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Thread: Stiff competition

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    Stiff competition

    I'm not sure about anyone else but I find myself shaking my head and wondering why I bother sometimes. If it wasn't for the fact that I truly love photography I'm not sure why I would even keep my camera. I am on YouTube this evening and I come across yet another "digital fly by nighter" and I was thinking to myself just how common is this? A young lass with a Canon 1100D and a kit 75-300mm lens (I'm guessing) who is (to her credit) taking photos at such things as sporting events like motorsport, equine events, triathalons, etc and selling these on her website on canvas (this is the only option) for quite steep prices ($330 for a 24"x40"). The quality of her images are as you would expect from the setup she is using. Almost every image in her slideshow is soft or is peppered with motion blur. Some are poorly photoshopped with colour vibrance and saturation set too high. I'm sure her photography skills will improve with time but over the last 12 months or so (according to her slideshow) not much has changed - I would hint to say many of the photos are taken in 'sports' mode. But this young lass seems to be making money from this venture by selling canvases of these images. Don't get me wrong, it's great to see someone getting a win and doing well.

    Many of us on this forum have spent thousands (and thousands) of dollars buying the best bodies, best lenses, best flashes that we can afford or money can buy. We have spent countless hours trying to master these so we can take amazing photos on demand. We have travelled (and worked) away from home and our families, at times just for the experience and not for pay so that we might be amongst some of the best at what we do. So my question is, how are the people who put in the time and effort and money different from the people who have just bought their first DSLR and fluoro vest? Competition is so fierce and people (potential customers) are bombarded with images like the ones I spoke of above thinking they are awesome...they must be, she was wearing a fluoro vest...right?

    My photography concentrates primarily on motorsports and in particular motocross. Over the last 3 years I have supplied Williams Event Management with images from over 6 different rounds of the MX Nationals, some of which have been published so I think I have a keen eye for that type of photography. Not saying I'm the best, but I can take great shots. It left me angry seeing what will pass for 'saleable images' perhaps because customers haven't seen anything better.

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    I kind of get what you are saying. I am very beginner and wouldn't dream of selling anything I photograph (even if I were offered money, I couldn't take it and still sleep at night) but I have seen very dramatic examples of what you are referring to, pretty recently. First was a wedding I went to. It took us about an hour to figure out who the professional and second photographers were. They kind of just stood in the back taking snaps, not wanting to impose on the guests. Was very weird. A month or two later, the photos went up on my friends facebook. My husband and I were just looking at them in disbelief. I know you have to make an allowance for different taste, but these were just horrible. EVERYTHING had a white wash look to it with the over-done sun glare added. Yes, my friend did want vintage, but this was just way over the top. Photos from the reception were worse. They seriously looked like iphone photos. I felt bad for her, but my friend is amazed by them. I don't know why. Nothing to compare them to perhaps??

    Second example. A guy from where my husband used to work bought his first DSLR. Popped some photos on a website. Someone saw and wanted one of the shots so offered to pay for the cost to frame and send it. Now this guy thinks he is pro because he sold a photo. He took money off some other friends of ours that also worked with my husband, to do newborn shots of their baby. I would literally cry if I got back photos like he gave them. They were outraged because they knew the photos were bad. The colours were so off that peoples skin looked green. He must have tried to clone something off the babies head but did it with the smudge tool. Random limbs were cropped off. They were absolutely appalling. Yet, because someone wanted a pic once, he went out and had his car sign written, t-shirts made up, everything.

    I don't really know how it must feel from your side as a good photographer. However, I am far, far down the food chain and I notice these people too. If I see a photo and I know I could take something better or even on par, I know there is no way they should be charging for it, let alone exorbitant amounts.
    Still a new kid in the photography world


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    lol I think I am going to join this club I am usually my worst critic which I reserve the right to be and I think it keeps me grounded when my wife tells me I take great photos (I have tried to explain to her that whilst I love her she is simply not counted when it comes to a fan club ). I digress......How many times do we see people turn out total crap and somehow 'make it'!! I am not sure they really are making a good business but then again they might be.

    The truth is they have the balls to do it and I don't. I can hide behind my 'I want to produce the best quality or I won't do it' mantra.....and believe me I hide behind it very well, but the truth is I could probably have a go and try to make a living out of it but damn that is some scarey shit for a person like me!!!!

    How much do I hide?.....1DX, 1DIV, 5D2, 50D, a whole bunch of L glass, remote triggers, RRS pano gear, backdrops, Elinchrom lights, countless light modifiers ....... the list goes on. But my god if someone asks me to do a paid gig I get so worried that I cannot deliver the goods I decline. My own worst enemy in that respect. I have covered things like the horse races for the official photog when he is on holiday but even then I worry about the quality I produce.

    Man I wish I was 20 years younger and I would probably just go out there, screw what others think and make it happen!!!

  4. #4
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Unfortunately there is no way to stop it. All we can do is have discussions like this (as we have done so several times) and hope that a few people read them and learn from what is said.

    How often do we see someone join AP (which is quite a small site in the whole scheme of things) and clearly register as a beginner and then post an introduction that says they joined to learn from us cause they really want to be a professional photographer.. and then we never hear from them again. They look around the site, see the quality of the photos being produced and decide not to stay. I often wonder how many of them actually realise that there is much much more to photography than buying a camera and setting up a Facebook photography page, and give up. OR how many think we are not what they want cause they do not want to be told they are not ready when they put up some photos for CC, and just go back to FB and get likes and oohs and aahs and sell themselves and their photos on FB. Then there are those who genuinely enjoy photography, really want to make it as professionals and stick around, learn, improve and slowly develop their skills and go on to start up their own small business.

    I am waiting for the day we gt a post by someone who has joined up to get our help cause they have photographed a wedding and they are being sued due to the quality of the photos, or old uncle Bob tripped over their tripod, broke his hip and they are being sued..but they did not have public liability insurance.

    No matter how often we raise these issues, they will keep happening, and we will continue to see threads like this and sites like this.

    I think our role (as a photography website) and individually as photographers is to continue to provide good information and hope that we can have a positive role in educating people about what it takes to become a professional photographer. If we can succeed in directing a few people on the right path to success as professional photographers, then we are doing well.

    I don't think we can 'fix' this one, but if we can make a small difference with our discussions at times, then we should pat ourselves on the back for what we can do.

    And any beginners reading this, please post photos in the CC forums on AP and learn. If you apply yourself and learn from the CC you get, and practice what advice is given, you can become good photographers and even great photographers. When that happens, then it is time to think about if you want to become a professional. Get you skills up first and research what is involved in being a professional photographer, get yourself a business plan, and work at it, but do not expect to be a professional photographer in terms of months, think in terms of years, and work towards your goal methodically and with a plan.
    Last edited by ricktas; 23-08-2013 at 6:34am.
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    Going Cold Blooded outstar79's Avatar
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    I'm still waiting for that day when I sell hundreds of canvases too!!! Unfortunately it isn't always the best tog that will sell - but how well you can market and promote to reach your intended target (or everybody!). I guess it's all about attitude though, how badly do you want to "make it"?



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    Not to be disrespectful to photography clients, but most people just cant "see".
    They are capable of distinguishing a bad(theirs) photograph from a half decent one(they will regard as great). But it is extremely rare for them to tell a difference between a good image and a great one.
    If an image looks better than the one they took with their smart-phone they are happy to pay for it. Other photographers or enthusiast like those on this forum can see that what they are paying good money for is sub-standard or outright garbage, but the customers think its good. And THAT is what really counts. The most successful photographers are not those who produce best images, but those who satisfy the most customers.

    I think some photographers on this forum are doing themselves a disservice by being so pedantic about their images. By being so critical of them. The actual customers are not that thorough.

    I had a lot of "arguments" with my business partner who is a perfectionist, about amount of work required to satisfy the customer. I am critical about my work too, but i am more practical. She would spend hours perfecting photographs in photoshop because she felt that they are not up to her standard. This is all admirable, but the fact is, she and I were the only people who will see a difference between the original image and the one after 2 hours of work in photoshop.

    There is often little bit of envy and bitterness in budding photographer's opinions(Overall, not particularly in THIS thread). I was like that too. We find it easy to criticise other people's work, but most of us find it hard to put ourselves on the line. Offer our work to REAL scrutiny by real paying customers. We use the same excuse as "I'm not ready for it yet, My gear is just not good enough to be used for paid work"...
    I shot my first few weddings and portrat sessions for free, because I wasn't confident and I didnt think my work was good enough to be paid for. But I overcame that fear.

    A colleague of mine would talk for hours about his Nikon gear, the lenses he has, and the lenses he needs, and to be fair to him, his work is not bad at all. A few days ago he was asked to photograph his mate's wedding and what did he do? He chickened out. He would't even try.
    No guts - No glory!!

    I know for a fact that it doesn’t take a lot to impress a paying customer. They are much more forgiving than members of photography forums. And good marketing skills will yield more sales than good photography skills. I also know for a fact that no matter how good your work is, you will NOT amaze every customer you have. Some will expect something different, sometimes you will have an off day and produce average images.

    If its your dream/goal to become a pro photogarpher, then stop talking about photography, stop criticising every pixel in your frame and stop chasing new gear. If you think your images are good, go out there and offer your work to paying customers(but yes, get insurence too . A praise from a paying customer is worth 1000x more than a positive CC from a fellow forum member. If you don't sell an image or don't ever impress a customer, then you can give up on this career, but at least you will have tried and you will have no regrets later in life.
    If you dont want to go pro, then don't campare yourself to others, and just perfect your own work and be happy about it.

    Ok.. I'm starting to preach.. better get off my soap box..
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    Ausphotography Regular jjphoto's Avatar
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    I don't see what all the fuss is about. The ease of making a buck (or maybe two, tops) in photography applies to everyone equally.

    The reality is also that the bottom end of the market is where it's easy to get in so that's where there's a glut of photographers doing cheap/nasty photography and ultimately too much competition and a lack of demand. Some markets just want an average result at a below average cost so crap photographers can still get by, to a point. Darwin's theory of natural selection will prevail and some photogs will improve and move onto better paid work where there is less competition whilst others will simply starve and die. Of course there will always be a new supply of budding photogs so outwardly nothing really changes, only the names.

    But making a buck in photography is only partly about the photography, the majority is about marketing/business. If you suck at the later, the former won't matter. Hey that rhymes!

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    Ausphotography Irregular Warbler's Avatar
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    A couple of things that come to mind having read the posts above fairly quickly. It's a Facebook and Instagram world. Ipads and smartphones are status symbols. To be cool, you must not only have one, but you must send selfies and other photos to all your friends with the latest photo effects applied. In return, when your friends send you their pictures, you must tell them how awesome or cool their photos are, Too bad if they're really just crap. The end result is that people actually believe that crap is actually good.

    It has been my experience that most customers wouldn't know a good photo if it bit them on the arse. I can now generally anticipate the ones they will pick. They aren't your best, usually. Odds are that is you've got one that is marginally soft, that will be the one they want enlarged and all the rest that are pin-sharp and perfectly composed/exposed will remain sitting on the shelf. We all have work that we like more than other stuff we've taken, and if we've been at it a while, we have older work that makes us mutter, "What was I thinking?".

    As I said though, most customers aren't going to say something like, "Well you didn't follow the rule-of-thirds there." Where most of us fall down is in marketing ourselves and networking. It is difficult to find a niche in a small market. In very small markets, it pays to be able to shoot as many genres as possible.

    Just my thoughts. Take 'em or leave 'em.

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    `i agree that the art of good photography as a trade is in decline, reality is everyone carries a camera, with an app that has all the presets to create an image that is then published and forgotten in 30 seconds. Next is the reality that most (not as much the corporate market) consumers are cash poor. if your shopping to a budget then OK is ok when shopping for memories. Next again is many people have a dslr, they take a mountain of below par shots on auto mode, and share with the world, so it does not take much to impress a client if you can shoot in focus, add a little back ground blur, and have enough pp skills to not make the shot look like a Warhol nightmare. Its what i like to call dumbing the client down. I have watched my industry ( hospitality, as both a chef and service manager) teach people to expect less over the last 29 years, people open cafe/restaurants and serve prepared salad, meals, sauces and pretend to be chefs. Skill and experience will always draw a following, but pretenders will breed, multiply and die away daily. Having said all of that i am now offering wedding shoots for $5.50 an hour with 2000 processed shots on a solid gold plated flash drive with 2, yes 2 puppies and a bowl of jelly babies thrown in for the first 50 people to like my facebook page.
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    It's one of the reasons I do photography as a hobby instead of a career. I think it would frustrate me too much as a career.
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    Sadly many of these people need to hard reality check and more then often its comes down very very hard.

    When i first got seriousley into this i entered a few small local comps and get a few easy wins with photos even i thought were not all that great, lucky for me i had some contacts in local government and news and managed to get a few photos published. Sadly for me i sent a set of photos in and got a reply a few hours later actually asking me if i even bothered with the shots and if they were taken with an old point and shoot. After some saying sorry on my behalf i asked what was wrong and since then ive learnt that im not as good as i sometimes like to think i am.

    The above mentioned people wil get that them selves soon (im pretty sure there is a place in hell reserved for people who charge $330 for a canvas print)
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    I'm glad so many people drew interest in this thread. I'm sure it's been done to death but it's always good to hear a different take on things and in some cases people are feeling exactly what I'm feeling regarding the issue. CandidTown raised a really good point that people have been dumbed down by the constant bombardment of crap images that pass for 'great shots', so much so that they now have very little idea of what a great shot looks like or what a great shot will cost them. A few years back, I had a mate who paid $9000 for his wedding photos. Now I thought at the time, that's a bit excessive. I saw the album when they were done...it blew my mind how amazing these photos were. It inspired me to do better. My mate is a massive introvert and would have been a nightmare to get out of his shell but this photog did it, and did it well. I appreciated just how much it would have taken when I did a family portrait session a couple of weeks later. You can get one or two people to act up for the camera easy enough but throw in 6-7 others AND young kids and it starts to become hectic. I took some great shots of this family. When I showed them to the group after hours of PP I was hit with comments like "why is the background so blurry" and "can you get the whole picture in focus?". I took them outside and took a photo of them with a kit lens on a really narrow aperture (f7 or thereabouts) and asked them if that was more like what they were after...to which they replied"they look heaps more like the ones my sister takes with her black camera"...I told them they should probably get their sister to do the shoot again for them. I refunded the sitting fee and walked away. People are happy to pay money for any type of image produced on a digital camera. If you take crappy photos but can convince your audience they are great shots through smart marketing then I think you are going to make more money than the best of us...

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    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    I started reading.... But I thought it would be quicker to read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
    I can see the point though. Not that it worries me. I'm only in it for fun, and the company I get on here. I do have a snicker every now and then, when I see an image on a wall in a café with a ridicules price on it.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    I don't see what all the fuss is about. The ease of making a buck (or maybe two, tops) in photography applies to everyone equally.

    ......
    And not just to photography ..... but to just about every aspect of life itself, from Aluminium sidings(for your house) .. to Zincalume(carports).

    There's a shonk lurking to rob you of your hard earned.
    I guess the difference between photographjy shonks, and other forms of ripoff merchants is that in some other instances lives can be at stake(ie. recent pink batts saga)
    No one ever got hurt of bad photography .. except a few delusional pro togs I guess.

    My thoughts re this type of pro photographer, is all the more luck to them. If the idiot clients are too stupid to realize bad photography when they see it, then it's that client's prerogative to allow themselves to get ripped off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    A couple of things that come to mind having read the posts above fairly quickly. It's a Facebook and Instagram world. Ipads and smartphones are status symbols. To be cool, you must not only have one, but you must send selfies and other photos to all your friends with the latest photo effects applied. In return, when your friends send you their pictures, you must tell them how awesome or cool their photos are, Too bad if they're really just crap. The end result is that people actually believe that crap is actually good.

    ....
    +1

    .. not only +1, but to the power of infinity too!

    This is the crux of the problem.

    LOL rossco .. can I have 2 bowls of jelly babies and only the one puppy!(have no way to manage one pup, let alone two!)
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    And not just to photography ..... but to just about every aspect of life itself, from Aluminium sidings(for your house) .. to Zincalume(carports).

    There's a shonk lurking to rob you of your hard earned.
    I guess the difference between photographjy shonks, and other forms of ripoff merchants is that in some other instances lives can be at stake(ie. recent pink batts saga)
    No one ever got hurt of bad photography .. except a few delusional pro togs I guess.

    My thoughts re this type of pro photographer, is all the more luck to them. If the idiot clients are too stupid to realize bad photography when they see it, then it's that client's prerogative to allow themselves to get ripped off.



    +1

    .. not only +1, but to the power of infinity too!

    This is the crux of the problem.

    LOL rossco .. can I have 2 bowls of jelly babies and only the one puppy!(have no way to manage one pup, let alone two!)
    My guess is that the difference between photography and other industries is that the photographers probably don't know they are shonks. I don't think they intentionally go out to deceive, I think they just don't understand why their pictures aren't as good as they think they are when all their friends think they amazing.

    It reminds me a little of the people who go onto Idols/everyothersingingshow and are absolutely horrible. They get asked why and it's generally because family and friends didn't give them honest advice.

    I think in many respects, its about the world we live in. It's a world where kids don't get graded harshly because it may hurt their feelings, everyone is a winner and it's bad to give someone an honest opinion. I think it gives people a false perception of the world because the reality is their family and friends don't realise they are setting someone up to fail. If they believe they are good, and they dedicate their lives to something they are bad at, in many cases it's likely they will fail. Yes, you could argue if someone is dedicated enough they will succeed, but if the person is out there taking photos without getting advice from reputable sources (like here), are they really looking to get better or just have their ego stroked?

  16. #16
    Ausphotography Regular jjphoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissionMan View Post
    My guess is that the difference between photography and other industries is that the photographers probably don't know they are shonks. I don't think they intentionally go out to deceive, I think they just don't understand why their pictures aren't as good as they think they are when all their friends think they amazing.

    It reminds me a little of the people who go onto Idols/everyothersingingshow and are absolutely horrible. They get asked why and it's generally because family and friends didn't give them honest advice.

    I think in many respects, its about the world we live in. It's a world where kids don't get graded harshly because it may hurt their feelings, everyone is a winner and it's bad to give someone an honest opinion. I think it gives people a false perception of the world because the reality is their family and friends don't realise they are setting someone up to fail. If they believe they are good, and they dedicate their lives to something they are bad at, in many cases it's likely they will fail. Yes, you could argue if someone is dedicated enough they will succeed, but if the person is out there taking photos without getting advice from reputable sources (like here), are they really looking to get better or just have their ego stroked?
    I concur fully with the above but would suggest it's not just the next guy or girl that's a bit crap but that we all need to look a bit harder at our own abilities! Why are we (the Royal 'we') better then the next person, or are we? I think it's almost impossible to see yourself objectively and possibly even a bit painful when you do.

    Ironically it's this blindness of self that gives many people the confidence to aim high so I wouldn't always call it a bad thing.

  17. #17
    Member cameronpatrol's Avatar
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    Hi all,
    Im new here and Im also very green.
    Being so new to photography I can sort of get both sides of the story.
    Before I started reading tons of info and tech stuff, plus youtube tips, I would look at a picture and think yeah its ok, or wow thats great.
    But now knowing the techincal side of photography a little more, a photo that looked great to me now looks like rubbish technically.
    And knowing that technically its rubbish but still may look good I cant get past the tech side to like the image and just can it.

    So I guess to the un-trainned eyes something may look great to them or personal taste for dodgey work.
    I think nowa days crap photos/paintings are called "Art" isnt it how its works

    Heres a link I found today on another forum the top 19 most expensive photos sold.
    I clearly cannot see the value in these images.
    maybe the real old ones.
    *sorry, but as per the site rules : rule 5 you cannot link to other photography forums till you have 30 days membership and 50 posts*

    Anyway hope I havnt made an arse of myself on here already lol
    Cheers Cam
    Last edited by ricktas; 27-08-2013 at 7:11pm.

  18. #18
    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cameronpatrol View Post
    Heres a link I found today on another forum the top 19 most expensive photos sold.
    I clearly cannot see the value in these images.
    maybe the real old ones.
    I tend to agree. And here's the link to those 19 photos .... http://www.photographytalk.com/photo...aphs-ever-sold
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
    60D, Canon 28-105, Sigma 150-600S, Sigma 120-400, a speedlite, a tripod, a monopod, a remote release and a padded bag to carry things in.

  19. #19
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    Well, I am just finding my feet, but in the last month word has got around after my footy images have been in the paper and displayed on the footy FB page.

    A few things have happened....

    My friend showed me a FB page that her SIL has. She takes baby and maternity photos....charging $50 for the session including the disc with photos. Now, I looked at these images and though, omg - that is really bad. I looked at my friend, and she said (without me prompting) "yes, they are crap and it devalues what you, as a photographer does by both being a bad photographer AND charging such a small amount, but wow, you could really do this yourself, make some money and they would look so much better than this!" She knew that what her SIL is doing is undercutting a lot of photographers with her substandard images.

    I shoot football and soccer and the other day a lady stopped me (at the footy) and said she loves my images and wants me to shoot her daughter at netball. You know what the first thing I thought??? " Ive never shot netball before....can I do it?" I would have done it but was busy taking pics of soccer, but I did freak out when she approached me.

    I also was taking pics of my sons class in 'Old Day' costumes and his teacher was so happy and also said she loves my pics....well, she was talking to the Promotions person at lunch time. The Promo Person was saying they need a photographer for a Yr 12 Event. Toms teacher told her I could possible do it. When she told me, I froze. I politely declined and said I am not at that level yet. She said fair enough, but she thinks Im great.

    Just goes to show, some peeps are super cocky and literally think their images are the best (running before they have even started to walk) and some peeps are super-critical and doubt themselves and their work, which hinders them from progressing and moving forward.
    Monika
    Equipment: Canon 60D, Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens, Fancier FT-662A tripod, 18-55mm kit lens, 55-250mm kit lens, 30mm 1.4 Sigma lens, LR4, PS Elements
    Check out my Flickr photos ... http://www.flickr.com/photos/missmonny/
    ... and then you can like me on www.facebook.com/PhotoByMB or see my shop on http://www.redbubble.com/people/msmonny



  20. #20
    Ausphotography Regular
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    This is a great conversation as many of the people I respect on here at AP have said some really thought provoking things for myself to ponder.

    I am in the process of building my own baby/childrens portrait business and I have spent alot of time looking at the so called "competition" While there are a few AMAZING and I mean AMAZING photographers in the same area, there are a glut of really poor photographers. Facebook is a haven for the fauxtog however people seem to think that their work is amazing. I guess it really depends on what part of the market you want. Shooting at bargain basement prices is going to attract clients with low expectations and will not allow you to grow IMHO. I plan on not attracting those clients.
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