by Anthony Offen-James Published 01/10/2001
There has much debate within the Society as to the merits of traditional or digital photography but there is another area that we should also be looking at as professionals, as it affects much of the work we do and the way the people we want, as customers perceive us.
How many of you have a funny story to tell? like the one about the guy who forgot the power pack for the flash was on his belt and pulled the camera and tripod over, or the one about the guy who thought he was using 220 not 120 and ran out of film. These stories may have a humorous ending but they both have one thing in common, THEY ARE TRUE!!
These events may look funny on paper but both occurred to photographers who advertised their services widely and were taking money for their work. Is it any wonder that some times when we visit or reveal prices to potential clients on the telephone that some times the reaction comes back as " that much too take a few snaps".
The reaction to this is normally " I do not take snaps , I'm a Photographer ".This public perception of Photographers as someone who takes a few snaps is partly down to confused impression caused by the incidents in the first paragraph.
I know of Photographers who use Jessops to develop film, whereas professionals working SWPP, BIPP,MPA standards would always use professional labs or process themselves, but this type of cost cutting is being used as a stick to beat us down in price regardless of the quality that is the end product. Jessops are not bad processors but their service is aimed fairly and squarely at the amateur market.
I suspect we all know somebody who has no liability cover even though it is available widely and any self respecting pro would consider it a necessity as is business cover for the car ,but how many actually bother?.
The problem for the public is how do they know they are going to get a QUALIFIED Photographer working to the standards that they require. Just looking in the Yellow pages reveals page after page of Photographers all with Qualifications, but many meaningless to the public. What we must do as individuals and as an industry is try to work to educate the public as to what they should expect from a Photographer, and to ask about how and when they qualified and at what level and with whom.
The 3 Yellow Pages in the Basingstoke, Guildford and Reading area has as much as an entire page dedicated to the BIPP with all the members listed , this may be an avenue we should explore to focus on the availability of specialist Wedding and Portrait Photographers , if it meant a rise in membership fees ,they would probably be refunded by the extra work that such an advertisement would bring ,as well as getting the attention of other Photographers who may want to join and qualify.
Such an advert may also work out cheaper than members buying an ad in the Yellow Pages individually.
As a society we should look to protect our position as the premier body representing and qualifying Wedding & Portrait photographers by Promoting Membership.
Where possible if you cannot undertake a booking, recommending the customer contact the nearest member to you. By working together in this way we can all help each other and help the Society, to this end we should all try to get to know who other local members are, and see them as colleagues not just as competition.
With Kodak purchasing National Weddings and being able to offer countrywide coverage along with internet print ordering and the corporate size to dominate the market we need to be looking at helping ourselves to make sure we as a professional society all have a future in the industry and that it is a strong and healthy one.
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