my cheap wallet

I think it was sometime late last year and then this year that I had this feeling that “everybody has an SLR”. I wasn’t totally wrong.

The camera makers and camera shops have been touting the speed, power and quality of an SLR compared to your Mickey Mouse point and shoot, and their customers have bought the notion that the SLR will give you better images. Which is true to some extent.

Recently a lot of people (myself included) have been dreaming about giving up their day jobs in exchange for being a professional photographer, and I assume that the wedding photography industry is the most popular. The fact being that on paper, it looks the easiest and the most profitable – on average Australian couples pay around $3000-$4000 for wedding photography. Multiply this by say 40 weeks and you have $160,000 a year.

Scott Bourne wrote an article on so-called ‘professional’ photographers offering dirt cheap prices. Also John Harrington wrote about shooting photos for cheap/free and why it’s bogus. To summarize, the cheapies do not help the industry because a) they mis-educate the client about the real cost of photography and b) they’re just not good enough.

It’s sparked off a huge intense debate (including supposed/alleged death threats) from the cheapies, and Zack Arias wrote an article, partly in defense of the cheapies, but also with this frank advice – you can only be cheap for a certain period before you kill yourself.

No doubt about that. As someone just starting out as a pro, this is a competitive field, and to compete, I need images. Right now the thing going for me is that I *can be cheap, as I have a full time job that pays the bills. I quote Mitchell Kanashkevich on being a professional photographer:

“In the beginning a photographer should work for his photos and as the photographer’s career progresses the photos start working for him/her.”

Guy Tal also gives his take on pricing (his is a fine art market, but I reckon there are some nuggets in there), offering ‘Goldilocks’ pricing to cater to both the value-for-money and the high-end client.

Lastly kudos also to Scott Bourne for giving credit to the weekend road warrior photographer for being absolutely serious about perfecting their craft in the same article.

In the last three years, I have invested more than $7k on equipment alone. In those three years I have also spent time and energy practicing my craft, reading and learning about techniques and vision. In the last few months I have spent my waking and non-waking hours thinking about this profession. Yes, it’s very tough work. I’m not just the photographer, but also the web designer, marketer, salesperson and admin person. Am I enjoying it? Yes. Am I cheap? For now, yes. This roller coaster may be slow going up, but there’s no telling when I’ll hit the peak and the let the real fun begin.