wanna bees

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by shawn_mertz, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. i went on a rant to a friend about a bunch of bad photos I saw yesterday by 3 " professional " photographers.
    he comes back at me with this gem.
    "you know the thing that crushes me about bad wanna bees, is they either 1. get paid or 2. do it for free"
     
  2. And 3, they have better equipment than I do. *grin*
     
  3. Haters... I hate haters. :)
     
  4. I found a photographer online the other day who had 3,800 likes on her FB Photography page. She's advertising that she uses a 5.5 million studio. And then I saw her images. EEK. I just can't believe what people will spend money on!
     
  5. The thing that crushes me is the attitude that you have to born as a "rock star" wedding photographer.
    We all have to start somewhere. I'm better with the Free / cheap route - as long as a) the photographer is honest and open with the client - meaning that they aren't saying I've done 800 weddings... b) the client sees a representitive sample of the photographer's work. Not just the fb posts, blog posts, or portfolio shots, but sees a complete wedding set beginning to end. and c) the photographer charges appropriately for their work. (Meaning if you're a wanna be - you don't charge $2,000 + for a 5 hour wedding then deliver sub standard images.)
    I've seen photographers that charge upwards of $2,000 a wedding deliver garbage and photographers who charge under deliver rock star work. The key is consistency - typically a bride paying over $2,000 expects perfection in every shot. If that means the photographer spends 20 hours editing each image - so be it. In the Under $1,000 price point - the couple expects a few rock star images, but is typically happy to have the day captured and that she didn't have to impose on a friend to do it for her. The tricky range is that $1,000-$2,000 - where the couple may expect more on the $2,000 plus side, but get more closer to the $1,000.
    What I've seen lately is that there are the $2,000 + photographers - who you know you're going to get rockstar photos from... There are a few of them - these are the ones that are really good, deserve the money and make a living at it. There are a lot of newbies / wannabe's in the less than $1,000 range - where price is king and it is very much a hit or miss as to whether or not you get the right person and they're on their game for the wedding. (There are a few exceptions - people that do a very good job for the price and AREN'T trying to make a living at this). But where I see a real gap is in that middle tier of pricing - where you're good enough to guarantee that you'll get the shots, but don't want to be in that "rockstar" price range.
    Dave
     
  6. Trouble is there's more, and more, and more, - it's endless!
     
  7. To be a rock star wedding photographer you not only have to be able to take rock star images you also have to be able to sell them so well that you can command rock star prices. So many GWC these days.
     
  8. There seems to be a lot of books out about becoming a professional photographer (I know this because I've read a bunch of them, fat lot of good it does me...:)) and a lot of them will say something like this:
    "There are many very talented photographers who go hungry or fail because they lack business sense. And there are a lot of mediocre photographers who enjoy success because they have good business sense."
    I think what we're seeing is people with some business sense, who could be selling shoes or refrigerators or real estate, deciding to become wedding photographers because it's glamorous/fun/"easy".
     
  9. Well, Marc, you seem to think it's different in real estate than photography. I have done both. Out here on the Coast 80 percent of people who go into real estate fail, most in a year or so. They sella house to or for friends and family and then disappear.
    There are nice, honest people selling real estate but there are those who lie, steal, cheat, try to steal your clients, undercut your price, badmouth you to clients/potential clients. The same as in photography. Selling $3 million estates seem from the outside to be glamorous/fun/easy to a lot of people.
     
  10. Marc -
    You could easily substitute any field in your last sentence. The real heart of the problem is that people GWC/MWC/WWC (Guy w/camera, Mom w/camera, Woman w/camera) get a DSLR from Fry's, Best Buy, Target, etc... and immediately think they are a photographer.
    Add to that the fact that many community ed, camera stores, etc... now offer photography and wedding photography classes. Taught by employees of the store who's job it is to get you in the door to buy more gear!
    Back in the days of film - in order to even begin to shoot a wedding you needed:
    1) 2.25 (medium format) camera
    2) Assortment of lenses
    3) Knowledge of film and lighting - since film is balanced to light at manufacturing (or a set of filters to compensate for different lighting)
    4) Serious off camera lighting - 2 - 4 off camera lights, battery packs, etc... because you were typically shooting at ISO 25-100.
    5) A professional lab to process your film and print proof prints for you
    6) A professional lab to do the retouches, lighting and color corrections on the final prints.
    and
    7) the business sense to pull it all together and get clients without the internet.
    Now - all you need is a computer, dslr and a couple of kit lenses. And if you want to succeed - the business sense to pull it all together.
    Dave
     
  11. "Back in the days of film - in order to even begin to shoot a wedding you needed: "

    A basic SLR and a Vivitar 283.

    I cannot remember a time when there were NOT budget photographers with limited equipment, skill, knowledge, and experience. There may be more of them these days, but "wannabe" wedding photographers existed for decades before digital became popular.
     
  12. I shot my first wedding with a Pentax K1000 and a metz 45 flash. The pictures were exposed right and in focus.
    A couple being able to see themselves, isn't the basis of what we do?
    I just wonder what makes people with such poor work decide to do this. Don't they know it is more than just fun. Don't they realize they can loose everything if they screw up.
     
  13. I'll be in business 19 years in January. I started out with the camera I knew well, a Minolta X-700, a 55-80ish zoom, a 70-200 zoom, a kit of filters, and a Sunpak flash.
    I was doing 4x6 prints in a cloth slip-in album and got $300-500 for my services. I eventually saved enough to buy a backup body, another x700 and an off camera flash, a 283 I think.
    As I increased gear and experience, i bought more books and invested more time in studying posing, etc. I moved from cloth albums to either an Art Legend album or a TAP album depending on the package and started out around $750-850.
    I worked like this up until 2001. That year, I was complimented by a wedding guest as being a real photographer with a real camera.
    Over the course of 5-7 years, I learned it wasn't only the equipment, but the skill and professionalism of the photographer that makes a professional photographer.
    How many wannabees still do not use a contract? I've used them from day one.
    I always felt that having an office or studio added overhead and that overhead has to be in package pricing. So I could stay low, I never went that way. I prefer the variety of location shoots anyway. When many were $2-3K start out, I was still under $1000 because I had no overhead.
    I finally switched from film to digital when I lost two in a row due to not being digital in 2004. I set my film cameras aside and moved to the Nikon I could afford at the time. A D-40. I'm not proud of this "beginner" camera, but I paid a grand for it at the time. I learned that camera over the next year, how to get off program mode and take more creative shots.
    Today, I've got my eye on another camera, a much more sophisticated setup, but it has to wait until funds are available.
    Professionally, I'm in a catch 22. You can't make money without spending money. Can't charge $3K for a base package when the wannabees charge $500. Can't build my business with personal funds and raise a family too.
    So, I have to stash back what little profit I make until I can take it higher than it is now.
    If I were single, with the income I have FT, and no cares or responsibilities like many of the wannabees, I'd have a phenomenal wedding business. A married MwC wannabee has more freedom if they have a working husband that supports the household. I am the working husband that supports the household.
     
  14. I'm not sure what you are saying Mike Dixon. Of course there were non-pros shooting weddings right from the beginning. I shot my sister's wedding well before the thought of being a wedding photographer even entered my mind. They were penniless.
    Contrary to what you imply, most pros in the film era did use a medium format camera because the whole journalistic or candid driven style didn't happen until the end of the film area when 35mm cameras became more in vogue. Denis Reggie is iconic for making that transition popular ... however, for a long time he used a Hasselblad V camera and film. As did I. As did Nadine I believe. I still have a signature Denis Reggie flash bracket made for the Hasselblad 501 camera : -)
    Most clients of the time that paid a photographer any pro level fee expected a certain level of print quality for use in their slip-in albums ... and the formal portrait work was the lynch pin of this quality over quantity. Prints sales were the key to making a decent living.
    In most of the cases, the business model was totally different from now. The amount shot was far less ... with coverage of some ceremony (often recreated), all the formal portrait work ... while time spent at the reception was often limited to an hour or two.
    Flash forward to today ... client expectations of many hundreds of images, even thousands ... coverage from when the Bride wakes up until the B&G pour themselves into a limo :) Increased demand for all the photos on a DVD with a release. Much lower demand for prints and albums thus eliminating that revenue stream. Along with these number driven expectations, the expectations of quality have slipped ... a vast majority of clients are more interested in immediate web based presentations for their face-book page than nice prints for the mantel or in a printed album.
    Add to this the fact that not just a few wanna-be pros enter the market like in past, hordes of them are flooding the market with reasonable results due to the advancing technology, with the economy forcing some to turn their hobby into a week-end source of income if for no other reason that to pay for their hobby toys. Most work without any insurance, many do not have back-up gear, and IF something goes wrong, they just fold their tent and do something else, because it isn't their career.
    This isn't about "Rock Stars" ... it is about the disappearing Pro wedding photographer like James Clark in the post above. People who have dedicated themselves to this industry, made it their career, and depend on it to feed their families.
    It may well be that is just the way it is. The strong survive, and the rest are nibbled to death by a horde of ducklings ... passively nipping at you until you are suddenly dead.
    My solution is to move upstream ... I'm raising my rates a LOT, shooting more with Medium Format Digital which I paid for doing commercial work, using very sophisticated lighting with leaf-shutter lenses, and designing my own custom albums since I can do it better than any album company.
    I'd rather go out of business selling $4,000 base packages than $1,500 ones and suffering "death by ducklings" ... LOL!
    -Marc
     
  15. Good point Marc. It may be that people simply do not need the lower and mid priced pro's anymore. There will always be a market for top-of-the-line services and it just may be that upping one's game is the only option. The other is to add services beyond the wedding.
    Some pros are using the upper tier weddings to position themselves with this clientèle as their "personal family photographer" for a lifetime. Good automated marketing via email and even snail mail sometimes puts the suggestion to all of their former wedding customers that they should be there for parties and events, maternity, Christmas and children's birthdays, graduations and other "times of your life". The goal is that these upper income customers simply call the photographer for 'everything'. But this is hard work even with your customer database doing its thing. But it doesn't take but a few hundred people, carefully cultivated to build a pretty good business. Then there are the people who see you at their events and who are referred to you and.......
    I'm not ready to surrender yet.
     
  16. What's the big deal? Aren't there wannabees in everything ...carpenters, welders, mechanics, life coaches, authors, contractors, land developers, restauranters, .......?
     
  17. I agree Rick. Following up on wedding clients as they start families and/or experience life's other milestones is a key element of diversification.
    However, if you do not follow up, clients often will type cast you as a wedding photographer only and go else-where for baby pics, family portraits or for family reunions, anniversaries, and such ... etc.
    I recently was contacted by a wedding client from 8 years ago because the photographer they contracted for family pics bailed on them at the last minute. She wondered if I also did family photos? My bad for not following up since I missed out on 6 years worth of annual family portraits and baby pictures of their 2 kids. Did a wonderful fall outing at a park with them for a couple of hours, and when she saw the results she openly regretted not calling me 6 years ago.
    Now they are clients for life. They already booked next year's session. And I also booked her sister's family shots.
    BTW, it isn't just restricted to family oriented stuff. I had a former wedding client contact me to shoot her company's portraits for web use, and another one contracted me to shoot their annual Christmas party and company summer picnic ... which I did for 5 years in a row only ending when they suffered severe corporate cost cuts.
    -Marc
     
  18. I am/was guilty as charged. Began second shooting for a few professionals and thought it would be a great weekened side-gig. The most onerous part of the job was managing the "business" and the post production.
    If I had just invested the time spent in front of a computer working on strobist type skills, building a portrait business, continuing second shooting, I would have enjoyed it sooo much more and had been an even more valuable asset to a real wedding professional. I was making close to $200 a day to do nothing but shoot and hand off a disk. Not bad for the area. That extra $300 i sometimes made wasn't worth the travel, the post production, sacrifices that affected the day job, ignoring my family, the burn out, and eventual deterioration in skill.
     
  19. Wanted to clarify... I was making $150 to $200 to second shoot and hand off card
     
  20. I guess I was a wanna be in 1956, the year I won a fabulous (for its time, and this was its time) Rolleiflex in a raffle for a buck. Since then I've spent more years than I like to think about behind a camera, for pay. Now my photos are in art galleries. But everybody has to start somewhere.
    I think folks should think about the quality of their photos and not worry about what other people are trying to do. There are cut rate (illegal) cosmetic surgeons in this crazed society of ours and you don't have to have a license to pick up a camera and say "I wanna get paid for these images."
    Get over it. Suck it up. There ain't no photograbber's union even if maybe there should be.
     

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