A few thoughts on preserving the industry

Some people think that digital photography has destroyed our industry. It's too easy to endlessly copy digital files in lieu of going back to the photographer for official reprints, too easy for a bad photographer to spray-and-pray their way to a good shoot, etc.

Photography is important. It will never die. Good photography will always come at a cost and come with a reward, even as the cash values of it go up and down.

But there is a trend that a lot of the pros don't like.. and that's the trend of people who don't need photography to make a living but can meld in with the pros. And I kind of understand this.

See, the going rate on a good pro photographer is going to be calculated. After the cost of replacing broken gear and studio space and so on, the photographer must make enough money to live a dignified life. And it's a tricky figure because it also includes time spent editing and time spent finding new clients.

But for the crowd that I am arguably part of... the photography gear is purchased out of the 'fun' budget, the cost of marketing ignored and the dollars-per-hour figure not calculated. And what this ends up meaning is that if multiple photographers are bidding on a gig, the guy who's doing it for fun ends up with the lowball bid and the pro photographers start to subsist on a diet of coffee and ramen. And, conversely, photographic buyers are frequently used to getting absurd deals on photography. Like paying for "exposure".

This only works if people take lowball offers.

Now, I can't tell other people what to do, that's trying to start a cartel.

But I tend to figure that, even though I'm doing this for fun, if I'm doing stuff that is traditional 'commercial' photography, I tend to look for what the standard commercial rate is and then offer discounts from there. And I also tend to ignore "exposure" as payment.

Anyway, I was just thinking this as I've negotiated a few prices for various photo projects that I wanted to succeed, where I spent more than the required time making sure that my lighting and editing was not just good enough but as flawless as I could make it, etc. I started out figuring out what the for-a-living crew would charge and added a discount.


I was quite amused to see the Instagram kerfuffle when people read the new EULA... which, mind you, some people claim is actually more reasonable than the old one. There's a certain schadenfreude about a site that puts a B&W image with faux Velvia film edges... but... sadly, I think the reminder that if you are not paying for the service, it means that you are the product, not the customer will not quite sink in with people...

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