I have to admit it never ceases to amaze me that I can produce a photo and send it to Australia in seconds for approval or even printing. I can cut products out of backgrounds and in studio work, I can now place mirrors and reflectors where I want in order to provide the ultimate lighting on a product, knowing that within seconds, I can remove it from the final image. When shooting on film in the good old days, I would have been a lot more selective with the placement of such lighting accesories and maybe sometimes to the detriment of obtaining that ultimate shot. I also don’t need to wait for film and print processing and I no longer need to get my hands dirty with chemicals.
That’s all well and good but there are some big buts. Back in the day, Over and above the charge for my time, skill and studio overheads, I charged for each Polaroid required for test shots, each roll of film that was required plus the processing costs. Whenever a client required a print, that was chargeable. Of course there were costs invloved with processing and the purchase of materials but they were invoiced out with a profitable margin. At the end of the day, I am in business to earn a living therefore there has to be profit in every service I offer or there won’t be food on the table at the end of the month. There are still overheads to pay but they are more transparent and less obvious to the end client. In fact they are probably greater now than they ever were in the past due to the continual advance of technology and the latest ‘must have’ mentality of clients.
With the advent of compact and mobile phone cameras, everyone is now a photographer. It’s true, nearly all cameras can record a pretty high quality photo. This has brought in a raft of would-be professionals – in fact nothing more than keen amateur’s wanting to make a few extra bucks in their down time. As a form of extra income, they are not reliant on photography as their main source of earning and therefore offer their services at either very cheap rates or even for free in order to gain experience.This enevitably creates an environment of low pricing and reduced rates, pushing the fees that fully professional photographers can charge further and further down. A true professional photographer will leave their cameras set to a very basic shooting mode and edit and post produce all their images to obtain the ultimate results and quality of image. The part-timers offering their services at frighteningly low rates rarely have the same skill and usually offer all images shot, unedited and without individual manual adjstments, leaving that side of things to the judgement of the cameras built-in processor.
This might seem very negative, but many photographers have fallen to the wayside under such pressure. As more images are now expected by clients since there are no longer any physical material costs, the amount of post production work and time spent for each client has increased immeasurably but at prices that are continually forced down and unsustainable for many reliying on a full time living out of photography, pushing many long time professional photographers away from the business.