most of us working wedding photographers don't have the software income pouring in and we need to shoot 30 - 40 weddings per year (i need to do about a dozen weddings or so to break even).

pictage is a great solution for weekend warriors, those who don't shoot often or people who have other sources of income. but with a little education, and a good system, photographers can keep more of their money in the pockets (to buy real estate, or other assets) and still have plenty of time to watch 6 horus of tivo per day! as it happens, thebschool.com is launching next spring and i am going to help photographers "free" themselves from pictage (among other things), where they will make and keep more money, give their clients a better, spam free, experience and deliver top of the line quality (with quicker turn around), with the same amount, or less time invested. win win win win situation!

seriously, in the new year we should set something up, but i warn you, the numbers are on my side my friend. in fact, as the year is winding down, i am going to go into quickbooks, and just tally the total revenue from reprint sales, then show what i paid at my lab (+ what i paid my girl to do them), compared to what they would have cost at pictage. i bet the money i saved could buy a small bmw (like a 3 series) and i didn't even have to lift a finger.

stop drinking the kool aid!

merry christmas!

Jeff @ Pictage said...

Yeah, DJ - hasn't [b] made it clear that the "b" way is all REALLY simple math and no work? What's wrong with you? Can't you do simple math? In fact, what's wrong with all 6000 of Pictage community members, are they stupid or something? [b] knows. Its simple... right? I mean, he's been explaining it to everyone for years (ever since he knew he was smarter than all those dolts who stayed with Pictage.) With all that explanation of his simple, easy to do, [b] method of success, I'm sure he has a legion of photographers following his advice, right? It wouldn't make sense that, after years of him telling everyone what he does, and that it is so much better, that Pictage would actually be growing and the [b] way wouldn't even be practiced by the large percentage of his closest freinds (you, et al.)

I mean, how stupid must we be to not immediately get the value of his simple point? ;)

jeff

Jeff @ Pictage said...

An interesting statistic I recently learned:

EVERY photographer who joined Pictage's PRO community since 2005 who has shot 7 or more weddings in the last year is STILL WITH US. EVERY SINGLE ONE. An amazing statement of the "real" value to those who are outsourcing to Pictage.

jeff

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Quote "...we need to shoot 30 - 40 weddings per year (i need to do about a dozen weddings or so to break even)."
---------------------
I don't see much freedom in that. I could've shot zero weddings last year and still brought home 300k - Becker...your system can't do that - ever. I think your model of business actually just gives you a job - Forever. :)

....and again I ask, what do you do when you don't want to shoot 40 weddings a year anymore? What do you do when you'd rather go to your son's t-ball game instead of shoot a wedding? I think you're stuck and I think you're training people to be stuck.

There's a reason why Pictage photographers are growing faster, earning more, and living better. It's about freedom and doing the "real" work that makes business and life good.

+shotshot :: wedding photography said...

"i bet i have more free time than you"

lol...that's kinda, wierd. hahaha. seems like someone reeeeeeally wants to be right. not really sure why.

that just really sounded bad.

Anonymous said...

This is why I love OpenSource. Such open ideas. I always like to hear how everyone does things and definitely DJ and [b] are two people that we are following pretty closely right now to study up.

I know that Pictage can color correct, but what is the method? I mean Wal-mart does auto correcting and it really screws things up horribly.

Keep us posted if there is a "debate off"!! ;)

Andrew said...

I don't see much freedom in that. I could've shot zero weddings last year and still brought home 300k - Becker...your system can't do that - ever. I think your model of business actually just gives you a job - Forever. :)

DJ, come on... So every photographer out there should build a huge forum community of followers, let them join for free, and then sell them a bunch of software tools? I'm not trying to slam you or your stuff. I use ShowIT web all the time and it's a great program. OSP is a great community as well, and I love it. However it's hard for me to really side with your logic on creating freedom and having all these revenue streams. [b] is more on track with his comments for probably 95% of the photogs on OSP.

Andrew

[ b ] e c k e r said...

jeff wrote: "In fact, what's wrong with all 6000 of Pictage community members, are they stupid or something?"

i am going to go with,"or something" ;-) let's just say they are not "as informed".

dj, the residual 300K a year has nothing to do with your outsourcing to Pictage, except for the traffic they send you because you speak for them.

quote: "There's a reason why Pictage photographers are growing faster, earning more, and living better. It's about freedom and doing the "real" work that makes business and life good."

growing faster, earning more and living better than who?

anyway, i think i am done with the comments today, i have to go christmas shopping... we should really set something up to show people that there is more tahn one way to do it.

happy festivus!

Anonymous said...

As per [ b ] 's suggestion, A "Simple Photo Minute Showdown" is on the table gentlemen ... boxing gloves optional ... whenever you're ready.

I doubt it will be for the faint of heart ;).

matt + angie sloan said...

i am a pictage member, but after seeing [b] in action, there are a ton of great things he is doing. i was really impressed. there are a ton of great debates about all of this. i do recommend thebschool.com for the great seminars and words.

dj, you have some really great advice for anyone in any business. becoming "free" is what we are looking for in 2007.

maybe, you both are right in your own ideas.

matt + angie sloan said...

dane,
you're awesome!!!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Andrew - yes, I do think that every person who wants freedom in their life should be building a network and developing passive income sources. We've talked about that many times and I always encourage everyone in that direction.

Those of you who heard my "Get FREE" talk remember how much I talked about building a network and creating an expandable business.

Becker, the residual income comes about because I have time to invest in it.

I'm always down for a debate. :)

Jen said...

wow, interesting information guys! I've looked into Pictage, and I'm currently using a different lab. At this point, I just couldn't afford to pay them monthly, and then their higher print costs, than the lab I'm currently using. I'm just sarting out, looking at paying back the loan I took out from our "home buying fund" AND building it up so that we can actually afford to own a home in this CRAZY California market, AND I hoping to cover my oldest's private school tuition (and next year I will have 2 in school!). Not to mention that my husband may be transfering jobs, which for the first year would actually pay less, but have MORE growth after that first year, so I have to make up the difference there. So at this time, anything that cuts into my take home money just can't be considered. I think Pictage looks great, and I'm constantly looking for what will be best for not only my business, but my time, but at this time I've had to decide that Pictage doesn't fit me, at least for now.

I'd be interested in seeing the breakdown of your two systems (DJ with just your photo business, not the showit web and other avenues of income) and [b] you system, the lab you use, etc.

Thanks for the info! I'll be watching SPM for the "debate" ;)

jeff @ pictage.com said...

jeff wrote: "In fact, what's wrong with all 6000 of Pictage community members, are they stupid or something?"

[b] replied: "i am going to go with,"or something" ;-) let's just say they are not "as informed"."

How can that be, [b]? You've been promoting your DIY doctrines to everyone who would listen for as long as I know, and you are still surrounded by photographers who choose to outsource to Pictage.

It definitely begs the question: "Is it the messenger or the message?"

I have met and heard you speak on this, and found you smart, articulate and well-intentioned.

So, if we rule out the messenger as the reason these DIY concepts aren't being adopted, we are left only with the ideas themselves.

As I have said in other threads, I think that DIY philosophies in this industry are short-term focused and old-school, and not a successful tack for anyone looking at growing quickly and gaining independence from their workflow.

[b] - I think you are (and must now continue to be) the exception.

jeff

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GARY FONG said...

This is an awesome discussion. I think it's great that we have differing opinions. I know [b] has his own thing going on and one thing about him is that if he likes something, he really likes it!

On DJ's side, yes he has a ton of passive income flowing in, and it would prompt many people to say, "yeah well how many people can sell software and build a forum?" The correct answer would be as DJ answered, "well, I can".

I think I am a blend of both DJ and Becker. When I am excited about something, I'm Becker. When it comes to forward planning, free time and worry-free living, I'm more like DJ.

I've heard the phrase, "there's the right way, the wrong way, and then there's your way". I'd like to add to that, "and then also, there is another way!"

Finding different ways to make life better, easier, more fun has been my hobby and the things I come up with are always a surprise. If you told me a year and a half ago I would be a horse rancher, I would've thrown my drink at you.

Anonymous said...

[b],
I just joined the Pictage world and I'm learning their way. I am getting ready to sign up for your party of 5 in the next week or two so I can learn your way. I have followed your work for awhile and I'm VERY impressed!
DJ,
I have also followed your work for awhile and I'm very impressed with yours to.I did get the test prints from the lab [b] uses and I must say they turned out GREAT!! I have not printed with Pictage yet so we will see.
Whatever way you use I think that the two of you are fantastic photographers and will continue to succeed in this business. Best of luck to both of you and I think time will tell for me.

mark said...

great discussion,
you know every photographer lives a unique life. what works amazingly for one wouldn't work at all for another.
just like the adjustments that look great on one picture and horrible on another picture.

this is where we have to learn and grow and develop our own way.
and discussions like this our great, never think you can only have one role model, no one is perfect. have role models, learn from them all, adopt things/ideas/concepts as they work for you.
and what you end up with is you own way just like DJ and [b].

the reason people love the work of the "name" photographers, is because each of them is unique.

you can't be successful by just copying, pull in what works for you, mix it all up and create your "name"

StacyC said...

I don't care anymore....I'm gonna do it Gary's way!!!! :)

Seriously, though - two things that I'm finally learning (thank God) from all of this stuff:

1)Find out the rules, so you can figure out which ones you should just go ahead and break.

2)Don't be so foolish as to ignore or downplay the experience and expertese of those that have had success before.

This isn't about Pictage - it's about two incredibly successful business men talking about how they do things in a way that makes them happy. If it works, do it. If it's broken, fix it - if it's not, don't. If the direction you are going in feels like bondage and not freedom, you probably turned the wrong way at some point.

FREEDOM comes with finding new, better, more life-giving ways to do things AND believeing that freedom is THERE FOR THE TAKING......and TAKING IT!!!!

Joel Flory Photography said...

Jeff @ Pictage, you are kidding right? There are plenty of us extremely successful photographers that don't use Pictage. I do it the self fufilment way and in 2 years of starting my business I generate over 150k a year from weddings. I know of plenty of high end SF photographers that don't use pictage and do self fufillment. PIck Pic is an amazing solution that has provided immensely for my business and I wouldn't have it any other way. Within 2 hours of it being installed, I had already paid for the software and my entire year of web hosting with 1 order. Now there are zero fee's with pick pic and I upload in some cases 4000 photos a wedding. Point being that there are plenty of photographers making a great living without PIctage. By no means do I want to rip on PIctage but you can't think that it is for everyone.

[ b ] e c k e r said...

jeff jeff jeff jeff jeff... i have just begun to really share my methods with the public. spouting off at a poker game just to get under your skin doesn't count as me "promoting my doctorine". the folks who i have helped here in the OC, jessica claire, joe photo, the boutwells, aaron delesie, jim kennedy are among the most successful working wedding photographers in the country (not just because they are do it yourselfers).

i just did my first party of 5 workshop a couple of weeks ago, so i really just started sharing my methods in detail. (we cover way more than just online proofing and fulfillment), but i am going to show photographers how i am able to keep more of the money that i make and still have plenty of free time to promote my business and explore other revenue streams.

since you got into this conversation this morning, i've received 4 emails from OSP and Pictage members who will be leaving you guys in 2007, so you aren't going to be able to claim that you haven't lost a single one much longer.

and dj, trust me, if you did it my way, you'd still have all the free time you currently have to pursue show it and other ventures, plus you'd have more money in your pocket from a lower cost of doing business. you should come to a party of 5, heck, bring jeff if you want! and how 'bout it, dane said he'd host the debate on SPM. what is january looking like for you? let's do it and raise some money for charity like Thirst Relief or something.

happy christmas!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Like I said, I think you have the best system for people who want to do everything themselves and I think it's awesome that you're passionate about it.

Personally I'm not that passionate about setting up that structure, managing the employees and production. It takes someone pretty brilliant to do what you do and that's why I love talking to you. You're one of those unique individuals that can do everything. It's cool to watch. If I enjoyed doing those things I'd consider it but I know how much time and energy it takes and I like to spend my time in other areas.

Like Gary said I enjoy "forward planning, free time and worry-free living" The production isn't really inspiring to me but it's cool to hear how you do it.

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

I've noticed everyone who uses expresses like:

"forward planning, free time and worry-free living"

...is single and childless. ;p

OpenSourcePhoto said...

lol... that's awesome!

+shotshot :: wedding photography said...

breaks down like this...

3 personalities - the technician, the manager, and the entrepreneur...and all three are in each business owner.

i'm an outsider here. i've read LOTS of stuff that both dj and [b] have written, posted, hidden-blogged...whatever. my business is only 2 years old and has grown exponentially as a result of learning from these 2 different personalities.

but it seems to me, like [b] wants to be a mixture of all three business personalities. mostly the entrepreneur, but still keep a little tech and a little manager in the mix.

dj on the other hand seems like he's shooting straight for entrepreneur...and letting pictage be the the manager AND the techie. i believe that's why he said "it's about freedom and doing the "real" work that makes business and life good".

the real work is growing the business, and creating new ones - or new avenues of income that either apply to your current industry or any other, at least if i understand things for the most part. and i'd have to say our income doubling fro the past 2 years is a good indicator of that.

someone said something about creating a free forum and selling software to all members. well, uhh....yeah. i mean, that was a terrific idea and it seems like it worked pretty dang well, lol.

the idea for us isn't to copy what dj did to create his extra cashflow...it's to create our own idea and then execute it. then do that again. then again. and then again. that's the entrepreneurial spirit. that's the good stuff. that's where the money is made, and where the money makes itself. not in managing extra employees, doing some of the rest of the work ourselves AND trying to keep our minds clear enough to think outside of our studio lives. nah....no thanks.

the way i see it, pictage IS my employee, and all i have to pay her is $150 a month and a little extra when she has to do some work. not bad in my book.

love to hear the debate, though.

in the end, i'm sticking with my guns and letting the techie and the manager work at pictage.com instead of inside my studio.

my two cents. love the conversation, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I must throw in my .01 here... (Nathan can add his later, and maybe that will bring us up to .02 :) )

Pictage, for me, has been a brilliant biz move.

I make money while I sleep.
I have INCREDIBLY beautiful prints in houses all over the city... and all of my clients rave about Pictage's service.
I get to focus on the parts of my biz that I love... and ignore the parts that I hate.. and now I can probably add color correction to that list! Woohoo!

I must say that it makes much more sense for me to let Pictage work for me... rather than me working for myself.

I'd rather nap.

Good conversation, though.

GARY FONG said...

Wanted to chime in here:

I could not have more scorn for Art Leather and its owner and management. I think that they are the stupidest bunch of idiots to ever tank a good thing. It was complete arrogance, ego, anger and stupidity that took what was once the leading album company and made it the little shitpile it is today.

Now, this is something that nobody ever hears, and since people don't read comments, I'll say it here.

[b] I'm sure has a good program and I'm sure it rocks judging by how excited he is about it. But while I will go on and on about how great I think my stuff is, I learned a long time ago that it's a good business decision to just talk about why yours is great, and as for the competitor? Be neutral and courteous.

All the time that collages.net was going around setting up these self-serving reviews that supposedly blew away Pictage, I kept silent. When Chris Norris was out slamming Montage, I kept silent. I knew that I didn't have to shout, my product would rule, and it did. Both Montage and Pictage wound up massive market leaders.

I think Leather Craftsman is a really good example of this. All those years Art Leather was number one, L.C. would say, "yes they have a successful product - we've got nothing against them" Look at them now... L.C. is cranking and A.L. is a fraction of their former size.

I've been in this business a long long time, and one thing you've consistently seen in my behavior... I never slam or humiliate a competitor's product - it is just plain bad business. Unless it is in comments which nobody reads!

Jeff @ Pictage said...

FTR...

Joel > I am not suggesting that Pictage is for everyone, just that DIY isn't right for most small businesses.

[b] > I wasn't assuming our banter at poker was your "pitch" - the DIY workflow concept was around before outsourcing/Pictage by a couple of decades, so I am referring to the underlying doctrine of DIY in small business.

And, to further that point, I do not think that this has anything to do with photography or its particular workflow (which I assume is where your "secret sauce" lies, since the premise of DIY vs. outsourcing pre-dates all of us.) I have never shot a wedding nor been paid for capturing images in my life.

Rather, my experience lies entirely in building/helping small businesses to maximum success in the shortest amount of time. And, simply put, this almost certainly means retaining those things you MUST do (or most efficiently, like selling/marketing yourself) and externalizing everything else that you can afford.

If I had to point at a single cause of most of the small/startup business failures I've seen over the last 25 years, it is letting short-term cash-flow oriented decisions undermine long-term, strategic ones, like thinking that DIY is somehow cheaper because it uses less immediate cash.

One simple measure of that (in this industry) could be someone that outsourced early in their growth (like DJ or Mike Colon) and focused ALL of their attention on marketing their business. Look at their growth speed and relative success compared to your own.

And to make one more important point clear: its not about FREE-TIME, its about FREE-DOM. The Freedom to educate, innovate, sell, market and all the other things that it is impossible to spend enough time doing. Every minute you spend self-fulfilling orders, or handling a support call, or writing and sending out promotional emails, or working with product vendors to expand the tail of your product catalog is a LOST minute that ONLY YOU could've spent on succeeding.

One of the primary lessons that every successful business learns early is, "Do what you do best, and delegate the rest." DIY is fundamentally adverse to that, since even when you hire someone internally to do it, you still retain the responsiblity for its completion - and that is the time-suck that will eventually slow and/or pull you down.

jeff

MelissaCarl said...

I think to make this conversation fair... we need to know more about [B]'s business structure and how he operates it. It may be a lot like the way DJ does it... only with a different lab. I know you both outsource... if it's Pictage (or another lab) or someone helping in the office. (they might not work in the office... but you have people working for you) Neither one of you is doing any of your own color correcting, album designing or customer service. So this battle between who is doing it right.. might be kind of silly if you are both doing similar things, just using different labs.

I can't tell if setting up [B]'s structure was difficult for an average non-techy person, or if it was a simple easy thing to do. Pictage is SUPER easy to get started... that is the first thing that appeals to so many photographers starting out. So if [B]'s system is simple to set up... then we shouldn't have a thing bad to say about it.

If we knew more about [B]'s system, then it would be fair to comment about what works better for us. But like Becker said he is just now starting to teach people about it. How can we judge which is right when we don't know much about one of them?

so spill it [B] !!!!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Yea Missy - it costs $800 for him to tell you. :)

What I like about Pictage is that I don't have to buy all the operational stuff, and set it up and hire the workers and train them and pay them...and pay for a place for them to work... Pictage handles everything and that frees me up. It's awesome.

Jeff @ Pictage said...

Gary> I couldn't agree more that you should never slam a competitor - anywhere for any reason. I have yet to see any real value come from a flame thread, regardless of accuracy. And to that, I certainly hope that nothing I've said here can be construed as a slam on [b].

In fact, if someone wants to take the DIY approach to their business model, from what I've heard already, I personally think [b]'s way is certainly the best. (and you can quote me on that.)

This isn't really about any company or product, after all. It's about something much more fundamental in how you want a business to be.

To be clear, I happen to believe the DIY is not the best way to go - but I've felt this way for over 2 decades and, while Pictage's meteoric growth in the last few years has reinforced that belief, it did not create it.

Finally, I also know that sometimes I'm wrong, no matter how SURE I feel. (read my blog at PictageGarage.com to learn the origin of this) What I do enjoy is the opportunity to express what I think and why I think it. Thanks for everyone's tolerance with my views on this. Night all.

jeff

Rick Rosen said...

While the DIY approach may not be the best solution for someone just starting out that is more a result of those photographers not having the knowledge ay hand to implement such a workflow than it is necessarily that Pictage has a better working model for them.

This lack of knowledge and experience has been a real focus point for recruitment by Pictage. On one side of the issue you and DJ and others (myself even perhaps since my first weddings on Pictage were in 1998) could make the case that this outsourcing model is the better way to go, while others could make the case that those new photographers have two valuable resources that they must constantly balance against each other: time and finances. In the early years the photographer is likely to have more time at his disposal than finances to grow the business. While it is certainly true that time, especially if it is a limited resource, should be utilized for marketing and growing the business, i.e., seeking out new revenue rather than using it on existing jobs, it is also wise for the newer photographer to carefully weigh his finances and expenditures as he grows his business. If I had 8-10 weddings a year time would be a far greater available resource than generated revenue. Would I be better off taking the time to learn how to process my own weddings and handle my own reprint sales and place that money saved into tangible items like a new lens or faster computer? Assuming that I have plenty of time to devote to my new business without interfering with my life and family perhaps the added time needed to DIY would be a better investment than spending my limited funds on outsourcing?

Rick

[ b ] e c k e r said...

come on DJ, you're killing me... the $800 for the party of 5 covers way more than our backend workflow! in fact, we hardly spend any time on that part, it's more about branding and kicking ass! and what about pictage charging $250 just to sign up, then $1,800 a year (if you are a full time photograper shooting regularly) in service fees just to charge you about the highest lab rates in the country. i know there are other benefits that are included, but i am telling you, once you get a good workflow in place, you'll have all the freedom in the world to do whatever you want (just like i do).

and missy, i am happy to share my set up anytime. there are several posts on the DWF if you want to search and if dane is game, i'd love to do an extended SPM on it. i also will be posting my [ b ] flow pdf free of charge on my blog early next year (as soon as the new pickpic is released and i implement those instructions).

jeff, i also really have a ton of respect for you and i think this has been a great conversation. i think there may be a better place for it than the comment section of a blog, but anyway, as gary says, it's not good to slam the competition, but as i emailed him earlier, pictage is not my comeptition. i have no financial stake in any lab, or shopping cart service. as much as i've tried to get a percentage of PickPic cart installations, troy is not having any of it =(.

i have no incentive or motive to lure anyone away from pictage except for my general good will in trying to help people make and keep more money (plus i like to question the status quo). i have helped lots of people. ask around. i think the reason i like dj so much is because we both share the philosophy that we like to empower others.

and the DIY may not be for everyone, but i think one of the main benefits of shooting digitally is the control one has over the images. i take a lot of pride in my work and my image matters to me as much as my images. i admit, i haven't used pictage in almost 4 years, but i see the prints from a lot of my photo friends and i usually end up biting my tongue when i see the quality of the prints. i also know lots of photographers who use pictage to fulfill their clients albums, but when they make their sample albums, they use a different lab with better QC standards.

anyway, to get back to dj's original post, i think it is cool that you offer free color correcting now and i just hope you guys are doing a better job with it. i do stand by my original post saying that you should have been doing it all along with the prices you charge for the lab. if now you'd just waive the montly fees, i think you'd be on to something!

we should have a poker party soon!

happy holidays, have a cool yule!

Jeff @ Pictage said...

okay - couldn't sleep, so I'll post a quick response to Rick... then I'm outahere (can you tell I'm enjoying this exchange?) :)

Let me simplfy a bit with my basic "growth optimization" priority steps.

Step #1 - NEVER outsource something critical to your growth and survival. Ever. In a small, lifestyle business like wedding photography, this normally includes networking for referrals, reputation marketing and other outbound things that require your touch.

Step #2 - Outsource as many "profit" centers as you can find. Profit centers are places where the cost of the outsourcing is absorbed in revenue resulting from the service/product. Unless the cost of outsourcing actaully is more than the cost of the service/product, this will yield multiple values to #1. In this market, the big one in this category is product fulfillment.

Step #3 - Outsource "cost" centers based on your level of expertise in those areas and the multiple of time it takes to do them, compared to an outsourced solution. A good example of this is accounting, unless you are an accountant.

So, to summarize, the amount of money you are making (i.e. # of events you shoot) isn't important until you reach step #3, since every hour you gain from #2 is an added hour to #1 - and #1 is the only mission-critical step to growth.

jeff

Jeff @ Pictage said...

[b] quick clarification - we don't charge anything to join and our membership fees currently run between $50-$150 per month, and include real-cost services like WeddingChannel listings. Just FYI. Gnight-

jeff

[ b ] e c k e r said...

oops, my bad, i was just reading your current FAQ page:

http://newaccounts.pictage.com/faq.html


maybe you should have someone change that!

xo,

[ b ]

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry people but I just can't take this anymore without chiming in. I simply could not do what I do right now without Pictage. Those little Bonsai books are awesome!

Now here comes the killer. Jeff, I am the one that talked to you a couple months ago at the Raleigh conference where you spoke with Mike Colon. I admire you and have a lot of respect for you although I must say that you are shooting your foot at in this post.

I have yet to see a decent print from you guys! Yes, not even one! Your customer service is about the worst of any company I have had to deal with inthis whole industry. Now this is no disrespect to you, but you stated that:

Step #1 - NEVER outsource something critical to your growth and survival.

Customer service and the way I treat my clients is bar none. They can't get better anywhere else! It is critical my growth and survival. You guys are hurting me big time in this area. (See Melissa Hassan or you message board for details).

You also said:
"One of the primary lessons that every successful business learns early is, "Do what you do best, and delegate the rest."

I so agree with you. Again back to customer service, you guys break my chain in this.

I'm really not trying to cause trouble or be a pain. The fact is, my prints from pictage are terrible and the customer service is no better. What can I do to fix this Jeff? I want to stay with you guys and I'm not sure what to do at this point. I agree with you on almost all your points about outsourcing. But if you guys can't do those 2 things right for me what else do I have? Customer service and the print quality is what really matters, right?

JasonTench-Blue Mountain Photo Works

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

The concept behind Pictage, in my opinion, is outstanding. $150 / month for lab services (plus commission and print fees), if done right, is a bargain.

The execution -- customer service, accounting, print quality, packaging, spam -- etc., are, in my opinion, what bring a lot of people into debates about Pictage.

If all of us got the same royal treatment that DJ, Colon, Reggie, etc., get...we'd probably have no reason to even consider methods such as DIY.

I strive for world class customer service to my clients (which breeds raving clients)...I expect it from my vendors.

In a perfect world, Pictage would be a perennial Malcolm Baldridge award candidate...were that the case I'd probably pay $500 a month for the freedom they would create.

In the real world...it makes sense to consider other labs and other business models such as [b]'s DIY. Given his success and no-nonsense pay-it-forward willingness to help our industry...we'd be well-served to consider his methods.

Just my .02, adjusted for inflation, depreciation, interest, amortization, and taxes...(and bad debt write-off...he-he-he...)

Jeff @ Pictage said...

[b], thanks for the heads up on the faq, we'll change that.

Jason & Daniel - I understand your points and, as indicated recently in many differnt ways, our primary focus is enhancing our customer experience to where everyone feels like their getting "denis reggie level" service. And, while I feel that is a critical point for our success, this discussion is really not about Pictage execution, so I'll have to refrain from addressing those individual issues here, to keep it on track.

jeff

Rick Rosen said...

Step #2 - Outsource as many "profit" centers as you can find. Profit centers are places where the cost of the outsourcing is absorbed in revenue resulting from the service/product. Unless the cost of outsourcing actaully is more than the cost of the service/product, this will yield multiple values to #1. In this market, the big one in this category is product fulfillment.


Jeff,

I'll agree to a point. Here's an example. Friday I created a slideshow of 276 images that was 14 minutes long with an audio track of two songs. There are a number of fee-based resources available that I could have used to create that show. Outsourcing that would have cost me at least $100 which seems to be the minimum fee for this type of service but in fact for a show of that size and number of images it would have cost me substantially more, probably $200-300.

The steps involved are in two stages; selecting the images and creating the show. If I outsourced I still would have had to select the images that I wanted in the show. The outsourcing would heve been only for the creation of the show and burning it to a DVD (burning in the background while I did something else) plus the printing of the DVD cover. Using a template I created in PS all I had to do to create the cover was to drop in an image from that wedding and change the name of the couple in the template. Five minutes and I hit "print" on my Epson.

Creating the actual slideshow with 276 images took me less than an hour. Yes, I could have outsourced that show and my creation fee would have been in the $100-300 range or I could keep that money in my studio's bank account to use for something else and spend an hour of my own time. Is an hour of my time worth a saving of $100-300? You bet it is.

Rick

GARY FONG said...

People tend to outsource what they don't enjoy, and keep in-house the stuff they like to do... like fiddle with images.

I love playing and fiddling with the images! But if I look at the clock when I start, and when I'm done - there went the day!

Doing stuff that's fun to tweak is super hard to let go of. Everybody wants to do their own personal touch.

I still do my own HTML and up until two weeks ago I did my own SMTP mailings from my laptop. I outsourced it for the first time and got a 8x pop return - so I am done with that forever!

It's like scabs. Some people can't stop picking at them, and that is why they never heal!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Great points on outsourcing Jeff. I met with some photographers awhile back and I remember telling them all these ways they could let other people do the work for them and one of the guys stopped me and said "I want to do the work...I don't want more free time."

I'm beginning to think that there are just some people who would rather fill their life up than free it up. We are in an industry where it's more of a hobby for some people and like Gary said they like to fiddle instead of grow.

Rick, I would've suggested going out and networking last Friday - would've been far more valuable than the couple of hundred dollars you saved. You said new photographers with limited funds should be the ones considering beckers DIY model. I think the opposite is true but it seems that you're not a new photographer so why are you still doing that stuff yourself? Y

Also Jason, As far as I know I've had 1 print returned in 3 years and being that Pictage delivers millions and millions of prints a year with a free redo if people aren't happy I think they must be pretty good. We do basic color correcting in Bridge and then upload them and let them print them as they see fit and they turn out great.

As much as I'd love for this to go on and on I'm going to have to blog again folks because I went to Danes Annual family Bakeoff and ate up all the good food last night and got attacked by the kids... It was fun!

Jeff @ Pictage said...

ok, I've said all I can on this, here. However, let me leave y'all with the words of one of our newer Pictage community members, because I think this "picture" is worth - well, you know.

Here is the message that was just posted on our forum TODAY:
***************
I was just looking over my year end finances. Each year, I do a couple of family photo days with a nursery school for families to take their holiday pictures and I donate 10% of the package and print sales to the school. This is the 3rd year I 've done this. So, I was looking at everything to see how much to write their check for this year and I was blown away! This year, I switched to digital and signed up with Pictage. I changed my packages from containing specific enlargement sets to print credits so it would work better with having Pictage do the print fulfillments. My pricing was increased, but mostly to take into account Pictage's higher print prices. I had more families booking the 2 middle packages this year, and less booking the highest package, and the actual dollar amount received from the packages was pretty close to last years. I had 3 more families book than last year and I was initially thinking, oh now... more work without a significant increase in revenue with all these families in the middle.

Boy was I wrong! What blew me away is that my net profit increased by 500%!!! And this includes taking into account the monthly fee I paid to Pictage. I couldn't believe it! People ordered so much more than they did in years past. All those families that booked the middle packages ordered tons of prints. And the best part of it all... I got to sit at home instead of running around fulfilling their orders. And, since I was not having so much backend work, I did a lot more photo sessions than ever before, resulting in even more income. And because everyone was so easily able to share their photos with the the ShowIt slideshows, I ended up with dozens of referrals. And because the slideshows automatically directed them to Pictage, I got print orders from grandparents and other family members I never got before.

I was initially skeptical about whether Pictage would work for my business. I have no more doubts. Thank you Pictage!

Happy Holidays everyone! I know the nursery school is going to be super excited when they get their big check next week.
***************

And with that, I say "Merry (whatever) to all and all a g'night."

jeff

OpenSourcePhoto said...

That's awesome! ...and there are 1000's of others who've experienced the same success!

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

SO TRUE DJ! I certainly have enjoyed bigger commissions and better profit margins since I switched back to Printroom.com. ;)

BTW -- Maybe we should all consider outsourcing our blogging efforts to people in countries that have emerging free-market economies? LOL

Anonymous said...

Well, interesting thread...

I think something is working for Becker, and you can't really argue that... And he isn't just short-sighted if he is making enough to invest to free himself up when he doesn't want to shoot 40-50 weddings a year, Pictage or not.

Something that doesn't seem to have been addressed directly yet, though, is the fact that in order to pay an employee 30k a year, an office like ours would have to start shooting 50 weddings a year (at least) to make ends meet. Instead, we're going hopefully do about 20-25 weddings next year, thanks in part to Pictage.

The other issue that wasn't addressed directly was in regards to DJ's income. People say "It's easy for you" to DJ from time to time, and it's kind of amusing, actually. The business mindset that he is promoting here in regards to Pictage is part of what got him to the point where he is making 300K with his software. It wasn't just luck.

The guy practices what he preaches, and as a result, he's making a good bit more money per hours worked than anyone here (other than Gary). I think results speak the strongest here, and I'll let them do the rest of the talking.

Anonymous said...

That was Nathan by way. :)

OpenSourcePhoto said...

You're right on Nathan...In my mind it's not about making more money...it's about making the right kind of money! Gary taught me that cash flow and passive income are super important to long term success and like Jeff said... the DIY model is a bad one for long term growth.

I think $100 made passively through outsourcing is better than $1000 made the DIY way...because I can keep adding passive income streams where I can't keep adding to my DIY workload.

Dan - Printroom might be a good option for you since you said you don't shoot many weddings anyway. Printroom is actually really good for sports photographers and that's where they are focused so anybody interested in shooting sports or non-wedding stuff should check them out.

Robert Kiyosaki's book Rich Dad Poor Dad talks a lot about all this. It's a great read for anybody wanting to get out of the rat race.

Gary Fong said...

DJ this is interesting about passive income flows. OK confession time here. It's my hobby.

Some of you will notice on my site that I have a little thing where it says "toys". This links straight to an amazon.com affiliate link where I get like 2-5% commission on anything bought once they land on the link.

So I put it up and I am earning about 60 bucks a day right now. Small potatoes maybe, but it pays the entire mortgage on one of my houses. And all it took was about an hour to setup the amazon link.

And then just like that, a couple of grand a month for the rest of my life. If it sounds too easy to be true, it is! It is too easy, and it is true!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Haha Gary - Good choice for a hobby...my brother always asks me if I have a hobby and I guess I can tell him that now! :)

Daily Photo Tips! said...

My hobby is my kids! :) They are quite the opposite of a profit center ('tho my daughter is cuter than either of the billionaire Olsen twins!)...but they should be around to change the world long after my friends and I are done screwin' it up! He-he-he...

Anonymous said...

DJ, I am so glad that you have only had to send back one print in 3 years. Unfortunately, I just have not had that kind of experience. Like Jeff said though, they need to deal with this on a personal basis with me so I won't keep dwelling on it in your comments, that would non-productive. I just wish someone would help me. Mishawn was helping me at Pictage, but now she is unreachable for me. Hopefully someone from Pictage will be calling me to resolve my print issues soon.

Michael said...

So DJ and anyone that wants to chime in...

What do you guys think of an operation like Jim Kennedy's? (If your not familiar with it watch last week's Simple Photo Minute) Do you think he has a sustainable, scalable business. It seems like with the associate program he's got going and the brand he's established he can quit shooting anytime he wants to and have a pretty good passive income.

Oh and just to throw my 2 cents in... I'm really on the fence about Pictage. I have a print credit built into my packages so I'm not getting too many print orders over and above the credit. I've been with pictage about 8 months now and I've yet to break even with them, much less get a check.

So its pretty much a really expensive online proofing solution for me and Pickpic is looking really good.

This is the best "conversation" I've read in a really long time. This is more relevant to me right now than anything.

Eric Lamph said...

Just a quick one for [b]:
I attended the first party of 5 session and have to say that it was worth every penny. It was huge of becker to open his doors completely and share all that he did. There were pitfalls in the future of my business that I need not fall into now. There were components of the business that I had set up in my way that I was forced to re-think. The organizational skills of managing his workflow showed me ways to get from point "a" to point "b" in maybe a different way than I had setup. I do believe that as a photographer servicing the needs of clients, that the quality of your output - a quite subjective thing - is paramount. If you are happy with a lab concerning quality and service it is something that you truly cultivate and cherish and look at as a partnership. There are both camps of thought: outsource or in-house. There is no right or wrong except what is right for your business. Find what works for you and thank God you did. Carry your own banner and, if it is appropriate, promote vendors and competitors and whoever deserves it.

E.

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Hey Michael! Great question. I do know Jim Kennedy. He's a great guy and he has a high volume studio which is the direction that I assume Becker would try and go because it's really the only way to add revenue...but as you see Jim still shoots 100+ weddings a year and meets with and books most of the clients.

I don't see much freedom in that and it doesn't seem to be scaling it just appears that the business owner is working more.

In my opinion a much better example of a scalable high volume studio would be Bella Pictures ( http://www.bellapictures.com ) started by Bob and Dawn Davis and yes they outsource their fulfillment.

Michael - I would say that you have broken even and even profited by being with Pictage because you haven't had to spend the time doing all that work.

Remember that that time is extremely valuable. Personally I don't care if I make one dime from Pictage but I have started to make more and more and my check last month was just under 6k....but I have over 100 weddings up there. The more weddings you have up the more you're gonna make so I'd hang in there and read Jeff Jochum's comments about outsourcing profit centers and doing the important things yourself - http://pictagegarage.blogspot.com/index.html

Cheers,
DJ

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

I just wanted to be the 70th comment! LOL

DJ -- high volume is most definitely NOT the only way to grow revenues. Look at the proliferation of DVDs, seminars, PS actions, etc., that so many new photographers are flooding the market with. (Sorry, had to end with a preposition...it's late...)

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Dan - You're definitely right that it's not the only way. That's kind of my point through this whole thread. :)

....but a high volume studio is focused on making their money shooting lots and lots of weddings so the way they make more money is by shooting more weddings and that's probably why Jim Kennedy and B don't have a DVD, or actions that they're selling so as of right now the only way they can add real revenue is to shoot more.


:)

MelissaCarl said...

can we start a thread on OSP about this? the question I want to ask... (which I should just go start but I am already here so I will keep going)

My question to all photographers would be...

If you had your business running smoothly and it was bringing in more than enough income that you needed to pay everyday bills and save money AND gave you tons of free time... what would you do with all your free time?

IF you wanted to spend that time creating things to sell to other photographers... what would you create?

OpenSourcePhoto said...

I would develop a flash diffuser. Those things sell like hot cakes!!!

jessica claire said...

DJ, I love ya but I'm not sure it's fair to totally discount and discard the people that LOVE being photographers.

Not everyone wants to sell things to photographers, or invent things, or be a teacher. Some photographers just want to be actual photographers, which in itself is very profitable (not scalable, but still very profitiable!) when done the right way.

OpenSourcePhoto said...

I love you too :) ....and I don't discount that one bit. I would still encourage those people to spend more time doing what they love (photography) and less time setting up production facility, managing employees and fulfilling orders.

:)

[ b ] e c k e r said...

deej, don't you worry about me. i have an exit strategy in place! i just don't care to share it with the whole class just yet. ;)

i deliberately took 2006 off from the speaking circuit (for the most part) and i really concentrated on my main business, which i am proud to say is wedding photography. it was probably the smartest decision i ever made. business is great, and the workflow is super tight, my customer service is the best it's ever been, and my work is always getting better, and my network of advocates is growing all the time. i worked hard on my operation for the express purpose of freeing my up for next year and i have a lot of plans in the works. i could have busted out a dvd years ago, just to do one and get the $$$ rolling in, but i don't do anything half ass and i certainly didn't want to get lumped into the photographers who as selling dvds that aren't very good or helpful. sadly, their are a lot of photographers selling snake oil out there and i refuse to jump on that bandwagon. i take a lot of pride in everything i do and i am always thinking of win win solutions whether i am selling my services to a bride, or helping photographers elevate their game... for a small fee of course! ;)

i know you and i have different ways of doing things, and we are both successful, it just seems like you think because someone doesn't use pictage, they don't have any freedom and i am telling you, that is not the truth. i figure with the money i saved this year by keeping operations in house (even though i don't lift a finger on reprint orders, dvd sales or 90% of the album process... i did some predesigning this year and it helped a lot- thanks gary!), i'll be able to put down payments on 2 or 3 rental properties that i'll be purchasing as soon as i feel the market is right. i'll do the same thing next year, and the year after, etc...

i love gary. he has been so good to me over the years and he still is. he's one of my favorite people and i love his enthusiasm for life and his giving spirit. but, i don't want to be exactly like him. i want to be my own person. gary did very well in the 80's and 90 shooting weddings and making tons of $$$. he invested that money in real estate which helped him retire and have time to invent stuff that helps people and now makes a very cozy living without doing a whole lot. i am on that path although i am not ready to give up shooting weddings just yet. i love shooting them. i am making a great living, i have a great lifestyle and i get a lot of satisfaction about being good at what i do. i am following in gary's footsteps and will be aquiring as many properties as i can in the coming years. thebschool.com is going to be a great resource for photographers and i am hoping will become a modest revenue stream as well. but, thebschool won't be my #1 focus as i will continue to keep my brides #1 priority. as soon as i love the passion for shooting weddings i will quit and figure something else out.

thebschool will focus on image, images, attitude and infrastructure, the 4 things that i feel are the keys to success in the wedding business. i know there are better photographers than me out there, but i do know too many that run a more complete, balanced business than i do. we've got it down, and i will certainly be leveraging that next year to provide additional income for me, while teaching others how to make more for themselves and their families. win win!

oh yeah, i think jeff said somewhere in this thread but i can't seem to find it now... but it was something like "do what you do best and delgate the rest". that's what i am doing. i have trained my girls to do get the results i want in photoshop. they are awesome! they do a way better than the folks who work at pictage could do on my stuff.

i could do it if i wanted and save even more money, but i choose to delegate that part so i can work on promoting my business. no one promotes [ b ] like [ b ]. i don't want pictage doing my marketing for me. in fact, one of the major reasons i left pictage was because my clients complained about all the spam that they and their friends were receiving. that hurts my business and makes me look bad. sure, i may have sold a few extra 5x7's because they kept bombarding everyone with emails, but my clients don't appreciate that intrusion. people hate spam more than they hate terrorists (almost). we have an effective email strategy that is very subtle and smooth and takes about 1 minute per wedding. we also have our own version of soft selling the predesigned wedding albums (i love album showcase!). we don't need pictage for that stuff either.

dj, three more questions,

1. if pictage does all your back end, why do you bother doing some of the color corrections before sending the files in?

2. why do you think denis reggie gets his finally prints done at his local lab and not pictage? is it the quality or is it the cost?

and 3. how can you be praising a company like Bella? i can see how you like Bella from the business side and you can appreciate the business that they have built (and the tons of money they are making off of the efforts of others), but as someone who runs this great community to help photographers, how can you support them with a clear concious? Bella is bad for wedding photographers and you are an idiot if you shoot for them! Let me repeat that incase you didn't get my meaning... you are an idiot if you are shooting for Bella (or a similar company. the exception being if you are a weekend warrior and you need a little extra cash... a very little). the thing is DJ, you agree with me on this. you told rick rosen a few post up that he would have been better off going out and developing relationships with vendors instead of saving a few hundred bucks by doing the dvd himself. how does that not hold true for shooting for Bella? why would anyone go out and work for their future or current competition for $500 lousy bucks? that time would be much better spend working on a new show it show, or making a sample album for a vendor, or even assisting a photographer friend for free in efforts to build a relationshop to exchange future referrals. don't get me started on Bella, i can only take on one giant at a time.

wow, is this the most comments ever on your blog?

by the way, jim kennedy just need to shoot for another year or two, then his associates will take over as he scales back and doesn't HAVE to work anymore (but knowing that crazy cat, he still will) and for the record, jim pays his associates a lot more than Bella does and offers them an actual career and it's not just a stepping stone for filling in on weekends.

thanks eric for the party of 5 comments. it was great meeting you.

i still think the comment section of the blog is not the best venue for this debate, but i haven't heard back from you whether you want to do a SPM or anything like that? what does everyone else thing, should we have a "great debate"?

Anonymous said...

jeff and dj,
there is one thing that you are missing, you guys promote pictage like it's so perfect. there are so many customer service issues not only inside the business but the perceived value has gone down to so many of the clients.

spamming, wrong orders, horrible customer service, paying other photographers to promote for them, poor print quality, branding themselves over the photographer, extremely obsurd accounting back to the photographer and late checks, etc.

pictage has great ideas that is growing but continually failing.

also, there never is a guarantee that any clients will ever order.

david you made $6,000 off of pictage this year, you must of had to sell $10,000. (with pictage's percent, tax, shipping and your monthly $250 because you shouldn't be at the recent $150 change because you been with them so long).

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

I just wanted to be the 78th comment on this thread.

It's all about RETURNS -- return on investment, that is. If outsourcing merits a higher ROI, then you should outsource. If hiring employees and doing things in-house produces a higher ROI, then you should outsource.

If you are clueless about how to calculate ROI and boring crap like cash flow models...well, I'd be happy to help you, "for a small fee of course." ;)

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Anonymous - I made 6k last month from Pictage not last year :) ...also...please post your name when you post.

Becker, you emailed at 10pm last night so I hope you didn't wait up for a response. :)

A couple of things that I've learned is that truly successful people can enjoy others success and that most people with a reputation to uphold will always say business is good...but a very true sign that business isn't good is when somebody bashes other successful companies. They usually do it out of jealousy and bitterness.

You started heavily bashing Pictage and the people who use them.

Now you're bashing Bella (and their photographers) which is also a great company and provides a wonderful service to brides and photographers.

...and you were bashing the WPJA and their memebers just a couple of weeks.

I dunno man... what you're saying just doesn't seem to match up.

As for your questions...

1. well that's why I'm excited about my initial post...check it out...Free Color Correction with Pictage.

2. I think you need to check your facts with Denis. :)

Good luck man.
DJ

Jessica Del Vecchio said...

This discussion has been great. I am the Pictager Jeff quoted yesterday. I just wanted to add that I tried both the DIY approach and outsourcing. For me, outsourcing worked better - a lot better. Yes, I do pay Pictage a significant amount of money. But in comparison, for the nursery school event, my post-event sales went from selling 2 5x7 prints in 2005 to $1400 in 2006 (and I got 2 more orders after I posted yesterday!). And that's just one event. And this is an easy comparison because it's literally the same event, same families, same location.

So, ror me, it's worth it to pay Pictage. Because even after I take into account how much I pay out, I am still making a whole lot more money than I was before. And I'm not running around. I have a full time job, so the stress of doing the backend work at put me at a point where I was ready to just stop doing it. I couldn't see a way that I could do any more photography because the backend was consuming so much of my time. No system is ever going to be perfect, and I understand people have had bad experiences with Pictage. I've never had to return a print or had one of my clients return a print or product. But, I've never had a lab that didn't get it wrong once in a while. It happens. And at least if Pictage gets it wrong, I don't have to drive to the lab 2 more times to get it done right. I can do it sitting at home.

DIY may work for some people, and that's great. But it didn't work for me and I'm not in a position to hire someone to do it for me. And doing everything myself made me hate doing photography at all. I literally was at the point where I was hoping people wouldn't call me, or if they did, that they wouldn't book me. Now, I'm happy, stress free, and booking more jobs than ever.

Whichever method you choose, I agree with what has been said by others more experienced than me - make sure it works for you, your life, your goals.

THE Bruce Dickinson said...

"I've got a fever..and the only cure is..."

stephen seward said...

It's been an interesting conversation for sure. It's really hard to take a side, I think there's good points and ideas on both. I do however, feel like becker's been mis-represented a bit(at least I think so). I don't think of his workflow as DIY, I he has created freedom for himself by oursourcing in-house. And according to him the lab fees of using pictage were greater than the cost of the employee (I'll take his word on that), not to mention the lower quality prints and poor customer service. This way he gets a better quality product and service at a lower cost and still gets the freedom to build his business. That's what were all looking for right?

Gene Frenkle said...

"I could pull it back a little if you'd like..."

Anonymous said...

yeah, actually...i've noticed one of the same things that dj just said.

it's so wierd when the main focus of what someone is saying revolves around the "bad" things that another place does...rather than the "good" things they themselves do.

i try not to to heed much advice at all from people who would rather convince me they're credible by showing me how NOT credible others are.

on the other side...i DO heed much advice from those who would rather convince me they're credible by doing just that. the people who can say "hey, check this way out...it works so well and you can see the evidence by looking at me. my business is demonstrating something and that should be enough for you to decide whether my way is better, or the way of someone else".

i'm pickin up strong negative vibes from some people here and i totally wasn't expecting that. just now hearing becker tell anyone they're an idiot for anything, i thought was pretty lame. i'm not sure i want to model that ever...niether in my biz life OR my personal life.

i obviously don't know [b], but just from what i've read and what i've seen on things like SPM i didn't expect to hear that. i still think he seems like a cool dude, but i'm starting to think i should be cautious for reasons stated above.

again...another 2 cents post from a random dude who wants to grow his business and learn from the knowledge and mistakes of those who have done it before him.

i just believe the positive/negative appraoch says a lot about the kind of person someone is.

note that this whole post was started by dj saying "pictage ROCKS" on his blog.

the comment thread however, was started by someone turning that positive thing, into a negative thing.

shame shame. lol.

graceandpeace.
nate.

Jeff @ Pictage said...

[b] said, "why do you think denis reggie gets his finally prints done at his local lab and not pictage?"

While Denis tried that route for a while, he is returning to using Pictage for all his final and album prints.

jeff

GARY FONG said...

arrrgh! Just when we had the seating chart for the reception. OK!

MelissaCarl said...

[B]ecker... come on man!!

I was totally agreeing with you on several things and then you go and bash on Bella. In such a rude way! Dude those are our friends just like you are, why be so mean? If you have an opinion that is fine, but don't be so rude!

Besides their business is NOT hurting other photographers. They do pre-designs and great albums just like any other photography company.

They set up photographers to work together and learn off each other and help each other. I just sent a friend there from Ohio that only has one camera body, one lens and one flash. She can't afford to buy anything else right now. Her portrait sessions are going well, but with that little amount of equiptment she can't possible book a wedding on her own. Besides she doesn't have the experience to shoot weddings full time.

Bella is PERFECT for her. She can shoot weddings and be trained with other photographers that know a lot more than her. She can get paid $400-$500 per wedding. In Canton Ohio you can only get a few hundred bucks to shoot an event for another photographer. So that is MUCH more than she would find anywhere else in her area.

She can save that money to buy equiptment AND get more experience actually SHOOTING weddings.

Wouldn't you say you kind of do the same thing with Marissa? Give her a fee for shooting with you or for you. How is that not the same thing as working for Bella? You might pay her more, but that may be because you charge a lot more to your clients.

You know that Marissa just wants to shoot. You know she hates all the other stuff that comes along with shooting weddings. (she told me this) So there are other people just like her that don't want to do anything but shoot. HOW IS THAT BAD?

Not cool dude! Not cool!

Bob Davis - Bella Pictures said...

Hi Everyone.

Great conversation! This is one of those debates that can go on and on. As a business owner, you must find solutions that work best for you and compliment your vision and lifestyle.

I am a founding member of Bella Pictures, which is the first national wedding photography company. My background is photojournalism. I was a staff photographer for over 14 years at the Chicago Sun-Times and 7 years at another newspaper. It was a great job, but limited in income, so I was always seeking freelance work for additional income and creative diversity. I still work for many national magazines such as, Time, Newsweek, USA Today, American Bar Association Journal, Chicago Magazine, Sports Illustrated, People, “O” Magazine, and many more. That being said, I have set up Bella like a photo agency for photographers who want to shoot weddings. It’s a different kind of photo agency. Unlike most photo agencies, Bella is non-exclusive, non-competitive, the images you create are yours to use in your portfolio, website, promotion, to help you build your brand. This allows photographers to improve their craft and add to their bottom line. Bella encourages photographers to express their own creativity. They control their schedule. There is no front end or back end work, no post processing or customer service work. We provide photo coaching and feedback to help raise the level of the craft as a whole. Simply put, Bella is a great company for photographers of all calibers.

Bella has around 200 photographers nationwide and growing. The approach appeals to working and freelance photojournalists who like the “assignment-style” work as well as wedding photographers looking to fill in their calendar. Since the photography assignments are made 2-3 months before the wedding date, photographers don’t need to worry that they’re missing out on other assignments.

Becoming a photographer for Bella isn’t a cakewalk. Less than 10% of all photographers who apply become Bella photographers. Which is good for those who qualify, because talented photographers want to be associated with other talented photographers.

There’s more information here at http://bellapictures.com/photographer.php

Anyway, thank you DJ for this thread, it’s gives me an opportunity to talk about Bella. And thank you Melissa for your kind words of support. It's always nice to have an open mind.

- Bob & Dawn Davis

StacyC said...

Don't worry Gary and Melissa, I'll gladly act as the "filler" for the spot where [B] was going to sit. :)

[ b ] e c k e r said...

wow dj, i can't believe how you are trying to spin and misrepresent me. you personally are welcome to come look at my quickbooks, i assure you, business is great ( at least i am happy with how things are going).

first of all, glad to hear denis is back to using Pictage for his final prints, maybe things are getting better over there. when i stayed with him in ATL last year he wasn't. i apologize for my mistatements, i haven't talk to him in a little while.

secondly, i am not bitter or jealous of anyone's success. i am stoked for the people of pictage like jason and gary especially. their sucess couldn't happen to nicer people and i am glad they got their payday early this year. and while i am happy for the success they've achieved, it don't mean i have to like or use their service.

as far as wpja goes, i singled out one member who took a shot at me on your forum, and then then owner tried blew thing way out of proportion to skewer me and all hell broke loose.

and as far as bella goes, i've never met the people who run it but there was a huge discussion on the dwf a while back and the overwhelming concensus is that they were bad for the mom & pop studio owners and independent photographers. again, i don't really think this is the place to get into it, but you still never explained why it's bad for rick rosen to spend time saving money doing a slideshow, but it's not ok to make a few hundred bucks to shoot to make someone else rich? i didn't go to college so i am not very smart, maybe you can explain the difference to me?

but for what you perceive as negativity from me, i just feel i am looking out for others and trying to get them to think for themselves and let them know that there is more than 1 way to skin a cat. i also think one of the reason that i am successful, is because i am happy and proud of the success of my friends. i enjoy empowering people. i have helped more of my competitors, for free, than any sane person i know. ask mike colon, ask jessica claire, ask joe photo, ask the boutwells, ask jim kennedy... (all of which i have lost weddings to and have helped in one way or another). i do not resentful or jealous of their success and if it seems that way, i apologize. just because i reject your notion that outsourcing is the only way to "free myself" doesn't mean i am being negative. i am not the best writer in the world (or speller as you can tell) and if my tone isn't coming through well, i apologize. i am a bit of a maverick, kinda like mark cuban, (he's got a great blog by the way... http://www.blogmaverick.com/ ). i do like to stir the pot. i do stand up for what i believe. i do say what is on my mind, ask around!

again, i think this is a terrible forum for this discussion, but since you've ignored numerous offers to debate this publicly, i guess this is all i've got for now.

anyway, this is your sandbox, so if you don't want any alternate opinions shared, send me an email and i'll go away.


merry christmas bro!

Anonymous said...

Jessica Claire said ...
"DJ, I love ya but I'm not sure it's fair to totally discount and discard the people that LOVE being photographers.

Not everyone wants to sell things to photographers, or invent things, or be a teacher. Some photographers just want to be actual photographers, which in itself is very profitable (not scalable, but still very profitiable!) when done the right way."

I agree totally. This is something I have been observing in wedding photography for the last few years. There seems to be a new emphasis on this profession as a business and no emphasis on the passion for photography. Newer photographers, occasionally by their own admissions, seem to be into this for the money and not for the creative satisfaction.

Some of us love the creative process and the satisfaction that it provides and came into weddings from other areas of photography. I first picked up a camera when I was 10 and had a darkroom at 12. Joe B. shot landscapes before he ever shot a wedding dress. Becker was successful, knowing him I presume both financially and creatively, in photography before he got into weddings. Denis Reggie was shooting sports in high school and if memory serves me so was [b]. Unfortunately though the passion some of us feel when holding a camera is not shared by everyone in wedding photography today. A great painter paints because he must, not to sell each painting out the back door of the studio and then quickly knock out another or sell lessons to other wannabe painters. To see this profession changing into "just a business" without the passion is a real shame.

For an artist to turn his passion into a business does have it's own set of unique challenges though. For one, in some ways you are your own worst enemy because the artistic mind wants to create, not to market and sell. Some of us though manage to wrestle the mindset and become a business success.

Some of the most adamant and outspoken here have not once in any of their thoughts here and anywhere else that I have read ever mentioned a passion for photography. They talk of business technique, quote passages from the latest business gurus but never anything about the art or the creative satisfaction their heart feels for the passion of their photography.

DJ, you said in response to my post about taking one hour to create a slideshow myself (and saving $200-300 in doing so) that my time would have been better spent out marketing my business and outsourcing my slideshow production. What apparently you cannot understand is that I enjoy the creative process and the small amount of time I spend doing my own slideshows and designing my own albums is part of the satisfaction my heart receives for being a wedding photographer. Yes, I do have to run my business and market and since I have built a 100% referral based business over 18 years I have spent (and still spend) considerable time on that. Part of my success though comes from my clients feeling the passion for photography that I have. Could I be more successful financially if I kept more of that passion checked? Possibly but it would come at the cost of personal satisfaction. I outsource what I do not want to deal with but keep the aspects of my business that give me that creative satisfaction "in house."

About outsourcing though I would ask you directly though since you apparently feel that I would have been wiser to outsource my slideshow are you saying that it is not wise for photographers to create their own slideshows? If I read you right then why are you promoting your own software product to photographers for creating slideshows? Your message seems to contradict.

Rick

russ tyler said...

SPM debate?...nah...this is more like Springer material!

GARY FONG said...

[b] calm down man! You were so fun to watch with your enthusiasm for your workflow and showing your presentations, etc... and I felt like you were a really great pied piper leading people to success!

But these days - you have adopted a style that is risky... and I know you know it and like to take risks by being brash and possibly offensive and taking the loudspeaker method... but this is a small industry of friends - friends who bind together, support each other, prop each other. And they often overlap.

I know you believe totally your way is the best way... dude I am constantly shaking my head YEARS after I retired wondering why people don't do everything exactly my way... but the last thing I would do is call the people who don't agree with me, 'idiots'.

Among the hardest things to do is feel like you are SO RIGHT and then be humble about it.

I run my business by the guidance Rocky Gunn gave me decades ago. He said, "nobody needs another salesman at the door, but everybody could use a new friend". In this business, I've built friendships - and that has been the most important thing I treasure. Calling future possible "friends" a bunch of idiots would dry out some possibly wonderful friendships in the future.

But do what you want to do! I know you will!

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Rosen - I'm glad you enjoy the creative process. I also love the creative process and photography as you can see on my website. I have never encouraged anybody to do their own production of DVD's and I really don't see much of a creative process in authoring DVD's, receving those orders, printing the labels, packaging and mailing but that's cool if you do.

Becker - I just got back from the gym - but as I said many times before I'm always down for a debate. :)

Bob Davis - Great post and again I encourage all of you to check out Bella and what they've got going over there. Bella fills a huge need in the industry and it's run by some of the most wonderful people I've ever met.

Happy Monday everyone,
DJ

[ b ] e c k e r said...

what is this world coming to when i am agreeing with rick rosen?!?!?! great post rick, happy holidays!

missy my love, don't be mad at me. i said bella was good for the weekend warriors which it sound like that's what your friend is. if you have a few hours, read this thread on dwf about bella:

http://www.digitalweddingforum.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=1405236&page=0&fpart=1&vc=1

then tell me how this is not bad for the little guys? tell me how it's not bad for gary's core audience. gary had a great tour earlier this year and helped so many people try to make a better living for themselves. how does helping your friend bob get rich benefit them? companies like bella drive down prices and eventually. they are the walmart of wedding photographers. and while bella grows and becomes more successful (like walmart), which is good for them, it is going to ultimately hurt the photographer when they are able to go out on their own. i am not being negative, i am just pointing out an opinion.

by the way, i am sure bella is loving this because their traffic is going way up today and i am sure people who had never heard of them before today are going to apply. you are welcome bob!

i am done with this post. off to christmas shop. happy festivus!

[ b ]

GARY FONG said...

I first heard of "Bella" when my buddy Adam Berger, CEO of Wedding Channel told me about this company that was literally taking straight off- doing weddings on a national level.

The more I heard about it, the more I thought it was a positive bridge. Why? The number one reason is that they let you keep and promote the images you shoot. Most photographers do the shoot for hire and the associate obviously cannot make their own displays to build their own career. Bella is not like that. You shoot, you get paid typical rates, and then if you want to go out on your own? Here's your images! How different is that?

If you are just starting out, the first thing you so desperately need is a portfolio. That and experience. But try shooting with somebody and they will not release the images you shot for fear that you will open up against them. So as an aspiring photographer you are stuck.

I was so lucky that Rocky Gunn let me take images for my first display album. He never did that before for anybody. With that, I built a business.

Bella is a positive thing if you are climbing. Does it bring a lot more competition into the marketplace? Yes... and that may be more pressure for existing studios. Which means that for the existing people it's time to crank up the service/innovation/quality of work to respond to the new competition.

Who wins in the end? The industry. More competition makes better work, better service, happier brides. It's good for everybody, as long as you don't have a begrudging attitude.

Michael said...

I think you guys are misinterpreting Becker's tone and intention. I got your back [b].

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

I'm really bored today. Should I apply to the WPJA?

Or would my time be better spend fighting forest fires? (like the one in this thread...LOL)

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

spend...>...spent

whatever! ;)

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

This comment # 100...

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

I meant to say this IS comment # 100...

but this is actually # 101.

BTW -- Vote for Hillary in '08! \o/

Anonymous said...

I just want to add that I think it's pretty incredible that I am able to sit here and have an intellegent argument with some of the people I most respect in our industry.

Eric Hegwer said...

Jeff, DJ C'mon now

Do you mean to tell me that when an order from Mike Colon comes in to Pictage, it isn't treated differently than any other? I find that hard to believe!

Eric

Anonymous said...

hahahahahahahahahaha....

gary just put a massive post on his blog that says "join the red hot debate" in big bold letters. lol...

that's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

i just have a scritpure i'd like to share with everyone.....

baaaaaahahahahahaha....

sorry, i had to.

Anonymous said...

DJ said:
"Rosen - I'm glad you enjoy the creative process. I also love the creative process and photography as you can see on my website. I have never encouraged anybody to do their own production of DVD's and I really don't see much of a creative process in authoring DVD's, receving those orders, printing the labels, packaging and mailing but that's cool if you do."

DJ - You didn't answer my question. I talked abotu creating the slidshow not burning the DVD. You seemed to knock me for taking the time to create the slideshow itself, not the time to package the DVD.

But since you seem to feel that the packaging is such a hassel I'll add that once the show of 276 images was created in 1 hour I exported it to burn DVDs. The actual export process (which is always a relatively long time with any full res. show and any software) took about 90 minutes. I just saved the show and exported it overnight. Or I could have dome other projects, including marketing, while it exported in the background. I was actually away for the weekend so when I returned to my Mac this morning the show was already exported to Toast (or iDVD) and ready to burn to DVD. Slipping in a DVD and burning it took about 60 seconds. I made three copies by just burning extras. The DVD label, using my template, printed in 20 seconds and the DVD box label, using a template in PS, printed in another 30 seconds. All told I guess you could say that it took me about ten minutes to create three copies of that DVD. Oh yea, now I have to slip them into mailing envelopes and print the postage from my meter and then drop them in the mailbox. Yep, this DVD production is a real pain! :)

Rick

Jeff @ Pictage said...

Eric said, "Do you mean to tell me that when an order from Mike Colon comes in to Pictage, it isn't treated differently than any other? I find that hard to believe!"

Believe it or not - unless something has gone wrong with the print and surfaced in final QA - its true. Our workflow is very automated and our volumes so large, its not reasonable for those in operations to remain aware of any particular recipient. We don't have special workflows, other than known profiles and preferences, for anyone.

jeff

Anonymous said...

Jeff is correct.

Pictage is just too large in volume for any photographer's work to get special treatment.

Rick

GARY FONG said...

I am learning so much watching this unfold!

As for my disclaimer, I sold out a majority of my shares in Pictage a long time ago, and since I no longer shoot I don't know what is going on any more. I do have shares in it, and they are my friends as well as Dawn and Bob of Bella.

Other than that I am neutral. Except for Art Leather and Rick Rosen, I would say that I am neutral.

Anonymous said...

Gary Fong said:
"Other than that I am neutral. Except for Art Leather and Rick Rosen, I would say that I am neutral."

On that apparently we do agree.

This is an excellent discussion with may valid points. How about not dragging it down with personal attacks?

Rick

[ b ] e c k e r said...

ok, last post from me, i promise... i really have a lot of shopping to do.

i apologize for calling photographers who shoot for bella idiots. that was a little extreme and sometimes i let my emotions get the best of me because i am a passionate person. i also forget that there are tons of new people getting into photography all the time and companies like bella and pictage are great for newbies.

i just think once you get the hang of it, it's much more efficient and profitable to take care of your own business. DJ and i will probably never agree on this. he won't change my mind and i doubt i'll change his.

one of the many disclaimers i give at the beginning of all my speaking engagements or workshops is that:

"if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" i have found a way that works really well for me, if you have your own way and it's working, don't change it just because i said so.

anyway, i think this has been a great discussion and i am excited about all of the party of 5 sign ups i've had over the weekend. i'll be adding more dates soon.

peace!

[ b ]

www.thebschool.typepad.com (my new blog, incase anyone is interested)

brendan cosgrove said...

I'm going to chime in on the outsourcing model. Its all relative to your where your expertise, desire, joy/stisfaciton exists. I am not a wedding photog, but run an IT outsourcing firm. We allow companies to outsource to us the tecnology parts of their business they don't want to be bothered with. With over 150 clients, the reasons for outsourcing are all over the board. Sometimes its price, sometimes its expertise, sometimes its convenience. As businesses grow and evolve their reasons for outsourcing and the parts that they outsource are changing and evolving.
Disclaimer: [b] shot my wedding in 2000.

Becker was with Pictage to start, because of the potential it had to change his business, but given the values he has for his business he changed. I don't know [b] very well outside of what he did for my wedding, and his blog, but I know his commitment to image, and to quality images is top notch. If Pictage couldn't meet his core values for his product why should he stay with it. At that point its not a judgement of right or wrong, its a question of focus, and subjective values.

Its a classic conversation that business owners should always have about how outsourcing fits their business. If outsourcing doesn't help them deliver on their core values and/or support the bottom line then they should seriously consider their implementiation of outsourcing. All of this gets balanced against the people's passions, dreams, and skills.

(If you want to discredit me for not being a wedding photog, I understand, but the outsourcing debate is business agnostic in my mind.)

Rick Rosen said...

Brenden Cosgrove said:
"Its a classic conversation that business owners should always have about how outsourcing fits their business. If outsourcing doesn't help them deliver on their core values and/or support the bottom line then they should seriously consider their implementiation of outsourcing. All of this gets balanced against the people's passions, dreams, and skills."

Well said! Thank you for the contribution.

Rick

turtle nate said...

If Gary and Luke got married.....

Would [b] shoot wearing Ex-officio underwear with shane assisting? I bet there would be a 'slim' chance that the event would be on Pictage. But I sure hope that [b] would upsell the heck out of the album so he could buy a condo. I heard there were some cheap ones up in Discovery Bay (no warranty included).

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

And would the slideshow use copyrighted music?

Somebody better buy Nate a beer...

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

BTW -- the Walgreens photo lab ROCKS!

Garrett Nudd Photography said...

becker,

Real estate investing is quite fun... If you're interested, our FL home is up for sale in Orlando...and our TN rental home..and we have a couple more properties if you're interested.

:) LOL, Ok...carry on.

joy

Robbin Knight said...

ha ha! Very clever Turtle Nate! If I could only post my pics here of how baby turtles are made.............

turtle nate said...

Robin, this thread is PG rated - we'll be having none of that

Mark Stagi said...

I think everyone is spending so much time blogging here that nobody is "Free" anymore :) Maybe the best way to really get free is to throw the laptop out the window, something to think about
-- Mark

Andrew said...

I think that this whole debate has gotten a little ridiculous. Seems like a pi$$ing match more than anything. There are many ways to achieve the same goal in business... But what it boils down to doing what is best in your circumstances. There is no "silver bullet" when it comes to wedding photography.

One thing that everyone needs to consider is that your business is represented by your outsourcing parter(s). Whether that be Pictage or whatever shopping cart, lab, album designer, album manufacturer that you choose to represent your photography business. In the end, the quality of the product and the customer experience is paramount. There is nothing that will kill your business image more than a bride spouting all over the knot that she received terrible prints from XYZ Photographer, or she had to call 3 times to get something straightened out on a print order, and it still didn't turn out right.

While DJ is always promoting and backing Pictage, there are a ton more options to consider. [b] has made some very good points that should definitely not be discounted.

Another thing that the Pictage lovers are failing to mention, and Jeff from Pictage himself has failed to mention is that putting all your eggs in one basket is probably not the wisest thing to do. I'm not saying that you shouldn't, but you ought to think about what happens if Pictage, or XZY Photography Backend ceases to exist tomorrow?

Would your business fall to it's knees? I know that's a crappy way to look at it, but it's certainly something to think about. Relying on one outsourcing partner for everything that supports your business and income has it's associated risks. In a perfect world, this wouldn't ever matter - but we all know how crazy this world is.

In [b]'s case what's the worst that would happen if Alpha Photographics (his print house) dissapeared? Well he just get's his prints from another awesome photo lab - there are a bunch to choose from. He still has his awesome employees working on his images and albums, and answering the phones, and taking orders for his clients...

On the Bella subject, I have to disagree with [b] on that one. I've shot a bunch of weddings for Bella in the past, in fact Bob Davis was my "Photo Coach" before he got promoted to Chief Photographer. They are a standup company and I have nothing but good things to say about my experiences with them. Are they killing the industry for the rest of us? No, I don't think so. There is a market for their style of photography and services. I did lose one job recently from a couple that I met with who chose to go with "another" photography company instead of me. It was Bella. I got a laugh out of that one :)

Andrew

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Good points Andrew! Especially the bit about putting all your eggs in one basket. I agree with you and if I'm gonna put any of my eggs in any basket it better be something legit - like a 30 million dollar company like Pictage and not a one or two man operation like pick pic which certainly could disappear tomorrow.

That is a gnarly thing to think about. What if Pick Pic does just vanish. Crazy...all that work and internal system down the drain.

Andrew said...

like a 30 million dollar company like Pictage and not a one or two man operation like pick pic which certainly could disappear tomorrow.

Although I do think that Pic Pic is something that is purchased and run on your own servers. So if they actually went out of business all that would mean to [b] or anyone else that bought the software is that there would be no future upgrades or development work done on new versions.

I hope that the ShowIT guys don't go under ;)

Andrew

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Thanks - Me too! :)

Anonymous said...

I find it compelling that you top tier shooters / vendors like the wrestle in the virtual mud just like those of us in the cheap seats. For a moment, the thread read like the daily slugfests on Fred Miranda and DPReview.

tomK

Anonymous said...

Andrew... But what if his employees walked out on him? And what's the chance of that happening compared to the chance of all the employees just up and quitting Pictage one day... I'll take my chances with Pictage! :)

Anonymous said...

Nathan

MelissaCarl said...

DJ why is this post not at the top? we are all coming to read this one. take it back to the top dork. we already saw the snow video!

LOL

Regis said...

Reading this thread is like watching a QuickTime movie that never ends... just when I thought the movie is almost over, the buffer bar moves forward again.

I am learning lots though ☺

Anonymous said...

We need more cow bell!! Come on now, I like Coke you like Pepsi. I like what Jessica said, it's about being a photographer and enjoying the work that comes with it. It sure seems to me like everyone is trying as hard as they can to do as little as possible. Heck why not just have someone else shoot for you then you can do nothing! I know that sounds good and all but are you still going to call yourself a photographer? I guess if you don't want to do the work then just get out of the shooting business and call yourself a businessman! Just enjoy what you do and how YOU do it. If it makes YOU happy doing it your way then who cares. My point is "My dad can beat up your dad"! Who cares right?

[ b ] e c k e r said...

wow, what an exchange! it was all going so well and civil until i went off on bella. party foul on [ b ]! not cool at all. i sent a sincere apology to bob & dawn and i received a very classy reply from dawn. and since i can't individually apologize to all of bella's photographers, i thought i'd just say i am sorry here. no matter how i feel about the company, it was wrong of me to say that.

oh my gosh, i did i just apologize and say i was wrong? i hope jessica claire doesn't see this, she might start expecting me to say it to her once and a while!!!! oh no.

happy holidays,

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

Welcome back to the 'Survivor' thread...

It's all about the burn rate. $30 million does not guarantee you sustainability...ask those who invested in webvan, pets.com, et al.

However, 6,000 photographers * $150 per month * 12 months = $10.8 million in fixed revenues before a single image is printed...that's a pretty darn admirable business model! I'm surprised more companies don't charge monthly fees to their customers. Wouldn't it be nice if we could charge monthly fees to our brides? :)

Andrew said...

It's all about the burn rate. $30 million does not guarantee you sustainability...ask those who invested in webvan, pets.com, et al.

Exactly! There are lots of companies that folded in recent years because they could not execute on their business plans and had a larger burn rate than $$ in the bank/investors. That's not to say that it will happen to Pictage.

I don't think that there will ever be any consensus on the issue, as everyone has their own opinions. The key thing to think about and this thread has done a good job of bringing the topic to light is that you need to evaluate your business and do what makes sense for you. However - these are important decisions that should not be made solely based on what everyone else is doing.

Differentiation from your competitors in business, believe it or not, is an advantage.

Also keep in mind that I believe that [b], Jim Kennedy, etc... are creating businesses that most likely at some point will continue to thrive without their extensive day to day involvement (photographers working and shooting for them, dedicated hard working employees that run the day to day operations). A one man shop with a Pictage back end doesn't have that sort of sustainability.

Andrew

Dawn Davis said...

Yes, we did received a wonderful email from [b] and it was really gracious of him. We truly respect him and appreciate his talents as a photographer. All is good... it's been a very interesting thread. Thanks DJ.

~ Dawn & Bob Davis

jessica claire said...

Oh sweetie, why would you need to apologize to me when we both know you are never wrong? :)

Anonymous said...

"A one man shop with a Pictage back end doesn't have that sort of sustainability." - Andrew


Definition from Wikipedia: "Sustainability is an attempt to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural environments both now and into the indefinite future."

If this doesn't match the Pictage business model, I'm not sure what does. I'm sure that 2 or 3 employees aren't worried about their photographer employer enough to be concerned about his sustainability.

Pictage can't exist without us, which means that they're going to be a more reliable "employee" when we're talking about sustainability.

- Nathan

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

Nathan -- I can't speak for him (tho' I'll try!)...but I believe Andrew's point is that a one man shop with a Pictage back-end is only as sustainable as the one man is. (And Pictage could be any lab...)

For example, if DJ is abducted by aliens (or one of his many female stalkers) and we never see him again (perish the thought), then his photography business and his relationship with Pictage comes to an end. If [b] or Jim Kennedy have sufficient trained and dedicated employees on staff -- should either one of them be abducted by aliens...their businesses might suffer, but they wouldn't necessarily cease to exist like in the 1 man shop scenario.

(Andrew...correct me or elaborate if that wasn't the point you were making...)

OpenSourcePhoto said...

See the many many post above about passive income Dan...Even if I died my businesses would still bring in almost a million dollars a year. That's my whole point to why the DIY is bad and hardly sustainable anymore.

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

That's why I specifically said your PHOTOGRAPHY business Deej...most 1 man shops don't have multi-million $ passive income sources. (I should have clarified that...I mean...I have my crack business on the side, but I don't want the authorities to know about it...)

OpenSourcePhoto said...

:) My point is that they should...and could if they weren't wasting their times with order fulfillment. I developed my passive income businesses in the first 3 years of the my photography business - while I was shooting 30-40 weddings per year.

Daniel J. Watkins Photography said...

And it was also WAY before you got married. ;P

(...and keep up the good work...the minute you stop buying Stouffers frozen dinners is when we should all panic...)

Andrew said...

Nathan -- I can't speak for him (tho' I'll try!)...but I believe Andrew's point is that a one man shop with a Pictage back-end is only as sustainable as the one man is. (And Pictage could be any lab...)

Dan is right on with that. That was my point!

Andrew

turtle nate said...

DJ, if you died, I think the last thing on your mind would be how your business was doing, if ya know what I mean ;)

luke walker said...

dj i love you bro, but you are comparing apples to oranges (to bring us back to 4th grade). you keep bringing your show it money into this conversation and it really has nothing to do with it. if you get past the arguing you'll see that neither you nor b have a DIY type business. neither of you color correct yourselves (although you used to DJ while b didnt), do album designs, do the books, any of that stuff. neither of you do much back end work... which i think the vast majority of us can ALL agree on is the main goal. you just use different vehicles to get there. you choose to use pictage to do that work, and b chooses an employee to do that work. but the important part is neither of you are doing it yourself. so saying your model "frees you up" more to do things like show it just isnt accurate. both methods free you both up, its just different ways of doing it.

the main difference i see is that becker's approach gives him quality control. he is in direct control of his operation. everything leaving his studio has been approved by him either directly or through his trusted people. the stuff going through pictage is not directly controlled. your clients are being directed to a site that is not yours, they are getting prints with a box that does not have your name on it, they are getting spammed from a company in which you have no control in how much they spam... all things that scare the crap out of me.

the bottom line if you look at both sides is neither does it himself, wisely so. they just choose different methods of not doing it themselves.

turtle nate said...

Wow, Luke, that was the most intelligent comment on this post.
Well, except for this one ;)

Rick Rosen said...

Luke said:
"the main difference i see is that becker's approach gives him quality control. he is in direct control of his operation. everything leaving his studio has been approved by him either directly or through his trusted people. the stuff going through pictage is not directly controlled. your clients are being directed to a site that is not yours, they are getting prints with a box that does not have your name on it, "

The other issue that never seems to be mentioned by the devotees of outsourcing is that some photographers like becker have worked very hard to create a very distinct "look" to their images. Part of that of course comes from their unique vision but part also comes from their creativity in how their camera images are processed. You can tell a [b] image from a mile away and his look, excellent as it is, is part of his brand. How can any photopgrapher that works hard on branding and creating a distinct image ever expect any "generic" outsourcing service to be able to post process his images?

Rick

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Luke...passive income and a scalable business model is what this has mostly discussed so my other businesses do play a role.

You are correct that the owner of a DIY model has to spend more time focusing on controlling their business but as any successful business person will tell you that is not the business owners job - Their job is to focus on GROWING the business - not controlling it.

:)
DJ

OpenSourcePhoto said...

As I mentioned earlier (Annonymous comments will be deleted)

Anonymous said...

Wow,

What a fantastic debate. I have just started out this year in the UK and the reality is I can symphatise with many of the people starting out. However, both [b] and DJ have valid points and have both achieved success in their own unique way. I guess it boils down to your individual aspirations and values.

The reality is if you want to be in business, you got to look at ways to free your time and scale the business, either through automation or delegation.

However, if you have the passion for photograpgy its a wonderful career and will give you a wonderful lifestyle business.

Either way, I have learned a lot from the above and debate and I think its great!

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year folks!

Anonymous said...

i was going to be done commenting, but i honestly can't see how any apples are being compared to any oranges here so i wanna try and have my own go of speaking for someone.

what i think dj is has been trying to say this whole time, that no one seems to be able to grasp...is that he and becker are NOT doing the same thing because becker is playing the role of technician, manager and owner all at the same time, while dj has focused since day one on outsourcing the things he can in order to be the owner. period.

it seems like a few people keep trying to say that they're doing the same thing by simply having someone other than themselves do the "work". work in this case seems to be mainly focused on the order fulfilment. regardless...that view simply doens't make any sense.

the common theme is that "it doesn't matter where the work is done, as long as you aren't doing it yourself". that's so wrong. becker has employees. he can very well leave them alone and do what he wants, and they very well could get the work done...but they're still part of his company. of his workflow. of his responsibility.

at one time he had to train them, and he (at least presumably) will continue to teach and educate them from here on out. he has to have a place for them to work. he has to have machines for them to use - let alone fix when they go down. he has to pay employee taxes. when an employee or 2 are sick, he must manage that. if both want the same week of for vacation, he has to manage that. or what if they leave for bigger and better things? not to mention (God forbid) something out of their control would happen to either them or their families?

these are all things that a manager or a technician should deal with. are there more things to list? sure there are...and there are probably a few of those things that people have quick fixes for. but that's the point, you shouldn't NEED a quick fix to one of those problems if you can outsource to another company that handles those issues on their own.

if you are one who isn't happy with pictage's performance, then that's another issue. if you're one who would like to work on your own prints because you love to do so, that's another issue as well. and if you're someone who wants their images to have specific color/effects/density adjustments...again, another issue.

we have to remember that we all ultimately make our own decisions on what gets done, how and also why. if you have a reason for not outsourcing, or even specifically not outsourcing to pictage...then the conversation is over. but to say that pictage in general doesn't make someone free is crazy! at least to me it is.

and back to the original problem that was presented in the comments and the original reason for my comment now...becker and dj are NOT doing the same thing. these are not apples to oranges. they're the same fruit. the question is: do you hire your own factory of workers to clean, package, fulfil and ship the fruit, or do you let someone else do it for you?

yes, either way the fruit is being shipped...and either way it's a factory doing it and not me, but i'd much rather outsource the fruit order fulfilment than CREATE and MANAGE my own factory.

and that brings us to the great debate. who has more freedom? i know i can't answer that for either of these 2 gentlemen, but i do know it doens't make a lick of sense to say that uploading images in one night and forgetting about them after than is equal to or MORE work than keeping them in-house and letting your employees take care of it. if you want to know why i can't understand that...reread the fifth paragraph in this comment.

letting employees work for you is not a way to free yourself. i mean, time wise? maybe...but responsibility wise....NEVER. those employees are YOURS. even if they rock socks and you rarely need to even speak with them, they still demand higher responsibility. the more responsibility one has, then less freedoms they have. that's widely, widely, widely accepted.

now i'm sure someone will want to contest that...but i think from now on i'm going to try and look at my business from a responsibility standpoint - not a freedom standpoint, because freedom DIRECTLY relates to responsibility.

and now, bringing it all back around - we have to talk about why you need the freedom. this is the last thing i can't understand about some comments, and that's the view of "your showit money has nothing to do with your photography business"...

uhhh....yeah. yeah it does. lol.

the point here is...because dj has fewer responsibilites, he has more FREEDOM to work on his other streams of income. his photography business and HOW HE HANDLED WORK allowed him to have both time and money to create these freeflowing streams to begin. everyone seems so hung up on the showit software...or gary making his lightsphere like they just sorta "tricked" all of us photographers into buying it and now they're rich and we're still poor. i just can't follow that logic.

here's the moral of the story. and i'm talking about the "business" story here. all of business, regardless of kind...as far as what i have been able to learn.

use your photography business to generate income. once you've generated the income, and worked the whole time on creating the freedom to move to this step (could take a day, could take 5 years), move you money to a place where it can work for you. then, make it work for you. this step can be done SO many different ways, the hard part is the execution.

it's not about photography taking a backseat. it's about doing what you love. some have said they love shooting, and they're offended by those who just want to make a quick buck. they fail to see that outsourcing isn't to make a quick buck, it's to allow for MORE time shooting. it's to allow the BUSINESS owner to create new streams of income, new avenues of building wealth. with that wealth you should be able to buy even MORE time. allowing even MORE time shooting. and experimenting. and simply growing your business...whatever it is. and whatever you want it to be.

for those who simply have no desire outsource and honestly, truely want to spend their time shooting, correcting, working and creating images. ignore the whole thread, post, comment...whatever.

but for those who LOVE photography will all of their heart like my wife and i do, and also want to be free'd up to create other avenues of wealth ALSO in areas of our lives that we love...this is the best model. and it's the model that's been working like a charm.

i don't know. that was a lot of writing, so i hope it makes sense to someone.

again...i can't speak for dj, but this is my rundown of what the point seeeeeeeeems to be, and how it's getting sorta....lost?

can't wait to see if someone actually read all this. lol.

and i still love this conversation. it rocks!

graceandpeace.
nate.

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Right on Nate!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You nailed it Nate! Awesome!

- Nathan

luke walker said...

yea im pretty much done with this, and ive only had one post. i think the people who feel the way they do arent going to change their opinions, so after 150 comments it's pretty much beat.

my final thought is for me personally outsourcing is fine if it fits within the brand and experience i am trying to deliver to clients. if my clients are getting their inboxes CRAMMED full of spam, getting print orders that are unacceptable (to the point of me having to re-do them in house and send them out), getting very flat JPEGS back that have been "color corrected".... well that is unacceptable outsourcing to me. just speaking for myself. and to further that thought at what point does it stop? why dont we outsource the actual shooting part? the meetings? heck lets have someone else meet with the clients, have them shoot the wedding, then do the post process, then do the album design. that way we have absolutely all the free time in the world :)

i think it's easy to ride the growth wave all the way to the bank, but i also think if a person isnt careful it's also an easy way to drive a business into the ground. if growth and pure profit really are the main goals, and not a quality customer experience, well i think that customer envangelists thing many of us talk about will be gone.

this is just speaking for myself. if i can out-source and not do things in house and it meshes with my brand and overall business stradegy, i think its awesome. if it goes against what i am trying to accomplish with my business, and against creating a great relational experience with my client, then i am not interested.

one final thought i wanted to share before i bow out.... when i was creating a vision statement earlier this year with elevation for the next 2 years of my business, i talked a lot about profit and growth. gary sikes reeled me in big time by saying to me (and yes i wrote it down word for word) "be careful to always remember why you got into this. it's easy to forget, but if you do you will end up losing much more in the end." talk about a reality check and bringing me back down to earth.

PS - DJ will you return my email to you, liana, and garrett already!!! LOL geez

Rick Rosen said...

Luke said:
" and to further that thought at what point does it stop? why dont we outsource the actual shooting part? the meetings? heck lets have someone else meet with the clients, have them shoot the wedding, then do the post process, then do the album design. that way we have absolutely all the free time in the world :) "

That model already exists. It is called Bella. Before them there was and I believe still exists another company called The Wedding Bureau.

From what I have heard of the people and Bella the company they are a great business managed by good people who are changing the wedding industry one wedding at a time. They do, as far as I know, provide an excellent product and experience to their clients and for a comparably speaking reasonable fee. They also treat their contract photographers fairly.

For many reasons I have anticipated this model to appear for about five years now. It will totally change the industry. I'd expect to see other companies, perhaps some with a national presence already in place (some even with their own lab), to get into this model soon.

The times they are a chang'in.

Rick

Mark Miller said...

Nate,

And I thought you just did the Cow Bell stuff!!

Excellent post.

Just another thought everyone- 'Wealth' is not necessarily money.

Anonymous said...

wow...interesting stuff from a newbies point of view! big dogs shooting it out!

i am new but seems to me that before you even talk about getting print sales you have to have a great website? i just found www.livebooks.com and they seem to be able to link to pictage, printroom or any other lab. has anyone heard much about them?

OpenSourcePhoto said...

Livebooks is a great company! I highly recommend them.

Cheers,
DJ

russ tyler said...

Has anyone had any experience with Skooks?

Ralphie said...

In terms of Skooks, you should probably read this.

Chris Fawkes said...

Have your debate, video it and sell it for $300 a copy.
Two business systems.

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