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Thread: Cheap Photographers Only Kill Themselves, Not The Industry

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    Member xkellie's Avatar
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    Post Cheap Photographers Only Kill Themselves, Not The Industry

    Hi all,

    found this article an interesting read, and thought i'd share since it's a bit of a hot topic -

    Cheap Photographers Only Kill Themselves, Not The Industry
    http://www.zarias.com/cheap-photogra...-the-industry/

    Think of the brides out there who don’t have a budget but want some photos of their weddings... Are you saying that if they can’t afford a $3,000+ photographer then they don’t deserve photos? Are you saying that if they can’t afford a Mercedes then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive? ... Hyundai didn’t kill Mercedes.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Sad for the industry maybe, but in the end everyone is free to charge what they like. If they all charged the same the ACCC would come down so hard of them for price fixing we would probably not have a single professional photographer left in Aus.

    Whilst I agree with promoting the benefits of not undercutting others in the photography industry, which I see as more an educational aspect of photography, it is interesting that people who complain about the undercutting would also be happy to walk into Harvey Norman and ask for a discount, or research online and get the best price for their new studio flash setup. We cannot have it both ways, telling others to stop discounting their prices, whilst asking for discounts ourselves.
    Last edited by ricktas; 08-10-2010 at 6:53am.
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    i think quality of work has to be considered as well. i doubt anyone with the money to pay a decent photographer would go to a low-end 'tog just because they were cheaper.

    most consumers know they pay for the quality of the images and the experience with the photographer. if they want an entry-level photographer for an entry-level price, they'll generally get entry-level photos. if they have the money to pay a quality professional, they'll get quality professional photos. new comers charging less may affect the industry, but i think consumers know what they want and what they can afford, and often they are not the same. if they don't have the money they simply can't afford the going rates for a decent photographer, so they don't lose the business they wouldn't have had anyway.

    it might be good if there was some kind of licencing for photographers, that they have to be at a certain consistent, quality level to go into business, but i guess there'd still be those who would ignore it out of ignorance or arrogance.

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    You won't necessarily get what you pay for. There's a lot of people charging big money that are not professional or familiar with a particular genre.
    Like anything else, look at the product before you buy.
    This topic has been discussed many times before.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    sorry I read about these stories all the time, in various fora, including AP, and think to myself BS!!

    it's all a load of BS.

    he says he shoots 20 bands a month and then he works out he was only 'making' $5/hour!!

    Taking into consideration the 'processing time' for each shoot, and that means he used to spend 50 hours shooting and subsequently processing those images for each band!

    kids don't cost $1000/per month unless you're an idiot, or that you want them to cost you that much, health insurance is an Americanism... not necessarily compulsory in Aus.

    All I can say, is that he's lucky to have been in his situation as a dying photographer, and he'd seriously change his tune about how bad it really was for him, if he'd tried couriering for a few years!!

    you can't expect to add your personal daily life costs(such as $1K/month for kids expenses) into a business situation.. it's stupid notion and if he thinks that way(obviously not an accountant type!!) he deserves to fail in any business.

    So taken that he left a $10/hour job as slacker at the local copy shop.. how would he have fared with those expenses then? ... by my reckoning he'd be losing approximately $30/hour relative to his life threatening situation as a photographer!!

    it's just more hyperbole from a pro photographer(judging by his inability to do math), and is best ignored by people with any common sense.
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    AK, although his concept of accounting is pretty twisted, it's fair to say that his gross billing of $60k is not his take-home pay. There are costs associated with running his photography business that do need to be taken into account.

    To me, it is clear from the start of his article that the simple solution is charge more - he'll make as much money for less work.
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    He actually said adding kids can easily cost $1000 per month

    I'd agree, easily

    I think it's a good article, I have a lot of time for zac, vie listened to him a lot
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmer_rob View Post
    AK, although his concept of accounting is pretty twisted, it's fair to say that his gross billing of $60k is not his take-home pay. There are costs associated with running his photography business that do need to be taken into account.

    To me, it is clear from the start of his article that the simple solution is charge more - he'll make as much money for less work.
    There's a great lesson here that most are missing and it doesn't have anything to do with what you charge. It's what you do.
    Too often people put all their eggs in one basket. Zack would have to be creatively dead (he admits this) by the end of the month. His income suffers, his brain suffers and so does his family. There's a message here and Zack's learning the hard way.
    Think about life - if you do the same thing day in and day out you get tired, you burn out, you just got to have variety. Same with work. Even if you love photography just shooting bands or doing weddings alone is just plumb crazy. Some day one of those eggs in your basket is going to crack, and that's it. Just ask Zack. Putting up prices hasn't helped him.
    You've just got to get variety in your work if you want to survive. Stay in the same industry but try another type of work. Do your bands but also do newspapers/magazines/weddings/corporate/industrial. Think about it. Woolworths and Coles don't just sell one product. The government doesn't have one tax. Like any successful industry the more irons you have in the fire the more you earn irrespective of what price you charge. I think the fancy name is multi-skilling but whatever it's called it's true.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I totally understand what he's trying to say(about his chosen industry) and that it's not as easy as people think it is....

    It's just the inane arguments put forward(by his simple mindedness).

    What he's trying to infer is that he was better off at his $10/hour job at the copy shop, which is clearly rubbish.

    @ 10/hr, on an average 40hr/week.. gives him $400/wk. Basically just a bit more than $1600/month. even taking into consideration holidays and other employee benefits when 'working for the man'... compared to his $5k/month as a band photographer.. there's no way he'd be spending over $3k in expenses as a band photographer.. and if he was, then he's an idiot!
    The alternative to charging more for your services and making more money in business is reduce costs where you can. This is what I'm having to grapple with as I can't charge more. My only option is to reduce how much money I can spend.
    Once again.. it;s all about the lifestyle you choose to live and if spending up big to look more professional is what he wants, then he has to be pepared to suffer the consequences.

    it's the way he's put forward his arguments that annoys me... and (because I can be a cynical grumpy ol man sometimes) to me his article is more about scaring others off/out of the industry, using distorted accounting logic rather than points of interest that actually make sense.

    i know how to lose money.. trust me! My previous financial(08-09) year was much worse for me than he'd ever see as a band photographer... going by his figures.

    For me, analysing his figures, and having a rough idea on how business costs actually work.. I'm at least $20/year better off doing what he does... as opposed to losing any more money doing what I do(this past year hasn't been bad for me tho).

    if his point was to educate prospective photographers on how the industry actually works.. with the view to scare them off(or alter their expectations) then form where I'm sitting, it not only hasn't worked.. but now I'm seriously considering taking up the challenge(and hopefully make a bit of money too!

    as for cost of kids/month.. it all depends on the lifestyle you want to lead... I choose a more frugal lifestyle, out of current necessity.
    (having said that, he was based in the USA and their basic costs may be a lot different, with respect to education/health and so forth)

    anyhow.. he may well be a well respected photographer in photographer circles.. but as business person(or accountant) his ability is severely lacking.

    In the same vein as KR(as a gear reviewer), I now have no respect for his(Zack's) opinion as a pro photographer trying to run a photography business, going by that article.

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    I must admit that I thought there was a degree of unnecessary obfuscation in Zack's article - e.g. we all pay taxes whether it is against business income or on a salary or wage, so this is not a comparable expense. Also, his ongoing expenses running a band photography business can't be high (Travel, some advertising, some computer & phone expenses? but no studio, external office, extra employees.) Finally, why should he have the right to love his job and get paid an above-average wage for 20 bands a month? (I read somewhere recently that the average wage in the US is about $45k per annum.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I totally understand what he's trying to say(about his chosen industry) and that it's not as easy as people think it is....

    It's just the inane arguments put forward(by his simple mindedness).

    What he's trying to infer is that he was better off at his $10/hour job at the copy shop, which is clearly rubbish.

    @ 10/hr, on an average 40hr/week.. gives him $400/wk. Basically just a bit more than $1600/month. even taking into consideration holidays and other employee benefits when 'working for the man'... compared to his $5k/month as a band photographer.. there's no way he'd be spending over $3k in expenses as a band photographer.. and if he was, then he's an idiot!
    The alternative to charging more for your services and making more money in business is reduce costs where you can. This is what I'm having to grapple with as I can't charge more. My only option is to reduce how much money I can spend.
    Once again.. it;s all about the lifestyle you choose to live and if spending up big to look more professional is what he wants, then he has to be pepared to suffer the consequences.

    it's the way he's put forward his arguments that annoys me... and (because I can be a cynical grumpy ol man sometimes) to me his article is more about scaring others off/out of the industry, using distorted accounting logic rather than points of interest that actually make sense.

    i know how to lose money.. trust me! My previous financial(08-09) year was much worse for me than he'd ever see as a band photographer... going by his figures.

    For me, analysing his figures, and having a rough idea on how business costs actually work.. I'm at least $20/year better off doing what he does... as opposed to losing any more money doing what I do(this past year hasn't been bad for me tho).

    if his point was to educate prospective photographers on how the industry actually works.. with the view to scare them off(or alter their expectations) then form where I'm sitting, it not only hasn't worked.. but now I'm seriously considering taking up the challenge(and hopefully make a bit of money too!

    as for cost of kids/month.. it all depends on the lifestyle you want to lead... I choose a more frugal lifestyle, out of current necessity.
    (having said that, he was based in the USA and their basic costs may be a lot different, with respect to education/health and so forth)

    anyhow.. he may well be a well respected photographer in photographer circles.. but as business person(or accountant) his ability is severely lacking.

    In the same vein as KR(as a gear reviewer), I now have no respect for his(Zack's) opinion as a pro photographer trying to run a photography business, going by that article.
    You clearly missed the point of the article - Zack is passionate about what he does and is quite successful - this article was referring to his early days - he devotes a lot of his time now to education - he is not trying to scare anyone off just make them more aware of the reality of the costs associated with the profession, rather than the romance. True he's not an accountant, he has a business manager for that, maybe the figures are exagerated for a reason.
    You are entitled to your opinion as is everyone, but before berating someone you clearly don't know, may I suggest you spend a little more time researching the subject.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pvoices1971 View Post
    You clearly missed the point of the article - Zack is passionate about what he does and is quite successful - this article was referring to his early days - he devotes a lot of his time now to education - he is not trying to scare anyone off just make them more aware of the reality of the costs associated with the profession, rather than the romance. True he's not an accountant, he has a business manager for that, maybe the figures are exagerated for a reason.
    You are entitled to your opinion as is everyone, but before berating someone you clearly don't know, may I suggest you spend a little more time researching the subject.
    If AK and I can mis-read the point of the article, there are likely others that did as well, and that reflects back on Zack's communication style. AK is entitled to his views and even though you state as such, your comment regarding berating suggests that you do not respect the rights of others to have an opinion. I think Zack could do well to go back and re-write the article to ensure that his points are not ambiguously interpreted. If it can so easily be mis-interpreted, then Zack has lost the intent straight off, and that doesn't do him any justice, no matter how passionate or successful he might be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pvoices1971 View Post
    Zack is passionate about what he does and is quite successful - this article was referring to his early days - he devotes a lot of his time now to education -
    After reading this thread and then having a wander through Mr. Arias's website it has become abundantly clear that yes he is passionate and successful in what he does --- making money ---. Yes the article clearly refers to some examples being from his early days just as other parts refer to current day income, I feel that the point he was trying to make is that nothing much has changed from then till now in the way people charge, are taxed and face living expenses. He is merely saying in a self glorifying way that which most people already know. Yep, he devotes time to education, paid workshops seem to be his style, I can't find any costs on his web site, only a reference to deposits and course fees not being refunded if you cancel.

    Sorry, he merely seems to be another successful marketing personage that has figured out the easiest way make a living is to promote one's self to cult status, write tons of blogs, some of which are bound to have emotional content to garner sympathy from the reader , hang out on the latest and greatest social networking sites and watch the dollars role in.
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    Unfortunately it is easy to set oneself up as a fee charging photographer. Many would bes do not have the training in either business or all aspects of photography many pros have had.
    Photography is not the only profession in this predicament. As a qualified professional tennis coach I see similar happenings in my profession. In the 20+ years I have been doing this, the backyard coach/poor pro has been my best advert. There is much more involved in being a professional than the ability to take a photograph, hit a tennis ball etc etc. This is why the majority of professions are regulated as far as membership & the ability to call oneself an accountant, lawyer, nurse or doctor is concerned. It is illegal to pose as any of the aforesaid which gives some protection to the members of the public expecting to obtain the service each profession affords.
    My grouse is with anyone charging full fee for work provided if they are not qualified to do so- no matter how good- be they photographer, tennis coach. personal trainer etc etc. It is an expensive process to become certified. In Australia there are many moans about illegal immigrants entering thru the back door. The same reasoning & restrictions should be applied to those photographers endeavouring to enter the profession in similar manner. The difficulty is in the policing as it is human nature to pay as little as possible in many instances.
    Last edited by Tony B; 10-10-2010 at 10:16am.

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    Risky comment there Tony B - there have been a number of threads about whether or not photography should be "regulated". Regulation driven by existing practitioners in the industry to raise the barriers of entry is really just self-interest, however much there are arguments about the benefits to the consumer. If the benefits are really there, the consumer will already be looking for a badge of recognition.

    the ability to call oneself an accountant, lawyer, nurse or doctor is concerned. It is illegal to pose as any of the aforesaid which gives some protection to the members of the public expecting to obtain the service each profession affords.
    I think you'll find that "accountant" is not as tightly regulated as you might believe. As for Lawyer, Nurse or Doctor - there can serious consequences for the purchaser of their services if they do not do their jobs properly - the same cannot be said for Photography (or Tennis Coaching, or Farming) - and so regulation is driven by government AND consumers, regardless of what the practitioners themselves want.

    Next we might need to regulate blog-writers - in case Zack seriously misleads AK, and causes him to have apoplexy and keel over (Or AP posters in case Tony B, pvoices1971 or farmer_rob start pounding the keyboard in frustration and injure their hands )

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    Hey Rob,
    There is a simple form of regulation that could be installed. Anyone wanting to use the word "photographer" in their business name needs to pay a bond of $50,000 to the government. Each time there's a proven complaint from a client $5000 gets deducted to consolidated revenue. That gives you ten chances to get your photography right before you go stony broke. Sorta like mortgaging your house when you go into business. That way you could sort the weekend warriors from the professionals?
    Just a thought.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmer_rob View Post
    .....

    Next we might need to regulate blog-writers - in case Zack seriously misleads AK, and causes him to have apoplexy and keel over ....
    if that's a good camera brand and does ISO6400 nice and clean... I'll have two then!

    I still think that if he(Zack) want's to make a point(and be taken seriously), he still has an obligation to make that point using sound and coherent reasoning, and not distort facts and figures to exaggerate the perils of one vocation compared to another.



    ... I really need cleaner ISO6400(and above) image files ...

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    Regulations and controls do not stop shonky dealers. Yes ultimately they get caught and may lose their licence to 'practice' but not before clients/customers have been through them and learnt the hard way. Yes we have licensing for Doctors and Lawyers, etc but it seems almost weekly we hear about another lawyer who has been dis-barred for stealing clients money etc, or a Doctor that has been de-registered for some reason. Discussing the impact of shonky dealers is valid and valiant, but will regulation stop it? No!

    Unfortunately we do not live in a utopian world, and the old saying 'buyer beware' seems to have lost its meaning and everyone expects someone else to be looking out for them, rather than looking out for themselves. Rather than regulation, education, of both the photographers and the public is the key, as I see it.

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    As camera's are getting better and more affordable, (not to mention everyone carrying one every day that are becoming more and more capable), it will be impossible to regulate. Get used to it, the Photography landscape will change dramatically over the next few years.
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    Does every question need to fall into the "regulation" argument ?

    Eventually the message that this is actually about will be lost. Which in essence is sound advice to make sure that you factor all your costs in if you want to rely on taking pictures as a full time job.

    I dont really see what the problem is ? Other than a few people scanning and misreading the actual blog post.


    BTW I agreed, to a point, with Redgum - again (well not the $50,000 deposit idea - just the posts before that! )

    Personally, while not paying too much attention to the specific figures, I think that if you read the entire piece, the message is clear, and hits the nail on the head.

    The odd thing about being around for longer then some out there, and still possessing a good memory for details, is that I hear many newly established photographers who rely on a wide range of photographic skills to stay in what would be considered full time photography; is that THEY are the ones that shout and complain that people arent charging enough. And yet ironically, many of them have entered the market by being the cheapest (or as Zack would describe it "low ball cheap photographer"), and then a few years later after Financial sense progresses them forward to charging something that keeps them in business, they're concerned about the same section of the market that they themselves evolved from.

    It seems to me that those who enter the market by being good, by being creative, by being individual, instead of relying on fitting in on a particular pay/charging rate (ie he cheapest); are becoming less and less. And again its worth noting that those who do that approach of being better, not cheaper; would also appear to go on and succeed.

    So as I have read Zacks piece, instead of worrying about the details, I can see and understand the message he's saying. Personally I think its sound advice.
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