| ||WHAT'S WRONG WITH WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TODAY|
It's no secret. It's everywhere. Prices are low, and everybody is undercutting each other. Here's why:
1) Prices are low because photographers are terrified of being asked the question - "how much do you charge?" Because you're afraid of rejection, (and you want to get hired) you either a) publish a artificially high price, then let the client negotiate you down (this is a snowball of trouble) or b) find out what the competition is charging, and charge less, and throw in a free engagement session.
2) Photographers do so much post-processing, they don't work hard to obtain the PRICELESS moment. I remember when I started photography, "filters" were all the rage. Shooting a beach? (Half Tobacco filter). Shooting a unity candle lighting ceremony? (star filter). Shooting a portrait? (Don't forget your vignetting filter). Photographers went out of their way to find situations where they could use their filters! This is what happens when you take your bride and groom into an alley and make them wear sunglasses and jump in the air. Barf.
You know what happened to those images? They're laughed at today because they're as outdated as orange shag carpet. Same thing with Photoshop actions. If you process your actions with photoshop-heavy gimmicks (I especially am befuddled by the aged-film action, this is so fake looking) then someday the grandkids will point to your silly over-processed, over-saturated, over-sharpened, barbie-doll skinned looking face images and giggle, and go gramps, your wedding photos are silly. Face it. They are.
And photographers who know they're going to sit on Photoshop for three weeks gimmicking up their images with cartoonish looking effects typically rely too much on the processing and not trying really hard to let the impact of the moment sell. THIS by the way is what rich people want. In case you're wondering. Rich clients don't want a photo of them holding hands over a train track or standing in front of a graffiti wall. Rich clients do not want their wedding photos to look like a senior high school portrait session. Rich clients do not want their wedding photos to look like a modeling portfolio. They want to say to you - "how the hell did you capture that moment?" For that, they'll pay dearly. For your silly look-like-everybody fake punchy photoshop filter, the simple-minded client will find the cheapest person who looks like you do.
Your signature look should be the fantastic moment. Like this series below taken by our awesome wedding photographer Jessica Claire:
I am just waiting for the day when I see a bride and groom sitting in a white high-key background leaning on the numbers 2010. I'm sure somebody has already done it.
3) Shoot-to-burn DVD's - standard going rate around L.A. is about $750 for a DVD of high - res images. Photographers say they shoot over 3,500 images. That's 20 cents an image. Why not charge that instead? Why not tell the client - "I charge 20 cents an image - and you get to keep the original file!" Are you freaking kidding me? How about be the photographer that works hard, anticipates the moment, IS PERCEPTIVE, captures the mood and the story and gives the image unmodified? I've seen many of your images. I'd pay 20 cents for them, and not a penny more. That's how bad some of you suck. Sorry.
Do you know what I think of your silly Photoshop action-look? It reminds me of one of those Hyundai Sonatas that have been lowered with neon lights in the undercarriage, a big ass subwoofer booming, spinning wheels and sparkle paint. Yes, someone had to say it, and I'm saying it. To a person of taste, if you overgoof your photos, that's what your images look like.
4) Negotiating your fees - this is big. Photographers put up a fake "big number" so they can look ultra-cool in front of their peers. "My packages start at $5,000" No they don't. You start at $3,500 and will put on a suit and charge your batteries for less if it's "off-season". Or you will book your associate shooter and promise the client that you will come as well. Dude, a few years ago, I know of someone who said, "I didn't start doing well until I raised my fees to $20,000" Oh really? Do you think that would work in today's market? Get real. Have reasonable prices and do NOT let your client bargain you down. That's the beginning of a nightmare for both you and the client. The minute you say, "OK, I'll give you a reduced rate" your credibility goes down. How would you feel if your brain surgeon said - well, since it's you, I'll take 20% off, or - throw in a tattoo at no charge.
5) Proclaiming Jesus in your work - any ethnic group bargains itself down. I'm serious. I grew up with Koreans. They are the worst. Oh I know a good KOREAN dentist and they will do your braces for a deal. Oh I know KOREAN movers, let's use them to save money. Same with mormons, jews kill each other with deal-making. But the Christians as a group - (I'm burping my ribs as I type this) use this to try to sway people in a cheap way to get jobs. Grow some gonads and ditch the Jesus thing in business. Just shut up about it. Seriously, shut up. You will lose all non-believers and your fellow church-goers who say "God is so good". Oh just shut up. Do business. Get great images. Book weddings because of your STRONG IMAGES and not your proclaimed faith. Be neutral. Can you imagine what a wreck my Lightsphere business would be if I put a Christian fish on every box? Picture it. Would I sell a half million of these things? Hell no. The europeans would fall off their chairs laughing at me. The japanese would look at it and make the face a dog does when it doesn't understand the sound you just made. And for those I did sell, would my fellow Christians go - ooh! I want to buy this because he's CHRISTIAN. Please. Shut up. OK just shut up.
6) Workshop Bullshit - I honestly have never seen such a carnival circus of posers in my life trying to pitch "education" on business success. These people don't earn jack at photography. The ones who do earn - shoot. They're too busy to stop what they're doing and write an outline and create the class materials to give a good class. Next photo event you go to - PLEASE. ASK THE SPEAKER WHAT THEY EARNED IN PHOTOGRAPHY. Do it right there in front of everybody. Watch that person squirm because they talk about business success, and they've never achieved it. Doing great in the business of photography is very very tough, but it's totally possible. You HAVE to be the person who NAILS the unforgettable moment, tells the true story, helps people relive memories.
It is not going to be easy to be successful if you try to copy somebody's blog images by buying a set of photoshop actions and copying poses. This is not the stuff that memories are made of (oh we will never forget how we sat on that park bench back-to-back). It's the memory-making photographer that will get the loyal following and earn the high income, which I believe, is still possible (but it will never again be like the hey-day, not with digital cameras getting more advanced every year). But if you can be a master of the moment, people will beg to hire you - at your fee structure.
| ||Posted 5/16/2010 5:55 AM - 50453 Views - 187 eProps - 134 comments|
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