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Thread: Going pro

  1. #1
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    Going pro

    Experience

    I have done a little pro photography on and off over the last four decades, including a bit of child photography in the early seventies, all the brochure photographs (and a calendar shot) for my employer (a mower manufacturer) in the late 1970s. (They wanted monochrome and colour alternative for each shot, so that was a good excuse to get a Hasselblad) …and some “table top” product/catalogue photography, including engraved glass and gold and silver (the type of work that the local pros could not tackle!)

    Concept

    There are tens of thousands of budding photographers out there trying to start businesses with point-and-shoots and £3k redundancy money, so I aim to tackle the type of work you cannot do well with a point-and-shoot.

    Business plan

    Buy some kit and look for work. ¿This should be the other way round?

    The trouble is that MFD view-camera kit with a set of good digital lenses and electronic shutters for no-touch DOF merge and remote use on a 10m tripod is not cheap... but I almost have enough to get started.

    Pricing

    Initially, with no track record, and no portfolio, I could not hope to get any money up front, and so I will make no charge for travelling expenses or my time, but just charge one tenth of what it would cost to hire the kit, or one tenth of what the customer would expect it would cost to hire the kit… ¿£20 or £30 per day?

    By the time you have found the work and got paid for one job in five, this would be more like £20 or £30 per week… but at least you would be working towards having a portfolio!

    Supply and demand would come into effect and prices would hopefully be increased when the diary gets full for a few weeks ahead.

    Forecast

    This system can work, and, after five years, when your wife has left you your house has been repossessed, you might be able to afford the rent on a two room flat, or, plan B, you live and work in an old van.

    Reality

    Unfortunately, all of the above is too ambitious, as I have a heart condition, and I cannot really hope to cope with the physical and mental stress of any work, so I am a hobbyist!

    ...but they might do some good at the hospital next month.

    Has anyone had similar experience? or got any suggestions as to how I can improve the plan?

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    Re: Going pro

    In your case? Keep the day job,stay an amateur and continue to enjoy photography.

    I have a very good business in photography, I think one of the main factors is that I have hardly ever photographed for free or for portfolio reasons. I think the whole 'portfolio' thing is a trap you should avoid. I see many aspiring pros doing this (including models, hairdo and make-up artists). Most of them never get around charging a decent fee for their work. get into the habit of charging for your work from the get go. A client that you do not charge, you will find you will never charge. In many cases they will value the work as much as they pay for it.

    When you are not making any money on an assignment you just might as well be your own client and produce what you want to produce and enjoy photographic freedom that you will find very hard to find when photographing for others (unless you have gone to the level of being a renowned artists that is hired for his unique vision and is being granted total freedom which is not the case for most of us mere mortals).

    Just thinking out loud here, are there any aspiring construction workers out there that are wiling to do my home to build their portfolio?

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    Senior Member Stefan Steib's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    That´s it exactly. if you cannot make aliving from your work it´s a hobby. This is the definition of the german financial authorities and will apply if you want to deduct costs from a non existant turnaround..........

    Work if someone pays you, work something else for a living if this is not enough. If your work does not draw more work because of the chain effect- forget it and have fun as an amateur.

    regards
    Stefan

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustbak View Post
    In your case? Keep the day job,stay an amateur and continue to enjoy photography.

    I have a very good business in photography, I think one of the main factors is that I have hardly ever photographed for free or for portfolio reasons.
    I think the whole 'portfolio' thing is a trap you should avoid. I see many aspiring pros doing this (including models, hairdo and make-up artists). Most of them never get around charging a decent fee for their work. get into the habit of charging for your work from the get go. A client that you do not charge, you will find you will never charge. In many cases they will value the work as much as they pay for it.

    When you are not making any money on an assignment you just might as well be your own client and produce what you want to produce and enjoy photographic freedom that you will find very hard to find when photographing for others (unless you have gone to the level of being a renowned artists that is hired for his unique vision and is being granted total freedom which is not the case for most of us mere mortals).

    Just thinking out loud here, are there any aspiring construction workers out there that are wiling to do my home to build their portfolio?
    because photography is more than technology - and " as we have done this all the time "
    facebook:hcam.de - www.hcam.de - www.hartblei.de

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    I have strong (negative) feelings about people who enter any professional market with the idea that they will build their business by undercutting existing pros by some ridiculous percentage (or worse, shooting for free). Ultimately, it brings the entire industry down. And, in many cases, if I were a buyer, I would be very suspicious and think of the old saying: "you get what you pay for".

    A local magazine focused on a nearby city has taken advantage of the fact that so many want to be published that they are willing to give their work away simply to see their name "in print". Consequently, the value of a photo for their cover (for example) is $0. They simply don't pay for photography regardless of the quality or experience of the photographer. They manage to get away with it every month for no other reason than there are so many shooters willing to participate.

    If you are serious about going pro then you should recognize and value the hard work and talent of those who are already there. If you don't, how can you expect "clients" to recognize it?

    I humbly suggest that you do some research into the going professional rates in your area and strive to reach a fair price point that reflects your experience but also supports the future of the profession. It might even make you a better photographer. After all, if you aren't charging anything, you might not feel obligated to make a professional level of effort.

    Good luck!
    Tim
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    Re: Going pro

    Are you being facetious?

    Laughed my bum off, because it is so true .... funny-tragic, but true.

    If you are serious, then I can give you a perspective from someone on the other end who selects and buys photography.

    2 key elements for starters:

    1) Consistant talent. Not just talent, but talent that shows up in everything you shoot. I used to teach my younger Art Directors to look for the worst shot in a portfolio, because you might get that. If it is still great, then there is more upside than down in hiring that photographer.

    2) Infrastructure. Not only gear (camera/lenses/lighting) and some studio space (yours or rented) which is a given, but a network of freelance PAs, camera assistants, prop-masters, location scouts, stylists, hair & Wardrobe people, producers, etc.

    Pricing is dependent on #1 and 2 above. If you are talented and innovate new ideas you will make money, if you are like everyone else in your market you will not ... unless you want to sell photography by the bushel-basket at pennies on the pound and do all the labor yourself (see reality below)

    As to your reality:

    If you are to sick or crippled, get others to worry for you and to lug everything all over the place. It ain't the Generals out on the battlefield doing the slogging and dying.

    Similar Experience?

    Yep. I have a heart condition, a deformed knee that should have been replaced a decade ago, and a herniated disk that has me walking like Igor ... and have a paying portrait session tomorrow AM on my property ... a beefy boy will do the hauling and set up where I tell him, and be happy to be making any extra cash to feed his family. I'll frame the shot and pressed the shutter button ... then go back to my director's chair with umbrella and holder for my Starbucks You do what you have to and just keep going.

    Best of luck, (which is also part of the mix BTW).

    -Marc
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    I have strong (negative) feelings about people who enter any professional market with the idea that they will build their business by undercutting existing pros by some ridiculous percentage.
    The theory, out here in the sticks, is to do the work that the local pros think is "not in their normal line of work" or too difficult... My neighbour works in planning applications, and says he find it very difficult to get any photographic work done to an adequate standard.

    I humbly suggest that you do some research into the going professional rates in your area and strive to reach a fair price point that reflects your experience but also supports the future of the profession. It might even make you a better photographer. After all, if you aren't charging anything, you might not feel obligated to make a professional level of effort.

    Good luck!
    Tim
    I think it was Guy who said that he always aimed to exceed his customers' expectations by a wide margin - I think that is how you get reppeat business?

    When I was doing some part-time work for my employer, much of the work was only an hour or so at a time, so the cost of getting a "pro" out from the local town for half a day would have been uneconomical, and I was working in their time and only charging £20 or so per film for the camera overheads (in the late 1970s)... would a pound a click cover the cost now?

    One theory is to work for retail customers, photographing children, houses, classic cars, etc.

    My wife uses a professional dance photographer who has not got a clue, and turns over about £2k for a day's work... and I have the advantage that I know and understand (the) children... I am a "child catcher" in that I work with my wife as an assistant gymnastics instructor.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    Certainly every situation is different and even your definition of "professional" might be different from mine. However, it all sounds lovely "in theory" but to make a decent living by going full-time as a professional is when you suddenly discover the un-lovely bits.

    If what you're suggesting is that you can produce a photo with your gear that's "good enough" and so make your boss/wife/friends happy that they saved a few dollars, then you're describing something other than becoming a full-time professional photographer. (in my opinion of course).

    Tim

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    1) Consistant talent. Not just talent, but talent that shows up in everything you shoot. I used to teach my younger Art Directors to look for the worst shot in a portfolio, because you might get that. If it is still great, then there is more upside than down in hiring that photographer.
    Yes - if the pictures a photographer puts in his portfolio are third rate - what is his normal standard?

    A local photographer here with a cheap, awful digital camera had one or two good pictures in his portfolio...and they had been taken a decade or so previously with a film Hasselblad!

    2) Infrastructure. Not only gear (camera/lenses/lighting) and some studio space (yours or rented) which is a given, but a network of freelance PAs, camera assistants, prop-masters, location scouts, stylists, hair & Wardrobe people, producers, etc.

    Pricing is dependent on #1 and 2 above. If you are talented and innovate new ideas you will make money, if you are like everyone else in your market you will not ... unless you want to sell photography by the bushel-basket at pennies on the pound and do all the labor yourself (see reality below)

    As to your reality:

    If you are to sick or crippled, get others to worry for you and to lug everything all over the place. It ain't the Generals out on the battlefield doing the slogging and dying.

    Similar Experience?

    Yep. I have a heart condition, a deformed knee that should have been replaced a decade ago, and a herniated disk that has me walking like Igor ... and have a paying portrait session tomorrow AM on my property ... a beefy boy will do the hauling and set up where I tell him, and be happy to be making any extra cash to feed his family. I'll frame the shot and pressed the shutter button ... then go back to my director's chair with umbrella and holder for my Starbucks You do what you have to and just keep going.

    Best of luck, (which is also part of the mix BTW).

    -Marc
    I would like someone to work with me.

    Photo-students are, I think, into glamour and fashion and not interested in commercial photography or Schiemplug? ...but I think that more people are using movements now?

    There are some old boys in a local camera club who understand camera movements. But they are not any fitter or stronger than me.

    One of my theories to specialise in macro, so I can work all day in the dry without having to lug much gear around.

    I would hesitate to hire brawn, as photo-kit needs to be handled with care.

    Many successful businesses have been started in broom cupboards.

  9. #9
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Certainly every situation is different and even your definition of "professional" might be different from mine. However, it all sounds lovely "in theory" but to make a decent living by going full-time as a professional is when you suddenly discover the un-lovely bits.

    If what you're suggesting is that you can produce a photo with your gear that's "good enough" and so make your boss/wife/friends happy that they saved a few dollars, then you're describing something other than becoming a full-time professional photographer. (in my opinion of course).

    Tim
    Many people (try to) take up photography because they have no job, and I am retired, so I am not thinking of giving up a good job to go pro-photo, and at my age and in my state of health "full-time" is not really an option.

    One of the "unlovely bits" tends to be getting paid?

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Yep. I have a heart condition, a deformed knee that should have been replaced a decade ago, and a herniated disk.....
    ... then go back to my director's chair with umbrella and holder for my Starbucks .

    -Marc
    You have a heart condition and multiple skeletal joint problems and you drink Starbucks..... That's not a good combination at all.

    Ditch the coffee my friend. The stuff is poison for your conditions. Worst of all the stuff they call coffee from Starbucks is not worth the harm it does you.

    Drinking coffee on a regular basis starves your connective tissue, joints and is harmful to your circulation.

    You are what you eat and drink. "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

    I speak from direct experience.

    When I was a toddler I had tuberculosis (thanks to a contaminated vaccine). Almost killed me. Pretty much lost the functionality of a lung
    for life. Spent half my life getting sick as a dog many times a year. Bags of medication two three times a year. Persistent cough 365 days a year.
    Knees and back were giving me trouble.

    I finally came across a doctor that uses nutrition as his main instrument and herbal medicine as a support to that.
    This was 13 years ago. Now at over 50 my blood work is like that of a healthy 25 year old. My cholesterol is 110.
    Knees are strong and back just needs some yoga 2 to 3 times a week. I only have problems if I work sitting down to long.
    I mountain bike (uphill off road) and kitesurf. No problem kitesurfing 10 foot surf in 30 mph winds for 4 to 5 hours at a time.
    Last week I kitsurfed 7 days in a row. Two of those days were epic with 10 foot+ surf.
    Best of all no more cough!!!!!! Even got more hair than I had 10 years ago..... that is actually a pain as I shave my hair every winter
    to avoid the cold when kitesurfing in the winter.

    First thing the doctor did was make me quit coffee and relegate it to a medication to use very occasionally.
    I have been on the doctors advice a vegan for 13 years and feast away on food with no weight problems at all.

    Just this week a colleague of mine had a severe high pressure scare and had to rush to hospital. He also has initial necrosis in his right knee.
    I have been trying to convince him to get on a bike, ditch coffee, sodas and drinking, eat way less meat and cheese.
    Hopefully this scare will put him on the right track.

    Well Time to go and tweak my mountain bike... going mountain biking with some youngsters up and down the backbone trail
    in the Santa Monica Mountains.
    Last edited by FredBGG; 9th June 2012 at 08:54.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member JimCollum's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    Frankly, your photographic skills will play a *very* minor part in your success. Have you successfully started and run a business before? If your business plan section is truly your business plan, then no.. you're not going to make it. Do a search and find out what a real business plan is. This document should be sufficient enough to hand to a Bank's loan officer and be able to obtain a business loan. does it include a study of your competition in the local area. do you know and understand *their* business model, and how you can compete. (if your expectation is that your competition is the P&S shooters that don't know any better, then you'll fail... Look at the most successful in your area.. can you compete with them?

    Do you have savings about equal to 2 years of what you need to financially survive? (house payments, medical bills, food, clothing, gas, transportation.. and all related costs). If you need to buy equipment, do you have funds (in addition to the above savings.. not from it) to buy (or lease) 2 of each item you need? backup camera, lenses, lights.
    If you're in a relationship or have a family, are they aware that what you plan on doing will keep you working 12 hours a day minimum, 7 days a week? (at least for a few years until your business starts making a profit.. then maybe you'll only work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week)

    you say there are 10's of thousands of P&S shooters.. there are just as many high end DSLR shooters doing the same thing as the P&S shooters (and a good many MFD shooters as well).

    You shouldn't really be asking us about any of this, since only a very small minority here are successfully running a photography business. You should be sitting down with a Bank Manager and running your numbers with them.

    sorry to be a fun-suck, but given what you've written about what you want to do.. i'd have to agree with most others here.. keep it as a hobby.

    jim


    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    Experience

    I have done a little pro photography on and off over the last four decades, including a bit of child photography in the early seventies, all the brochure photographs (and a calendar shot) for my employer (a mower manufacturer) in the late 1970s. (They wanted monochrome and colour alternative for each shot, so that was a good excuse to get a Hasselblad) …and some “table top” product/catalogue photography, including engraved glass and gold and silver (the type of work that the local pros could not tackle!)

    Concept

    There are tens of thousands of budding photographers out there trying to start businesses with point-and-shoots and £3k redundancy money, so I aim to tackle the type of work you cannot do well with a point-and-shoot.

    Business plan

    Buy some kit and look for work. ¿This should be the other way round?

    The trouble is that MFD view-camera kit with a set of good digital lenses and electronic shutters for no-touch DOF merge and remote use on a 10m tripod is not cheap... but I almost have enough to get started.

    Pricing

    Initially, with no track record, and no portfolio, I could not hope to get any money up front, and so I will make no charge for travelling expenses or my time, but just charge one tenth of what it would cost to hire the kit, or one tenth of what the customer would expect it would cost to hire the kit… ¿£20 or £30 per day?

    By the time you have found the work and got paid for one job in five, this would be more like £20 or £30 per week… but at least you would be working towards having a portfolio!

    Supply and demand would come into effect and prices would hopefully be increased when the diary gets full for a few weeks ahead.

    Forecast

    This system can work, and, after five years, when your wife has left you your house has been repossessed, you might be able to afford the rent on a two room flat, or, plan B, you live and work in an old van.

    Reality

    Unfortunately, all of the above is too ambitious, as I have a heart condition, and I cannot really hope to cope with the physical and mental stress of any work, so I am a hobbyist!

    ...but they might do some good at the hospital next month.

    Has anyone had similar experience? or got any suggestions as to how I can improve the plan?
    Jim Collum
    web: http://www.jcollum.com
    web: http://www.collumphotography.com
    email: [email protected]
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by JimCollum View Post
    Frankly, your photographic skills will play a *very* minor part in your success. Have you successfully started and run a business before? If your business plan section is truly your business plan, then no.. you're not going to make it. Do a search and find out what a real business plan is. This document should be sufficient enough to hand to a Bank's loan officer and be able to obtain a business loan.
    jim
    We have to decide what we can do, what people are wiling to pay you for and (lastly) what you want to do.... Most people decide what they want to do, and do it where they are in spite of local competition, demand or whatever.

    There are a lot of incompetent photographers making a good living...

    Pretending that you need a loan and talking to your bank would be a wonderful way of getting your act together, but they tend not to "advise" unless you are a potential customer for a loan... and do they (did they) just ask about security for the loan and leave you to rot?

    My sister has a Master of Business Administration degree, and I emailed her a copy of "the plan."

    I think there are proportionally many more MFD photographers in the USA than in the UK... I do not think there is one in the local (central) area professional photographic institution branch.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    ....

    Business plan

    Buy some kit and look for work. ¿This should be the other way round?

    The trouble is that MFD view-camera kit with a set of good digital lenses and electronic shutters for no-touch DOF merge and remote use on a 10m tripod is not cheap... but I almost have enough to get started.

    ...
    Hmmm ... that's not a business plan ... there is software out there that will walk you through all the steps to get a good business plan (at the end of which you might realize that spending that kind of cash in the HOPES you might recuperate <you will not MAKE> some money).

    Gear doesn't make you money; (paying) clients do.

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    Senior Member JimCollum's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post

    My sister has a Master of Business Administration degree, and I emailed her a copy of "the plan."

    I think there are proportionally many more MFD photographers in the USA than in the UK... I do not think there is one in the local (central) area professional photographic institution branch.

    you give the plan as


    "Business plan

    Buy some kit and look for work. ¿This should be the other way round?"

    if this is in fact your plan, you should expect hysterical laughter from a Business Major. Send it to someone who has no emotional stake in you and your hobby.

    Being a MFD shooter is completely irrelevant. that's like me saying i'll be successful because I use strobes.

    being a photographer isn't what a successful photography business is about. Being a poor photographer, and a good businessperson means you have a decent shot at success. Being an excellent photographer with no business skills means you have close to 0% chance. Those lousy photographers who you mention are making money aren't doing so because of their photography skills.. it's their business skills.

    Your best chance is if you have both excellent photography and business sense.

    You don't even seem to want an actual dialog about it here... you just insist you'll make it work.. 'somehow'

    If you want a dialog, post your real business plan, post your portfolio
    Jim Collum
    web: http://www.jcollum.com
    web: http://www.collumphotography.com
    email: [email protected]
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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    I think the OP is being funny - don't take it so seriously!
    David Anderson

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by JimCollum View Post
    Frankly, your photographic skills will play a *very* minor part in your success.
    jim
    Sorry but I disagree with this notion.

    Photographic skills are the foundation of photography. Good business skills are important as a support to your photographic skills, but useless if your photographic skills are not there.

    Larger budgets come from clients with agencies or in house art directors. They recognize good images and pay for them.

    I got my most important bookings from images clients saw. I had never met them or marketed myself to them.

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    Senior Member Stefan Steib's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    Fred and all

    People are supposing a photographer needs to be an artist first. This may be a possible status, but I know Much more successful photographers who are not ! Think about School photography. Portrait shops for Passports, Industry photography for documentation, technical photography for forensics etc.pp.

    I always pretended I was working as a craftsman doing service to customers.
    My Idea of Art may have been part of this service, but I always tried to get the impression as the customer wanted it (or I thought he needed it to the best usage on purpose)

    This is an old discussion. But the artists are the minority, believe me. Skills - YES. Business sense - definitely DOUBLE YES !

    regards
    Stefan
    because photography is more than technology - and " as we have done this all the time "
    facebook:hcam.de - www.hcam.de - www.hartblei.de
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    I think the OP is being funny - don't take it so seriously!
    There is many a true word spoken in jest.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimCollum View Post
    you give the plan as


    "Business plan

    Buy some kit and look for work. ¿This should be the other way round?"
    This statement is, perhaps, misleading, as, as I said in the original post:

    "The trouble is that MFD view-camera kit with a set of good digital lenses and electronic shutters for no-touch DOF merge and remote use on a 10m tripod is not cheap... but I almost have enough to get started."

    I have been accumulating MFD view camera equipment for about a decade.

    Any business plan must start with an idea or a concept, which is then elaborated into a Business Plan, including detailed forecasts of costs, turnover and profit for years ahead, based on detailed research into supply and demand for the product or service offered.


    Being a MFD shooter is completely irrelevant.

    Your best chance is if you have both excellent photography and business sense.
    What is, hopefully, relevant, is that I am trying to find and supply unsatisfied demand: this is at least as much to do with technical know-how as having the "right kit". If I was, at this stage, thinking about "giving up my day job" or investing a great deal (more) money in an enterprise on which I rely to keep a roof over my head, then a business plan would be a good idea... including research into the supply and demand for the type of service I am planning to offer.

    Business plan or no business plan, I will not be able to do much in my present state of health without finding someone to work with - but no-one would take me seriously if I did not have a serious business plan.
    You don't even seem to want an actual dialog about it here... you just insist you'll make it work.. 'somehow'

    If you want a dialog, post your real business plan, post your portfolio.
    The portfolio I would like to post is mostly the pictures I will be able to take when I have the last few pieces I have ordered to complete the kit.

    ...but one thing I will soon be able to do is to re-photograph (digitise) some of my old film work which you might find interesting... before we had the instant feedback of digital, photographing silver, gold and engraved glass was not easy.

    On the "right" side of the pond, it will soon be bed-time, and we are giving a party for 30 tomorrow, so I may not post (much) for 24 hours.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan Steib View Post
    Fred and all

    People are supposing a photographer needs to be an artist first. This may be a possible status, but I know Much more successful photographers who are not ! Think about School photography. Portrait shops for Passports, Industry photography for documentation, technical photography for forensics etc.pp.

    This is an old discussion. But the artists are the minority, believe me. Skills - YES. Business sense - definitely DOUBLE YES !

    regards
    Stefan
    Yes, Stefan... I am a qualified and experienced Engineer, and I hope that my technical expertise will enable me to tackle assignments that most photographers would prefer not to get involved with.

    ¿What is the terminology?

    ¿Photo-technical solutions provider?

    My other neighbour works for a Formula 1 racing team as a non-destructive test engineer... and the glamour of Formula 1 is what many photographers would like to get into, but I was the field test and development engineer for the mower company I worked for... so I know a bit about it, and he has let me have some broken bits of carbon-fibre and laser cured sintered titanium for me to photograph for my portfolio... watch this space.

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    Re: Going pro

    I don't think the market is hugely interested in movements per se.
    Very few who aren't professional photographers even know what that is.
    I don't think being super technical is a sound base for a business plan.

    You must produce pictures that will make people go wow.
    It doesn't need to be the advertising people, but even if a factory or small business owner, or a secretary are impressed with your pictures, they might hire you.

    It is not necessary to be an artist to be a working and earning photographer, but the pictures need to be appealing and not merely accurate.

    In your place I would consider refresher courses in composition and Photoshop. That plus the technical stuff might be enough for a business.

    I don't think you will be able charge full price from the get go.
    Starting up you do need to build a portfolio and that is a gradual process.
    Generally working for free is a no no, but without a portfolio it is practically impossible to get work, and the quality of the work you will get depends on the quality of your portfolio.

    It is true that charging low invites bad attitude from clients. If you do a job that serves your portfolio needs directly, then you can do it for free. Otherwise you should always charge a decent price.

    Based on my experience as a past engineer now making my living as a technical photographer.
    Last edited by shlomi; 9th June 2012 at 15:10.

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    Re: Going pro

    Thanks Fred. Good advice. I acquired my current maladies by living life to it's fullest ... the heart issue was inherited, and is now well under control ... the knee injury was a result of a 3rd career teaching Isshinryu karate to DEA task-force agents, and the slipped disk is due to that old knee injury. I still work-out and keep fit. Coffee is the one vice I allow myself but not to excess ... once the knee is repaired, I should be back on my Mountain bike, walking urban streets with my camera, and pushing the envelope again.

    Regarding a career in photography.

    Yes you need business skills ... but I'm going to make a case for what Dick seems to want to try.

    If you can determine a need, have an innovative way to solve some problem, the skill and necessary equipment to fill that need, a case can be made to make a go of it. You need business skills only if you have business.

    Bare with me as I provide an example. Before I retired from advertising, among others, I was in charge of the creative for a major Unilever food Brand. To produce one TV commercial required first creating and producing 3 or 4 different commercials for testing. This was true for every brand I ever created TV spots for .... be it Lincoln Motor cars or some P&G Cold medicine.

    The division manager at Unilever insisted we video the test spots rather than use drawn animatics (sort of a cartoon). The cost of each video production averaged around $40,000 to $50,000 each, so it was not unusual to spend $200,000 for test spots that would never be aired. They also were very hard to correct once shot, if the package label changed, it had to be changed in 30 frames for every second it was on screen using a very expensive and time consuming process called Rotoscoping.

    I came up with a way to shoot the same thing using stills ... as live action using a locked down 35mm dslr and powerful, fast recycling studio strobes, then using motion editing techniques to make it seamlessly flow properly. Doing it this way cut the production budget in half ... and any changes were easily accomplished in Photoshop on the spot.

    As a result, I did all the test spots for the brand for a decade ... which paid for my entire studio and all of my gear ... and produced quite a profit margin for my upstart studio. I also did print ads and collateral work for everything from industrial clients, sporting goods companies, financial institutions, high-end jewelry ...which I won based on problem solving ideas I could execute.

    I had the good fortune to work with the best commercial photographers in the world, one trait I noted that all had was the ability to leverage their talent against a marketing communication need of a client.

    I have often thought to teach professional photographers how to identify marketing needs and how to mesh with a client's brand personality and bring it forward using their talent and skill.

    -Marc

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    Dick,
    I find your Concept to be faulty.

    You are overlooking the glut of professionals already in the market. Former newspaper photographers are now doing wedding. Wedding photographers are doing portraits. Portrait photographers are commercial work. Add to that all the newbies with respectable gear and little experience who are in the marketplace at below or barely above breakeven financial levels, usually for a year or two before they disappear only to be replaced by more of the same. Everyone is pissing in everyone else's pool. The market you seem to believe exists is actually over saturated.
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Going pro

    I remember going to a photographic workshop with John Sexton. He made a living from photography, but he claimed he was an amateur photographer. He only shot images that he felt like shooting.

    Amateur photographers can take just as good images as a professional photographer with one major exception. The pro can take the great image on command. From their posts, I can see that Guy and Marc are professional photographers, because Guy must satisfy his clients and Marc has some of the toughest clients (brides and grooms). I would hate to explain to a bride why my images of her wedding did not come out well.

    I take landscapes and cityscapes. What I have discovered is that some prominent landscape photographers had a great head start. They came from wealthy families. I also realize that many landscape photographers are making a living from giving workshops rather than selling images.

    I agree to make a living from photography takes artistic ability, business acumen and of course some luck.

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    Re: Going pro

    Remember we can only input from the slice of experience personal to us. We all started somewhere. Anyone who has succeeded will tell you they have failed many times before and have had a wealth of people tell them that he/she will fail in their endeavors. Take what you will from that!

    Be it reckless or safe. It's up to you to make the best decision for yourself!
    Be well and goodluck!
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schneider View Post
    Dick,
    I find your Concept to be faulty.

    You are overlooking the glut of professionals already in the market. Former newspaper photographers are now doing wedding. Wedding photographers are doing portraits. Portrait photographers are commercial work. Add to that all the newbies with respectable gear and little experience who are in the marketplace at below or barely above breakeven financial levels, usually for a year or two before they disappear only to be replaced by more of the same. Everyone is pissing in everyone else's pool. The market you seem to believe exists is actually over saturated.
    To much doom and gloom:

    David, the ideas you are expressing are predicated on existing markets for photography. I know the glut issue well. What basically happened is that existing markets were developed at a time when the skill required was usually beyond the average casual enthusiasts abilities. Digital has changed that, and not just for wedding and portrait work. Commercial work has felt the impact also. in addition to the bad economic climate that has affected many shooters like Guy, who's clients have cut budgets (Guy has mentioned this in relation to some of his recent gear adaptions), the needs of clients that still spend are also shifting, which requires rethinking and adaption.

    Example: for a number of years, I shot much of the photography for Johnson Outdoors. In addition to the ads and key Point-of-Purchase posters for Old Town Canoes and Ocean Kayak, I did all the new model photography each year for catalog and web use ... until some shutterbug at Johnson suggested he do it with his Canon 5D digital. Since they did not have to ship the big products by doing that, Johnson gave him a chance ... and made me help him set up for it ... which I did to keep the more creative ads and poster work.

    Basically, this guy saw a need as an opportunity and went for it.

    In the same manner, I grabbed a chunk of GM work that I still do. I shoot fabrics and wheels for dealer materials each year because they don't have to relinquish advanced prototypes for more than a couple of days, and do not have to ship to the out-of-state agency doing the print and web materials. It cost almost as much to ship a wheel as to photograph it ... and it is safer than shipping. Local studios have either gone out of business because they failed to adapt, or existing ones have too much over-head to effectively deal with the pricing coupled with the quick turn-around required. I leveraged location, lower over-head, existing gear, and more advanced lighting knowledge to grab all this work ... which I've done for years now.

    Trying to enter existing well established categories of photography is tough, it is the first place those who are failing at one thing turn to in an effort to shore up their business; i.e., Journalists start shooting weddings, wedding shooters start doing more portraits, and so on.

    That is fine IF you can identify a previously untapped area or new need with-in an existing category of paying work.

    Example: I'm phasing out of wedding work, not just because it has become so competitive and cut-throat (I could deal with that if I wished), but much more because I am getting to old for this shyt. Weddings are not only pressure ridden, they are physically grueling. I still do some $4,000 and $5,000 weddings so I can hire help, and take out-of-town destination weddings for fun, but that's going to be it from now on.

    So I identified a sub-section of portrait work that has gone somewhat untapped ... formal portraits with good lighting and great locations of fitness subjects ... not fashion, not seniors, not family, not boudoir, not kids or newborns, or pets, or any existing over-saturated category ... body builders, body sculptors (the latest thing), runners, cyclists, skaters, personal trainers, or just plain fitness buffs ... not in action, the results of their action while at their peak ... a vanity product.

    My next subject is a woman body sculptor who competes. I decided to shoot her as Diana the Huntress in a skimpy Roman dress shooting a bow in the forest, mimicking classic Greek and Roman poses. We have hair and make-up on set and the whole deal ... I will make waaaaaaaay more profit from this 2 hour concept shoot than an entire 8 hour high-end wedding shoot. People pay for vanity stuff.

    Innovate, leverage, create, renew.

    -Marc
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    Re: Going pro

    Thanks, you have made several good points.

    Quote Originally Posted by shlomi View Post
    I don't think the market is hugely interested in movements per se.

    Very few who aren't professional photographers even know what that is.
    I don't think being super technical is a sound base for a business plan.
    Picture buyers want the job done - they might not know what movements are, and would not care if you used movements... and they might expect the photographer to want to arrange the subjects in a line perpendicular to the lens axis to get it all in focus, and be pleased if the photographer can (use movements or DOF merge to) give more flexibility.

    To a competent commercial photographer, this is not "super technical", but routine.

    "Super technical" might be techniques like using 3D perspective CAD to create an image that looks as if it was taken through a row of houses! (Virtual viewpoint photography) ...this is the type of work that the average local pro might not want to try ...perhaps I should run a workshop?
    You must produce pictures that will make people go wow.
    If you are taking a picture of a fatigue fracture in a turbine blade, or a scar for an insurance claim? ...get real.
    It is not necessary to be an artist to be a working and earning photographer, but the pictures need to be appealing and not merely accurate.
    In engineering, usually if it looks good it works good. In photography if you make a mess of the colour or perspective you might be able to get away with calling it "style".

    Nearly all photographers need to be artists, and be able to produce appealing pictures.
    In your place I would consider refresher courses in composition and Photoshop. That plus the technical stuff might be enough for a business.
    When I get round to posting some pictures, I think you will soon be aware that I need no training in composition (anyone who thinks they do should spend some time studying "old master" paintings). Composition pre-dates photography.

    ...But I might well be posting technical rather than "pretty" pictures, or picture to illustrate a technique.

    I started using Photoshop on scanned 120 film about a decade ago, but one of the main reasons I bought a point-and-shoot several years ago was to get up to speed with Photoshop... I have spent time watching Adobe TV to learn about the new features.

    Most courses are an expensive waste of time... and it is difficult to find a course that teaches you what you need to know, without spending time covering the basics that you do know, teaching you what you do not need to know, or trying to teach you advanced techniques that you cannot understand or use without prior knowledge of more basic techniques.
    I don't think you will be able charge full price from the get go.
    Starting up you do need to build a portfolio and that is a gradual process.
    Generally working for free is a no no, but without a portfolio it is practically impossible to get work, and the quality of the work you will get depends on the quality of your portfolio.

    It is true that charging low invites bad attitude from clients. If you do a job that serves your portfolio needs directly, then you can do it for free. Otherwise you should always charge a decent price.
    I think that initially the methodology would be to undertake assignments with no "up front" charge, so you get your portfolio if they want the pictures or not, and, if they do like your pictures, they pay a mutually beneficial price for them. ...as others have mentioned, to be a good pro you normally need to be able to consistently deliver good pictures. This can be difficult in the British weather (why is the film industry in California) but digital post-processing can help with colour temperature and clarity.

    If you make a living by taking speculative landscapes when the conditions are right "consistency" is not required, but you need to be able to make the most of the conditions when they are right... and planing which shots you want to take from which viewpoints at what time of day in what conditions helps.

    In the late 1960s I took a picture of Fraserborough Harbour... I wanted to take in

    at the weekend when the commercial fishing boats were in the harbour,

    when the tide was high so that you could see the boats over the quaysides

    in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was in the right place

    When the sun was shining

    I got the picture, but I only had a very cheap Zenith camera at the time

    (I was one of the few photographers who used mired colour temperature correction filters pre-digital.)
    Based on my experience as a past engineer now making my living as a technical photographer.
    I am a "has been" engineer, and intend to benefit from my engineering experience in engineering photography ...and in the use, adaption, design and documentation for phonographic equipment.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schneider View Post
    Dick,
    I find your Concept to be faulty.

    You are overlooking the glut of professionals already in the market. Former newspaper photographers are now doing wedding. Wedding photographers are doing portraits. Portrait photographers are commercial work. Add to that all the newbies with respectable gear and little experience who are in the marketplace at below or barely above breakeven financial levels, usually for a year or two before they disappear only to be replaced by more of the same. Everyone is pissing in everyone else's pool. The market you seem to believe exists is actually over saturated.
    My concept is to look for work that glut of pros cannot tackle, and avoid spending much effort pursuing the type of work that everybody else can do or wants to do.

    ¿Can you tell me how many competent commercial photographers there are in the UK Midlands, and how full their order books are?

    ¿Have you read my posts and worked out which markets I want to be in?

    ¿Do you realise that I have a comprehensive and versatile skill set, and there are few photographic assignments I could not tackle, heart condition permitting?

    ¿Or are you saying that all markets for all types of photograph are over-saturated all over the world.. even though my neighbour cannot find competent photographers for his line of work?

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    [SIZE="1"]IF you can identify a previously untapped area or new need with-in an existing category of paying work.

    So I identified a sub-section of portrait work that has gone somewhat untapped ... formal portraits with good lighting and great locations of fitness subjects ... not fashion, not seniors, not family, not boudoir, not kids or newborns, or pets, or any existing over-saturated category ... body builders, body sculptors (the latest thing), runners, cyclists, skaters, personal trainers, or just plain fitness buffs ... not in action, the results of their action while at their peak ... a vanity product.

    Innovate, leverage, create, renew.

    -Marc
    I have studio lighting but no permanent studio, so (formal) portraiture in the home is a potential market.

    ¿Any market for the type of portraits they did in the 17th century?

    I am in ballet, dance and gymnastics... as my wife has a school. This would be a very difficult area for most photographers to get into, and if I can use my wife's school to expand my portfolio and her contacts to get work...

    Birmingham is about 30 miles away, and London and Bristol are within a couple of hours drive, and it would be nice to specialise and get some work in the cities, but there are customers (commercial and retail) locally.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    To much doom and gloom:

    David, the ideas you are expressing are predicated on existing markets for photography. I know the glut issue well. What basically happened is that existing markets were developed at a time when the skill required was usually beyond the average casual enthusiasts abilities. Digital has changed that, and not just for wedding and portrait work. Commercial work has felt the impact also. in addition to the bad economic climate that has affected many shooters like Guy, who's clients have cut budgets (Guy has mentioned this in relation to some of his recent gear adaptions), the needs of clients that still spend are also shifting, which requires rethinking and adaption.

    Example: for a number of years, I shot much of the photography for Johnson Outdoors. In addition to the ads and key Point-of-Purchase posters for Old Town Canoes and Ocean Kayak, I did all the new model photography each year for catalog and web use ... until some shutterbug at Johnson suggested he do it with his Canon 5D digital. Since they did not have to ship the big products by doing that, Johnson gave him a chance ... and made me help him set up for it ... which I did to keep the more creative ads and poster work.

    Basically, this guy saw a need as an opportunity and went for it.

    In the same manner, I grabbed a chunk of GM work that I still do. I shoot fabrics and wheels for dealer materials each year because they don't have to relinquish advanced prototypes for more than a couple of days, and do not have to ship to the out-of-state agency doing the print and web materials. It cost almost as much to ship a wheel as to photograph it ... and it is safer than shipping. Local studios have either gone out of business because they failed to adapt, or existing ones have too much over-head to effectively deal with the pricing coupled with the quick turn-around required. I leveraged location, lower over-head, existing gear, and more advanced lighting knowledge to grab all this work ... which I've done for years now.

    Trying to enter existing well established categories of photography is tough, it is the first place those who are failing at one thing turn to in an effort to shore up their business; i.e., Journalists start shooting weddings, wedding shooters start doing more portraits, and so on.

    That is fine IF you can identify a previously untapped area or new need with-in an existing category of paying work.

    Example: I'm phasing out of wedding work, not just because it has become so competitive and cut-throat (I could deal with that if I wished), but much more because I am getting to old for this shyt. Weddings are not only pressure ridden, they are physically grueling. I still do some $4,000 and $5,000 weddings so I can hire help, and take out-of-town destination weddings for fun, but that's going to be it from now on.

    So I identified a sub-section of portrait work that has gone somewhat untapped ... formal portraits with good lighting and great locations of fitness subjects ... not fashion, not seniors, not family, not boudoir, not kids or newborns, or pets, or any existing over-saturated category ... body builders, body sculptors (the latest thing), runners, cyclists, skaters, personal trainers, or just plain fitness buffs ... not in action, the results of their action while at their peak ... a vanity product.

    My next subject is a woman body sculptor who competes. I decided to shoot her as Diana the Huntress in a skimpy Roman dress shooting a bow in the forest, mimicking classic Greek and Roman poses. We have hair and make-up on set and the whole deal ... I will make waaaaaaaay more profit from this 2 hour concept shoot than an entire 8 hour high-end wedding shoot. People pay for vanity stuff.

    Innovate, leverage, create, renew.

    -Marc
    You inspire me Marc.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Going pro

    You will find there are quite a few pros out there already using view cameras, especially product guys. Just look at all the choices in that space! To compete you will have to be very accomplished at lighting, have a decent amount of studio space, be very familiar with the technical limitations of the camera, have some excellent post processing skills (tonemapping, focus stacking etc.) and be very clued in about colour accuracy/management. Assuming that's all taken care of, business is really about being able to tap into a strong commercial network and a little bit of luck.

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    Re: Going pro

    Speaking as someone who's been a professional photographer and who also has an MBA, I'd l'd like to reiterate that there is a lot of solid advice here.

    You mentioned a business plan. I think the process will help you. Going through the effort to put it together (along with the marketing plan that should be a component) isn't easy, but going through the work to clearly define your target market, their needs, their buying patterns, your competitors, the economic climate, changes in photographic trends, and all the rest is a productive exercise. The value is in putting it together, not the report itself.

    With that said, I think I know what you'll end up with. I was a professional photographer when I started the MBA, but wasn't when I finished.

    The most successful photographer I ran into (other than Denis Reggie) was a wedding photographer in Atlanta who shot everything on a Nikon N90, 24-120mm zoom, flash on the camera, and program mode with center weighted metering and TTL. Nothing special with regard to photo skills or composition, but she had good group poses and great interpersonal skills. Folks loved her. She didn't understand the whole shutter speed/aperture thing, didn't think it was necessary, and was making a ton of money on high priced weddings and landing the expensive ones. Her clients seemed thrilled.

    The most lucrative wedding photo business was "affordable weddings" in Atlanta (guess where I lived a bit over a decade ago?) who sold $500 weddings, and produced a 24 image photo album for that price. It wasn't an expensive album, and they employed aspiring photographers to shoot the wedding for $100, and handed them a 24 frame roll of film. From the scuttlebutt at the time they were clearing about $2 million a year and were looking to expand.

    I think it's reasonable to say that for large sections of the photography market it's not the talented photographers that rise to the top; it's those with the best business skills and an understanding of their clients needs. The best work I see if rarely from the most financially stable photographers. There seems to be something about the "starving artist" stereotype.

    Now, with that said it's certainly possible to mix "great photographer producing outstanding work" with "great business skills," and there certainly is a market segment with an appreciation for inspiring photography. But being a talented photographer isn't a prerequisite for being a successful photographer. Worse: if you think it is then you've got a mark against you.

    My tuppence, anyway.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by wentbackward View Post
    You will find there are quite a few pros out there already using view cameras, especially product guys. Just look at all the choices in that space! To compete you will have to be very accomplished at lighting, have a decent amount of studio space, be very familiar with the technical limitations of the camera, have some excellent post processing skills (tonemapping, focus stacking etc.) and be very clued in about colour accuracy/management. Assuming that's all taken care of, business is really about being able to tap into a strong commercial network and a little bit of luck.
    Square footage is not very expensive here, so getting a studio space would not be difficult or expensive... and Big Shots (very large studios) at Tewkesbury is not far away.

    Where I was before near Evesham the property next door had a large shed that was used in the Summer for vegetable packing, and I thought I might have been able to use it in the winter.

    Colour management is something I might look for a course on.... like how do I calibrate and compensate so that the Sinar pictures are the same colour as the Hasselblad ones (and the subject).

  33. #33
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    To much doom and gloom:
    Marc,

    Not too much doom and gloom. In a hard market I'm having my best year ever right now. In an area of the country where there's barely any senior photography outside of the contract guys and national companies I'm third in NJ in non-contract volume and am way ahead of last year's numbers. (That why I'm in the studio on a Sunday doing three sessions today.)

    I just don't see where this fellow is clearly identifying a market niche at all. Fine to paint with broad strokes, but I don't believe it's solid planning. He says pro's are using point and shoot cameras? Maybe in UK, but here it's pretty easy to walk into Best Buy, plunk down some money and walk out with a decent rig. I see dangerous underestimation of the competitive nature of the industry and has been mentioned, that doesn't begin to account for the need for excellent marketing, making contacts, client service, pricing of products, etc.

    I can say from personal experience that previous experience with medium format film doesn't help a whole lot when you make the transition from dslr to mfd. I don't see that as a big advantage. His mileage may vary, but I don't think so.

    And adding in concerns about a heart condition and health, this just doesn't seem to be an enterprise that I would encourage.

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    Re: Going pro

    All this sound advice will may turn out useful to other budding pros too if they manage to wade through it all, so I might as well add my bit for them, though Dick, the OP, with his background, knows it all already.
    A jack of all trades is a master of none. The client always picks the specialist, so be one, or at least pretend, whether it's tractors, bottles brides, or vegetables.
    If you choose watches or pens you won't need much space. If you choose horses, you won't need a studio. The best foot in the door is a good-looking and specialised portfolio left in the hands of a junior art-director who wants to get ahead. In forty-five years I've never got a worthwhile job from the boss.
    Professional photography has very little to do with cameras and stuff. It is all about organisation and setting up what goes in front of the camera. I've never seen anyone take less than four years to break even; so make do with simple gear. And never do a job for less than what your client pays his plumber.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schneider View Post
    I just don't see where this fellow is clearly identifying a market niche at all. Fine to paint with broad strokes, but I don't believe it's solid planning.
    Plan.. but plan flexibility and versatility.

    I think I need different portfolios for different potential markets.
    He says pro's are using point and shoot cameras?
    I think most pros here use ff 35mm cameras... but I call anything with a full auto option a "point-and-shoot", including my H4D-60.
    I see dangerous underestimation of the competitive nature of the industry and has been mentioned, that doesn't begin to account for the need for excellent marketing, making contacts, client service, pricing of products, etc.
    I have a low opinion of the technical and artistic abilities of the photographers here, but a high opinion of their ability to market what they produce... I think few people here have much idea what a quality large photograph looks like.
    I can say from personal experience that previous experience with medium format film doesn't help a whole lot when you make the transition from dslr to mfd. I don't see that as a big advantage. His mileage may vary, but I don't think so.
    Perhaps MF is more relevant experience for MFD?... I am on my sixth Hasselblad, and I had a Mamiya C330 before that... but I did not use my 54 Sinars very much.
    And adding in concerns about a heart condition and health, this just doesn't seem to be an enterprise that I would encourage.
    It is (always) only going to take "another grand or two" to get a complete system that would cost £60k to replace with new, and to get back the interest I would get on what I could get if I sold it all I should not have to work many days a month.

    Unless I can find someone to work with me I will not be investing much more money.

    My heart might be OK after the cardioversion next month, but the "normal rhythm" might last five days, five months or five years... which is a pain, and would make it foolish to invest much more money, or get committed even if I get my heart fixed.

    I guess the only decision I have to make is weather to think of myself as an amateur, or part-time pro?

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by downstairs View Post
    A jack of all trades is a master of none. The client always picks the specialist, so be one, or at least pretend, whether it's tractors, bottles brides, or vegetables.
    If you choose watches or pens you won't need much space.
    Watches would be a good option, but there are not many watch makers here, but there is a Jewellery quarter in Birmingham.
    Professional photography has very little to do with cameras and stuff. It is all about organisation and setting up what goes in front of the camera. I've never seen anyone take less than four years to break even; so make do with simple gear. And never do a job for less than what your client pays his plumber.
    Agreed, but I already have the gear, and I am retired, so I am not giving up a day job to do photography.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Zeanah View Post
    I think it's reasonable to say that for large sections of the photography market it's not the talented photographers that rise to the top; it's those with the best business skills and an understanding of their clients needs. The best work I see if rarely from the most financially stable photographers. There seems to be something about the "starving artist" stereotype.
    This is so true. Unless you're an artist, it's all business and delivering the goods at an appropriate price. In real life (I don't count getdpi a part of real life, not even close ), there aren't many great artists around, but there are surprisingly many who understand how to make money from their cameras, regardless of photographic and artistic skills.

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    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    Plan.. but plan flexibility and versatility.

    I think I need different portfolios for different potential markets.


    I have a low opinion of the technical and artistic abilities of the photographers here, but a high opinion of their ability to market what they produce... I think few people here have much idea what a quality large photograph looks like.

    Perhaps MF is more relevant experience for MFD?... I am on my sixth Hasselblad, and I had a Mamiya C330 before that... but I did not use my 54 Sinars very much.

    I guess the only decision I have to make is weather to think of myself as an amateur, or part-time pro?
    Dick,

    Listen to what you're saying and look at the words you're using. "I think..", "perhaps," "I guess," etc. You need to be on more solid ground. You need to have a much clearer plan.

    Who is your potential client? What can you show them? Why would they partner with you as opposed to someone else or someone they've been with for a long time? How are you going to market to them? What is unique about you in their eyes? What is your budget to reach them before you blow your retirement savings? I'm not saying not to go for it. I'm saying you need to do a lot more research and planning otherwise you're just another amateur or part-timer mucking around and is gone in two years.

    In film days I used C330, RB67, Bronic eTRS. I can't say it helped much in transitioning to mfd from dslr. With film you developed or sent out. Now you have files, color balance, bits, sensors, Photoshop, Lightroom, Topaz, Imageonic filters, nik, actions, droplets, templates, and a thousand other things. My experience is digital (and I went 100% digital in 1998 or 1999) with dslr is better experience for going mfd than film mf is to going mfd. Again, your mileage may vary.

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    Re: Going pro

    Do what you can with what you have. If you take out a loan at the beginning you immediately have money going out the door with nothing coming in. That is called bankruptcy.

    And I agree, you need to specialize. But you say you have no portfolio. Folks are going to look at that and say you are not a photographer. It is a catch 22, you need work to generate work and you can't get work unless you have done some. BTW, I have never gotten a job because I own a camera--I don't bring equipment lists to an interview. I am hired because the client knows I have the ability to do something and can show it.

    Why do you want to go pro? Do you need the money? There may be better ways to make an income. If you don't need the money, then what do you want to do? There are ways to approach a field while volunteering your time and expertise. There are also other positions in photography other than what most would consider a photographer--an individual running a shooting gig.
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    Re: Going pro

    Dick: "I think few people here have much idea what a quality large photograph looks like."

    David: "Who is your potential client?"

    Me: "Presumably one or more of the few people who recognize quality, and are in the market for it."

    Warren Buffett says that he won't invest in anything that he can't understand.
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    Re: Going pro

    Dick made up his mind before posting. He's going to do it no matter what anyone says.

    Please forgive me if I sound rude, I'm not trying to be.

    I have more then forty five years as a professional commercial photographer under my belt now so I speak with a great deal of experience. The majority of my business has been major corporations producing national ads, annual reports and catalogs. Budgets were often in the $20,000-100,000 range until the economy collapsed. I've made a great living, had tons of fun, great travel and worked with many great people.

    I've seen hundreds of people just like you come and go. They never last long. When money comes into the equation expectations rise and demands increase. Deadlines, personalities, budgets all come into play when money enters the equation. Most want to be photographers perception of what a business plan is to buy an expensive camera and that's all it takes. The more expensive the more success.

    I don't know the laws in the UK but in the US you need a business license, tax ID number for both the federal taxes, state and local. We collect sales tax and pay it to the state on a monthly basis. Records must be kept on tax exempt clients and papers must be kept on file. We collect and pay sales tax (VAT for you) both to the state and county. We pay a gross receipts tax (business income tax), personal property tax on all equipment and fixtures as well. You better have insurance on equipment and liability in case a client or person is injured on a job. Liability insurance came in handy when my assistant was injured by a large plate glass window that shattered and sent him to the emergency room with glass in his leg. Now figure in commercial insurance on a building if you rent one, telephone, car insurance, repairs on equipment, replacing equipment, printing business cards, printing portfolio, web site, design of website, accountant to take care of all the paper work and on and on and on.

    Those of us charging high fees do it for a reason. It's because of the high cost of doing business. My wife is a successful fine artist. When we met she was a client and creative director for one of my clients, a retail clothing chain. After we married she was able to leave the retail world and paint full time. At that time I told her she had to decide whether she was going to do it as a hobby or a business. There's no in between, it's one or the other. She decided to make it a profession so we set her up as a business too. Not doing business as a business is flirting with disaster if you're caught.

    I have never had a client that cared about what camera I shot with. it's all about delivering the goods and meeting budgets and deadlines. Photography is not only about making images it's about your ability to work designers, their clients and perform the task without hesitation. How will you perform with a couple of clients standing around pushing you and making changes faster than you can change the setup. How about pushing you on time and adding to the job you already quoted a price on. Your health isn't good either. I've had shoots run much longer than booked. I've had shoots run through the night many times. I just did two 14 hours days back to back. Can you handle this.

    On further note, I've seen a once great profession bled death by 10,000 cuts by want to be pros who have no idea of what they're getting into. It looks sexy and they think charging $30 an hour is making the big bucks when in reality they're paying no taxes and not taking into account all the hidden little expenses. They're losing money and don't have the smarts to know it. My advice to all the new want to be pros, keep it a hobby and enjoy it for life. Quit cutting into the income of people that are doing it as a serious business and trying to support a family. Unfortunately I'm dreaming as this will never happen. Photography will continue to degrade till those of us old pros are retired or out of business. Fortunately I am retiring in the very near future.
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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by DDudenbostel View Post
    Dick made up his mind before posting. He's going to do it no matter what anyone says.

    Please forgive me if I sound rude, I'm not trying to be.

    I have more then forty five years as a professional commercial photographer under my belt now so I speak with a great deal of experience. The majority of my business has been major corporations producing national ads, annual reports and catalogs. Budgets were often in the $20,000-100,000 range until the economy collapsed. I've made a great living, had tons of fun, great travel and worked with many great people.

    I've seen hundreds of people just like you come and go. They never last long. When money comes into the equation expectations rise and demands increase. Deadlines, personalities, budgets all come into play when money enters the equation. Most want to be photographers perception of what a business plan is to buy an expensive camera and that's all it takes. The more expensive the more success.

    I don't know the laws in the UK but in the US you need a business license, tax ID number for both the federal taxes, state and local. We collect sales tax and pay it to the state on a monthly basis. Records must be kept on tax exempt clients and papers must be kept on file. We collect and pay sales tax (VAT for you) both to the state and county. We pay a gross receipts tax (business income tax), personal property tax on all equipment and fixtures as well. You better have insurance on equipment and liability in case a client or person is injured on a job. Liability insurance came in handy when my assistant was injured by a large plate glass window that shattered and sent him to the emergency room with glass in his leg. Now figure in commercial insurance on a building if you rent one, telephone, car insurance, repairs on equipment, replacing equipment, printing business cards, printing portfolio, web site, design of website, accountant to take care of all the paper work and on and on and on.

    Those of us charging high fees do it for a reason. It's because of the high cost of doing business. My wife is a successful fine artist. When we met she was a client and creative director for one of my clients, a retail clothing chain. After we married she was able to leave the retail world and paint full time. At that time I told her she had to decide whether she was going to do it as a hobby or a business. There's no in between, it's one or the other. She decided to make it a profession so we set her up as a business too. Not doing business as a business is flirting with disaster if you're caught.

    I have never had a client that cared about what camera I shot with. it's all about delivering the goods and meeting budgets and deadlines. Photography is not only about making images it's about your ability to work designers, their clients and perform the task without hesitation. How will you perform with a couple of clients standing around pushing you and making changes faster than you can change the setup. How about pushing you on time and adding to the job you already quoted a price on. Your health isn't good either. I've had shoots run much longer than booked. I've had shoots run through the night many times. I just did two 14 hours days back to back. Can you handle this.

    On further note, I've seen a once great profession bled death by 10,000 cuts by want to be pros who have no idea of what they're getting into. It looks sexy and they think charging $30 an hour is making the big bucks when in reality they're paying no taxes and not taking into account all the hidden little expenses. They're losing money and don't have the smarts to know it. My advice to all the new want to be pros, keep it a hobby and enjoy it for life. Quit cutting into the income of people that are doing it as a serious business and trying to support a family. Unfortunately I'm dreaming as this will never happen. Photography will continue to degrade till those of us old pros are retired or out of business. Fortunately I am retiring in the very near future.
    This made me smile, you sound just like the commercial photographer I've assisted a couple of month ago...

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by DDudenbostel View Post
    Dick made up his mind before posting. He's going to do it no matter what anyone says.
    I had to decide if I was going to buy a Sinar 86H and/or a set of Sinar eShutters, or make do with what I have.

    If I had been in this state of health I would not have bought the Hasselblad H4D-60 or the three Sinars.

    At 63, even if I had been in good health I would not have been able to get established and make any real money before I retired (again).
    Most want to be photographers perception of what a business plan is to buy an expensive camera and that's all it takes. The more expensive the more success.
    This is about supply and demand, and capital investment and cash flow... A street photographer might make a good living using a £1k Panasonic GH2.

    In the UK any idiot can set up in business taking money for almost anything, including complimentary medicine and engineering, with no qualifications, insurance or anything.

    ...yes... some pros and amateurs think that the camera will do it all for them, and do not know the limitations of the kit e.g. re DOF/camera shake/high ISO performance.
    I don't know the laws in the UK but in the US you need a business license, tax ID number for both the federal taxes, state and local. We collect sales tax and pay it to the state on a monthly basis. Records must be kept on tax exempt clients and papers must be kept on file. We collect and pay sales tax (VAT for you) both to the state and county. We pay a gross receipts tax (business income tax), personal property tax on all equipment and fixtures as well. You better have insurance on equipment and liability in case a client or person is injured on a job. Liability insurance came in handy when my assistant was injured by a large plate glass window that shattered and sent him to the emergency room with glass in his leg. Now figure in commercial insurance on a building if you rent one, telephone, car insurance, repairs on equipment, replacing equipment, printing business cards, printing portfolio, web site, design of website, accountant to take care of all the paper work and on and on and on.
    We in the UK do not need to register for VAT until we turn over (I think) £75k, and I have been VAT registered before.

    One benefit of accounts is to minimise tax, and be able to spend un-taxed income or charge losses against other income. Farmers are notorious for living well but declaring a tax loss every year, paying for their house and car out of the business before tax.

    I have profession photographers insurance, which includes cover for hiring out my kit.
    Not doing business as a business is flirting with disaster if you're caught.
    This is not the case in the UK - you can have a hobby that brings in some income, you can "moonlight" or get paid for additional work... the only complication is if you are claiming unemployment benefit and working - I think that the restriction is on paid hours work, so it would not prevent you taking speculative landscapes as a hobbyist, and may be selling some.

    In the USA, if an amateur takes a good picture and someone offers him money for it, is that illegal business? ...at what point do you need a business licence?
    I have never had a client that cared about what camera I shot with. it's all about delivering the goods and meeting budgets and deadlines. Photography is not only about making images it's about your ability to work designers, their clients and perform the task without hesitation. How will you perform with a couple of clients standing around pushing you and making changes faster than you can change the setup. How about pushing you on time and adding to the job you already quoted a price on. Your health isn't good either. I've had shoots run much longer than booked. I've had shoots run through the night many times. I just did two 14 hours days back to back. Can you handle this.
    No, I could not handle it in my present state of health... but I could do speculative landscapes, and perhaps do some macro at home on wet days. (But that would not qualify as a business plan.)

    I was helping my wife this afternoon/evening, as an assistant gymnastics instructor, and it is intensive physical and mental work, with responsibility for other peoples's children, but it is time-limited, and I need a day or two's rest before each Monday, and a day or two to recover.

    For some clients (my neighbour included) quality and res are important... for some the ability to do the job is important - e.g. you would not claim to be an architectural photographer if you did not have a wide lens.
    On further note, I've seen a once great profession bled death by 10,000 cuts by want to be pros who have no idea of what they're getting into. It looks sexy and they think charging $30 an hour is making the big bucks when in reality they're paying no taxes and not taking into account all the hidden little expenses. They're losing money and don't have the smarts to know it. My advice to all the new want to be pros, keep it a hobby and enjoy it for life. Quit cutting into the income of people that are doing it as a serious business and trying to support a family. Unfortunately I'm dreaming as this will never happen. Photography will continue to degrade till those of us old pros are retired or out of business. Fortunately I am retiring in the very near future.
    Initially I need a portfolio, and I will be interested in jobs that will get me good shots for my portfolio, but if someone wants a £30 photographer I will recommend them to someone else (one lovely theory is that the £30 photographers will recommend me for commissions they cannot tackle... might even pay them their £30 to be my assistant).

    In the UK, any idiot can set up in business and take money for almost anything, including building, complimentary medicine and engineering, with no qualifications, insurance or anything... and some amateur photographers are competent (and some pros are not).
    Last edited by dick; 11th June 2012 at 13:26.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    Dick: "I think few people here have much idea what a quality large photograph looks like."

    David: "Who is your potential client?"

    Me: "Presumably one or more of the few people who recognize quality, and are in the market for it."

    Warren Buffett says that he won't invest in anything that he can't understand.
    The customers might not understand how a photograph is produced, but they might appreciate the pictures - or just the ability of the photographer to press the button at the right moment to capture an expression?

    If you were talking to a potential partner or investor, they might ask different questions.

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    Re: Going pro

    DDudenbostel,

    The world you are talking about does not exist anymore.

    The photography world has changed along with the rest of the world, moving from the previous state of high entrance barriers into a "long tail" situation. Meaning that if 20 years ago you wanted to go be a professional photographer, you would need to cross a very high barrier, otherwise you would be just an amateur.

    Today, the internet bridges providers and consumers of anything, thus making it effortless for anyone to get into any field. You can make a video in your bedroom, and it could be as big as a studio TV show.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing. If you define a professional photograph as a photograph that was paid for, then there is a tremendously larger volume of professional photographs taken today, than 20 years ago. The money volume of the professional photography market is much higher than before. Almost any business today requires photography for marketing any service or product via the internet. I would agree that the average level of professional photographs today is much lower than what it used to be.

    Let's say I charge $100 per hour. There are plenty of photographers charging $20 per hour. I don't begrudge them - it is a free market and their right. There are also photographers charging $300 per hour - I might envy them, but I don't begrudge them either. It is a free marketplace and anyone can try to charge as much as they want.

    Professional photography did not meet an extinction event. It changed, like the rest of the world changed, due to new technology and especially the internet shortening the distance between buyers and sellers.

    Your way of doing business with the ad agency art director is not the only way to make money from photography. In fact, ad agencies in general are taking a very serious hit due to Google Adwords. Is that a bad thing? I think not. Ad agencies were never the straightest arrows in the quiver. Google is much more honest and effective to both advertisers and consumers. I don't think the new world is such a bad world. I don't think the old world was that great either.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by shlomi View Post
    DDudenbostel,

    The world you are talking about does not exist anymore.

    The photography world has changed along with the rest of the world, moving from the previous state of high entrance barriers into a "long tail" situation. Meaning that if 20 years ago you wanted to go be a professional photographer, you would need to cross a very high barrier, otherwise you would be just an amateur.

    Today, the internet bridges providers and consumers of anything, thus making it effortless for anyone to get into any field. You can make a video in your bedroom, and it could be as big as a studio TV show.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing. If you define a professional photograph as a photograph that was paid for, then there is a tremendously larger volume of professional photographs taken today, than 20 years ago. The money volume of the professional photography market is much higher than before. Almost any business today requires photography for marketing any service or product via the internet. I would agree that the average level of professional photographs today is much lower than what it used to be.

    Let's say I charge $100 per hour. There are plenty of photographers charging $20 per hour. I don't begrudge them - it is a free market and their right. There are also photographers charging $300 per hour - I might envy them, but I don't begrudge them either. It is a free marketplace and anyone can try to charge as much as they want.

    Professional photography did not meet an extinction event. It changed, like the rest of the world changed, due to new technology and especially the internet shortening the distance between buyers and sellers.

    Your way of doing business with the ad agency art director is not the only way to make money from photography. In fact, ad agencies in general are taking a very serious hit due to Google Adwords. Is that a bad thing? I think not. Ad agencies were never the straightest arrows in the quiver. Google is much more honest and effective to both advertisers and consumers. I don't think the new world is such a bad world. I don't think the old world was that great either.
    Not attacking you but you sound like a young guy under 35?? Have you ever worked in a truly professional photo environment with very high standards???

    OK if a person receives $1 for a photo he's a pro. Right? Sorry but us old timers see professional as a standard not just receiving money for hacking out a picture. And you're right, internet and advertising in general uses quite a large volume of photography much of which is low grade stock.

    I spent eleven years on staff with two major ad agencies. The last I spent nine years as director of photography, film and TV. No they're not the most honest folks on earth but good agencies provide a high quality product with a plan and continuity which is generally lacking today. Agencies provided guidance to clients on how to most effectively get to the target client. Today most advertising consists of individuals throwing money at junk advertising that will never show a return. It's media sales persons for cable, small news papers and local radio with a shotgun approach not a targeted approach for a specific client with no real plan other than to take the clients money. Do you think Google will do a long range strategic plan and produce TV and print ads.

    Sorry but after 45 years I don't see the brave new world of photography as a good one. Few will ever make the kind of money I do and did and few will ever get the great jobs because they will not exist again. I see it as sad to see the level of acceptable quality so low. A low standard doesn't serve the client well nor does it do anything for the industry.

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    Re: Going pro

    @DDudenbostel

    these are the moments when I feel like a Dinosaur. Meeting others from that herd makes it a bit easier, but damn, time has passed quickly.

    But the good thing is as Shlomi put it, people can now decide freely. there are still the tops who are in a state like 20 years ago. There is the vast majority who have suffered some losses but get along. And then there are the hungry ones, they are like we were back then.

    These are good memories , but we are living today and I hopefull have some years left before I retire, and I tell you I still fight with claws and teeth.....



    Keep going - with sympathy from Germany
    Stefan
    Last edited by Stefan Steib; 12th June 2012 at 10:49.
    because photography is more than technology - and " as we have done this all the time "
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    Re: Going pro

    I accept the way it is today and work within the new world. It's like when video tape and digital came in. If you didn't embrace it you quickly became unemployed. I've adapted and still make a very good income but I don't have to like it. Pride in ones work is very important to many of us old timers. It's hard to feel pride about a sub standard product. I simply see it as a sad state of a fine profession where top quality work was what was important. I'm very fortunate that I still have a number of excellent clients that want high quality vs cheap price.

    For me I was part of the golden age and feel sad for the new generation. For me I have the memories, portfolio and money in the bank. The best part is it will soon be behind me as I am very close to retiring. I hate the term retirement. A good friend that's a film director writer and producer that I've worked with for forty years and has since retired calls it redirecting. I like that term because I'll never retire from photography, just redirect to those projects I love. My friend and I have put together a documentary photo project that's touring US museums on the vanishing culture of Appalachia as well as a book that is selling very well. Several times a month we do lectures and book signings. I see this and future documentary and book projects as my redirecting.

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    Re: Going pro

    Quote Originally Posted by DDudenbostel View Post
    Not attacking you but you sound like a young guy under 35?? Have you ever worked in a truly professional photo environment with very high standards???

    OK if a person receives $1 for a photo he's a pro. Right? Sorry but us old timers see professional as a standard not just receiving money for hacking out a picture. And you're right, internet and advertising in general uses quite a large volume of photography much of which is low grade stock.

    I spent eleven years on staff with two major ad agencies. The last I spent nine years as director of photography, film and TV. No they're not the most honest folks on earth but good agencies provide a high quality product with a plan and continuity which is generally lacking today. Agencies provided guidance to clients on how to most effectively get to the target client. Today most advertising consists of individuals throwing money at junk advertising that will never show a return. It's media sales persons for cable, small news papers and local radio with a shotgun approach not a targeted approach for a specific client with no real plan other than to take the clients money. Do you think Google will do a long range strategic plan and produce TV and print ads.

    Sorry but after 45 years I don't see the brave new world of photography as a good one. Few will ever make the kind of money I do and did and few will ever get the great jobs because they will not exist again. I see it as sad to see the level of acceptable quality so low. A low standard doesn't serve the client well nor does it do anything for the industry.
    I am 44 and I have worked with high end clients and ad agencies.
    I didn't like it very much. The attitude coming from anyone working at a major ad agency is something you wouldn't believe. Rudeness beyond imagination. Also introducing difficulties into the process for absolutely no reason. You give them a proposal for the project, for 2 months they don't talk to you, then at the last day they call you and must have the entire thing by tomorrow morning. Or in the middle they change everything because they feel like it. For me this is deeply unprofessional behavior. My ideal client is the engineer - or anyone from a company the makes any product. These are honest hard working people who understand how things work, and will not waste your time just to make a point.

    Why are large ad agency people so bad? Because they work in a very dishonest environment. Ad agencies in Israel make most of their money from media purchase. For any million dollars of media the client buys they keep about half. The creative budget is the small change in the process. 99% of the money goes to the guy who owns the agency. People come to work there at 20 and are promised the world, are chewed out and discarded by 30 with no job skills. As long as they work there they are treated like trash.

    And the clients? They pay millions and millions and get a very sharp looking ad (in almost all cases TV ad). These ads in most cases have no effect on product sales and certainly don't provide any true or useful information about the product. The consumer pays for this as it is %5 of the product price. If you don't have millions, then you can't access this system.

    In Google Adwords anyone can advertise. Does it affect sales? More than anything the world has seen before. It doesn't do your strategic planning for you. If you need it, you can hire a firm just for that.

    The ad agency is not important to me. The factory which makes the product is. This factory today can approach me directly and get exactly what they need for a fair price. In the past they had to do everything through the ad agency and get gouged. They get much more bang for their buck now.

    EDIT: I've worked for some US and UK agencies, and it was great every time. Maybe these problems are just in Israel? I really don't know.
    Last edited by shlomi; 11th June 2012 at 21:59.

  50. #50
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    Re: Going pro

    Being an enthusiastic hobbyist who sometimes toys with the idea of making some money from photography when retiring, I find the debate and the insight into the world of the real pros fascinating. And, funny enough, there are many parallels to my professional world (business lawyer in private practice).

    OTOH-- I have the feeling that the OP started this thread not because he was serious about this "plan" but to get the professionals going and defending their turf . I may be completely off mark, but already his first post created that impression--and all subsequent posts confirmed it...(may be it's my training as a professional lawyer that makes me think this ).
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