by Malcolm Mathieson Published 01/01/2005
For over thirty years I have been involved in professional photography as both a photographer and, at times, working with suppliers in an attempt to help photographers make better business decisions. I have been, and still am, a passionate believer in the value of associations like the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers but things change and over the last year my life and the industry here in Australia has changed at even faster rate than ever before.
One of the advantages of traveling a lot and of working overseas is the ability you gain to look at our industry and some of the things we do from the outside, and in many cases you end up questioning the way we work. My wife, Maya and I now run a small photographic business from our home in Australia.
We have three streams of income, weddings, boats and babies. Many of you would have seen me talk about our wedding business and mention the boat business - what is new is our baby business.
You see I, like many photographers, needed a source of constant income all year round, weddings and boat photography are seasonal, in summer you do well but the winters can be long and lean so we wanted to find an income that would always be there.
Well in Australia people have babies all the year round and gee whiz they do in the UK as well! People spend a lot of money having kids and we as social photographers are well aware that baby photography can be lucrative or can it be?
Here, like most places, much of the traditional studio photographers' bread and butter income has been taken by the operators working in shopping malls. One well known business here in the land down under has a turnover of over sixty million dollars working in this way.
Our industry here has been critical of these businesses, photographers are guilty of making comments about poor quality and the work all being the same but while photographers are busy being high and mighty their businesses are all suffering as mothers choose
these photographic companies over the more traditional choices - your studio or mine. The Associations in large part have not helped, they are all about building quality in the market and often events run by the Associations are all about the photographers ego tripping and back slapping each other; meanwhile there businesses are getting smaller.
It was important for us to find out why mothers choose these operators. Why they went there to the mall and did not come to me or you? What are they doing that is so attractive? Most important what could we learn from the way they work and could we build a business or stream of income like we wanted?
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