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Race to the bottom

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2 hours ago, UncleBobsPhotography said:

so it would only ruin the market if there are a lot of people like me

Actually Bob, yes and no...

Ruining the market? No, I don't think so, - there has always been 'Uncle Bob's' (or 'Friend Jane Who Does Photography and loves to top focus her kit lens based camera chimping religiously) and if anything, I have seen less of them in the last few years.

Maybe it's my market, (moderately high end but rarely the highest end) but I think it's more the case that the amateurs used to use a DSLR or decent bridge/compact but these days a phone takes such decent pictures but has more limitations, but whatever the reason, they seem less arsed than they used to be!

5 -10 years ago in the UK, there would typically be anything from 1-3 at every wedding trying to shoot the shit out of it and saying things like, "if I get in your way, just shout!". By the time I have to shout...as if I even would, it's too late mate and you already f*cked what might have been a key unrepeatable moment that I'm being paid for, earn a living from and feed my family with, but whatever.

I could tell you dozens of stories, but won't...

But anyway, does it ruin the market? Not really because generally if you have a client with a decent spend, the choice is rarely going to be pro tog at 3k or Uncle Bob at 0k, same as someone who can afford...and desires a new Audi/BMW/Merc is also not considering a used Hyundai in the same mix. Simply different markets...

The yes bit applies only to the fact that if you get one guest trying to shoot the shit out of a wedding, it only sets a precedent for others to have a go when they otherwise would probably not and it can all get out of hand very quickly. Video or photography and both are as bad as each other as the amateur videographer usually shoots far too close and is far too slow but the tog is bobbing up and down left right and centre and again, usually far too close.

I could show you a video from last Summer where one guy decided to step out into the aisle during the ceremony when there was a video camera on a tripod recording the entire ceremony from start to finish.

If you watched the whole thing (like I had to), you can see he looks back, spots the camera, hesitates, makes a conscious decision to do it anyway.

Short period of time, he does it again. A lady a couple of rows back watches him do this a couple of times and decides to do the same, also glancing back, spotting the camera but decides her snap is more important than the production that the couple who invited them and paid for them to be at their wedding have paid for.

By the time we got to vows and ring exchanges, we had a huddle stood completely obscuring the rest of the ceremony for the remaining 20 minutes or so. One small ripple became a tidal wave.

The only 'positive' I can think of is at least the couple can easily identify who completely f*cked their wedding video. Me,- well I am covered by contract as I have zero responsibility in regard to guest behaviour but the B&G were beyond incensed!

The bottom line for me is one of respect and etiquette. The few times I have been invited to a wedding as a guest, phone or compact only and I would not dream of getting out of my seat, or hanging around outside church waiting for the bride and her father to turn up, same as I would not turn up at someone's place of work on a Monday morning and start using their work computer or attending a board meeting.

But none of that has anything really in regard to losing a job to some low-ball quote!

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Just now, Kisaha said:

Here is 50%-60% taxes (and other similar stuff).

So if you make 500$ a week. 50% is 250$ a week, which means 50$ per day. Nobody can live from that. (Rent, food, car, gas, kids,electricity, internet, heat, water,...) 

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18 minutes ago, zerocool22 said:

So if you make 500$ a week. 50% is 250$ a week, which means 50$ per day. Nobody can live from that. (Rent, food, car, gas, kids,electricity, internet, heat, water,...) 

Add new equipment almost every month to that!

I am making less per week, but cost of living is 1/3 of what it is in London or Paris (which I have living experience in the past), but still is double or triple the cost of living of e.g Sofia/Bucurest.

But yes, it is very difficult to impossible to live like this.

But we are into I.M.F and EU ruling. The country literally bankrupted in 2010, but they didn't know what to do with us, so they tax to the death the "weakest" link, which is the self-employed crowd.

Result?

Brain drain: 10% of the population, of which 90% of those with Bachelor degrees and 25-30% with post graduation degrees working abroad.

Brain down the drain: educated and modern millennials are forming a strange "minority" in the country (while is the majority of the workforce in most western countries) which can not affect things, or change it to a better society.

Dramatic acceleration of an aging and declining population, which for most scientists is already irreversible. Also, total collapse of the health care/insurance and pension system in the next decade.

Allmost 30% of unemployment and that goes to 70-80% for very young people. 

You get why I am not complaining much, even being in the industry and having a family is a huge deal for me!

P.S they also tax kids!! The logic behind it is "if you have kids, it means that you can afford to raise them, so you have taxable money, even if you haven't"!!

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2 hours ago, nigelbb said:

This +++++

I started in video before the DSLR revolution & it then required a considerable investment in equipment before you could offer your services. While undoubtedly the market for video has grown the pool of people doing video has grown exponentially because the entry cost is now so low. I stopped doing pro video five years ago as I wasn't earning as much as needed & found the low balling competition & general expectations of customers so demoralising.

What are you doing now?

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5 hours ago, newfoundmass said:

No, just in jobs in general. 

Yeah as a regular job 500$ a week is not bad at all. There is a big difference between this and working as a freelancer. I would not bother becoming a freelancer if you could not make 5-6K a month, its just not worth the hassle. 

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Just now, zerocool22 said:

Yeah as a regular job 500$ a week is not bad at all. 

I live in Vermont, so there are not a lot of freelancers or really much of a local filmmaker scene. And really, I've always looked at things compared to my friends and what they make, as opposed to others in my field. If I can make $30k a year, after taxes, working when I want to, instead of working 40+ hours a week at a job I hate, I'm fine taking a gig for $500. I've made more doing that than I did when I'd ask for what I feel like I'm worth. 

I just took a gig editing a kids basketball game. Two camera angles, it's about an hour. The Dad just wanted something "professional" for his kids best game of the season. I charged $100 for what will amount to 2 1/2 hours of work, tops. I'd get scolded or bashed for charging so little by some folks, but that's almost 2 weeks worth of groceries for me for a couple hours of time. 

I guess it just boils down to perspective. I just feel fortunate to be able pick and choose. 

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11 hours ago, UncleBobsPhotography said:

I'm one of those guys ruining the market. Because of my regular job, I don't need to make any profit from my video work. Still, I enjoy spending 20 hours a week doing video projects whether I get paid for it or not, which means the quality of what I'm producing is steadily improving. Not quite professional level yet, but good enough for most. Should I refrain from low-balling projects if that means I don't get to work with what I like? On the other hand, I would never do 10 weddings in a row or 20 corporate interviews simply because I would find it immensely boring, so it would only ruin the market if there are a lot of people like me.

I remember reading someone posting like this and upsetting people, but that sounds pretty cool to me. I get the frustration with being undercut, but on the low end you're building a reel more than you're trying to make a living imo. It takes some guts to just jump from unemployed to freelancing so I think that kind of thing makes sense where you ease in from your 9-5.

One caveat is that people looking for a "deal" are always looking for a "deal." Higher paying clients are usually just better people to work for, but low pay work for friends or whatever I think is great. Free or near-free work can be cool because you do have the upper hand in that relationship since you're doing the favor. But I have gotten burned most on low pay jobs so it can be a tricky place to be.

I sometimes think people who focus on the business aspect of things do better than those who focus on the art, and I have noticed that as I work more my work has gotten REALLY specialized whereas I started as a jack of all trades.

Now I'm thinking of just getting a day job in that specialized area and continuing to freelance a bit to pick up extra money... but also to start over again doing my own thing (and hopefully making a little money at it).

 

 

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Competing on price is a terrible business. Anyone and everyone can be the cheapest. Customers that prioritize a lower price over quality aren’t worth working for.

Think about any service. The cheaper the rate, the lower the talent.

Why would a professional accept less for creating a better product?

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8 minutes ago, andrgl said:

Competing on price is a terrible business. Anyone and everyone can be the cheapest. Customers that prioritize a lower price over quality aren’t worth working for.

Think about any service. The cheaper the rate, the lower the talent.

Why would a professional accept less for creating a high quality product?

To do a friend a favor or get a foot in the door. There's an interesting story I heard, not sure if it's true, about this guy who shot a (for charity) calendar with all these A-list celebrities and he did it for free, at a loss. Now he has a portfolio of high end photos with Justin Bieber, etc. That guy was making a shitload of money the next year.

If you're not a professional yet, there's market for lower budget stuff, and sometimes that goes somewhere. I see a lot of AFI grads taking this path rather than going to AC to operator or whatever.

It is not an easy path.

I personally work cheap for friends, sort of a barter economy thing with a little cash thrown in. I will almost always work cheap if I'm doing something I'm not quite professional level at. This has gone wrong at times though.

That said, it's a great question. Full rate jobs are almost always easier than low rate ones because EVERYONE ELSE is doing a good job, making your job easier (if you're semi-competent). You make an extremely good point and anyone who's a working freelancer would do well to take your advice. There are reasons to take low pay work, but competing on the basis of being the cheapest will just make you successful at being the cheapest. Nothing to aspire to imo.

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This reminds me of the Kodak "Brownie" camera that was introduced in the 1920's. All of a sudden every dolt could take their own pictures. They did and a large number of "professional" photographers went out of business.

It is still a vocation but not one immune from amateurs taking a really good picture.

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2 hours ago, andrgl said:

Competing on price is a terrible business. Anyone and everyone can be the cheapest. Customers that prioritize a lower price over quality aren’t worth working for.

Think about any service. The cheaper the rate, the lower the talent.

Why would a professional accept less for creating a better product?

This is a very narrow way to look at things. Price does not equal quality. Never has, never will. 

1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

This reminds me of the Kodak "Brownie" camera that was introduced in the 1920's. All of a sudden every dolt could take their own pictures. They did and a large number of "professional" photographers went out of business.

It is still a vocation but not one immune from amateurs taking a really good picture.

What truly differentiates amateurs from professionals? The ability to make a living or the quality of work? 

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2 hours ago, newfoundmass said:

 

What truly differentiates amateurs from professionals? The ability to make a living or the quality of work? 

It can be both or either or neither I think.

There are lots of amateurs who are GOOD enough to sell their work and there are some mediocre pros who are good business people and or who know the right people.

Plenty of really good amateur photographers make far more money doing other things though (EG some doctors).  

I think it also depends on local conditions and market.     I live in a small city (of around 60,000) in the middle of nowhere.    This place has a University and a couple of hospitals and some defence bases.     That means the pro photographers here are a mixture of students, graduates, spouses of army/navy/air force personnel and others who have moved here as well as a few ex newspaper shooters (they use a lot less these days).     On top of that there are plenty of amateurs who offer weddings (Instagram etc).    Bottom line is there are far more people offering photos for money than there is a market to keep them all employed at it and some of the most successful are not necessarily the best photographers but are the best at selling themselves.

Gear also really DOES make a difference (a good photographer can use anything but they will still do better with better gear).    It has been obvious when some have upgraded their gear to see the improvement in their Instagram shots).     The video market here is a lot smaller but many of the players are some of the same photogs (often some of the better ones).     I am just an old amateur who gives away my photos to anyone who wants them (often the council).      I stopped providing stuff to the paper when they would not support me when asking for access to a national level band (that had used one of my photos at the entrance to their photo galleries).     When the current deputy Prime Minister ran the paper, he did give me access that the current lot said they couldn't and yet they used my stuff shortly before and since on one occasion.    It is just fun to me and has gotten me the best seat in the house as well as walking in stage door for free instead of lining up with the punters. 

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I think location is a huge factor that's overlooked. There's a lot more work, presumably for more money, in New York or Los Angeles, than there is here in Vermont. There aren't a ton of high paying gigs in the immediate area. Does that mean I'm not a professional, even though I have nearly 20 years of production experience, have produced countless live sporting broadcasts all over the country, etc? 

Most of my work over the last 20 years has been diy punk rock and independent professional wrestling. These, by nature, are low budget forms of entertainment. It's not a matter of being cheap as much as there is literally very little money to pay people. If I charge someone $500 to shoot and edit their pro wrestling event I can guarantee you that I'll produce a better finished project than someone that will charge 3x as much and has no experience shooting or producing pro wrestling. Just as those who've spent years shooting skateboard videos, some probably for free, will produce a better finished project than someone that charges $2000. It's why I scoff at the idea that quality is related to expense. 

Does that make us amateurs, even if we're capable of producing high quality work for smaller budgets? 

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15 hours ago, IronFilm said:

What are you doing now?

I returned to a former career after a long break. I work hard & am paid well (much more than I ever made from photography & video) & happily really enjoy my job but I don't get to travel or spend as much time at home & only have the one workplace. I now do little video but get a lot of enjoyment from my photography.

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5 hours ago, newfoundmass said:

What truly differentiates amateurs from professionals? The ability to make a living or the quality of work? 

Personally I define 'professional' as in, 'sole or greater source of income', ie, nothing to do with quality of output or level of service.

A good amateur will generally always 'beat' a poor professional.

I have been watching a few lighting videos on the Tube recently and they are all over the place. There are some lesser known people producing some really nice stuff and then there are some labeled 'Masters of Light' demonstrating some simply hideous results. The latter may be professionals in respect of earning a living, but amateurish in regard to results!

I don't think there is anything wrong with charging low to get a foot in the door, - we all had to start somewhere and all did it.

I have no issue either with quoting low for an out of season job, mid-week or short notice when the difference is some welcome extra income vs nothing but retaining a pretentious elitist attitude. Nope, I will sometimes look at a job and say, "you know what, it's lower than I'd normally take, but in return for a few days work, I could buy that new expensive lens, a new mountain bike, take the family away for a week".

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9 hours ago, IronFilm said:

This reminds me of the Kodak "Brownie" camera that was introduced in the 1920's. All of a sudden every dolt could take their own pictures. They did and a large number of "professional" photographers went out of business.

It is still a vocation but not one immune from amateurs taking a really good picture.

I thought you were older than you look!

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