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August 2015 archive

Photography In Tough Times

FROM AIPP VICTORIA NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 1991

by Peter Owen

Well, another year has drawn to a close and a lot of us have seen some big changes this year.

It’s been a year here the purse strings have been tightened and a lot of hard decisions have been made by all of us.

Those who have come through are the bigger well established studios who were able to continue to market aggressively or who have built up a reputation over the year that still had people coming to them because of their name.

There seems to be more of us photographers in the market place now grabbing the same bit of the pie, and in the good times when people were parting with their money more freely, it was good for us.

Now it’s survival of the fittest.

Via meetings or social events I have met a lot more photographers this year through the Institute which has been great.

I have also seen a lot of their work, and one thing that does strike me however is nearly everyone’s similarity, especially among us wedding / portrait photographers.

On average the general daily work also is the same as what was done 10 years and more ago.

This was more evident however when I recently revisited Queensland after having lived there 8 years ago. Overall, the wedding/portrait and thee commercial/advertising industry hasn’t changed much in the style and the way images ae produced at that time.

Does it matter  that there hasn’t been much of a change in the images we produce especially for the general public?

To some people it doesn’t  because  their  marketing  and  primary aim in these tough times have still seen them achieve the number of weddings or portraits thy want, to make the profit they want, because that’s THE reason they are in business.

The “perceived value” of our work by the general public and users of the work has greatly decreased over the years though.

There really have been some big changes in the amateur market over the recent years. Look at the improved camera, film, processing and printing technology that are readily available to the masses. There really are great cameras now that you can point and shoot and get great results with, and then take them to a processing place and obtain good cheap prints in an hour.

Kodak now have a machine available in a lot of their Kodak Express Stores that can analyse, enlarge, crop ad then process and print a clients image from a 35mm and have enlargements ready within 10 minutes, all with the direction via an operator from the client.

A 10” x 8” print comes in under $10, and it’s good quality.

With the advancement of this technology it has enabled the general public to obtain good quality for a cheaper price.

person-woman-camera-photographer-medium

For example stereos, TVs , CDs have all come down in price over the years.

However in our industry our product hasn’t changed and yet we are expecting the public to pay a higher price for this product.

Well my crystal ball says there will be, and has to be, some changes very soon in order for us in our professional industry to stay ahead of the public.

No matter what technology we have to produce an image of some sort you still need a human being behind the image making device (still, video camera, laser image, data transfer machine or whatever!) so the “artist” or master craftsman will, if promotes or separated from the ordinary person, survive.

In order for this “artist” to survive though, the end product will need to be something that everyone wants to have.

This will mean a good price can be charge and a value will be placed on the product because it is “different” or “better” to what is available to the general public.

You see we are not really in a good industry because any one can pick up a camera, and take a great photo.

Especially now when there are so many food short and cheap photography courses available to anyone who wants to improve their photography as well.

You can’t do a weekend doctors or solicitors course.

The other way to survive is to grab the modern technology, go high volume, trim your overheads and train production people to produce a result that is good and easy and cheap so people wouldn’t be bothering doing it themselves.

I saw a bit of this in Queensland, where some people are providing a “John and Trish Perrin style” glamour photography for cheap as chips prices and a 2 day turn around on framed wall prints.

So what am I really saying by all this…….The industry as whole needs to change both its look and its way of doing things.

Those that don’t, won’t survive. Each individual in the industry also needs to be individual, then competition wil come on a photography, style and service basis and not on a price basis.

The images need to be up with the times and of a high quality.

We just need to look at the modern fashion shots, to see the décor of some of our premises and the way we present ourselves and our images, so see some of us are behind.

These tough times will bring about some big changes. The writings on the wall.

Change and Prosper or Don’t and Die!