Sunday, March 28, 2010

The attack of the wannabee photographers...

The bane of the existence of the midlevel wedding photographer is what is referred to as the "GWC," Guest With Camera. This is the guy, or woman, who shows up at a wedding or event with a good, solid, entry level camera. They are determined to show the bridal couple or event organizers that they can do just as good a job as the professional who was hired to do it. Thus, they spend the day jockeying for position with the pro, shooting over his or her shoulder, running to get to a spot first, you get the drift. After a couple of these, the GWC now feels like they can shoot a wedding on their own. So, now, they put up an ad on Craigslist saying something to the effect of, "All Day Wedding Coverage For $500!" Or $200, or $250, or even "FREE!!!!" Now, someone looking for a wedding photographer, and seeing them priced at a minimum of $2000 thinks to themselves, "Wow, I know this person can't be as good as the others, but it's 1/4 the price!" So, they either go for the Craigslist guy, or go to that $2000 photographer and work hard to get him, or her, to do the wedding for $500. Now, that wedding pro has a choice, either don't work, or drop the price. Now, maybe, the price can be $1000, more than the CL guy, but less than the usual price. Still, it's more than could be made, sitting at home watching Two And A Half Men... So, off goes our formerly $2000 wedding photographer to do a wedding for half price... But that's not the end of the saga. That couple's friends see the quality of photography they got for $1000, and now they expect everybody to shoot for that price. Yeah, that $3000-$6000 photographer does much better work, but Sally and John only paid $1000 for theirs. So, now, they're trying to get that higher level photographer for that $1000 price. All well and good, if they can do it, but that photographer has far more invested in his business than those part timers. Thousands of hours of working as a photographer, getting experience in handling weddings (it's far more than pointing a camera at a pretty bride and telling her to smile), hours developing the talent to do wonderful things with a camera, and thousands of dollars on equipment, insurance, licenses, etc. And protecting his or her integrity, always being where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there.
In a two week period, we were contacted by 6 couples who had lost their photographer. All of them were paying $1500 or less for coverage of the entire day, including abum and "negatives." Three of them said they had a death in the family. C'mon, three photographers have deaths in the family in the same week?!? They just realized that it was more work than they thought and not nearly as easy money, or items they included were more expensive, and couldn't be covered by the price they quoted. So, they just disappeared, taking the deposits with them. None of these couples could understand why we wouldn't match the price of the now missing photogs. They kept saying, "But he was going to do it!" Never understanding that, when all was said and done, "he" WASN'T going to do it. When you hire a true professional, you are hiring, among other things, their reputation. They know how much it costs to run a business, how much it costs to get the items they re-sell, and, above all, they know the value of maintaining that reputation. None of them would ever run out on a wedding they'd committed to, and if something unavoidable happens, they would bend over backward to find a replacement, at the price they quoted. They would never leave their clients to flounder about, calling photographers who cost 2 to 3 times as much, and they would never leave them hoping to get their deposits back so they can pay the new photographer. Sad the way some of these wannabees leave the people who depend on them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More idle musings

Just finished editing a wedding we did last week. Nice couple. We over delivered, gave them more than they expected. Shot another wedding yesterday. Had an interesting vibe/brief conversation with the groom. His fiance/wife gave him a little black book filled with glamourous, sexy photos of herself, taken by my wife. He was over the moon about it. He asked me if I had anything to do with it, since she and I work together on so much. I told him no, I stay away from that side of the business. He said, "Oh, well, I just wanted to thank you, too, for doing that. It was great!" In other words, he would have had no problem with me working with his wife on sexy photos. That got me to thinking. What is it that keeps women from hiring men to take sexy photos of them? I sort of understand a certain level of discomfort with a strange man looking at you naked, or close to it. But if your photographer is a true professional, he's completely unaffected by that. He's too busy making sure the lighting's right, that the clothing looks good, that certain bits aren't showing (or are, if that's the intent), that there's no bad fold or wrinkle at the waist, that the chin isn't doubling up, the list goes on.
Some women photographers have promoted this comfort thing in order to steer business their way. I understand the desire for a competitive edge. But many women don't know what is sexy to a man. To them, it looks "cute." Or even sexy. To some men, it's "ho-hum." A male photographer understands what's going to get another man to pay attention. It doesn't have to be porn. In fact, more often than not, porn won't get the job done and may have the opposite effect, especially if it's his girlfriend or wife who's the subject. One local, long established glamour photography studio, which pushes the "all female staff" seems to think that making all girls look like everyone's preconception of a stripper is how to do it. That or trying to bring the slut out in their clients. That's not how to do it. Another seems to think that just calling something pinup is enough, even though they seemingly have no clue what true pinup is. (My wife, by the way, really has this concept down, dead to rights. Probably better than I do.) Guys want to see their ladies sexy, glamourous, beautiful, not slutty. They also want to feel that the lady is directing this only at them, with all the things they like best. Standard posing, dime a dozen costumes, things like that won't get it done either.
I may start posting the occasional image from past shoots here, or current ones, too. Have to decide if that will impact my wife's boudoir business... Ironic, eh? Just finish a b***h session about women boudoir shooters, and my wife's one of 'em. Well, we had to get the business somehow, and I certainly wasn't going to be a draw. At least she knows what I think is sexy...
Well, enough mental wanderings for one night...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Idle Musings

Just sitting here, editing images from a shoot. Started thinking about how everybody I know is up in arms about the Sandra Bullock/Jesse James thing. Funny how people get so attached to celebrity and gets involved, or feels involved, in people's lives with whom they never had any contact. I feel for Ms. Bullock, of course, and I can certainly feel Mr. James is an idiot, first for cheating on someone who seems as genuinely nice and is as gorgeous as Ms. Bullock, and second for his choice of person with whom to cheat. But I don't feel it should dominate the news waves. I felt the same way about Tiger Wood's travails. The first report, and possibly a clarification, were all, in my opinion, that the world needed. We certainly don't need daily updates on his whereabouts, what other girls have come out of the woodwork, or his wife's mental state. And we definitely don't need months and months of coverage, including talking heads analyzing her body language as he walks with her, or whether it's too soon for him to return to competitive golf. That latter could be a subject for ESPN, but not CBS News...
I'm just saying...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Blog

This is my first attempt at blogging, so bear with me as I delve into the ins and outs of this whole thing.
I'm a guy who loves to create great images, especially of women. Sometimes, I actually succeed. I've been happily married for more years than I like to admit, and being married to a wonderful, understanding woman, who also happens to be an incredible photographer, I think gives me a great insight into working with the women who choose to model for me.
My wife keeps calling me a "big jock," but I'm not really. Yeah, I played football in High School and a little bit in college, but that was a long, long time ago. And I wasn't all that good. I love watching football, and go into a bit of withdrawal when the season ends. I also dig Formula One racing, and American Le Mans Series, too. I'm one of those dweebs who gets up at 4 am to watch F1 live from Europe...
I'll be posting images from some recent shoots, and keeping everybody up to date on new shoots and developements. Stay tuned, and don't hesitate to let me know you're here!