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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 22 Jan 2012 (Sunday) 09:10
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Are Amateurs destroying Photography

Cream of the Crop
10,203 posts
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Joined Jan 2008
Location: NYC
Jan 22, 2012 09:58 |  #16
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wuzzittoya wrote in post #13747668 (external link)
I was kind of musing about this recently - a friend announced that she was opening her own photo studio and selling her other pictures as well (she has pretty photos from her vacations). Her boyfriend just upgraded her camera to a Canon Elph 300HS (no, I'm not making that up). On her blog and FB page she pretty much advertises herself for events, portraiture and fine art photography (with a point and shoot!?!?).

I was curious what camera she had "upgraded" to so I asked her, that's how I know she's shooting with the Canon 300HS - we've had photography discussions, especially since she put up her websites. I knew her previous camera had been a bridge camera, so I was hoping she was at least upgrading to DSLR. I guess I should have known. She did say the guy at the camera store assured them the camera was one of the best cameras Canon makes.

I keep wondering what her first portrait client will think when she pulls out her little camera?

Then again, maybe those are the customers who told you that you want too much money.

Another problem, of course, is that you can go to any Walmart/Target/Kmart and read that you can get a humongous package for only $20 (they don't tell you that there's this add-on fee and that add-on fee and this upsell and you'll walk out of there close to $100 more if you really want nice stuff).

I'm still puzzling (and mildly upset, to be honest) at her "professionalism." She doesn't even know how to run a camera outside of "mode selection" (you know, the pretty little icons that mean portrait, landscape, etc.), doesn't know what aperture is, or depth of field.

They bought PHOTOSHOP (this also really made me wonder - put the money into the camera and use cheaper software!) and she emailed me and asked me if PhotoShop would let her do what she needed, etc., and if she could get some help with it. I told her I use PS Elements 9 instead right now. She then asked me if PS Elements 9 was "better" than PhotoShop - I explained that it was lacking in some of the functionality, but that I couldn't afford the full package and it could do most of what I needed for now, then explained frequently I get most of what I want done in DPP first and that Elements 9 is mostly used for its unsharp mask and layers when I need them.

I haven't heard back from her. I suspect that it is likely that she doesn't even know what layers are, or what an unsharp mask is used for, etc. ~shakes head~

Then I always cringe myself - I have camera experience, some instruction (including operating SLRs/DSLRs on full manual and darkroom/developing experience in film) and a lot of self-instruction and I'm buying more equipment here and there and working to do microstock photography ... maybe I'm being presumptuous too and have no more right to be trying this than she does...

Oh, spare us the anecdotes....LOL This thread can get ugly soon...

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Senior Member
597 posts
Joined Sep 2006
Location: Pacific Northwest USA
Jan 22, 2012 10:03 |  #17

I have to agree that it is hurting the industry. Just checked Craigslist, no less than 25 professional photographers offering services in there. Get your wedding done for $200.
I think things like this have a way of working out, there will always be a need for budget photography, but people will pay for quality where they can.

20D, 10D, Fuji S-20, Mamiya C220 medium format, Sekonic L-508 meter, 2 alien bee 800's, AB remotes, Sigma 500 HS flash, 70-200 F2.8 L, Sigma 24-70 F2.8 EX DG, lots of glass, lots of stuff,8-)

Cream of the Crop
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Location: Merseyside, England
Jan 22, 2012 10:06 |  #18

dtufino wrote in post #13747655 (external link)
Great responses guys.....

when i say Amateur, i mean "people who JUST got into photography"... am i a pro? No.... am i an amateur, no.....

Since the photography scene saturated with so MANY "pro-photographers" i've even thought about cashing out and moving on to the next best thing... i have signed contracts for 2 weddings and 2 graduations shoots this spring... so i would have to wait....

How are you marketing yourself?

With so many getting into the market, it becomes more and more important to market yourself well. Indeed, someone who markets themselves well will get far more work than a much better photographer who sets up a website and waits for the work to roll in.

You need to be proactive, contact other people in the wedding business (limos, dress hire etc.) and cross promote, contact wedding planners and show them your portfolio. With portraits, find special ways to promote yourself, go along to child daycare centres and leave promo material with them, maybe look at doing a special group shoot at the centre (with parental knowledge beforehand of course). Go in and do some shots of the kids engaged in activities, these sell to the centre as promo material (usually at a discount, as a thank you for allowing the shoot) as well as to the parents, you can also perhaps do a set up with lights and background in a back room somewhere and do some more formal portraits of the kids to sell to the parents.

Get out there and look for them, and you will find customers. The majority of the newbie competition thinks a crappy website and an advert on Craigslist is all it takes to bring work rolling in. Then sit back and wonder why they don't get much work and give up 6 months down the line, to be replaced by somebody else doing exactly the same thing.

Cream of the Crop
14,685 posts
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Joined Dec 2006
Jan 22, 2012 10:11 |  #19

digital paradise wrote in post #13747681 (external link)
The wedding forum has this all the time. People can't afford a photographer. They can afford everything else but when it comes to recording one of their most important days their pockets get very deep. Then you see "Help, my friend friend is getting married in a week and can't afford a photographer so she asked me to shoot it. Should I get flash?". A week? Sometimes I wonder about this type of planning. You need to book a pro months ahead of time.

This type of thing occurs all the time.

In general, people are idiots. Place them under stress, they become even more idiotic.

I can't tell you the number of times people have called me at the last minute because they have been planning their 200-guest wedding at a five-star resort for over a year and three days before the event realized that they never hired a minister! Once, I was even called after the guests had assembled! Everybody showed up for the wedding, and they had never contracted with a minister or JP! And, to top it off, they had never obtained a marriage license!

Or my personal favorites, those who are having an elaborate wedding, but insist I should reduce my prices because they are "out of money." Sorry, no. Especially when my normal prices were less than the cost of the bride's bouquet.

114 posts
Joined Feb 2011
Location: suburb near Montreal
Jan 22, 2012 10:27 |  #20

Your question is much too general. Are amateurs destroying photography? Of course not.

Did amateurs destroy a tiny part of the low end market of professional photographers? Yes, they certainly did.

What would you have us amateurs do? We shoot for fun, and then people offer us money to do the exact same thing. I became known in my circles as a half decent amateur photog. In normal people speak, this translates to: "this guy takes awesome pictures!"

So, I like to shoot performing arts events. At some point the organizer walks up to me and says: "hey, I like your photos, you're pretty good. How about doing it again? Usually we hire a pro photog for this. How would 500 bucks sound?" I was going to be there anyway, so why turn down the money?
And that's how it starts. Did a local pro photog lose some business to an amateur doing it for fun? Yep, he sure did.

This is not unique to photography however. Any craft that is practiced professionally but that can be learned and perfected as a hobby is in the same situation. Imagine you're a pro photographer but you do your own home renovation projects as a hobby. You also help out friends and after a while you get pretty good at it, and you really enjoy doing this. You get much satisfaction from looking at the finished product. Then, someone offers you money to renovate their bathroom. It's of course a lot less than they would pay for a professional contractor doing home renovation, but what do you care, you do this for fun. Are you going to turn it down because it's going to hurt some local business?

That's the long and the short of it. The future of professional photography lies in better marketing and specialization. If you want to make a living as a photographer, stop trying to sell what some amateurs will do just fine for free. My two amateur cents.

stevebourdeauphotos (external link)

3,131 posts
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Jan 22, 2012 10:28 |  #21

I've always wanted to be a 'Professional' photographer but find I am happier having another 'Professional' job to pay the bills while keeping my photography fun. I pick and choose what I want to shoot, and only accept weddings that are willing to pay for my effort and have something 'fun' in it for me.

I define 'Professional' as someone who has enough experience to guarantee that you will get your photo's, and they will be at the quality you expected or even better. Events that occur only once cannot be staged, so a 'professional' will capture the event regardless of weather, lighting, equipment failure or illness.

Most non-professionals can come no where near this guarantee, and most people are unaware of these risks.

There is a minimum level of quality expected from a 'professional', and as that expectation goes up then so should the cost of achieving it. I think most people that are low-balling while shopping are expecting only the minimal quality expected, while those willing to pay more are paying for a style and a much higher expectation of what will be delivered.

So overall, today's digital technology allows more camera owners to achieve a level of quality that a lot of people are willing to low ball for. Because of this, the market has changed and it is better to not try and attract that crowd but market yourself to those seeking the higher levels of expectations.

Of course if you are new to the business, you will need to pay your dues and work at getting your styles and quality known before you will get those higher rates. To just make your rates higher with the expectation that people will pay you assuming you are that much better is not really true.

Mostly Lurking
16 posts
Joined Sep 2011
Location: Quebec,Canada
Jan 22, 2012 10:30 |  #22

dont blame on amateurs or whoever when your business's going down
out there ,alot of competition in anything ,like rim ,apple...kodak...

2,551 posts
Joined Aug 2011
Location: rural Missouri
Jan 22, 2012 11:03 |  #23

I like the "craftsman" idea. For one, it also allows for those people who either self-teach with lots of practice and books, or some classes at a local college or learning annex or who work as apprentices to experienced photographers, rather than limiting the professional arena to only those who have acquired a regular art school/college education. It also leaves room for the very talented who worked hard to develop the skill and can make a camera do amazing things.

To me I won't be a "real" professional until I'm earning at least half as much per month from my photography as I am from my other income. If I weren't chronically ill, the number would probably be much higher (probably 1.5x what my current income is). However, since I know my illness might greatly impact my productivity (frustrating, that is), if I can make a regular enough income at it I will consider myself to have "turned pro" when that is a consistent, monthly thing.

I like to push buttons on thingies that take pictures. Sometimes I like to push other buttons, too.
I only bite on the second Tuesday of every week, usually only mean people - they kinda taste like chicken...
You can call me Wuzzi

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Jan 22, 2012 11:57 as a reply to  @ wuzzittoya's post |  #24

How many posts do we see from raw novices asking what camera and/or lenses they should buy because they want to shoot weddings? These are typically people who have never taken more than a P&S or cell phone snapshot in their lives, yet they think that just getting the DSLR will put them in the ranks of professional wedding photographers. And too many young people getting married can't tell the difference until they get the photos, and then it's too late. I can see why it could be disheartening to a true professional.

I've shot a couple of weddings as a background family photographer. I don't profess to have the skills of a pro, and I never intend to pass myself off as such. I keep out of the way of the professional who is being paid to do the wedding book, and just look for shots of interest. I did this for my niece's wedding last summer. My gear was nearly equal to the professional's, but my experience and expertise was woefully lacking. For me, photography is strictly a hobby and I have no desire to sell even a single image for any reason.

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Location: Hubert, North Carolina, USA.
Jan 22, 2012 13:59 |  #25

dtufino wrote in post #13747535 (external link)
It seems everyone has a DSLR with a KIT lens and consider themselves a "Professional Photographer" but ask them what's the difference between aperture and Shutter speeds they have no clue....

Were you an experienced skilled professional photographer when you got your first camera?
Did you know all there is to know about photography when you first got started?
Did you have nothing but the best camera and lenses when you first started?
Does the camera and lens make the photographer?
Is all your work perfect?

One answer will cover all the above questions.
Unless you're some kind of alien prodigy born with a silver spoon in your mouth the answer is probably, No!.

dtufino wrote in post #13747535 (external link)
Recently, some of my clients have said that my rates are high compared to other Professional Photographer, when in fact my prices are super Low end for portraiture work.... i tell them they get what they pay for....

This is true and probably going to become more common-place as competition increases, and it will.
The only thing that separates a "Professional" from an "Amateur" is that the professional is making money at it and the amateur does it for enjoyment.
Skill and experience are not always a requirement to make money doing something.
Those things as well as the equipment used will certainly help make more than the one with less. But there is more to professionalism than experience and knowledge in what you do. It's also about attitude, personality, and relations with your clients and potential clients.

There are many school trained and/or experience photographers with a thriving business who IMHO, Suck, and charge outrageous rates. At the same time there are others without any formal photography schooling living off their experience who charge less and do much better work.

You're right, You might get what you paid for, but getting what you paid for might not always be what you wanted. The old cliche "You get what you paid for" doesn't always apply to everything in life, unfortunately Photography is one of them.

dtufino wrote in post #13747535 (external link)
The question is... is photography dying in the professional sense? The only place i see photography live is in Sports Photography... Amateurs don't knwo how to shoot sports... yet.... lol

Are you sure about that? I've seen some great action sports photography done by amateurs..

No I don't believe photography is dying in a truly professional sense. But I do think the competition will increase making it harder.

Never forget, Everyone has got to start somewhere. No one starts out with exceptional skills as an experienced professional.
Unfortunately there are too many who, when reach a point in their life believe because they have more experience and make a living at it that they are a better person and everyone else should step aside. It's called Overbearing Pride. They tend to forget where and how they started while they ridicule other people who only want their chance too.
No one was born with a camera knowing all there is to know about photography.
Give them time, give them a chance, and help them learn.
If you're unwilling to do that, then perhaps it's best to remain quiet about it and do your own thing.

If your work is good enough then it will speak for itself, and if you have a good attitude and friendly personality you will have nothing to worry about, nor complain about.

Tim Kerr
Money Talks, But all I hear mine saying is, Goodbye!
F1, try it you'll like it.

team ­ haymaker
Senior Member
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Location: Oakville, ON, Canada
Jan 22, 2012 15:28 |  #26

why does this topic come up weekly?

My 500px (external link)

Senior Member
475 posts
Joined Jan 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Jan 22, 2012 15:44 |  #27

team haymaker wrote in post #13749189 (external link)
why does this topic come up weekly?

Because those who deem themselves skilled are feeling increasingly defensive due to the proliferation of hobbyists with access to gear formally accessible only to pros.

It's the same sentiment found in any creative vocation that utilizes highly technical electronic equipment. These days everybody's a photographer, filmmaker, DJ, graphic designer, etc.

It's not going away.

For the record, I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. See this doc for more on the subject: PressPausePlay (external link).

Check out my site (external link), as well as my gear and feedback.
5D Mark III | 16-35 II | 24-105 | 50 1.8 II | 70-200 2.8 IS II

D ­ Thompson
3,853 posts
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Joined Feb 2008
Location: Georgetown, Ky
Jan 22, 2012 15:53 as a reply to  @ jrmy's post |  #28

I'm not going to quote the entire post, but Tim's answer is bw!. Very well said.

Canon 5D 20D
I have not yet begun to procrastinate!

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Jan 22, 2012 15:59 |  #29

tkerr wrote in post #13748801 (external link)
Unless you're some kind of alien prodigy born with a silver spoon in your mouth the answer is probably, No!.

You figured me out, Tim!

-David T. (external link)

@dtufino_photo (external link)
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"Not brigth enough"
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Jan 22, 2012 15:59 |  #30

OK, here is a scenario.

You are a travel agency attached to a worldwide airline. You want spectacular holiday shots from many locations all around the world to advertise in glossy holiday brochures.

How do you get them? Pay a pro and send him/her all around the world or hire multiple pros from all around the world? No. You advertise a photo contest with a prize of a free flight and maybe a night or 2 (or 3) accommodation.

You advertise to “send in your holiday snaps”. If the prize is good enough you will end up with literally thousands of images from all around the globe. Out of the probable hundred thousand or more images entered you will get hundreds if not thousands of usable images that will do for all your advertising needs for the next year or 3.

Cost? A lot less than paying and sending a pro around the world, or hiring multiple pros from all around the world. So, who do you blame in this instance? Is the amateur undermining the pro, or is the company undermining the pro?

Never make the same mistake twice, there are so many new ones, try a different one each day
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Are Amateurs destroying Photography
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