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Thread started 05 Jul 2012 (Thursday) 23:50
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Changing Up Prices...

 
Luckless
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Jul 07, 2012 12:22 |  #16

How would you suggest you practice and become familiar with the style of photography you want to shoot for hire without, you know, doing it?

After all, the topic here is portraits. How do you propose someone build a portfolio of portraits without, you know, taking portraits?

Or do you suggest he charge his friends and family $150 with the off chance of having to go "Opps, all those really turned out bad. See you next week? Don't forget the next $150 you'll owe me!"?

Core team behind the video game Portal, one of the top selling and among the most popular video games in history, the source of the line "The Cake is a Lie", were technically Paying to make the original game before they were picked up by Valve and given a real budget.

Or do you have the magical ability to walk through a high school and pick out the truly skilled and gifted without seeing any work they have ever done?


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jul 07, 2012 13:25 |  #17

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
1 - You're taking money out of your own pocket or another person who does this for a living.

2 - You'll end up with "those" clients. The ones that expect a $1000 session for free and will threaten to sue you if they don't get it no matter how little they paid.

3 - Ever hand someone a bill and have that "Oh, well I know XXXXX and you did theirs for free."? I don't care if you only do one session for free, the fall out from that will make the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon look like isolated coincidence.

There is value in everything we do. NEVER EVER offer to give away free services in a field of expertise you plan on making a living out of. Period.

Very, very well said.

How would you suggest you practice and become familiar with the style of photography you want to shoot for hire without, you know, doing it?

There are lots of ways to learn photography without being free. I never shot for free until I was established and decided to donate my services to a charity.

After all, the topic here is portraits. How do you propose someone build a portfolio of portraits without, you know, taking portraits?

Do you necessarily need a portfolio to book a client? I booked my first weddings without a wedding portfolio. I had second shot a few weddings, but never booked a wedding and never shot for free. They all paid me over $2000 with no portfolio.

Or do you suggest he charge his friends and family $150 with the off chance of having to go "Opps, all those really turned out bad. See you next week? Don't forget the next $150 you'll owe me!"?

Get a mannequin head and practice your use of light. Go to a workshop. Hire another photographer for lessons. Buy a season pass to the zoo and practice shooting animals. There are tons of ways to practice and learn photography without giving your work away or sucking on photoshoots. Shoot what you love for yourself.

There are plenty of ways to "practice" without dipping into your potential customer pool.

Bingo.


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MidnightUK
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Jul 07, 2012 13:53 as a reply to  @ Thomas Campbell's post |  #18

I would get rid of the statement on your web site saying you will host and display peoples pictures forever.

In 10, 15, 25 years time do you still want you first work on display as part of your portfolio and do you still want to be paying web hosting fees for such out of date work and for how many knows number of people?

Will they even care by then? - but you are stuck with a promise.




  
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Jul 07, 2012 14:47 |  #19

A mannequin will help some with lighting but will not teach how to work with a human client. Recruit your friends to help you.


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LONDON808
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Jul 07, 2012 15:14 |  #20

by working for free you are setting a president for future work,

Most work you will get DOSE NOT come from your website or from advertising but from word of mouth,

Having your prices online and then shooting people for free hurts you because when i hear about you its more then likely going to be from some one you have worked with,

Another thing is - You need to work on your PP, a large majority of your shots look either SOC or they have been ran through Instragram

(OH and remember that if you charge people you have to pay tax's and have a registration <for most states> and its highly recommended to have liability insurance as well )


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 17:55 as a reply to  @ LONDON808's post |  #21

Christopher Steven b wrote in post #14683013 (external link)
@op: if you have shot only 1 senior portrait session before, why are you considering charging in the realm of what the professionals (who presumably have lots of experience, backup equipment, insurance, references etc.) in your area do ? One somewhat reasonable answer might be that you're doing work that resembles theirs.

+1

Christopher Steven b wrote in post #14683013 (external link)
As for working for free, I don't consider working for 0$ to necessarily be working for free. For many photographers, especially those looking to build a portfolio quickly, working for zero or very little absolutely makes sense. Instead of money you're working for experience, for contacts, for confidence. When you get a lot better, you're working for these things + $. But we really shouldn't downplay the VALUE of the prior.

Again, +1


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 17:59 |  #22

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
1 - You're taking money out of your own pocket or another person who does this for a living.

I see it as putting more money into my pocket, in the future, sooner than later.

The more frequently I’m able to practice lighting, interacting with clients, directing models, camera settings, camera angles, any unexpected issues that pop up before, during or after a session, retouching, etc, the more I will learn than if I charged $ and had less opportunities.

The people willing to give their time for images (that might not even be any good), or people looking to pay as little as possible probably never would have paid the photographers that do it for a living anyways.

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
2 - You'll end up with "those" clients. The ones that expect a $1000 session for free and will threaten to sue you if they don't get it no matter how little they paid.

The model / client can sign a legal document beforehand, regardless if zero to minimal money is exchanged.

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
3 - Ever hand someone a bill and have that "Oh, well I know XXXXX and you did theirs for free."? I don't care if you only do one session for free, the fall out from that will make the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon look like isolated coincidence.

All this is discussed before any potential session occurs. Any contract or document can be signed beforehand.

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
There is value in everything we do.

So you admit there is value in working for free. You just publically wrote there is value in everything we do. :lol:

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
NEVER EVER offer to give away free services in a field of expertise you plan on making a living out of. Period.

So a photographer shouldn’t offer their services to a charity, organization, or cause he / she believe in? So a photographer should always charge their spouse, parents, etc?

I completely disagree with you. But we’re entitled to our opinions and we don’t have to agree. ;)

For this to be a little more relevant, as a new photographer, working for free will help develop “expertise” so hopefully sooner than later, they’ll be able to provide valuable services and make a living from it.


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 18:01 |  #23

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683560 (external link)
Only fools agree to internships.

That's an ignorant statement. And if you're talking about internships in professions other than photography, then I take offense to that on a personal level.

For many professions you can only learn so much from a school, out of a book, on a website, or in a controlled environment with a mannequin. But it takes time to develop the knowledge and skill needed to flourish and for many professions, the best way to learn that is on the job. Yes, it's nice to get paid. But I don't understand how anyone in a very technical field could expect to get paid, or charge a fee when their skill set and their quality of performance is minimal.

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683560 (external link)
There are plenty of ways to "practice" without dipping into your potential customer pool.

Ever heard of TFP? I give you my time, creativity, and images; and in return you give me your time, patience, and understanding. You’re not working for free; the subjects ARE paying you with their valuable time. I see it as on the job training.

I'm just speaking for myself with my comments. But I’m trying to build a brand. I'm trying to build a reputation. As for me, I won't charge ANYONE until I'm a confident and consistent photographer that can create a final product I’m proud of and willing to stand behind. Before money is exchanged, I want to know how to properly interact with clients and models. For me it comes down to individual standards and individual work ethics.

If people get mad once a photographer starts charging money, those people would not have been potential clients anyways. If certain people only want something for nothing, they too would not have been potential clients.

If you practice on someone that's familiar with your situation it doesn't necessarily mean your dipping into your pool of potential clients. Relationships can be built with these people and in the future you can dip into their social network, whether by word of mouth or online.


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 18:02 |  #24

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #14683886 (external link)
Do you necessarily need a portfolio to book a client? I booked my first weddings without a wedding portfolio. I had second shot a few weddings, but never booked a wedding and never shot for free. They all paid me over $2000 with no portfolio.

The client was an idiot. Hopefully they dodged a bullet and you gave them a worthy product.

I’m only speaking for myself, but I could never charge $2000 to shoot a wedding when my only experience was as a 2nd shooter at a few weddings. But that’s just “my” personal belief.

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #14683886 (external link)
Get a mannequin head and practice your use of light. Go to a workshop. Hire another photographer for lessons.

I agree with the mannequin idea. It’s definitely better than nothing. But to me it’s only a simulation and can’t teach you what it’s like to interact with a model / client. Having them staring at you, time constraints, trying to articulate what you want them to do, pressure, etc.

Workshops can be invaluable and you might even walk away with some nice shots for a portfolio. But after the workshop if you’re not getting people to practice on so you can better learn what you were taught, then the workshop “might” not be as useful.

And hopefully if a photographer uses workshop images in their portfolio to find paid work, they’ll have the skill to re-create that level of quality when they’re out on their own, otherwise its false advertising and the client’s expectations might not be met. Drama.


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 18:03 |  #25

LONDON808 wrote in post #14684274 (external link)
Having your prices online and then shooting people for free hurts you because when i hear about you its more then likely going to be from some one you have worked with

I agree.

To the OP, or anyone else, if they’re going to work for free, don’t have prices / photo packages online. Something tells me the OP isn’t willing to work for free though. To each their own.


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 18:04 |  #26

This is something random that bothers me. But I just don’t like the whole idea of practicing on paid clients. To me, if money is exchanged and business is to be conducted, then offer them a professional product appropriate for that price range. To me, this is not a time to practice. It’s a time to perform.

Yes, I know photography is something you can spend your entire life learning and improving. But as a newbie trying to make money, save the practicing for people that aren’t paying you to perform.

Just my opinion. It’s not a rule. If people are not willing to work for free, then they shouldn’t be forced to. My philosophy is my philosophy and we’re all different. ;)


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jul 07, 2012 18:32 |  #27

The client was an idiot. Hopefully they dodged a bullet and you gave them a worthy product.

The client wasn't an idiot. Just because I hadn't shot many weddings doesn't mean I wasn't an established photographer. At that point, I had shot the covers of several major (6-figure circulation) magazines, been contracted to shoot in 7 countries on three continents and was a pretty good photographer. I wasn't an idiot that just bought a rebel and started shooting [LIke I see way too often here.] I also had the necessary equipment (1D3 and 1Ds2 plus all the L lenses and lights).

Does Zack Arias or Joe McNally have a wedding portfolio? Would you pay them to shoot your wedding? (Not saying I was or am on their level.)

I agree with the mannequin idea. It’s definitely better than nothing. But to me it’s only a simulation and can’t teach you what it’s like to interact with a model / client. Having them staring at you, time constraints, trying to articulate what you want them to do, pressure, etc.

When you can make lighting a reflex that you don't have to give 100% focus to to get excellent results, you can focus more on the client and posing.

This is something random that bothers me. But I just don’t like the whole idea of practicing on paid clients. To me, if money is exchanged and business is to be conducted, then offer them a professional product appropriate for that price range. To me, this is not a time to practice. It’s a time to perform.

I agree. You should be able to produce professional results before you charge. Too many people don't have the honor to do that.


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rjx
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Jul 07, 2012 19:10 |  #28

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #14684887 (external link)
The client wasn't an idiot. Just because I hadn't shot many weddings doesn't mean I wasn't an established photographer. At that point, I had shot the covers of several major (6-figure circulation) magazines, been contracted to shoot in 7 countries on three continents and was a pretty good photographer. I wasn't an idiot that just bought a rebel and started shooting [LIke I see way too often here.] I also had the necessary equipment (1D3 and 1Ds2 plus all the L lenses and lights).

Idiot might have been too harsh of a word to use regarding your first wedding client. I just don't think it's a good idea for someone to pay for such an important service without first seeing examples of the actual type of work they're paying for. Even if the photographer is amazing in other types of photography, it's no guarantee he / she will be equally as good in wedding photography.

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #14684887 (external link)
Does Zack Arias or Joe McNally have a wedding portfolio? Would you pay them to shoot your wedding?

My honest answer to that question is no.

For something as special as my wedding day, and for something I hope only happens once in my life, I will try to find who my bride and I feel is the best for our budget. And that would require looking at many portfolio's. I want to have confidence that who we do business with will be at the right place at the right time for the decisive moments. Those moments at a wedding which you only have one chance to get. Zack and Joe might do a good or even great job at a wedding. But I'm also looking for a certain artistic quality when picking out a wedding photographer (if the budget is there ;) ) and a portfolio would be absolutely mandatory (for me).


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jul 07, 2012 19:45 |  #29

Even if the photographer is amazing in other types of photography, it's no guarantee he / she will be equally as good in wedding photography.

I think if a photographer has established themself as an expert portrait photographer and a photojournalist, they are probably going to be able to cover a wedding without much difficulty. I picked Zack and Joe because both have done both street/PJ work and portrait work. I might not trust a fashion photographer to capture the moment, but would want a fashion photographer to create great portraits. I know a photographer that wants to make it as a wedding photographer, but their real talent is in portraits - being able to control the entire shoot - not capture the moment as it happens. Now, that photographer may not be so great at details like rings or flowers, but that isn't always important to everyone.

My honest answer to that question is no.

Guess we will have to agree to disagree. I would have loved either of them to cover mine.


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Jul 07, 2012 19:48 |  #30

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #14684887 (external link)
The client wasn't an idiot. Just because I hadn't shot many weddings doesn't mean I wasn't an established photographer.

...well, thats the point though, isn't it? You are an established photographer who is producing quality, outstanding work. You are probably also an excellent and natural marketer that can sell yourself very well. After years of hard work in the photographic industry you find yourself in the position where you are being booked to shoot weddings without having to present a portfolio. Obviously this is the ideal situation: but how many people in their first or second year of business find themselves in your situation?

At that point, I had shot the covers of several major (6-figure circulation) magazines, been contracted to shoot in 7 countries on three continents and was a pretty good photographer. I wasn't an idiot that just bought a rebel and started shooting [LIke I see way too often here.] I also had the necessary equipment (1D3 and 1Ds2 plus all the L lenses and lights).

So what your saying is that if you've shot the cover of several major magazines, been contracted to shoot in seven countries on three continents you don't need to have a wedding portfolio to book work. To which I say...duh. Of course! How many photographers out there can make that particular claim and meet your body of work? Maybe fifty to a hundred out of hundreds of thousands of photographers?

So the answer to your original question is if you aren't one of the few photographers who are regularly published in major magazines, a wedding portfolio for a wedding photographer is normally a good idea.

Does Zack Arias or Joe McNally have a wedding portfolio? Would you pay them to shoot your wedding? (Not saying I was or am on their level.)

Another duh question. Both Zack and Joe have a huge body of work out there on which they can be judged: Joe Smith, Wedding Photographer in Kaitoke New Zealand does not. For Joe Smith: a wedding portfolio is a very good idea.

When you can make lighting a reflex that you don't have to give 100% focus to to get excellent results, you can focus more on the client and posing.

You sometimes forget what it was like to be a newbie photographer shooting for a first time. Workshops and training courses are fantastic value, but to a certain degree are "artificial" and you need to spend time learning the logistics of doing a photoshoot for yourself. Shooting a mannequin does not train you on what to do when a five year old boy DOES NOT STOP MOVING. It doesn't matter how good you are at lighting if you can't control your shoot.

A couple of years ago I was a recruitment consultant with a hospitality temp agency. My colleague interviewed a guy for general barista roles. The guy gave a fantastic interview and answered all the questions correctly, including the trick questions that my colleague threw at him. He knew obscure things about making coffee that even I didn't know about. The references seemed to check out so when we got an urgent request for a barista at one of the busiest cafes in Auckland city he was the ideal candidate to send.

Five minutes after he started his shift we got a phone call from the cafe telling us to get him out of there. It turned out that this guy was pouring cold milk straight into hot coffee: he didn't know how to steam the milk, and didn't even know how to work the machine! It turned out his references were fake and that his extensive coffee knowledge had been gleamed from a couple nights of study off of the internet.

Knowing the theory of lighting alone won't help you cope with the real world issues that strike photographers will hit when they step out of the workshop and start shooting real and unpredictable people.

I agree. You should be able to produce professional results before you charge. Too many people don't have the honor to do that.

So you agree that some people should shoot for free, yes? That shooting mannequin's and in workshops alone will not get you to the professional level?

Should people shoot for free? The answer of course is "it depends." There should never be any absolutes and the "NEVER SHOOT FOR FREE!!!" mantra does become tiresome after a while. The actual answer is that you need to analyse your business, look at yourself and examine your strengths and weaknesses, look at the market place and see where you want to fit in, develop a business plan on how to get to where you want to be and then to go from there. For some people, this might mean shooting people for free while they develop the skills that they need to overcome those shortcomings. For other people they won't need to do that.

Of course, this doesn't really address the OP at all, and as I don't live in the US I have no idea where his prices fall in relation to his work. But good luck!


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