Disjointed jottings from Terry Hansen - part 1 of 1 2 3

by Terry Hansen Published

Over the last four months I have been travelling around the country giving a series of seminars for the Society and I have had many conversations with photographers on varying topics. I thought that airing these topics and the conclusions we came to, might be of some value to you, the reader.

This is the hot topic at the moment. "Do I go digital?" "Digital is great!!!" "I hate computers." These are just some of the comments. However, like it or not, digital is here, it is going to transform photography and if you are not going to retire within the next few years, you are going to have to embrace this new technology.

My career in photography covers the time when black and white was replaced by colour. The studio I was working for was locked into black and white and was convinced that colour would never catch on and that it was a medium solely for amateur photographers. It took me some years to convince my boss that we should move over to colour and set up a colour darkroom.

What I am trying to say is that you cannot afford to bury your head in the sand about digital or you will find that your market will start to slip away. However, before moving into digital decide what you are trying to achieve. Some photographers I have spoken to are considering taking their wedding pictures on 35mm, scanning them into a computer, manipulating them and then outputting on their ink jet printer. This all sounds wonderful and I am sure that some spectacular photographs can be produced but is the public going to pay for the extra time involved in doing all this?

Scanning into a computer, doing basic manipulation and then outputting to, say 10" x 8" is going to take a minimum of between 15 to 20 minutes per photograph. If you intend doing all the images this way with, say 30 pictures in an album, you are going to spend a long time in front of the computer. Time that you will find very difficult to charge to the client. Assuming, of course, that you are charging your time at a sensible rate. What is a sensible rate for photographers to charge? Well, consider what other trades people charge. Plumbers, electricians, tv repair men all charge £60 plus for their time.

Surely a qualified photographer's time is worth more than this. It amazes me how little some photographers value their time. Look at how little some charge to cover a wedding. Try estimating the time involved to cover a wedding, from the initial enquiry, the booking, pre-wedding conference, the wedding day itself, sending the film to the laboratory, referencing proofs, taking the order, making up the album. You will find that you will average around twelve hours per wedding. Are photographers charging twelve hours at £60 plus cost of advertising, petrol, materials, processing, insurance etc. I think not. There is something wrong somewhere.

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