The business of professional photography is under siege like never before. The tools at our disposal are incredible and just keep getting better. We are finding ways to photograph and light our subjects in ways that allow us to create stunning images. It is creating an adrenaline rush that has many of us more excited than ever about being professional photographers.
Sounds good, right? Photographers are facing a major dilemma, and where we all go from here is critical.
Clients are wanting digital images, because frankly, it’s just how many of us now connect with friends and family. Many high school seniors no longer “share” wallet prints, but you know they are “sharing” them together in social media. Great for them, not so great for the photographers who have to generate some kind of income from senior portraits.
I am a regular panel member on www.prophotoshow.com with Gavin Seim. He wrote a great article recently about being inspired to sell portraits, as “furniture for your walls”. He had just attended the annual Wall Portrait Conference with Ken Whitmire and it makes plenty of sense. Why shouldn’t every family hire a professional photographer who can plan, arrange and produce a true family heirloom? There is nothing like large framed portraits of family to treasure for a lifetime. Now, finding families willing to spend what it takes for that kind of quality is a topic for another day.
People love photographs, and that’s great. As a studio based professional, I work tirelessly on finding the balance to avoid the Shoot and Share reality from destroying my business. If photographers cannot provide the quality and the value our clients demand, this will become a revolutionary war that will take the industry down, and if that happens, the craft will be on life support.
“Oh Barry, you’re being too dramatic”. Am I? I don’t think so. I am blessed to spend countless hours of my life working with clients of all ages, and in particular, I spend several hours a week in and around area high school students and their parents. I am always trying to balance what people want, and what they are willing to pay for. I am working a some exciting options for the class of 2014 to address this fork in the road so I can stay viable. It is fascinating that the very business that evolved around image (equally balancing the image of the photographer and the client) has eroded into a world where everyone is a photographer. Just a few weeks ago, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stated:
“There’s no such thing as Flickr pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers.
Wow, so there you have it in a nutshell. Well, I personally don’t go down without a fight. I am very proud of the work I do and have committed too much of my personal and professional life to develop the technical and artistic skills I have acquired and provide my clients. I would love to hear some reaction to all of this both from fellow photographers, and from blog followers. It will always be the job of the professional photographer to capture life’s moments, we just have to be able to survive it financially.
As George Bush put it, “you’re either with us, or against us…”
My advice to fellow photographers is, stay strong, don’t cave in, and keep pounding away and demonstrate your quality and professionalism. But listen carefully to what your clients are asking for, before it’s too late.
To my past, current and future Picture Place clients, I want to personally thank you for your business and encouragement. If there is something you’d like me to offer, or a new product or service you’d like to see, give me a call anytime at 651-426-0232. If it’s time for Senior Portraits, weddings or you want to create some wall furniture, give me a call.
Thanks for listening,
Barry – www.pictureplace.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: fstop995