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A SERVICE BUSINESS





TIDBITS OVERHEARD FROM FORUM PRO'S

MERVIN SAID

I see wedding photography as a service business? As I see it, there is very little market value for the photographs other than to the immediate family  as I am seeing more quality PS cameras at weddings which means many casual shots won't be sold.  


TRUTH
I agree in part, when you are a photojournalist you are shooting for the world,  and yes more attendees are there with digital cameras for themselves.  So what?   That could also mean the last guy didn't sell the relatives well, so they do things themselves. 

How to beat them!  A long lens,  put couple with the bride and groom in a 90 degree line. Move your strobes closer with optical flash triggers.  You shoot,  flip optical on,  and your strobes picking up the Paparazzi will blow their shots away.

Markets change.  See it as an opportunity. There are more folks causing car accidents with their cell phones and more idiots forgetting to turn them off at the right times. A good professional photographer knows how to get this under control.  If you do not take control in the beginning, don't expect it to go your way after things are done. 


OH-OH, UNCLE FRED

Who is Uncle Fred?  He is an intimidation.  He’s the guy with the better grade of camera; the uncle of the Bride, or her nephew from the school paper. In forty years I had one Uncle Fred and it was the worst day of my shooting life because it was a job I did for a family friend. In the end Fred made me money. The story is later on. 

TRUTH

Fred’s not the culprit to your lagging business, you just think he is.  For years the Photographer was the leader at the Wedding, just read “Bridezilla”.  It explains the crucial change that takes place during the event.  Without a good coordinator the whole things falls apart and you take over.  

The problem is inexperience. When you don’t know what’s coming, you’ll be as surprised as the rest of them. When you don’t recognize the impending signs, you’ll suffer.  When you book the Wedding and the Bride tells you her favorite TV show is “Bridezilla” and you don’t pass on the job, then you are an idiot.


TRUTH - WHAT DOES AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS…

Here are the six major factors that did contribute or have caused change in the industry:

Digital
A revolution toward simplicity, perfect pictures from idiot boxes and well documented in the ads that promise they will make you Ansel Adams.

Photojournalism
 A style so indifferent, anything to the untrained eye is called art and easily copied, passed off, and technically flawed. Owning Reeboks doth not make you a Kobe Bryant. Owning a D3 or Canon IDs whatever does not make you Monte Zucker.

Post Processing
The ability to take the bad stuff and make good "Crayola" pictures for the Bride to revel over.

Film's Death
You can't erase film, now you have instant confirmation, no fear of failure, increased numbers, no limit shooting. Sort of a shotgun approach and you can win when the numbers , not the talent is on your side. We call it just shoot enough.  Rambo’s…

Access
More people with cameras because there are more people with computers.

Competition
More and more are either looking for another source of income or have to find another source since they are zillions behind and up to their ears in debt. 


MORE FORUM DISCUSSIONS - TRUTHS
 

THE PROBLEM

The entire structure of our western economy has changed and that affects the Wedding Industry. The middle class is diminishing.  The middle class is the bulk of the Wedding industry. If this keeps up there won’t be a middle class. Just the low cost Wedding at the local park and the extravaganzas by the rich.

Wedding brokers, brides and family are getting frugal, and wedding income is diminishing but they still have a few bucks left over for cameras and everybody has a cell phone. I think some Brides have taken a short view of the complexity of the business. "Oh it's just a camera!"  

Again that believes the quality comes from the camera and not the shooter.  That drives wedding prices down. Simple, more people spending less on Weddings and spending more on essentials, and some just p!ss it away on toys and don't worry, their marriage won't last anyway.

If your competition is a newbie or an Uncle Harry, lets face it, the technology is incredible and it’s simple enough to get a decent image today. No formal training in the art and science of photography is needed, just point and shoot and attend a forum or two.


THEY WON'T LAST

On the other side, still many new-bee's will give up as soon as they find out how much work goes into a wedding besides pressing the shutter. All that post processing and making the album is a hell of a job which most 'amateurs' do not really like.  This is true and they get around it by making a batched or botched CD and charging less. But remember the software has gotten better too. It may be acceptable for some.

But it's when they trip over you at the wedding or over-flash you, or get in the way of a sale that tends to get a few folks, including me, a little irate.  Or worse, you see we all have an innate fear of THEIR WORK...especially if their work makes yours look bad.  That’s the ultimate FEAR of failure, that fear is unfortunately inherent in all of us.  How I cringe when I see someone in a forum offer "Oh he pulled out a camera better than mine!   

What confidence in ones talent!  Some one, anyone can have a lucky day. Few will ever admit to fear of the other guy since the ego-arrogant protection tends to flow rather easily here in forums and in front of our peers.  Fear mostly occurs when in front of the other shooter not the keyboard.
 

THE DIVORCE MARKET

"I noticed someone had mentioned divorces are good for the business. I listened to their plan for divorce parties. Sort of divorcees only, wear the last dress you used to seduce your husband with, and hire a good DJ. Yes Sir, lets get the party rolling!  Invite guys take pictures and celebrate."

The reality is more people can get re-married.  But, I don't see the divorces really helping the situation that a few think will, maybe the volume sustaining or holding it's own,  I see the angle for more weddings, but smaller, more intimate, and with the costs and the ECONOMY the way they are, perhaps less spent on pictures. The re-players are older, with kids and more responsibility and credit card rules are changing. 

SAME SEX MARRIAGES

An intense,soon to be very legal growing market possibility. The same sex marriages tend to be smaller and obviously more intimate unless you live in Hollywood.  Many may come out of the closet but many don't hang pictures in the company elevator either.   That lifestyle may just have more digital enthusiasts than you might think.  So I wouldn't count on that revenue for your latest lens purchase,  on the other hand as it becomes more prevalent, look for a trend for more than just a civil affair. And Gay and Lesbians tend to have more friends than straights until a hairball causes a cat fight.

SERVICE BUSINESS

Bottom Line; the old cliché  that 20% of those in sales make 80% of the money does really apply to this industry. You have the established big hitters and the rest scrambling in a business that affords you less than 52 opportunities per year for success.  So you have to commit to thinking of this as a business, park the negatives and look for opportunity at every corner.  

As said before, it's all about levels and commitments. We will have the top professional shooters with a studio and office, possibly doing portrait and commercial work. We will have a middle echelon of those who will be making it to maintain their comfort level. They also will be supplementing photo income or photo income might supplement their real job. And then we will have the random shooter, try it, seems easy, PRO is easy to spell and put on cards and my camera will do the work for me.....  for a while.

Simply put, 52 five hundred dollars weddings is 25,000 dollars a year gross and “that’s if you are lucky or cheap enough to be booked 52 times a year”. That’s a big if. For many it’s 10 to 15. That’s how many friends and freebies they can do.  It's the lack of work and low revenues that drive many out of the business. A small yellow pages ad can cost $200 a month, multiple listings and so forth. Studio, Insurance, Rent, go add it up. Hobbies always appeal to us. I think it's everyone's dream to make their play their passion, their provider.

 © copyright aljacobs Stardate 10-18-2012