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Wow, I expected better from PDN
Steve Russell, Photographer
Toronto | ON | Canada | Posted: 8:52 AM on 07.11.12
->> PDN launches a new digital magazine geared toward women.
I'm thinking it will tackle issues like the NPPA's Women in Photojournalism conference does.
But front page pointer to "Smudge proof make-up tips for long days behind the camera" seems a little.......well.....fluffy for 2012.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 11:13 AM on 07.11.12
What does any of this have to do with Women in Photography?
Smudge proof make up? What shoes to wear? How do you dress for an assignment?

I thought PDN was a magazine ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY?

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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 11:50 AM on 07.11.12
->> You guys haven't seen the wedding photography marketplace lately. All fluff and cute and fancy shoes and zero business and actual photography skills. This magazine is a freaking joke to a lot of fabulous female photographers, but sadly caters to a larger market of this type. Go to WPPI and you'll see.

That said, its ridiculous that PDN would instead of helping people become better business people and better photographers, they offend most people who have a brain.
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Kenneth Armstrong, Photographer
Sault Ste Marie | ON | Canada | Posted: 2:41 PM on 07.11.12
->> Judging by your profile photo I am surprised PDN didn't consult you for makeup tips, Steve :P
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 5:23 PM on 07.11.12
->> Maybe they've hired someone from The Onion to edit their woman's mag.
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David Scott, Photographer
Portland | OR | US | Posted: 5:28 PM on 07.11.12
->> I agree with Craig 100%

I was at a park shooting engagement photos. Another other shooter there had her tight jeans, low cut blouse, and 4 inch heals. I was getting muddy shoes and pants while I kept hearing her telling her clients "I can't go there because of the shoes I'm wearing, he he." Her male client ran up to me and asked for my biz card. Sure enough they called me 3 weeks later to set up a shoot. Their first shoot was that "new style" where faces are grossly overexposed to the point the the only part of the nose that shows are the nostrils.

I am told by my son that the term is HCWC - Hot Chicks With Cameras.
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Shelley Cryan, Photographer
New England | CT | USA | Posted: 5:47 PM on 07.11.12
->> This is a real magazine? Or is it a joke? How insulting.
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David Hungate, Photographer
Roanoke | VA | United States | Posted: 6:27 PM on 07.11.12
->> I thought I was making a big leap going from my time and travel-trusted Domke bag to a ThinkTank Roller. Who knew I was lacking by not buying a Me Ra Koh bag. It is so C-U-T-E!!!

This mag is hitting at a specific demographic. Now, let your mind run wild for a moment and just imagine a web site aimed at tired photogs who bitch about bad press box food and crowded sidelines. Wonder if there is a place like that?

There is something for everyone, I guess. (I'll stick with you folks, if it's all the same to you.)
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 8:09 PM on 07.11.12
->> Part of me wants to believe this is an intern's fantasy project that slipped its collar..
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Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 10:25 PM on 07.11.12
->> For a few years now the biggest growth industry in photography has been young adult women, married or single, typically with one child; shooting weddings and babies and such.

It is peer to peer marketing for them, the women they went to school with, grew up with etc. They more often than not have another job and/or income from their husband. So they have some spendable money to get them started.

So I suspect that this PDN magazine is an effort to pander to that market.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 10:01 AM on 07.12.12
->> One of my marketing professors in college admonished his students "Whenever you see a advertisement that you don't like; it's because it isn't aimed at you".

The same thing holds true for magazines. It's targeted and as Ian points out, PDN is specific in it's focus. Never mind that it's a segment many of us would and do sneer at; from PDN's perspective, if it brings in revenue, it's all good.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 1:00 PM on 07.12.12
->> Ian truly hit the nail on the head. I've been at several recent events over the past couple of years where young women (not picking on women but no men have ever done this) come up to me and ask me if I know how to use something on their camera. the conversation always goes something like this.."excuse me but my friend over there said you're a professional photographer can you tell me why my camera is doing this?"....I then reply, "are you charging these folks to do this?"...."well yes, but I don't charge that much."..."well I don't want to be rude but don't you think that's pretty obscene to be purporting to be a professional and not knowing what the hell you're doing?".......blank looks usually follows and they wander off. look at their websites, they always say the same thing...."I'm married to a wonderful man and have two beautiful children. I just thought I should share some of my joy through photography which I fell in love with when taking photos of my own family. let me share the joy of my life by taking photos of your life. it will be a joyful experience and fulfilling for us all." hell, I think there are about 50 of these operations in raleigh-durham alone. and they charge unbelievably crazy low rates. the newest trend in the last six months seems to be they all offer groupons too making their rates even more laughable. it's pretty sad that real professionals are getting killed by these sort of "business people".
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 1:41 PM on 07.12.12
->> hahaha. Chuck you pretty much nailed usual
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 12:51 PM on 07.13.12
->> "it's pretty sad that real professionals are getting killed by these sort of "business people"."

You guys said it; it's peer-to-peer marketing. But I wonder, with all due respect, why any of you cares? I mean, do you really feel threatened by someone who is chasing low-end clients for $50 Group-On deals? Are you really being hurt not getting that $50 portrait client? The client that, save the $50 Group-On deal, would not even be in the market? I say not. Let the low-end client do business with the low-end photographers and let them go down the street together blissfully.

The Pied Piper of this bunch is Tamara Lackey, right there in your back yard, Chuck, walking distance from the fresh, new suburbs full of fresh, new moms-with-cameras. Now, make no mistake, Tamara is a DAMNED fine portrait photographer and a finely honed marketing machine... and more power to her, but she is exactly what you describe; got her start doing exactly what you guys are sticking your noses up at. Now look at her. She KNOWS how to connect with the kids and families because she is one of them! And she's teaching Hot Chicks With Cameras how to shoot AND run a business. And oh yes, she's definitely a Hot Chick With Camera! A talented HCWC, but a HCWC nonetheless. To wit; One of the topics in her workshops (at $1,300 a pop might add) is the “...'how-it-really-works-out-there' business model" and a workshop entitled "Work. Life. Balance." that she figured out after her "...own kids came long...focused on aligning what you wish to be achieving on a day-to-day basis with smart, proven methods to get you there."

(sarcasm coming:) QUICK! Where's my credit card? I want to learn the "what-it's-really-like-out-there Business Model!" Wow, a Business Model! This MUST be serious!

Now, if you want to compete with this bunch and chase $50 portrait clients, go for it. But I would say that the HCWCs are actually GOOD for your biz, as they create a contrast between real professionals with talent and experience, and $50 Group-On portrait wannabes. It makes you look that much better!
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 5:21 PM on 07.13.12
->> Phil...I agree 100% with what you said in your most recent post.

I shoot headshots at $300 a pop. I could care less about the photographer that charges $50. In fact...I refer some people to
those guys an once in a while they call me back because the
pictures SUCKED!!!

FYI...It's Groupon...not Group-On :)
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Jason Myers, Photographer
West Palm Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 5:57 PM on 07.13.12
->> It took me a little while to check my dislike for awful photographers and the MWAC, but like Delane said that these folks are NOT my competition.

I like my PDN magazine and while I don't open my Rangefinder mag, I can't fault them for targeting a market for additional revenue.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 7:37 PM on 07.13.12
->> David Scott's post reinforces what I've been saying for a long time:

1) More entry level competition expands the size of the overall market (which is good)

2) A certain percentage of the expanded pie will not be satisfied with the quality of the work that they get at the lower price points.

3) Of that group, a certain percentage will look for something BETTER and being willing to pay more! Your challenge is to tap into that segment. They were only out $50 - so the loss is minimal.

If you maintain your share of a growing market - and do so profitably; then you're making more money - that's your objective in a expanding market.

When you tell them that it will costs 10x or 20x the amount, but they'll be happy with the result - you probably won't have a lot of resistance. TALK TO THEM - walk them through the process and you'll gain a client for life.

You should have a good - better - best merchandise/sales plan in place to make it easier for them to spend more!

Your advertising should stress your years of experience, the generations of memories you've provided etc. In other words, things that make you stand out.

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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 8:43 PM on 07.13.12
->> "1) More entry level competition expands the size of the overall market"

More "entry level competition" does nothing more than lower the level of competence and the general level of compensation for services performed in the market.

"2) A certain percentage of the expanded pie will not be satisfied with the quality of the work that they get at the lower price points"

The customer brought into the "expanded" market will have little or no reference as to the quality produced by the non-expanded market and so will be happy with the lower level of quality that they get.

"Your advertising should stress your years of experience, the generations of memories you've provided etc."

You'll find, quite quickly, that nobody gives a shit about experience, etc.

As to the rest... Dream on.
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Dan Routh, Photographer
Greensboro | NC | USA | Posted: 9:09 PM on 07.13.12
->> Jim, I must agree with you. What I see happening in the commercial market is that clients that should have the budgets and the needs for quality work have the expectation that their work can be done as cheaply as these folks are doing these portrait and wedding sessions.

Just this week I received this email concerning an commercial web, ad and billboard job:

"Thanks for your estimate. The client has selected another photographer. I had you and (another photographer) estimate this project. You two were both in line with your pricing, but she decided on going with someone that she knows that is less expensive but not as experienced as both of you are."

Cheap works sucks us all down and hurts the market as a whole.

Of course, I am reminded of this quote as well:

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." Red Adair
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 1:21 AM on 07.14.12
->> Yes, it's tough out there.

And you know, if you want to look for excuses to quit, fail and just give up, I will guarantee you - you'll find plenty of excuses with virtually no effort.

So, why not give up? Then you can sit home and moan. And groan.

I've been through economic tough times before. The farm crisis of the 80's took a lot of people out.I saw a lot of good people fail after listening to experts tell them to borrow to the hilt and expand. And then lose everything. At the time, I didn't understand initially that I had to learn some lessons - including that bitching and feeling sorry for myself solves NOTHING.

Same situation as now (it's just that now it's world wide.) Lots of reasons to throw in the towel. Easy to quit. So, if that's the way you want it to be - do me a favor and quit. Just do it. But accept the fact that you CHOOSE to QUIT and quit bitching about it. Why? Because it will have been your CHOICE.

Bitching may be a photographer's tradition - aw christ - it's everyone's right and most businesspeople I know do it. The smart ones however, keep working on finding new ways to find more business. I'm trying new things. Some work, some don't. But this much I do know: I've got some growth (REALLY!) and I'm doing better then the clowns I compete against who stand around and bitch. ( I actually prefer that they continue to do that - it makes it easier to take them out of business).

Had lunch with a friend of mine who owns a studio yesterday. Yes, his bookings are down. But, he's trying a new approach (for him) to shooting weddings and guess what - he's found a new way to be more profitable. VERY profitable. It won't cure all of the challenges, but it's a solution he didn't have a few weeks ago. It's working. Change is our friend if we let it be. You add one and then one more and then another....

Jim, I love your viewpoint many times - you really are a professional Contrarian. But the fact is, as far as I know, you've never had to meet a payroll, you've never had run a business. I have for over 35 years. It's easy to bitch. It's easy to complain. But it doesn't make ANYTHING better. The only thing that will do is make it impossible to see opportunities because you'll be too busy feeling sorry for yourself. I call it "playing violins" Poor me... it solves absolutely nothing.

The ability to look at things that you're doing and dispose of things that don't work and try to make the things that are working better and do things you always meant to do but never got around to doing are things you try now.

I stand by what I wrote earlier. A expanding market will eventually lead to more business as people discover that cheap doesn't work - and it doesn't for a lot of folks. Is it as easy as it way 10 years ago? No, but that's the way it is.

Let me put it this way. When it comes to business, you can always find a excuse for failure. Over time, over years I've learned, it takes just a little bit more effort to find success. The other thing it takes - is the right attitude.

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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 2:06 AM on 07.14.12
->> "But the fact is, as far as I know..."

Never let your lack of facts or knowledge stop you from making ad hominem comments about people.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 9:21 AM on 07.14.12
->> Michael, I have to disagree with much that you said on several levels. One, just because someone has "never run a business or never met a payroll" doesn't necessarily mean they don't know something about business practices. I've never done that either but I sure know what I see happening to my friends who actually ARE professionals. I think maybe in your market your strategy might work. Spencer, Iowa pop- 13,000. The nearest large town from you live near Sioux City, Iowa has a population of 85,000. I would hazard a guess that the number of people wanting to get into photography in your market just doesn't compare to an area such as our market which had a population of 1.2 million. I personally know at least three people in the last year who have either lost jobs to ridiculously low bids or lost a gig they had been shooting to someone who came in and offered to do the job for a laughable rate. are all of these MWC's bad shooters? no. but the fact of the matter is the great majority of them DON"T need the money (and please read this carefully) I'm not lumping all of them into the same pile. I'm sure there are a few who might be trying to make ends meet but the majority of them are married with a spouse doing the heavy lifting so they can follow their "dream" and bring "joy" to someone's life though photos. on the other hand I also know a couple of guys who are married to women with good jobs who undercut other people and work on spec (and not the good kind) because they DON'T have to worry about a paycheck. it's all nice "work" if you can get it but putting your head in the sand and acting like changing the way you do things will magically solve the problem is nothing short of laughable. the fact of the matter is no matter how good you are cheap will win out every time. and not just in what you do. ask the hundreds of veteran newspaper photographers who have been replaced with "cheap".
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Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 11:37 AM on 07.14.12
->> I must agree with Jim and Chuck especially on one specific point.... The average "client" has been dumbed down.

Bad focus and blown out highlights are not recognized. Lousy crops and photos that look good on a cell phone are the baseline. From family portraits to magazines, photography is more based on price and quantity, than originality and quality.

On my side of things in bodybuilding and fitness, I see people with photographs in their portfolios that I would have been loathe to not delete or destroy. I see magazines run photography poorly exposed, out of focus and white balanced for the light of the moon in a green cheese phase. Bad Photoshop plugin tricks round out the selections. Even the advertisers are running trash like this. But it has become the norm and it is readily available and cheap or free.

Advertising experience and quality does not make a difference. My industry knows who I am and by and large acknowledges and knows of my experience and what I do. "We know you shoot the best photographs but our guy who runs the warehouse owns a camera and we bought him some lights". "We know they won't be as good as yours, but we don't have to pay for them".

Anyway I accepted the changing market when I started seeing it at the end of 2007. I have worked to evolve and never price chase. It has not been easy but I know I have been doing the right thing. And those guys who came in behind me in 2008, working cheap have been seeing the error in their ways and now realize there is no "do over" for them. But there are still more...
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 12:01 PM on 07.14.12
->> Points well taken, Chuck, I can't argue with what you say. All I can do is report my own experience. My portrait and event bookings have more than tripled from last year and my starting quote is $375. Tamara is getting $500+ minimum plus print sales. And clearly, she's not lacking for bookings. And I can honestly say that I've never not heard back from a person to whom I gave a quote. They like my work, apparently, and the price must be acceptable. I'm thinking of going to $425 next year..

Do good work, be reliable, practice your craft, be friendly and enthusiastic when you field inquiry calls, and my guess is you will build a respectable business. I still say losing that gig to a low-ball quote is not losing anything. The person who shops for price is more likely to nit-pick, chisel and NOT buy prints and will be more of a pain in the ass than it's worth.

If you are losing bookings to low-ballers, then you have to examine how you are interacting with the public. Do you have enthusiasm and smile when you talk to people? Do you make the caller feel like you WANT their business (there's a difference between desperate and enthusiastic) and that you LIKE them?

Buckling on your fee puts blood in the water and the chiseling and complaining never stops. There are people who live to "win" a business negotiation, and once they feel that victory, they just keep chiseling and getting concession after concession from you IF you allow it. Choose not to go there.

In any industry, there are price-only shoppers, and those who want quality and professionalism. You can choose to be a professional and develop confidence in your price, or you can stammer and hesitate and apologize for your rates and project a groveling attitude, instantly offering to reduce your fee, thereby damaging the confidence the customer has in booking you. I say if you're consistently losing bookings to low-ballers, it's mostly YOUR fault. YOU have not done your job in instilling the confidence of the customer that you will be worth that "extra" cost.

Once again, read the book from John Harrington, "Best Business Practices for Photographers" and heed his admonitions.
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Daniel Berman, Photographer, Assistant
Seattle | WA | US | Posted: 12:48 PM on 07.14.12
->> Great post, Phil!
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 2:24 PM on 07.14.12
->> Here's are some ugly truths that will surprise very few:

1) Not everyone will survive. Some will have to switch careers to something else. The name of the game right now is to be profitable so THAT YOU SURVIVE. I've said this over and over: It's not even the most talented sometimes - it's who possesses the business skills. This is why I've preached over and over to the college kids to take business courses. If you lack those skills, either take courses at the local junior college or get in touch with SCORE.

2) You cannot win at the bottom of the market. REPEAT : YOU CANNOT WIN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE MARKET. You will go out of business. You have one play - and that is to go up the food chain. Less consumers, but a lot less BS and a lot more profit. Find niches that are underserved. It will take more than one but they are there. If someone wants to do business with the lowest bidder, you've got the wrong target.

3) Customers shop price but they buy VALUE. Go to this link and read Rick Rickman's second post:

Rick does a great job of explaining how building a relationship will so often be the difference between winning and losing a sale.

As for your assumption Chuck, that the size of the market may make a difference in what I'm saying, the answer is not really.

I grew up in Miami,Fla and started to learn how to sell down there. The population in Miami is 2.2 million.

I lived and worked in St. Louis, which has a population of 2.8M in the metro.

It doesn't matter if it's a population of 13 Million, 2 Million, or 13000 - the process of selling a client is the same regardless. The worse thing about worrying about the bottom feeders is that you take your eye off of the ball - figuring out what the market needs and then delivering it and a fair and profitable price.If all you believe is that your niche is based on lowest price, pack it in because you're done.

Chuck, I've never been in a area that's a war zone or struck by a earthquake like you have, so I would defer to any discussion like that to you. But to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about business wise because of market size I currently live in, well, my brother - that you're wrong about. Period.

For those of you that think there's no money out there - well There is in many markets (Fla, Nev, AZ maybe ..maybe not). It's tough to get the business, but doable if done correctly. This is not a business climate for anyone who doesn't have their act together. But it is doable if you act like a businessperson and not like a HCWC. Give them something they can't get somewhere else. There are people on this board doing that right now.

Don't think there is any money out there? If you really don't think that there isn't disposable income out there, do this: go ask your local banker how deposits are compared to 2007. I guarantee the deposit levels are higher. People are saving - not spending. It's a Quantium Leap lifestyle wise. That's a lot different then not having money. Look at the average balance people are carrying on their credit cards - there's a lot more debt paid off now in 30 days then there was 5 years ago. This means many people have $$$. The trick is to get them to give it to you. You do that by having the best value. And the way you provide the best value is to give them as many emotional satisfiers as you can for the dollar YOU CHARGE.

Go back and reread Harrington's book if you have read it before or read it if you've never read it. Reread Rick Rickman's post. Get some help and write a one or two page business plan along with a budget.

There are winners in this economy. There are losers, too. Do enough things right - and you'll be in the first group. Sit there and bitch, and I'll guarantee that you'll be in the second.

I dropped my 17 year old off at a friend's fine dining establishment this morning. This guy is higher end for rural Iowa and he's in a Lake area that brings in lots of folks from 100-200 miles away that have second homes here. It was 930AM and we were talking when the phone rang. Someone wanted to make a dinner reservation for a party of 8. My friend told him 830 tonight was available. It was his 240th reservation for the day.

No money? Hardly. There's a lot of money. Stay away from the bottom feeders and go after the people making dinner reservations for a party of 8....

PDN is doing what it needs to do to attract new business.To be successful, you need to do the same thing. It's simple, but it isn't easy...

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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 5:54 PM on 07.14.12
->> Michael, BRAVO! Excellent exclamation point on this subject, forcefully yet respectfully written. A standing ovation to you. Well put, my friend.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 5:05 PM on 07.17.12
->> Mkay...
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Thread Title: Wow, I expected better from PDN
Thread Started By: Steve Russell
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