Future of the wedding phtoography industry

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by john_martin|19, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. What is your opinion of the future of the wedding photography industry ?
    Will it get better or worse in terms of financial success ? Will technology
    dumb it down even more to the point that our unregulated and unlicensed
    profession will be relegated to working for less than sustainable wages ?
    Will digital remain king, or will video take over ?
  2. I think digital/video cameras for sure are here to stay. The only difference is it's just starting. These camera's will of course become better and better. Most likely in just a few years most clients will want stills and video from just one person and it's pertinent to be artistic. This may be the only way to continue financial freedom and success.

    We know already that a lot of couples would rather save their money and go on a nice honeymoon or put down some money on a house. We also have to look at how the present photographers give away the CD/DVD's. There aren't any re-orders. This is the reason why I don't give away CD's for about a year or more. Often my reorders can double the amount of money from the wedding. I give out proofs. Anyway, this is another reason for major camera companies to give what the public wants and that of course is stills and video. When viewing a video a client will be able to stop the video on the computer and make a quality 8X10 print or larger of this still video.

    There's always room for creative artistic photographers, even if the photographers use the digital video cameras.

    Great question! Hopefully I will be close to retirement or have retired.
  3. I think photos will trump video even in the future. There will always be the need for photographer and part of the skills of shooting wedding will never be replaced by technology no matter how much it improves. And it takes more than just a good camera to make good pictures so photographers will still exist.
    IMHO, the wedding photo industry nowadays is by and large a photoshop industry. Most shooters can only deferentiate themselves from one and other by the PS actions they created.
  4. I see the same in terms of Photoshop usage. One has to be adept at Photoshop as even the low end bride wants to look perfect, wants to be chased by a dinosaur and other cheesy stuff like that.
    Higher end brides don't go for that, but who really works in the realm. The rest of us have to provide what the clients want.
    PINTEREST !!!!!!!!!!!! ARRRRGGGHHHHHH........will someone pleeeeease take down that site.
    " I have all of these photos that I want to do on my wedding day"............."what, you won't do them"........."ok, sorry I'll go elsewhere"..................
    So who has had to deal with this ? Come on now, raise your hands, we all know you've had to deal with the Pinterest craze.........whether it's for engagements, weddings or portraits.
    Copying someone's else's work.........simple..........pay me not to be a unique creative artist.
  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Will digital remain king, or will video take over ?"​
    Video is a digital medium: I understand what you meant but . . .
    "I think photos will trump video even in the future."​
    Making the photographs from still frames using a 5DMkIII with a good lens on board, from the 5D's video capture (as one example) can make a very nice wedding photo album or video image montage.
    Using an EOS 1-DC, it is even better.
    Or using one of the baby EOS C Series cameras, such as the EOS C100 or EOS C300, is better still.
    We (my Company) has seriously played with and fleshed out this protocol.
    I think that it should not be dismissed, that convergence, will be the next step in the evolution: firstly with some brave practitioners at the mid to top end of the market and then there will be flow on to the part-timers.
  6. So how do you deal with the fact that to look good in video, moving subjects should be shot at a relatively slow shutter speed, which will introduce blur in the individual frames? So no motion stopping with fast shutter speed. Also no flash can be used. For the video to be viewable there cannot be abrupt changes in angle of view or camera position. Sound must be meticulously recorded (and cleaned if physiological sounds or noise interferes with the clarity of recorded sound) if everyone speaking is to be understood clearly. A still photographer can move relatively freely, can change angle of view between any two frames, can use shutter speed to freeze or to show movement, can use flash to freeze movement and/or to add light on the move, can control lighting contrast even in the harshest of conditions, can talk to the bride and groom to give instructions without destroying the sound track and has significantly less work to edit the images to reach a reasonable end result than the person who is shooting video. And who is going to pay for all that video editing? The photo+videography could easily be more expensive than the entire wedding when all is said and done due to the fantastic amount of work it involves. And one person does all this, operating all the camera and sound recording equipment for both stills and video (as well as lighting equipment)? That is all very funny.
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Three of the five of the OP's questions were:
    • What is your opinion of the future of the wedding photography industry ?
    • Will technology dumb it down even more to the point that our unregulated and unlicensed
      profession will be relegated to working for less than sustainable wages ?
    • Will digital (stills photography) remain king, or will video take over ?
    These questions were asked under the broader banner of "Future of the wedding [photography] industry"
    It's my opinion that convergence of the mediums is a real possibility and: it is already being practiced - and that is my response to those questions that the OP asked.
    I don't think that my responses are at all 'very funny': but rather that they are quite a rational answer, based upon my experiences, both within and without of Photography.
  8. WW and I agree. As far as fast shutter speeds go when it's dark, well they now have video lights for your still/video digital cameras, such as in the dark reception rooms.

    One of the next steps with the camera's listed above will be the wireless MIKE adapters which can be placed on the groom's tux and recorded clearly to the camera. (During the ceremony)You will also be able to do interviews at the receptions without picking up noise from the DJ's and bands.

    Actually I've heard this is already out and fits the later model cameras. I haven't bought one so I can't say how good they are, the cost, or if they are even available. Well we all know this is coming and we are stuck with this fast moving technology.

    I was playing with the new Apple 5. This crazy phone can convert scenes to a slow motion video and it's razor sharp!

    As I said above, I hope to retire fairly soon!
  9. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    There has been video at weddings for years. That is nothing new. It isn't going away. Given that it's harder to get a long video on social networking sites, wedding photos have a while to go. As William says, it's all merging and there may not be that big a distinction in the future as stills will be culled from video footage.
  10. Given that it's harder to get a long video on social networking sites, wedding photos have a while to go.​

    Do people even want to watch long wedding videos?
  11. How would one using a video camera rolling footage, shoot formals, romantics and posed photos ? Will external LED's be the light source when needed ? That harsh ugly lighting ? As for pulling still frames from the video footage, man that would be such a chore to have to scroll through all of that footage and then decide "gee, there's 25 identical images, which one do I use".......the workload would be even greater than digital is today.
    And we all know how costly time behind the computer is. It takes away our time that cculd be spent networking and building a business. Why back in the day....................digital, cell phone, what's that ?
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "How would one using a video camera rolling footage, shoot formals, romantics and posed photos ? . . . and - etc."​
    These are not necessarily the questions that are most pertinent to the questions contained in and the main topic of, your Original Post.
    It occurs to me that you could be asking these follow-up questions predicated on, but not limited to: your desires; your aspirations; your previous business; your personal experiences and the more traditional industry scaffolds and structures.
    For example: how many 24" x 36" Framed Wedding Canvases are sold TODAY, per each Wedding compared to 10, 20 and 30 years ago?
    The point being - as well as technology changing, so does the market place and also the Customers' requirements.
    You've asked, (paraphrasing) "What is in the future for the Wedding Photography Industry?"
    I think it is ill advised to structure the answer to that question, limiting the possibilities to those governed by the concepts that your follow-up questions, imply.
  13. PINTEREST !!!!!!!!!!!! ARRRRGGGHHHHHH........will someone pleeeeease take down that site.​
    I have a few pinterest bride and I told them I'll try but it's hard to mash all these different and disparagint styles together. At the end, I just ended up doing my own things and a few times I actually managed to learn something from the pins they send me. They never complained why their pictures didn't look exactly like the pins.
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    For example: how many 24" x 36" Framed Wedding Canvases are sold TODAY, per each Wedding compared to 10, 20 and 30 years ago?​
    How many want any kind of prints?
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "How many want any kind of prints?"​
    Yes, of course, that was my point, entirely.
    Then, logically, the follow on question from the fact that the trend is that fewer and fewer of the Customers want fewer and fewer prints is: what do they do with the files that they buy; and (perhaps more importantly) by what methods does the final audience view those digital files.
  16. I think that we can look to many other industries and get an idea of what is in store for the future of wedding photography. While technical skill and knowledge have played a major role in who has succeeded in this business in the past, we can likely all agree that technology has leveled the playing field to some degree. What is happening to the industry is all part of a natural economic progression and if history and economic text books can teach us anything it is that, with the barriers to entry (i.e.: cost, skill/training, access to consumers etc.) removed and the risk associated with entering the business essentially removed, we will see a fundamental shift in the skills needed to be a wedding photographer.
    The fact that skill has less of an impact on the final product than ever before will/has changed the industry in to a pure service industry. There will be fewer and fewer photographers that will succeed on photographic skill alone. When product becomes essentially homogenous it will be those who find other ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors that will have the most success. This has already started to happen with "shoot and share" photographers who have traded in the model of proofs and print orders, because many clients will pay good money to avoid feeling pressured into spend more money after their wedding. This is advantageous for many new photographers as they can create a more stable cash flow that is less dependent on how they executed each individual wedding or how likely a client is to purchase prints. Sure if they shot 10 weddings they would lose money on some, but they could make money on others, but in business stable cash flow can be very advantageous. What I see as one of the major side effects of this shift is that it resonated with the consumers and created a clientele that wants a pay for service model opposed to a pay for product model. The photographers I see having major growth in their businesses and incomes are the ones who have embraced this new way of doing business.
    If you can accept the premise that the industry is now a pure service industry we can look at the way car companies have changed the way they talk about their cars or the way financial companies try and differentiate themselves from one another. In both cases the companies speak mostly to the way their product can make you feel or the enhanced experience you will have by choosing their product. They do this because when it comes down to product comparison they are not very different. That leads me to marketing. Marketing in this business will change from demonstrating superior skill to selling the overall experience of wedding photography. The photographers that can reach their potential customers and show them that, your wedding day will be better with me as your photographer than anyone else, will be the ones who really shine in the future of this business.
    Selling the experience of wedding photography is the future of this business. Of course, now one has to execute the experience they are selling. More photographers than ever are asking to get to know the couple they are photographing on a more personal and intimate level, and for good reason. They are doing this to provide a better experience. The key will be getting customers to look at their pictures and remember how fun/romantic the photo shoot was. When I look at the Facebook and blog posts of couples who have gotten married over the past few years, I would say that 95% of them are more than pleased with their wedding photos. However only about 35% (give or take) of them talk about how enjoyable it was to take the photos. The resulting photos of this 35% were no better or worse than any of the other people that were happy with their photos. What I was able to learn was that the couples who truly felt like the photographer was a part of their wedding day and made the photo shoot as special as the ceremony or the reception were more actively promoting their photographer to their network and many of them are trying to schedule "anniversary photo shoots".
    To summarize my long winded post, the future of photography remains a viable and profitable business for those that are willing adapt to a new business model.
  17. William you're a funny guy...:)
  18. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    . . . I certainly don't mean to be.
    Especially not on this topic, because, it is a very serious topic.
    This topic cuts to the heart of the existence of many people's businesses, including mine.
    But I do take your comment as a compliment. Thank you for that.
  19. William you're a funny guy...:)
    I have no idea what he is talking about.
  20. Britton, is "selling the experience" only for higher end wedding photographers ? What about the low budget photographer who offers quality work at budget prices ? Will he too be required to change over to that business model ? Will the "high volume" low budget wedding photographer still be viable ? What if one shot two weddings a weekend at 1000 a piece....that's 8K a month....not bad in my book. Will he still have to offer the "experience" ? Or will the budget photographer always have a place to make money from ?
  21. I filmed a wedding this summer (as a favor). It took me over two months to make the final 10 minute highlights video. A lot of work.
    Not many views. Lesson learned - wicked fast turn around times are already the expected norm. I think their photographer quoted
    around 6-8 wks so that was also more than I expected.

    I think Brides will eventually expect to see a HD highlights video the next day while sitting with family, friends and wedding party
    before everyone heads home. For the SDE to become financially possible the life touch model will probably apply to videos. Hire
    competent crew, dump footage to servers and others will SDE.

    Back to photography, I suspect rapid turn arounds will also win business. I would think the photographer who can shoot a wedding and
    using built in camera wifi, select in camera jpegs every few minutes and dump direct to Facebook will win great accolades and
    referrals. That buys them time to ps a hiigh quality gallery later on.

    I do think a rolling video camera (eg 1DC) with non-video shutter speeds (say 1/320) could be used to grab some great micro
    expression - which would be a differentiator - but that camera roll won't provide any useful video.

    Maybe the convergence will mean a small team (say 3) can bid an entire package of quality stills, immediate social network up loads
    and a quality video for a price between the typical stills and video package. I think a quality video needs two camera operators
    minimum. And neither of those two can really capture wedding worthy stills - while also doing video. Ideally one of those operators is in an assistant role so the majority of the profit would split between 2 individuals vs three.

    What is interesting to see in weddings nowadays is that the wedding photographer brings all that equipment, lighting, posing and directing experience, etc. She shoots a thousand photos. Six weeks later you will see their photos. Meanwhile, the next day 20 people have posted photos of that same wedding, some very high quality, some shot while standing right next to the photog while they directed and posed people. a day later it is fresh. Six weeks later, the bride, her mom and her sister look once.

    I could see a tipping point one day (say 10 years) where the preferred wedding product is a gorgeous HD 15 minute wedding highlights video vs stills.
  22. William, my comment "That is all very funny" was not directed at you but Bob's comment "Most likely in just a few years most clients will want stills and video from just one person and it's pertinent to be artistic. This may be the only way to continue financial freedom and success."
    I've spoken about this with a professional videographer who is doing documentary and educational videos and he doesn't see it realistic for one person to be responsible for video, sound recording, stills and lighting for both. In my opinion, technology is irrelevant really here - the problem is the attention of the photographer is divided among too many things. The risks are too great. The technology is not the key here but the human element. It doesn't matter what the clients "will want" if it is simply not doable, wanting it won't make it happen.
    Many photographers on this forum use lighting assistants and second shooters to just cover the stills part of the coverage. Similarly video is sometimes shot by crews. The need for these people is not about technology but about separate functions that require at least some artistic judgment or intelligence and are to be carried out simultaneously at multiple physical positions. It is also about being able to guarantee the results even in case of equipment failure.
  23. John - I think that budget photographers will have to offer some sort of "experience" going forward. The interesting thing is that in many cases it is the budget photographer that is forcing the change for the higher end photogs (likely part of the reason for the dislike of budget photogs). The budget photographers of late have typically been early adopters of Facebook and social media marketing and have started adopting the "shoot and share" model primarily because they do not have a print lab or a studio and setting all of that up would take time and money (risk capital). They are choosing to adopt a less risky model and the market is responding. There will always be people on a budget and there will always be people willing to serve that market. The budget photographers will be asked provide an overall experience like high end photographers because of client's demands and expectations, but like the rest of the business world, the clients will likely get what they pay for. That is not intended to be a knock on budget photographers but is a simple truth that overtime, very few people with any business sense would continue to provide superior service for significantly less pay. my guess is that budget photographers will lack skill in some area of the business. one may take poor photos while another has a slow turn around time or you could have soomeone who takes incredible photos and has good turn around time but provides a sub par experience to the customers. It is likely that you could break every level of photographer (budget, mid, premium) in to similar groups. In the end, the simple fact is that the client’s demands will dictate the direction of the industry (not to say that photographers cannot try to influence them), and due to the inequality of wedding budgets there will always be people who can operate successful businesses at the budget, mid, and premium levels.
  24. Currently, some weddings are done by 1 or 2 person team. I don't see it feasible for a 1 person shooter to do video and photo at the same time. If it is a 2 person or more team, then it's likely the team will be split into 1 videotog and 1 photog which is essentially what's happening now.
    Personally, I don't see the convergence happening anytime soon. Maybe the bride can book videotog and photog from the same outfit but that doesn't change our operation too much.
  25. I witnessed a wedding where ONE person was doing both video and photography. He had the video cam on a tripod rolling while he walked around with his still camera. So there was no variety of video angles and of course all the footage during the ceremony was in one place........middle of the aisle.
    Now I did see one videographer who had set up three low end video cameras on tripods rolling during the ceremony while he walked around with his cam. I asked him how it all worked. He stated that the footage from the still units were what the client would be getting. HIS footage would be something "additional" they could purchase if they wanted to. Sounded fishy to me. Not giving your best footage to the client.
  26. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Ilkka, now understood, thank you for clarifying.
    For clarity I did not ever mention that one person would be taking the stills and the videos - the number of people working was not my consideration at all. My point was: that there will be convergence of the media and from that convergence and also in consideration of the generally changing Clients' expectations and usages of the final STILL images that they will purchase - the "Wedding Photography Industry" is in for massive change and in my opinion that will be dominated by Video capable Cameras and the product will move toward originating from original Video Captured Images.
  27. What is your opinion of the future of the wedding photography industry ?​
    Like everyone else's I'd guess ... negative due to the current state of flux, and yet positive IF one can get a handle on the consumer's directional trends and construct a relevant business model.
    Will it get better or worse in terms of financial success ?​
    In general, statistics show a steady decline in weddings themselves. Plus, those who are getting married, are doing so later in life to start a family compared to previous generations, with a growing number of them paying for it themselves. This decline in marriages is also partly due to more lenient levels of societal acceptance of alternative "arrangements".

    Decline in weddings + more people doing wedding photography = you do the math.

    Perhaps the bigger question is: will full time wedding photographers survive as an industry at all?
    Will technology dumb it down even more to the point that our unregulated and unlicensed
    profession will be relegated to working for less than sustainable wages ?​
    In terms of wedding photography, it's already probably as "dumb" as it needs to get. This is a "here and now" society, where content is created as it happens and shared seconds later. I recently ordered the new Sony A7 camera that I can use my Zeiss and Leica M lenses on ... but the kicker is that I can simply touch the camera grip to my cell phone or tablet to wifi the images, and then send them anywhere I want (not that I plan on doing that since it isn't my approach to wedding photography, nor does it fit my business model).

    As to wages, for most wedding photographers it is already unsustainable as a viable living, and has been for some time. Most wedding shooters are part timers and do not have to make a sustainable wage. They either have a regular job, or do other more diversified types of photography.

    Will digital (i.e., stills) remain king, or will video take over ?​

    Consumer expectations may push for a combination, and some, if not many, photographers may offer it in future. However, it remains to be seen if a commensurable pricing can be sustained. I've often been surprised how little wedding videographers make for the amount of work that is involved.

    This suggests that consumer demand dictates prices, and video suddenly isn't going to get more popular and more valuable because one person is doing it all. I think the consumer will see it as less expensive "one stop shopping" ... but the labor portion isn't going to magically go away ... so photographers will be doing more for less.

  28. Personally, I think Britton Reynolds' post is a must read when addressing the OPs subject: "The Future of Wedding Photography" ... specifically, your future and how you get there.
    In the corporate world, what Britton is talking about is called "Relationship Marketing". Some years ago, it became apparent that there had to be a duality of presenting any product or service. That concept was distilled down to a couple of catch phrases: "High Tech, High Touch"... and ... "Think Global, Act Local".
    In essence, as the technology of photography advanced to the point that consumers had an increasingly difficult time distinguishing one photographer's product from another (both shooting style and post work are fresh for maybe a year before copied ad nauseam), and no other "real" point of difference was readily apparent ... then the consumer filled in the vacuum ... which is always price .... always!
    Guess what? That is exactly what happened.
    This is NOT to say that there is no one producing a style or quality of wedding work that a certain consumer demographic appreciates and are willing to pay a premium for. However, that's akin to some aspiring actor/actress wishing they were making a movies like Brat Pitt or Julia Roberts. Highly unlikely.
    It also should be noted that you can STILL distinguish your work based on the end product using techniques that are difficult to master and often using equipment that most wedding shooters cannot justify ... or more likely, are either terrified of, or don't have the where-with-all to master. One of those is professional lighting.
    There are pros and cons when it comes to "relationship" type approaches for something like Wedding Photography.
    One positive is that it can be a base to expand your photographic business with a client that already knows you, trusts you, and that you can keep for years, not just one weekend. This amortizes all the effort it took to win them for the wedding photography.
    For example, in the past two weeks I did regular annual family sessions with two previous wedding clients at a rate that exceeds my hourly wedding rate, and is far less stressful. Plus, they buy prints due to the subject matter ... their family. I have a third family session next week ... the sister of one of those clients who just saw the shots I did for her sister's family.
    One possible con to this approach is whether it can win the wedding job in the first place? Conveying a "personality trait" isn't easy unless done in person. While "testimonials" are often effective, they can also be nullified by everyone else also having glowing reviews from previous clients.
    For example, I had a Premium level ad with 21 glowing 5 Star endorsements for both my product and personality on the Wedding Wire ... won their Bride's Choice Awards 4 years in a row ... which I referenced for any new prospective client whom contacted me. It landed me zero jobs. None.
    I believe consumers in general are sociality devaluating the ritual of wedding photography and will continue to do so. Of course there are exceptions, which everyone will be vying for at an ever ferocious rate of attrition. The Golden Age may behind us and it will all settle down to a specific rate of work available for some, while jettisoning a huge amount of shooters ... like has happened in other areas of photography.
    To be one of the ones left standing will require very hard work, perseverance, and some extremely clever product/personality traits.
    Glad I am semi-retiring to do just a few weddings a year that fall in my lap ... it all sounds so exhausting ... LOL!
    - Marc
  29. sociality devaluating​
    Are these neologisms? Sorry what do you mean? Do you mean that weddings, as "big events", are becoming devalued in society? If so I agree!
  30. LOL ... both words exist in the dictionary ... but put together this way, I guess they qualify as a neologism.
    While a major contributing factor, I think it is more than just the general societal devaluation of weddings as big events ... it seems deeper than that.
    While people love their photos and take zillions of them daily, the very tsunami of images and ways to proliferate them world-wide has formed a sort of collective awareness that is tough for a single person to compete with.
    Add to that the "here today, gone today" nature of a vast majority of images taken now, and that few people even care if the images will be around later ... or at least they don't care enough to do anything about it.
    This is strikingly different from previous generations.
    - Marc
  31. that few people even care if the images will be around later​
    For previous generations, you had your pictures taken at your graduation or wedding and that about it. I don't think my folks have 100 pictures to show me for their entire life. Now someone sends me 100 selfies just because they are bored waiting for a flight. Constant and readily availability of photos undermines their sentimental value.
  32. What's ONE of the first things people scoop up when they are forced to evacuate their home ? Their family photos.
  33. John M. says,
    What's ONE of the first things people scoop up when they are forced to evacuate their home ? Their family photos.​

    We say this a lot, but is it really true? I'm not challenging you. This is what I myself might do (after saving my family and my animals). But I'm not sure this is true any more for my brides. I think the first thing they save is their iPhone. THEN they think about their cats etc. And I'm not sure they rescue their photos. I bet a lot of them couldn't even say off the top of their heads where their wedding book is.

    I continue to preach the gospel of prints and books. And we're all here in the choir nodding our heads and saying "Amen, brother!" But I'm not sure there are very many people sitting in the pews any more. I refuse to get depressed about it, but if I wanted to, well, it's kind of depressing.

  34. Yesterday I dropped by my lab to get a quote for printing 3 copies of a 60 page wedding album (my biggest yet).
    I mentioned my concerns for preserving images to the owner, who is a long time friend. He said he was concerned also, and had read industry articles about historians and documentarians being very concerned that decades of cultural records were being erased or lost forever in some way.
    The great hope is that technology will eventually solve this issue ... which lead to a discussion of cloud storage (often mentioned as today's way of safely storing our images). The issues that counter this solution are 1) you have to pay for it, and if you stop paying the images go bye-bye ... 2) It takes forever for the average person to load images ... and if we pros want to save our higher resolution images in any original, non-distructive format it takes an eternity, or cannot be done at all. In short, it requires money and diligent patience, both of which are in short supply with the "Here and Now" generation.
    For example, I use SmugMug to back-up/store all my weddings and give my client's access for viewing and print orders ... plus I can download any image I may wish to use myself. However, SmugMug is not free, and you can only upload jpegs. BTW, despite the ease of ordering prints right from home, and my very modest pricing structure, few clients or their family members order much compared to 6 or 7 years ago.
    I did learn something new. The lab owner informed me of DVDs that are claimed to last 1,000 years. They are referred to a "Stone" DVDs. The US Navy Seals tested all types of DVDs in the most extreme conditions, including fire and flood, and all DVDs failed except these 1,000 year Stone DVDs. Never even heard of them before this.
    Of course, most lap-top computers now being made don't even have a DVD player built in (???).
    Like William Porter, all I can do is impress on my clients the importance of getting prints of the most iconic or important family images we make for them ... which is why I still maintain an Epson 3800 on premises and include a few prints with every job. I've found that when clients actually see how beautiful a print looks compared to their little lap-top screen, they are more like to make more prints.
    - Marc
  35. I think the key to retaining access to the most important photographs is to be very selective about which images to keep, so that they can be copied to multiple media quickly and the archive can be maintained. I think this kind of stuff (making backups) they should teach at school already since a lot of young adults don't appreciate the importance of this. I think it's this living in the moment culture.
    I don't think we can fully rely on third party cloud service providers. Those facilities are run and maintained by human beings in the end, and humans are forgetful and make mistakes. Data will be lost, it's not a question of "if" but "when" and "how much". Also, as Marc noted, transferring large image archives to cloud is impractically slow. So again, cloud storage is fine as one piece of the solution but personal backups must also be maintained. And the culling of the important images to keep safe to the smallest number will help also with transferring them to the cloud. I think we all have to learn to let go of some, and keep some even if the decision process is not perfect.
    I think making prints of the most important images to clients whether they ask them or not, is a good idea. They'll thank you in the end when they realize what they got. Also it helps provide a reference for quality printing when they have prints or albums or books made by third party outlets, they can see if those labs did a good job of printing or not, and may return to the photographer for more prints if the quality with the labs wasn't good. At least theoretically they may. ;-) And I think it is a nice touch on top of the requested service if they explicitly didn't order the prints they'll feel they got a good deal.
  36. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    We say this a lot, but is it really true?​

    Good point. I've never seen any data to back this up.
  37. Good point. I've never seen any data to back this up.​
    Actually, this is all the more reason why digital trumps print. Long as the couple saves the digital files on cloud and there's no reason current and future generation of clients won't be doing that, they will never lose the pictures.
  38. Green Photog writes:
    Actually, this is all the more reason why digital trumps print. Long as the couple saves the digital files on cloud and there's no reason current and future generation of clients won't be doing that, they will never lose the pictures.​
    You didn't add a smiley face or anything else that would tell me you're being ironic or sarcastic, so I'm forced to take this statement at face value.

    Speaking as somebody who's been creating digital files since about 1980, my take is: Anything that stays digital will almost certainly be lost.
    Now, I'm not talking about data that is managed by institutions "too big to fail" like the government, major banks, and a few others. I'm not sure what will happen with them in the next fifty years. These institutions have not only the foresight but also the resources to preserve old technologies and old data. There are still programmers making good money maintaining COBOL and FORTRAN code on mainframes. But not many companies are that reliable. Osborne, Wang, Atari — all once huge computer companies that didn't survive the early years of the PC wars. I'm 61. Google might outlive me, but I wouldn't count on it. Twenty years — heck, ten years ago — Microsoft looked invincible. Today, I'm pretty sure my 18 year old doesn't know what Microsoft is.

    But forget about the big companies. I'm talking about individuals. Individuals don't have the resources or the foresight to preserve their files through major changes in technology. I still have print copies of documents I created c 1985 on my first Mac (a 512K model) — but I lost the digital copies eons ago. The reasons I lost the files are varied. In some cases, the file formats became obsolete and inaccessible. I lost a few files through catastrophes like hard disk failure and because I wasn't always as good about backing up as I am now. And some files aren't exactly "lost" but might as well be: My office is full of old floppy (5.25") and microfloppy disks (of multiple storage capacities), zip disks, Jaz disks, and obsolete hard disks that I can't connect to any current computer I've got because the hardware interfaces are so out of date. I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying that connecting those old storage devices is a problem that I, as an individual — albeit an individual with a great deal of technical expertise — don't have the energy to try to solve.
    And then there's the fact that cloud storage is (a) inherently unreliable and (b) not free. It's inherently unreliable for lots of reasons, including the fact that today's technology will not be tomorrow's (so Amazon and Dropbox and every other cloud service provider has, simply in a huge way, the same problem with technologies obsolescing that we as individuals have). It's unreliable because none of those companies care about my data as much as I do. It's also unreliable because of hackers, technical failures, etc. Hotmail lost millions of users emails. Adobe's user accounts were compromised. The list of examples is endless. I personally lost thousands and thousands of email messages when my first Gmail account was irretrievably hacked. They were mostly personal mails to family and friends. I'm sorry to have lost them. I hope the hacker fries in hell. But my letters are GONE.
    And then there's the fact that I've got a ton of photos stored on servers at Flickr, Google, and elsewhere — and I'm paying year by year to keep them there. I've been using Zenfolio for many years. I'm about to let my account lapse. I don't know how my gigs of images I have there but it's a lot. It'll all soon be gone. Stop paying, and after a decent interval, they delete it.
    Finally, there's the problem that when there's so much data, nobody knows where anything specific is, what's a duplicate, etc. When there's a lot of something it is inherently less valuable. And with digital files, where the whole notion of a "master" copy is problematic, it's extremely easy to get confused about where your "master" files are stored. More than once I've deleted files by accident because I was sure that the copies I was deleting (during some digital housekeeping) were duplicates. And I was wrong. Nowadays I'm obsessively carefully about what's a master or primary copy and what's a backup; and even so, I fairly often get confused.

    Meanwhile, let me talk about the photos from my own wedding. I have never backed them up. My wife once, years ago, moved them into a different photo album, but otherwise we've not spent any time at all worrying about the impact on changes in technology on access to our wedding pics. Even if the power goes out, I can walk into our sitting room and find — in 30 seconds — the album containing the couple dozen photos that my brother in law took of our wedding. That wedding was in 1975 — almost forty years ago. Heck, I can open a drawer in my desk right now, open a little box, and peruse the little drugstore snapshot album from my parents' tiny wedding in 1950. My wife did got to a studio and have a professional bridal portrait done. It was published in the newspaper's announcements section, and then it hung in my mother-in-law's house until a few years ago when she died at the age of 97. Now it hangs in the sitting area of our bedroom.
    It would be pointless to blame them for this, but today's young brides, for the most part, have no concept of the future at all because they have no concept of the past. I fear many of them don't even have much confidence that they'll ever celebrate their silver or golden anniversaries with their husbands, so they don't see photos as treasures, as time capsules, the way people used to.
  39. I have chromes from the Korean war that look pristine. Put all digital files on film ? :)
  40. "What's ONE of the first things people scoop up when they are forced to evacuate their home ? Their family photos"

    I'd love to know where this notion comes from. Having been evacuated at very short notice from two war zones, I can tell you now that grabbing some photos was the last thing on our mind (likewise the many other families I knew who faced the same plight). Instead we grabbed documents, jewellery, and cash - and perhaps a coat if we had time.

    As for the state of the industry, proportionately speaking I don't think it's that different to 20 years ago - what I mean is the majority of wedding photographers have always been either bad or mediocre. 20 years ago it was quite difficult to find somebody consistently competent. The same can be said today, there are just far more of them to choose from. The really good photographers I know (providing they understand business and marketing) are busy and are doing well. The majority might prefer doing it part-time, because these days to run a full-time business is gruelling and would necessitate even longer hours and that horrible thing called responsibility. In general, most people simply want the easiest life.
  41. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with Lindsay and my view is based upon me being in a position of having, to have a plan.

    Where I live we (must) have an household ‘Disaster Plan’, including a plan for both Voluntary & Mandatory Evacuation: we broach a large national park, which is prone to bushfire, probably recently noted in many world newscasts.

    Not many, at least of the folks whom I know, have family photo albums or the like, in the secure "go to bag": however the contents of that bag certainly comprises Documents and Cash.
    On the second point Lindsay raises - I agree that the "majority" are ether bad or mediocre: but I do think that "proportionately" there are now fewer consistently good Wedding Photographers to be found now than before - and that is because the there is a MUCH greater number providing a lesser quality service and product, than there were 20 years ago.

    What I mean is, for example: in a sample of 1000, drawn from a 10,000 total available pool of W. Photographers from a particular geographical region in 1993 - we could find that 200 of the 1000 to be "consistently competent" (i.e.20%).

    I think that that figures now could be 100 or even fewer of that 1000 sample would be consistently competent which would be much smaller percentage: but that would be because in the same geographical region there would be maybe 20,000 or even more, who are shooting weddings 'professionally'.

    I think the point that there are many, many more people (in raw numbers) today than before who are hanging out a shingle as a Wedding Photographer is ONE of the reasons which is at the crux of the why the industry is where it is at, today.
  42. Yes, having given this further thought I do think you're right William - there most probably are far less half decent photographers than they used to be, taken against the whole. It's not uncommon to encounter working wedding shooters who really don't know the basics - they simply buy the biggest camera and whack on the fastest lens, set to the widest aperture. There is also a pervasive belief that camera craft is not an absolute necessity, given the high ISO capabilities of modern camera bodies, and dynamic range. This means that most shooters may feel they don't need to learn anything about lighting, and if things go wrong the errors can sometimes be disguised under the mantle of "creativity". 20 years ago wedding photography was fairly standard, there were a very elegant photographers out there but one would pay a fortune for them. I recall reportage was very new and considered to be a fad - and that is another area which is being misused by newer photographers nowadays - why worry about posing, direction, or control when you can tell the world you specialise in candid picture taking.
    I sometimes wonder what would happen if our industry became regulated, by that I mean some kind of central body being set up which any working professional would need to register with (pallbearers substantial fine if caught operating without the requisite licence), and they could not register unless they had one of the recognised industry qualifications. In the UK this would likely be an HND or above, or Licentiate standard and upwards with one of the four main institutions (RPS, BIPP, MPA, SWPP). The problem is that photography doesn't need to be regulated in the same way that other trades might, no one is going to die or become maimed as a result of malpractice.
  43. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Hi cuz . . .
    I've had many conversations about this and I have come to the conclusion that another point which has great weight is:
    With the digital era - because the computer is the darkroom and also (generally) the viewing deck - these fact have borne a culture of what I term 'back to front protocol'.
    That is to say the capture device (the camera) has become minor and a poor secondary to the computer.
    As a result, we get a culture of 'any capture will do' and the ‘craft’ is ALL in the computer skills, which of course is the area where so many are more adept, or at least fell more comfortable.
  44. "As a result, we get a culture of 'any capture will do' and the ‘craft’ is ALL in the computer skills, which of course is the area where so many are more adept"

    Very much so, and I also know many photographers adept at making a sows ear from a silk purse, all in the name of art of course. I also think that part of the reason why the vintage style became popular a few years ago is because the particular tints and treatments were very good at masking critical focus or a lack of attention to colour balance. I know a couple of vintage style photographers who simply cannot produce a well crafted and well processed photograph. I wonder what will become of them when the fad for vintage starts to wane.

    I believe that one of the things which sets apart the successful photographers from the transient ones is the ability to diversify somewhat (perhaps into commercial photography, corporate photography, or fine art photography) which requires a fairly well rounded skill set. This might partly explain why many of the more established photographers have also added training, or consulting, or judging to their repertoire.
  45. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    . . . yes interesting about adding “training” to one's repertoire:
    I have previously taught at TAFE, which is College situated for post high school matriculation. However teaching positions and opportunities there are waning.
    Perhaps the structured “Basic & Advanced Photography Course” in which one must enrol and has to then ‘attend’ each Tuesday and Thursday evening for three hours, is giving way to adults accessing "Free Forum Learning" and many other forms of web information, or online ‘do in your own time’ courses which are available, many without any cost?
    However I tutor school students, who are studying ART and are majoring in Photography and this provides a challenge, as these students who want tutors are very keen, also very quick and demanding: and also willing to pay a fair fee (at least their parents are).
    Not all my students (in fact only one in the past five years) will take on Photography or an allied craft as their main goal in further studies and work: but all wanted to achieve an high score in their Matriculation to allow them a range of choices at University entry.
    Although this is only a small sample and extremely anecdotal, I think it is still worth mentioning - these kids are gifted and highly motivated and it seems to me that they were using their Art Subject as an escape from the mainstream Subjects, but none the less they want to excel in that subject also.
    All of my students have kept Photography as their passion and (I think) also release from their University studies and work, which (quirkily) in the vast majority - all have gone into, The Law.
  46. Jeeze, the last thing photography needs is government or committee involvement with complex group devised regulations, lobbyists, and all that. The government nor committees can't run anything well, why would they do a good job here?
    I have been an advocate of educating the public for some time now. If one of the larger photographer associations would under take such a task, it could be a win-win for both the unsuspecting, (sometimes even clueless) consumer, and professional photographers dedicated to their art and craft.
    I do not think newbies are specifically less talented than many professionals. IMO, it is more about consistency of applying that talent. Weddings for example are pressure ridden, time sensitive, very social affairs that many talented photographers are not suited to, professional or not.
    - Marc
  47. William, I think the students are very sensible choosing Law!
    Marc, a regulatory system need not be complex. All it requires is a form of registration where the photographer proves they are certificated, and if they are caught operating without the requisite qualifications/license they are fined. I think Germany has a similar system, although I don't know the specifics.
    I have spent years trying to educate the public. It's a losing battle - why would the public be open to education about photographers? They don't care. Bodies such as the BIPP (The British Institute of Professional Photography) have been trying to work with venues, magazines, the media and brides to encourage them to consider accredited photographers rather than a cheaper alternative. It's not having much effect. Remember that society has changed a huge amount in the last 20 years, there is far less of a sense of responsibility or accountability nowadays. Educating the public doesn't work. And education for photographers is currently optional.
    It doesn't matter how many talented or effective photographers there are if the public will not or cannot tell the difference between a competent professional and a hapless newbie, other than price of course, which is the one common denominator which repeatedly crops up in these discussions. It's not that most brides cannot afford a decent photographer, they simply don't think it's a priority because in their mind all photographers are pretty much the same, if they have some fancy kit in their hand. Adjusting that thought process can be near enough impossible.
  48. I would say I never liked any pre 1990 wedding photos that I had seen. Sure the exposure and focus were right in those photos but it's same stuff shirt poses.
    There a far more fauxtographer nowadays but to say the past is always better than the present is a romatic fallacy.
  49. If you want to educate people about art, and to value art, it should take place in schools. If you have a photographer association try to "educate" the public, every intelligent person will know they're not interested in education but want the public to buy services from the members of the organization. So the targets to this "education" will simply shut their ears out and regard it simply as the advertising it really is. Education has to be non-commercially motivated to be taken seriously. If you have an ineffective government, it is because of the people you and your co-citizens voted to run it, not because governments in general are ineffective (they are not).
  50. Ilkka, if what you say were true, then no advertising would work because it is obvious that it exists to inform and sell the public. If it didn't work, then no company or corporation would spend money to do advertising.
    Wedding photographers are selling a service. Differentiating themselves is a primary goal. Any assistance from an association or organization could be in the form of a basic accrediation, and a compelling reason why consumers should consider such individuals. It has less to do with "art" and perhaps more to do with responsibility and competence.
    Even this website often deals with some basic areas of responsibility when informing newbies ... all of which the general consumer of wedding photography knows nothing about, but would be better off if they did.
    - Marc
  51. Industry studies show the downward pressure put on the wedding and portrait business. Proliferation of inexpensive equipment and software "fixes" likely means this trend will continue unabated. I think there will always be a place for high quality photography but the photographer will have to set himself apart from the competition by learning excellent sales skills, business acumen and education/certification programs like the CPP certification offered by PPA.
  52. The horse is already out of barn. The majority of the general public don't care about quality, only price. The very few who do go to the top tier of our craft. The rest of us live off of the scraps. And it's not changing. Technology created all of that and we fully embraced it until it turned around and bit our hands off.
  53. You guys may well be right. A bad economy, advancing technology, and changing societal values may have ganged up and forever altered this specific photographic service.
    Personally, I've concentrated on high end clients and sell them specific services and creative approaches. While the number of weddings dropped, the level of income did not drop that much ... and I filled in with follow-up family portrait work with previous wedding clients.
    That said, it sure isn't what it once was, where 20 weddings a year just fell in my lap.
    - Marc
  54. Common sense dictates that when (not accurate, just my opinion) there are now 1000 photogs vying for the same client instead of 50, something has to give........bookings.......and prices......
  55. Very interesting thread.
    Technology has been both a blessing and a curse for many businesses, but I think photography and videography have been especially hard hit.
    As many of the posts mentioned, we live in a microwave world now with everyone wanting instant gratification. Add the fact that a high percentage of people have cell phones now with cameras that can make high quality “Snap Shots” and in some cases halfway decent artistic shots and HD video capability, and many clients don’t understand why photographers charge what they do when Uncle George can shoot it for free with his cell.
    I myself started out shooting weddings, both still and video but not at the same event, in the early 80’s before the digital revolution. I remember back then, most everyone had stills shot of their wedding, but video was a new concept that the average couple didn’t always see the benefit in having. I can remember still photographers giving me a hard time at weddings when I would shoot video because they felt threatened by this new fangled video technology that would surely put them out of business. Obviously, “video didn’t kill the photo star” (for you youngin’s out there, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles was the 1st video played on MTV when it launched 8-1-1981), people still want stills and people still listen to the radio.
    I find it interesting though, that no one has mentioned the 800 pound gorilla in the room (or maybe it's invisible), Augmented Reality (AR). As Tomi Ahonen (Foremost expert on Mobile) has stated - “AR is the 8th mass medium”.
    Wearable devices like Google Glass (only with FAR greater capability) are being predicted by industry experts to outsell cell phones somewhere between 2018 and 2020. People won’t have a cell, tablet, laptop, and/or desktop; your wearable will do it all. These wearable devices will have the ability to shoot high quality stills and Ultra HD video ((Hands-Free)). Instead of printing stills or viewing on a monitor and watching video on a monitor, people will see virtual displays floating in front of them like a heads-up display (Iron Man). A 120” monitor anywhere and you will be able to link with other people so that everyone can share in watching the same content. That’s going to be a big part of the future of photography and video as well, both in image acquisition and distribution/displaying content and we're only scratching the surface.
    If you want to try out AR, [I have a site] with a variety of real-world applications you can experience with your iOS or Android device
    The content of this commentary has relevance to the OP and the thread.
    Note that Kirk Nash has confirmed that he has business interests in an ‘Augmented Reality’ venture.
    Should any reader wish to investigate this topic it is easily researched. And Kirk, himself is easily contactable.
    Members may place a link to their website in their Bio Page
    The link to Kirk Nash’s website has been removed in accordance with Photonet’s Terms & Conditions of use.
    It is apparent that this commentary was NOT intended to violate any of the T&C of use of this site.
    This Moderators Note will be removed in due course.

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