So you might be wondering whats to do with the two words “photography” and “poweroffree”. The simplest possible is answer is what ever is happening to freelance or professional photography industry is related to that. I really don’t know if i wanted to write this or not probably a year ago, but i am going ahead and writing this now because this needs a special mention at this time when things are going from bad to worse. I have been playing around with this black box since probably a decade or more as of the time i write this and i have seen the photography industry change heaps and bounds and more so in the last 5 years of the “social media revolution”. The internet has changed things so much and especially Facebook and the huge rise of (what was formerly known as) “fan pages”. And what has this done to the market ? More photographers in the order of thousands being let into the ocean every day and equal number of FirstName_LastName_Photography fb pages getting popped up every second. What does it all lead to if you ask – the answer is more and more free photography services at a noticeable loss in quality of deliverables in the name of portfolio development and free exposure by clients on social media.
The clients also play a huge role in spoiling the photography market. A random scroll through of posts or request in one of the most common forums on Facebook and these are the type of requests you see by clients asking for photography service.
9 out of 10 clients wants things for free and they promise enough exposure and thats always the first and last thing they promise. They will never ever have a budget ( how ever big or small it is ) for photography coverage. And what do the photographer do with the free exposure ? more and more clients who expect the photographer to do free work for more free exposure. As one of the event photographers covering EDM events and festivals in South India for more than a year and working with some of the top names in EDM Event management in the country, all that I get to face is frequent requests from event agencies asking me if i can shoot an event for free for them in return for Facebook credit. We photographers spend lakhs if not thousands to acquire gear and learn the art and science of photography and how does you tagging the photographers on Facebook ever give any return ?
Keeping the clients aside for a while and going back to the new generation “candid wedding” photographers. Drop them a mail asking for a quote for a wedding and don’t forget to mention that you are low on budget and the response you get is astonishing. Yes the photographers come back reducing their cost by half to sometimes even one third the original what they mention on website or initial conversation. And am not referring to seasoned professionals lot of whom are my friends from a long time. If we ask the photographers why they agreed for such a low money, the response – hey its ok they will give us more reference and we can cover up the cost and also he is a very close friend of mine so can’t charge him more. But what they fail to realise is that they are not only undervaluing their own talent and capability but also spoiling the market by nurturing the creed of photographers who are ready to shoot for low or even free. Seldom do i see anyone even going and sitting down with the client to convince them why its important for them to allocate a budget for photography.
In between all these there are couple of very special group of photographers. One who just do photography because they want to do photography and neither for earning money or showcasing their talent (as if they have any). They are there in the scene because they know big names in that field of their work and they take or use that name to be everywhere and put it out in social media or even press ( yeah paid media i mean ) that they are doing some high profile work in the market. Where actually all that they are doing is using the names of contacts they are having to make their name noticeable to become famous in budding photographer’s eyes. And secondly this other creed which i wanted to tell is a special one which i bumped into off late. These are the similar photographers as above who don’t want to either earn or showcase their talent but can go to any extent to get their name associated with the “big name client”, and what extent do they go to do this ? they are ready to pay back the client a premium price for having to choose them to cover a event or a shoot. Wow isn’t this interesting move ? Pay money to the client itself to get you hired. I really wish everyone had that extra surplus money to spend like this – because end of the day both the client and the photographer would have been a happy bunnies.
I know lot of eye balls rolled reading all those things above. I have intentionally/un-intentionally skipped mentioning lot of other things (like the world of workshops, rental market, mentoring without expectation, gratitude of fellow photographers, non paying clients) which i can come back and share some knowledge with a future post. But while going through the post if you really felt guilty of doing one or many of the above as a photographer or a client – then you really got to realise what you are doing and better correct yourself. If you think you can’t then don’t worry its a huge market and you definitely have your share to enjoy and spoil it further.
Anyways – keeping all that aside if you have managed to come till this point of the post let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy world photography day.