Monday, September 03, 2007

A step backwards :(

I've been in this industry for five years and I've seen a radical shift in mindset amongst wedding photographers who can now happily embrace each other as friends and collegues instead of competition.

Typically Studio Photography and Design does a pretty good job but this article really irks me. We've all worked incredibly hard to change the environment in our industry from one of scarcity to one of abundance and then to have some writer publish an article based on a *trivial 1250 responses pretty much calling new photographers "wannabes"
and claiming that they "steal" business is something we must fight or we'll see the environment change rapidly back to where it was.

Here's my response to her and I'd encourage you to respond as well.

*Click here* and let them know how you feel.


Dear Ms. Propper,

I'm writing about your August article, "Is a Pro Photographer Wannabe Cutting Into Your Business?"

I've been in this industry for five years and have seen a radical change in the culture that exists from that of scarcity and competition to that of abundance and community.

Your article not only implies that we (photographers) are competitors, which I don't believe we are, but it also encourages negativity towards newcomers.
Many of us have worked hard to rid the industry of these attitudes and beliefs and publishing things like this takes us a step backwards.

Please consider the strides we have all taken to make this industry a better place to work and live and write articles that keep us moving in a positive direction.




* FYI - I got 1979 responses to my workshop survey overnight so I think it's pathetic that they would write an article after only receiving 1250.


Unknown said...

As a trained Graphic and Web Designer who has lived through the Desktop Publishing boon of the late 80's and the .com bubble of the 90's it's just a fact of life that you will always have competition! I was never one that saw it as destroying my industry, but instead embraced it and opted to help raise the bar and educate many young folks just coming into the industry. I've also worked in the audio and video sectors and have seen those industries hit just as hard as the photography industry by new fresh young faces trying to make their mark on the world. Educate, Educate, Educate... there is room for everyone.

Cris Mitchell

|| davidjay || said...

I can live with the competition part and I agree we need more education.

...but calling new photographers "WANNABES" and thiefs out "STEALING" weddings is WAY WAY WAY outta line and doing it in a survey which only fuels the thoughts of the people reading it calls for a response.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with you guys on this. I read the article, and my initial reaction was that I never worry about other photographers. Just like you and I have spoken about David, it's about helping others and succeeding together. If the so-called professionals helped to build up the so-called wannabees, we would all have a much stronger, vibrant industry where we could all do better. There is so much business out there, it's sad that some people are so scared. Eventually we will rid our industry of this type of mentality.

Unknown said...

Better yet complain to their advertisers B & H and Epson since these so called wannabees are pretty much supporting both of those companies ;-)


chantal stone said...

I find particular offense to this article because I am new to the Wedding market, however, I am hardly a new photographer....I've been shooting for nearly 20 years as a fine art photographer, exhibiting in galleries, etc. I absolutely hate the term "wannabe"...didn't everyone start off at the bottom somewhere? And it's so naive to think that at some point in your career you shouldn't come across any competition. It's been my experience ---as both a photography professional and a consumer--- that people are willing to pay for quality, so if Joe Photographer is worried about losing business to someone new to the industry, perhaps he needs to take a look at what he's offering, the changing trends, etc, before he goes pointing the finger at the so-called "backyard moms".

I'm a mom with a digital camera who's starting a wedding and portrait business. Does that make me a wanna-be? If *they* think I want to be like them, then no way.....what I want to be is a photography professional who stays current with the wants and needs of my clients while fostering good relationships with other photographers, both learning from those more experienced than I, and helping those that I can.

/end rant!

Daniel J. Watkins said...

Don't sweat it, man.

Love may be the killer app, but not everyone is on the latest version! ;)

Unknown said...

Have you looked at the websites of those guys that made some comments? Can you say old school? Some of those old guys just refuse to accept the fact that times have changed. And if you dont go with the flow and adapt your business you will end up like those guys, bitching about us, the new guys.

Look at their rates and products. I recently talked to one of those old guys and he would not talk business with me, he kept everything secret as if he had the cure for cancer. All I have to do is pretend to be a bride in an email and he will tell me everything. My point is that today if you dont socialize and open up to other shooters you will be left alone and you will start calling competition "wannabes".

Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

Holritz Photography said...

Amber and I are generally the last ones to talk about photographic technique or photoshop actions when we have the opportunity to speak or share with other photographers, because we realize the priority of modern biz principles over photography (and who wants to hear another workshop about how to take "cool" pictures... hahaha). However, there has to be a balance of biz/craft somewhere...

In the end, the photography itself is secondary to relationships with clients, vendors, and other photographers, but I have to second DJ and Cris on the need for more education for photographers and an improvement on the basics of photography.

There is a LOT of sloppiness happening in our industry under the guise of "photojournalism," etc, and while the ability of photographers in the business realm may improve with the relatively new open source biz mentality, there has to be some accountability to our craft.

All that said, we continue to fight this mentality in our market that "newbies are our enemies"; it's unfortunate. Like Jason said, it's funny that people are scared of the new photographers, but then it goes to show that lack of understanding of really basic biz principles and how the current industry works.

Weird that this article is coming from SP&D and not PPA magazine where this mentality is more common...

- N

Fed said...

I've only been shooting Weddings for 4 years. I did my time studying BW at a Votech in HS and then gave up for a few years and studied Computer Engineering for 5years. I WAS MISERABLE!! I wanted my love back, does that make me a "wantabe"?
We all want to be something, we all want to do something with our lives, does that make us wantabees?

If she wanted to help she should've never wrote something about "wantabees" and how business is being stolen. Maybe she should have wrote about newer marketing tips, or how to prove your worth as a pro photographer, even a story about taking on newbies that can help grow your business, not crushing so call "wantabees" dreams. The so called "wantabees" are clients and referrals too.

Darrell Duggan said...

Ummm...I have to agree with both sides to some degree. I am amazed how terrible some of the parttime photographers are in this area and the pure crap they sell and get away with.

I ALSO have to say I have had more than one bride bring me her DVD of images a STUDIO(aka FULL TIME) photographer (mostly baby and portrait work)AND some part-timers, gave her that were just terrible. One was charged $1000 for just 288 pictures IN TOTAL. They were terrible in posing, terrible everything. It looked like a beginner took them. By beginner I mean BEGINNER.

Dang...most of us shoot more than that just of the engagement pics.

I could not stand it and told her I would retouch and enhance them for her. Just terrible and this was from a real studio photographer. I would never give a bride this kind of crap.

She was devistated at the quality. She watched some of my SHowit samples and some full production ProShow Producer stuff and sat here and cried real tears. I asked her if she was ok and her reply was, "I realize what I could have had."

She had her formal bridal portrait done with another studio photographer (really expensive but worth it) in town prior to coming to see me. She is in the process of getting her album done, with me. I even did some "engagement" photos to just have some kind of decent selection for the SHowit and album.

The problems are pervasive in this town and everywhere, with beginners AND full-time people.

Giving a bride photos straight out of the camera is shameful. If you are doing it...STOP.

My disappointment is that these people are getting away with selling such terrible stuff by low-balling the better studios in town. I know they will eventually be found out how bad they are, but in the meantime, it is near imossible to compete unless you get a bride with some sense and she actually looks at samples and not just compares pricing.

So when all the dust settles one bride will have spent about 5-6000+ more then she should have from the very beginning and NOT had the crap she received. She should not have had to endure the dissappointment for her wedding.

You do get what you pay for.

melissa said...

it's so refreshing to see a community that embraces other peers. my business is about six months old and I've been branching out to online communities slowly because in some places the attitude is very much driven by what can you do to help "me" not a shareing and mentoring mentality at all!

I'm only six months in but my work is very much above some of the studios in my area who have been going and charging large fees for years. That being said I myself want to grow and learn and be happy with my level of work finding photographer friends and mentors to share with is so rewarding and not just in a business way but a personal way.

A not so good photographer is a not so good photographer regardless of how long they have been taking peoples money and really we are all "wannabes" we all wanna be great and do good business and rock that next wedding or session!

Patricia Wells said...

There will always be couples who are bargain hunters, more concerned about price than quality.
For them photography is a commodity rather than an art.
These type of bargain hunter couples will always gravitate towards newer less expensive photographers.
Sometimes they may find a diamond in the rough, and sometimes they'll only get what they pay for.

But none of this should concern an experienced Photographer. An experienced Photographer should not be interested in this market, and should have a steady base of clients through word of mouth and their long standing reputation. A Photographer with 10 or more years of experience who is concerned about newbies or wannabes has not properly developed and marketed his or her business.

Ryan Charles said...

i know i know hmmm i just bought a point and shoot looking at getting into wedding Photog I wonder if i can learn something from that website of theres

Tim Halberg said...

DJ, maybe you can mail her a copy of Love is the Killer app ;-)

Marie Moyers said...

You are an inspiration to to those of us that dream of having a business like yours. Thank you for serving God not serving your vision. Many leaders are suspicious of new comers because they are insecure in their calling, and that breeds jealousy and pride.
Your open mind and heart brings out gratitude in those it touches.
Thank you for who you are.
Thank you for giving and giving.
Thank you for bringing joy to your friends.
Thank you for serving your God.


Shot by Candy said...

Hey DJ, Do like Tim says and send her a copy of Love is the Killer App!! That would be soooo awesome!

Matthew Saville said...

I used to think that way- There ARE thousands and thousands of random joes out there, with a brand new 30D + kit lens + 50 1.8, and they're revved to give wedding photography a try. They un-wisely "dive right in" and try to shoot a wedding for $500 or $1000. This leads many brides to look at the $2-3K photogs and go "what the heck? why do you charge SOO much???" (Of course the $10+K photogs are in a completely different tier, and don't have to worry about this really)

Overall it leads to brides getting crappy photos, OR getting a couple decent images for $500 and thinking $2-3K is way too much for a wedding...

Either way, we lose.

However I really do encourage new photographers to pursue their passions and dreams, just do it properly! Take workshops, join communities, connect with the other professionals who ARE eager to meet you and share their secrets and call you their friend instead of their competition...

The fact is, there is such gorgeous artwork being created these days, by younger, artistic people who could have never gotten anywhere if they were shooting with a fully manual film camera and manual flash. The DSLR has allowed some amazingly gifted artists to create images they could never have done 10-20 years ago... Heck, wedding photography 20 years ago was so boring, I probably wouldn't have even hired a photographer!


Matthew Saville said...

The OTHER FACT is that a lot of photographers from 10-20 years ago are NOT all that artistically gifted, especially when it comes to computer imaging... They were able to do business as professionals (usually in the studio) simply because they were technically skilled enough to operate a film camera, a light meter, etc. etc.

And those pros ARE taking a big hit, because they've clammed up in their protectiveness and not communicated with the changing digital industry...



Daniel J. Watkins said...

Hmmm...are we really building a sense of community (i.e. leading by example) when we go out and look at certain established photographer web-sites and call them "old school" or "not that artistically gifted?"

Also, have we stopped to consider why certain segments are less willing to embrace the community / abundance approach? Could it be that they were never taught to be this way? Could it be that they tried to be helpful and they were either spurned by the over-confidence and arrogance of a generation that never knew what it was like to be in business thru cycles of both growth AND recession? (read "the good times and the bad"...I'm sure some of you have heard this before! LOL) Could it be that they were burned repeatedly by those that they helped? What really is the root cause of the chasm between scarcity / secrecy and abundance / community?

Just a few things to consider...


Rockstar Ronan said...

I'm a "wannabe" and very proud of it :) I have had nothing but the best photographers (Jasmine Star, Chenin Boutwell, Melissa Jill...) help me out recently with kind words of encouragement and technical help. At first I was scared that they would shun me, but that hasn't been the case. DJ, I love your philosophy about helping others. I hope I'll be able to help out other "wannabes" someday. Thank you always for your inspiration and graciousness. BTW...I love the Freedom's helped me out so much!

PURE Studios said...

I'll be a wannabe (and proud of it) until the last click of my shutter...wannabe trying new ideas with every shoot...wannebe exceeding my quarterly goals...wannabe learning new techniques from fellow photographers I respect and admire...wannabe in a position to give back and teach to others what I've learned along the way. The day I stop wannabe-ing will be the day my business fades to black.

Just a thought.

Grazier Photography said...

Thanks for helping us keep it real.


wrecklessgirl said...

wow, you're right, the article was pretty disheartening. but i also like to think of it as just another thing keeping me in check with my own attitude about this biz <3 k.