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Thread: Is the business of photography dead?

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    Is the business of photography dead?

    Yay! Thought I would just ask if anyone is still interested in the "Business" forum?
    Have all those ongoing problems been solved or is it no longer relevant to those who visit this site?
    Photojournalist | Filmmaker | Writer | National Geographic | Royal Geographic

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    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    As with all businesses where the barriers of entry are low, and there is money to be made, the business does become saturated. In this case more so as the cost of equipment to get into the photography business has dropped.

    The secret is to find a niche or create a niche in the market. As an example I have a mate who started his commercial photography business back in the late 70's. Even then it was a tough market but he could make a living. He moved out of the industry in the late 80's but still had a love of photography.

    In retirement he runs Yarra Valley photography tours. He mixes his love of photography, his skill in teaching and his interest in travel all in one job. His artistic eye and his skill as a photographer never left him and he is successful in his niche market.
    www.kjbphotography.com.au

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    You also get to a point where people can just read the existing threads in this forum and get answers, or opinions, on most of the common photography business discussion matters, so perhaps people do not feel the need to start a new thread to get answers to something that is already available?
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    G'day Rick, Happy New Year.
    That's like saying "I've been to primary school - don't need to go to high school"
    Learning is a never ending cycle - new information everyday.
    I guess there's something in every "business" question that is useful to both the giver and receiver.
    And I'm sure there are many aspiring commercial photographers out there that would love some help?
    Just a thought.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    G'day Rick, Happy New Year.
    That's like saying "I've been to primary school - don't need to go to high school"
    Learning is a never ending cycle - new information everyday.
    I guess there's something in every "business" question that is useful to both the giver and receiver.
    And I'm sure there are many aspiring commercial photographers out there that would love some help?
    Just a thought.
    Agree, but perhaps they are just getting the information from previous threads, rather than asking their own?

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Have you got some words of wisdom for us, Redgum? Personally I think that the photo business has changed dramatically, but there are still opportunities if you are good enough or lucky enough. I do think that it is no longer enough to just be a photographer. You need to be specialist in some other field and maybe cover many lines of photography (eg stills, movies, time lapse, etc). Sure, there are still wedding photographers, but it's not a line many of us would want to follow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Axford View Post
    Have you got some words of wisdom for us, Redgum? Personally I think that the photo business has changed dramatically, but there are still opportunities if you are good enough or lucky enough. I do think that it is no longer enough to just be a photographer. You need to be specialist in some other field and maybe cover many lines of photography (eg stills, movies, time lapse, etc). Sure, there are still wedding photographers, but it's not a line many of us would want to follow.
    Hi Steve, I would agree with you that the photographic business has changed dramatically in the last decade and yes, like many hands-on occupations you need multiple skills. It is rare to survive with a single skill base let alone make money. Two of the most important skills for a photographer are networking and management but of equal priority is the ability to learn related trades. Videography comes to mind, bookkeeping perhaps, even writing (journalism), something related but independent so you always have something to do in the troughs.

    I feel differently to Rick in that advice/information can quickly become outdated. I wouldn't go to a library today for information on photography, perhaps history but not ongoing advice in a practical sense. The world changes too fast and the competition is strong. It would be great for Ausphotography members to re-ask business questions because many things have changed but that's on the assumption that anyone is still interested in taking on photography as a business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post

    I feel differently to Rick in that advice/information can quickly become outdated. I wouldn't go to a library today for information on photography, perhaps history but not ongoing advice in a practical sense. .
    Totally spot on. I had to let go mine due to inability to tackle bot attacks on line

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Hi Redgum. I sometimes think I should post something in this thread, but I generally have no idea of how to advise someone who wants to get into the photographic business. I just fell into it by doing something that nobody else does (or at least, very few people). The fact that it pays real money never ceases to amaze me. My little bit of advice, for what it's worth, is that 99% of the modern market is overseas - at least it is for me. Still pictures are good, but moving pictures often pay better.
    Just one comment on using the internet. Do it, but some sites give lots of hits and almost no sales. Others give less hits, but are very highly regarded by those who will pay. I remember having 7 million hits on one site but very few sales, a few hundred thousand on another and many, many sales.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    .... but that's on the assumption that anyone is still interested in taking on photography as a business.
    That may be a good point.
    Possibly any members here that aren't already into the business side, just don't want to be, or don't see the possibility to be (that's me).

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    Steve, I think most successful business people "fall into it" to some degree. And you need to remember what "success" is. Like you, most successful people carve a niche and this often comes from a love for the kind of work they're doing tempered with a touch of luck and plastered with skill developed by hard work. In real terms success is the ability to earn a worthwhile income and that could be anything from $1000 to $10,000 a week consistently. The amount is irrelevant as long as you're paying your way, and happy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    That may be a good point.
    Possibly any members here that aren't already into the business side, just don't want to be, or don't see the possibility to be (that's me).
    Mark, the truth is that many potential commercial photographers (members) are comfortable where they are, whatever they're doing and that's a very real consideration.
    Last century, when I was a bank manager, my first task when offering a loan was to determine the commitment of the applicant. If they couldn't pass this test they were unlikely to get finance and this generally brought them back to reality.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    What I think has gone is the option to study a bit, get a camera and open a suburban photo shop, like we used to see in most shopping centres. Now you have to create your niche. That's not to say there aren't opportunities, because there are, but they cover a very wide range of things and there is no formula. Even wedding photography requires something a little more than just turning up, taking some nice photos and putting them in a nice album. It really helps if you really like weddings and can be creative about the job. If you just want money then become something other than a photographer because you could probably earn more elsewhere. It's like film or music or acting. Some earn heaps, but most do it because they love it and many just scratch a living.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Axford View Post
    ...What I think has gone is the option to study a bit, get a camera and open a suburban photo shop, like we used to see in most shopping centres. Now you have to create your niche...
    It may become the new niche
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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    It may well do AM. What doesn't help much is telling people that they need to become the photographers of 40 years ago. There are some who survive doing that, but its a declining industry.

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    Ausphotography Regular bcys1961's Avatar
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    I have my doubts about the information being give out on this web page at Open Universities:

    https://www.open.edu.au/careers/arts.../photographers


    Average salary : $57,500 and "Employment for Photographers has risen by a rate of 39.8% over the past 5 years and is expected to grow very strongly through 2017."


    Sounds like a great industry to get into , but I would show these figures to the recently retrenched photographers at the SMH and Age newspapers!
    Last edited by bcys1961; 09-01-2016 at 1:36pm.
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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    $57,500 isn't all that much when you factor in that it is probably contract work, so no sick leave, leave, super, etc. The average pay in Australia is about $80,000 pa.

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    Ausphotography Regular bcys1961's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Axford View Post
    $57,500 isn't all that much when you factor in that it is probably contract work, so no sick leave, leave, super, etc. The average pay in Australia is about $80,000 pa.
    True , but I question the growth prospects.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Axford View Post
    What I think has gone is the option to study a bit, get a camera and open a suburban photo shop, like we used to see in most shopping centres. Now you have to create your niche.
    Agree. All you need to do is look at all the $500 wedding photographers on facebook to see the lack of inspiration. Pick one, any one, and you will probably get a set of photos that any of them could have taken. The whole industry tends to be like that though. Someone comes up with selective colour as a great idea for wedding photos. Nek Minit..everyone is doing them. Trash the Dress. Cake Smash. So many imitate! Even if you do find your niche, don't be surprised to find others following along behind trying to copy everything you do.

    Photography has become a game of imitation, for the most part.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post

    Photography has become a game of imitation, for the most part.
    Photography .... and everything else too, Rick. There are still opportunities, but it is always the temptation to go for the short term gain and just copy something that works. I suspect if your target is money, then that is the best thing to do. If you want more than that, then you have to risk not making much money and just do it anyway. Tough call if you have a new baby and mortgage.

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    Forget what the so called average pay is for a photographer and look at the delinquencies. 93% of registered photographers are bankrupt in five years irrespective of their genre.
    One would guess that the average pay figure comes primarily from employed photographers, i.e public service, newspapers and magazines and other employed occupations and we all know this group diminishing at a rapid rate. And the vast majority of delinquencies are in the "wedding" industry and this doesn't include overnighters who are going to build a bank but instead, break it.
    To put it in context, look at Dick Smith. Everyone went there for parts a decade ago and when they were taken over by Woolworths their product line simulated Big W and that was the beginning of the end. Their product range was reduced by 80%. I simple don't believe you can survive as a wedding photographer without other strings to the bow.

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