by Ron Pybus Published 01/06/2008
Managing The Recession
Part 11 on the business aspects of being a successful photographer by Ron Pybus ma aswpp.
There has been much talk of a recession, the credit crunch, falling house prices, the loss of the 10p tax band, increased mortgage payments of over 100 pounds per month, increased fuel costs, the rise in the retail price index up to three percent, on both television and in the newspapers. How much is really true is unknown, but certainly these stories have fuelled the general public into considering the financial implications of their spending and into taking a more conservative approach to spending, in case things get worse.
In the last month I have additionally suffered through the closure of Bowyers, the sausage and meat pie manufacturer, who have transferred the whole of their Trowbridge plant to Melton Mobray with the loss of 450 jobs in our small town. Avon Rubber also closed one of their local factories and transferred work elsewhere on the continent, again with the loss of 450 jobs and finally the local chicken processing plant just a few miles North of my studio has also closed its doors with the loss of 390 jobs. When Bowyers announced their planned redundancies I had seven cancellations of portrait sittings in that week alone.
As photographers we have to accept that photography is very much at the luxury end of disposable income spending. Most photographers are indicating a decline in their income or their bookings. For both social change and financial reasons the number of weddings taking place is lower than at any other time.
If you couple these factors with the increase in digital cameras, producing good quality images and the dramatic increase in the number of people undertaking wedding photography as a part time incomeearner at ridiculously low prices, it is clear that full-time photographers are under financial pressure. Many couples cannot differentiate between 500 shots, straight from camera onto a CD for a few hundred pounds and good quality photography for which you pay an appropriate fee.
There has always been a saying the you get what you pay for', but with TV programmes regularly showing you how to complain, often in the most ridiculous circumstances, and others demonstrating how to dramatically cut your expenditure in under 30 minutes, it is no wonder that the public are confused. To add to this pressure they have bought digital cameras either for a few pounds or sometimes a few thousand and still obtain the poor quality results they had before. However, they can now put them on their computer and print off (in even worse quality) the one or two that are reasonable.
For the art photographers amongst you there are all the above factors plus increased sales of cheap images by companies such as IKEA or the DIY chains and home furnishing stores. Their move into this market is linked with the quick TV house makeover programmes where a blank canvas is painted in 5 minutes or a family photograph is blown up and pasted onto a blockboard that is then glued to the wall. These developments have all had a considerable effect on the market values of images
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