Sunday, June 15, 2008

VIDI: Professional Photographers Whining is not productive (was: entitlement issues)

Sunday is of course the traditional day for editorials and blametorials, so today we are going to have a blametorial on blametorials!

You probably see this on websites, blogs and forums, professional photographers complaining that they are losing business to "average Joe's" running around with digital cameras and taking pictures at events for free or for far less. Everyone can understand the frustration when you spend years and years learning a craft and then you have "newbies" jump in with "inferior" gear and skills and "take away" your spot.

But unlike dentists or other licensed professionals, anyone can buy a camera and anyone can take pictures. This is a free world and a free market. The comparisons to dentists and doctors are just not computing. The complaining of "taking away" your business are essentially entitlement issues.

Let's not forget every time you help a friend with car trouble you are taking away business from mechanics and emergency auto services. When you bake a cake or invite friends over for dinner, you are taking away business from restaurants. When you help a friend with computer problems, you are ruining the IT service business. When you give someone a ride, you are taking away business from buses, trains, and taxi drivers. You can see where this is going... Nowhere!

With entitlement issues at their side, some professional photographers fail to adjust and adapt to the ever-changing market. Sure, you can stomp your feet and get all red in the face, but this will only negatively impact your health and your business.

Instead professional photographers need to understand and accept the ever-changing landscape of photography. Let's not forget that when some of today's "real pros" were getting started in photography, the "real pros" of that era were saying "look at these yahoos running around with plastic Japanese cameras with autofocus and other automode gimmicks! They are ruining our business!". This is similar mentality to that of some local camera shops, but you have to wait for next week's blametorial for that.

People may ask Grand-ma with the camera she used in her f64 club or Uncle Joe with his Canon S2 IS, or the eight year old niece with her Hello Kitty camera to take pictures at an event. You won't make a good impression if you trash these people. Instead you have to make the case of all the benefits and options you could provide them as an experienced professional. And don't think about just this event, but also future events. So eventually when they realize that they can't make giant poster size prints from a football game using a Canon Elph with a 3X zoom lens and they really need professional help, they'll think of you as the common-sense professional to turn to, not the angry-at-the-world whiner to avoid.

And let's take the football game as an example. If you see dozens of moms and dads struggling to take pictures of their kids with their cameras, instead of growling at them for "stealing your spots and your business", you could perhaps give them some tips and offer a for-pay class to teach them how to take better pictures of their brats. If you are even more enterprising, you could partner with a local or online camera shop, and offer them special camera/lens bundles that are ideally suited for the particular event they are shooting.


prophotolife said...

I totally agree. As a professional photographer of over 20 years I see the business constantly changing. The only thing I know for sure about the future is that it's going to keep changing! It's up to me to decide if I'm going to keep up with the changes or not...

1001 noisy cameras said...

Exactly. Change is the only constant it seems.