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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 20 Oct 2014 (Monday) 20:06
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What am I doing wrong

 
mdaddyrabbit
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Oct 20, 2014 20:06 |  #1

Sorry folks if this sounds like a pity party......you know,maybe it is but I am really discouraged tonight. More discouraged tonight than I have ever been before.
I have tried for a while now to build a small business in the photography world. I like shooting families, seniors, people and events. I don't charge very much just enough to cover my cost. I think I continually improve with my images but at this point I am not sure.

A few months ago I talked to a mother about photographing her 5 year old. I explained that I would do it free in order to add to my portfolio and she was really excited. We decided on a date and 2 days before the date she realized she had a previous obligation so I told her that was fine I totally understood. She was going to be busy the next few weekends so I told her to look at her calendar and get back with me. She is friends with my wife so they talked regularly and she never gave me a date. I seen image she had professionally taken from this past weekend that she put online where she went to another photographer and paid a really high price for the sitting fee. I was going to do this free on her schedule.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has happen to me. I have analyzed my methods, attitude, photography, editing. I am not the very best photographer in the county and I am not the worse but I have a prices they can either afford or I try to do it free. At this point I am close to giving up. I been pushing my photography seriously for the last 3 years and I feel like I am spinning my wheels.

I have no idea what to ask at this point or what to focus on besides selling my equipment and getting out.

Here is my website www.mgwarrenphotograph​y.comif you could take a look at my images then take into consideration I charge $65.00 sitting fee and I use www.whcc.com (external link) and I charge exactly 20% above what they charge me to my customers.

I am asking for constructive opinions. Please be honest but don't just bash me or pile on to my misery.

Do I charge too much or not enough?
Does my work suck so bad that I should stop photographing?
Are my image just snapshots?
Should I market myself differently?


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CANON

  
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HappySnapper90
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Oct 20, 2014 20:30 |  #2

Well, where to begin...

If you want to photograph people, clear anything non people from your website such as landscapes, random people on the street.

Many of your people pics look like they have a lot of flash used, are rather "attendee" appearance instead of commanding the people's attention (photos other attendees could take too), and have very large depth of field.

The portraits seem to be rather clinical and sterile. Stiff posing, which was ok in the wild west when exposures were 30 seconds but not these days. The one family portraits (colorful outfits) have really awkward and unattractive posing.

Lastly, your "about" photo on your site. You want to do portraits but your photo has you looking like a dude that wants to kick your ass in a bar (pool table, low lightning) with arms crosses and starring like an angry man straight inyo the camera! With that photo I can see why that mother went elsewhere I'd she looks at your site.

That's what I see you doing wrong, since you asked. Not that I run a portrait business, but it's what I see as bring out of place.




  
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mdaddyrabbit
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Oct 20, 2014 20:50 |  #3

Thanks HappySnapper90


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Oct 20, 2014 21:12 |  #4

Offer something for free means it has ZERO value... think about that for a moment. You value it so much you attribute NOTHING to it... why would a potential client place a higher value on it than you do yourself? You are saying your time is worth nothing, your photos are worth nothing, your commitment is worth nothing. In return you are simply getting people who mirror those thoughts.

You don't know what you want to sell. Your website is a mismatch of all sorts and everything image wise rolled into one. To be perfectly honest many of the wedding shots would have been taken better on a phone. You have no clear direction with your processing either. The front page of the site more resembles a bunch of photographs taken by several different photographers. The quality and processing varies that much.

Your website doesn't look like a business. Be honest with yourself and browse your Facebook friends pages... and any of their friends too if you can. Look at the photos people have taken themselves and ask yourself honestly whether yours stand out in anyway as being different. If your answer is "yes" then you are lying to yourself.

Before you start selling a product you need to know what the product is and be able to produce it first. Again being perfectly honest I don't see your luck changing unless you find what your product is and figure out how to produce it consistently.

Can I ask why you feel the need to make photography a business?


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mdaddyrabbit
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Oct 20, 2014 21:29 |  #5

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #17224313 (external link)
Offer something for free means it has ZERO value... think about that for a moment. You value it so much you attribute NOTHING to it... why would a potential client place a higher value on it than you do yourself? You are saying your time is worth nothing, your photos are worth nothing, your commitment is worth nothing. In return you are simply getting people who mirror those thoughts.

You don't know what you want to sell. Your website is a mismatch of all sorts and everything image wise rolled into one. To be perfectly honest many of the wedding shots would have been taken better on a phone. You have no clear direction with your processing either. The front page of the site more resembles a bunch of photographs taken by several different photographers. The quality and processing varies that much.

Your website doesn't look like a business. Be honest with yourself and browse your Facebook friends pages... and any of their friends too if you can. Look at the photos people have taken themselves and ask yourself honestly whether yours stand out in anyway as being different. If your answer is "yes" then you are lying to yourself.

Before you start selling a product you need to know what the product is and be able to produce it first. Again being perfectly honest I don't see your luck changing unless you find what your product is and figure out how to produce it consistently.

Can I ask why you feel the need to make photography a business?

I did not think about my first page like you have explained. You are right it looks like a shoebox full of different styles and photography. I really suck and didn't even realize it. What a pea brain I am. I just wanted to make it a business to be able to afford better equipment.


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OhLook
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Oct 20, 2014 21:31 |  #6

On your "About" page, in the text below the photo, you appear not to have decided whether to call yourself "Michael" or "I." This isn't a photographic problem--my expertise isn't in photography, and others can cover the subject better--but careless writing when presenting yourself gives the website an unprofessional air. Another example: the standard phrase is "to a T," not "to a tee."


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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Oct 20, 2014 22:13 |  #7

You should consider using 'Clinton photographer' or 'Clinton photography' somewhere on your about page. Woah, cowboy, talk about writing for googlebots and NOT writing to your audience.

Ms. Ohlook is bang-on in her assessment of the writing. I'll go further and say that these errors will be bright neon for any of your customers who have even a modest education.

Your photos in total look like one big experiment in your first 6 months of owning a camera. There isn't a consistent kind of look there, nothing that clients can count on you to deliver. There were a few family photos that I thought were incredibly off in terms of the tone of the image--dark rolling clouds, a sad child and very on-axis lighting--all underexposed.

What do you want your 'about' photo to convey to your prospective clients ? How would this photo help the process of booking a client ? You're a decent looking dude, and the photo has positive aspects about it, but the tone is all wrong.



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mdaddyrabbit
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Oct 20, 2014 22:34 |  #8

I there any image that you guys think is worth leaving on my website or should I dump all of them?


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xchangx
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Oct 20, 2014 22:42 |  #9

mdaddyrabbit wrote in post #17224346 (external link)
I did not think about my first page like you have explained. You are right it looks like a shoebox full of different styles and photography. I really suck and didn't even realize it. What a pea brain I am. I just wanted to make it a business to be able to afford better equipment.

Dude, don't be hard on yourself. Just take the advice and apply it. We've all been there. We've all asked for help, what you do with it is up to you and will contribute to your success.

With that said, narrow your focus down and pick something. Once you pick that only have that on your site and only show the BEST images. Don't be tempted to dump the whole session. You want your potential clients to only see the best.


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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Oct 20, 2014 22:58 |  #10

I'd probably not show any of the ones that are on the front page except perhaps the family shot on the beach. Even that one is borderline because of the kids lean-y head, the mom's phantom hand and other issues. There are some decent non-wedding/non-family shots up there, but they just don't belong there if they don't represent the service you're trying to sell.

You could probably choose a better set out of the ones in your sub folders, but more important perhaps is for you to get some critique on your photos so that you can get closer to settling on some kind of coherent look for your photography. Cherry-picking shots from an inconsistent set of photos might land you a few gigs, but if you're unable to please the customer and meet their expectations, it won't lead to more work.

mdaddyrabbit wrote in post #17224444 (external link)
I there any image that you guys think is worth leaving on my website or should I dump all of them?



christopher steven b. - Ottawa Wedding Photographer

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memoriesoftomorrow
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Oct 20, 2014 23:01 |  #11

xchangx wrote in post #17224452 (external link)
only show the BEST images.

This is something I personally recommend not doing. Show what clients can expect to receive. I've seen many a photographer only show what they consider to be their "hero shots" yet they are far removed from their normal standard of work. Setting unrealistic expectations is often a recipe for problems down the track.

What you need to aim for is consistency and your own style. Then "show what you sell" giving clients a true representation as to what they can expect to receive.

There is a market for all standards of photography. The bottom end of the market however is cut throat and you'll find there are plenty of people with better photography skills who are willing to work for free. If you're work does not in anyway stand out you don't stand a chance unless you're a killer salesman.

Your website needs a complete overhaul. If you want to be treated like a "business" then you need to appear like a business. Your Facebook link goes to your personal profile... says you're not a business. Your about page is poorly written... says you're not a business. Your work is a random collection of images with no direction... says your not a business... there are no obvious menu items on your website listing what you sell... says you are not a business.

In all fairness though as you're only doing this to fund equipment purchasing you really aren't a business... so it is no surprise you haven't been approaching things like a business would.


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OhLook
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Oct 20, 2014 23:26 |  #12

mdaddyrabbit wrote in post #17224444 (external link)
I there any image that you guys think is worth leaving on my website or should I dump all of them?

Are you serious about dumping all of them? What would be left?

The images are too small to show up well, especially when the person or couple or family is a small area and most of the picture is background. I think your home page should have fewer photos than it does, but each one bigger. Two that I would feature are the one at the upper left, which is a family on a beach, and the one in the right-hand column that has a bride looking up at the groom. On the bride/groom image, though, do more PP to get her face brighter.

When I click "Portfolio" and then click through to various items, I get way too many shots that look alike. I tried this with two sets, Ms. Alexis and the Blackmon family. Don't post your whole photo session. A series of six or eight images of the same person in the same pose, with the same background, gives the impression that you tried that many times to get it right. It looks like practice. There's no reason to show the public all that!

Many images on the home page, I'm sorry to say, are complete fails. Others have advised not using landscapes if you want portrait clients and so on. In addition, some images of people have specific drawbacks. Some of the models are just too unattractive to represent your work to the world. Many are seriously overweight to the extent that no photographer in the world could make them look good. Some women have excessive, cheap-looking eye makeup. The bridesmaids in black dresses--that didn't work at all. Black and white clothing in the same frame is a challenge to begin with, and bright sunlight doesn't help. The dresses, and even their wearers, ended up looking washed out.

You said you wanted to make a business of it to afford better equipment. I believe it's important to have good equipment first. Photography as a business requires an investment.


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Drk ­ Orange
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Oct 20, 2014 23:46 |  #13

Nothing wrong with your photography, website or attitude - it is the subjects you are approaching. Your experiences are no different to mine and I am guessing most of us who do portrait shots, the solution is to be energetic in initiating things, but then be apathetic. If they end up in front of your camera, good. If not... *shrug* cut them loose and move on to another potential subject.




  
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Oct 21, 2014 00:14 |  #14

As much as better self image projection would be a big help, I believe some portfolio building (and maybe skills building) are in order. I see just 4 photos, IMHO, that are portfolio-worthy.
1 (external link)
2 (external link)
3 (external link)
4 (external link)

So yeah; I'd dump the rest and start building.

Free photography is a disheartening "business". Been there. It's sometimes a nice "in" for building contacts; albeit usually contacts for more free photography and more "clients" that don't take it seriously. I even find that I don't take it seriously if I'm not charging a healthy fee; and it's contagious.

As for only showing your best. I believe it's best to only show your best ... ever. Easier said than done but one sure way to come off as mediocre is to show your duds.


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Tedder
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Oct 21, 2014 00:47 |  #15

I've visited your site and pretty much agree with the gist of the comments you've received so far. I think you need to improve the content by creating better photos, processing them better and more consistently (in a way that becomes your style), and displaying them better.

I think it would also help if you made it evident that you specialized in a certain subject matter and were passionate about it. If you had 30 photographs of pets on furniture that matched the quality of the shot of the dachshund on the sofa, I'd consider buying a dog and hiring you to photograph it.

I'm sorry you're discouraged. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck.


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