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> Going back to school.
TB74
post May 9 2014, 11:48 PM
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That's it.

I'm going back to school in september. Either full time or part-time (for the first year only). It's gonna be something. I'm old enough to be the (very precocious) father of most of the students I'll meet there.

Business has been steadily slowing down in the last years, thanks in major part to idiots charging $160 for a day of work. I don't mind amateurs entering the world of professional photography, as long as they do it properly, i.e., charging decent fares for their services. (More on this in the rant below.)

I've been teaching photography to amateurs, which helped me stay afloat until recently. But even with photo lessons, the photo shootings are getting less frequent, with the result that my earnings are slowly but steadily decreasing, while living costs are slowly but steadily increasing. I can't wait another five years to see if the business (and overall economy) will improve. Being self-employed is hard. You got to find your clients on your own, do your own advertising, most of your accounting, etc.

Understand, I'm not filing for bankruptcy, I'm just putting an end to the adventure, so it's not like I utterly failed. It's just too difficult making a good living out of it now. The stress of constantly wondering if I'll be able to pay all my expenses at the end of the month is taking a toll, so I thought I'd rather jump ships while I still can. I'll bring this boat to port and sell it for scraps, and board a new ship. I just won't be captain anymore.

I always had a love and fascination for languages. I learned German in college, but without practice, I lost it almost entirely. Yet I remember how exciting it was. Since I'm already decent with English and that my French is almost flawless, I thought it was the way to go.

So I'll be starting a bachelor's degree in translation this fall (translation from English to French), to which I'll add a course in another language. Most probably Japanese or Chinese. All this provided I'm accepted. Still need to pass a French test and meet a couple of technical requirements.

I'm a bit disappointed my business didn't worked as planned, but on the other hand, I'm really excited about going back to school. It's gonna be hard, but it's gonna be fun! smile.gif

Don't wish me luck, please. Success is the result of hard work, not luck. So if you want to wish me something, wish me success!


***

And for those who wish to read my rant... here it is!

Of course, the amateur who charges $160 for a day think he's earning $20/hour and that it's fine. What the amateur doesn't understand, is that he/she couldn't make a living charging so little, because very few photographers can actually work 5 days/week. Not many people marry on mondays or thursdays. Few bands will give concerts on a tuesday morning. And when they do, one of the band members has a friend or a cousin who's a good amateur photographer and who will do it for free anyway. Jazz band members aren't millionaires. I guess I could make an excellent living if I was U2's official photog, but it's not the case. laugh.gif

But the amateur doesn't mind charging $160 a day, because he/she's got his/her regular, $14/hour, 40 hours/week job to rely on. So that $160 is a nice extra at the end of the month, not a way to make a living.

But for the professional like me, who would be charging $1300 a day for a corporate event, it's different. About $500 of that $1300 is expenses to start with.

Tools: two main DSLRs so you don't lose time changing lenses, plus a backup DSLR in case the main one fails, all of which have to be upgraded once in a while (2-3 years or so). Two pro zoom lenses, two speedlights, a portable studio flash kit. A beefy computer to run 246 RAW files in a decent amount of time, and software that need to be updated every other year or so. And loads of hard drives, so you have backups of everything. Think 4TB of new HDDs per year on average.

Services: insurance, professional association membership, accounting services, legal services, a business (mobile) phone line, etc. And for some, a studio or some office rent.

Advertising: Website. Online advertisement. Print flyers. Meeting with clients.

Etc.


So it's $800 left for a day of work. Well, not exactly. Two days of work, actually. One day of shooting and one day of post-production. That's $400 left for a day. Add in the time spent finding the client and meeting him/her, the time spent preparing the offer and the time spent keeping your business accounting book up to date, and you end up with $800 for a full week of work. Take out the taxes (about $250), it's $550 for a full week of work in the end. Times 52, that's about $27,500/year... if you work 52 weeks per year, which almost never happens. Most often, it's 30 weeks/year. The rest being time spent prospecting clients who answer "no" in hope to find one answering "yes".

Now if you don't find an assignment on the next week, you need to make a living with $550 for two weeks. That's $10/hour, about the minimum wage down here in Québec. With a rent of $650 a month, $320 a month of groceries, internet, phone, car expenses, it's fair living. Well, it used to be.

Because with the amateurs entering the business, everything changed.

Now my regular clients tell me they have an employee who's "got a pro camera", so they'll give him/her the assignment instead. I ask why, they tell me it's because their employee is charging them very little or nothing at all for the pics. I try to explain that the camera is only 5% of the final result, and they say they understand, but they don't have the budget anymore. I ask if the pictures their employee makes are as good as mine. They tell me "no, but it's good for the price".

"Reduce your prices, you'll get more clients," one of them told me. But they don't understand there's not enough assignments for all the photographers in the area I'm living in. Or any area for that matter. So even if I charge next to nothing, say $200 for a day of work, I won't be able to do the 3-4 assignments per week I need to make a living.

Photography isn't the best career opportunity of the future. Actually, it's one of the worse. Unless you're one of the lucky few (and downright excellent) photographers making a living with fashion and advertising photography. I'm an event-photojournalist kind of photographer and I suck at fashion and advertising, so... going back to school kinda makes sense.

Most important, you gotta be a very good businessman/businesswoman to succeed in this field of work. The quality of your pictures is only 10% of the sum of your skills, and 80% of it is about people skills and business skills. Maybe I'm not the businessman type of guy in the end. Add in a bad economical situation, a domain in which amateurs are taking over the market and in which the buyers don't care about the quality anymore ("I want it nice, good and cheap, not prize-winning"), and that's enough to convince me.

There are nice perks in being a photographer, though. You get the best place during music festivals and stage performance events. You are your own boss (at least regarding how you work, the when is not something you can control) and you get to meet lots of people.

But it's also a lot of cons. Like being alone in your office most of the time, spending only 10% of your entire time meeting people when on a shooting. It's also working on evenings and weekends (same for teaching). So your day off is either monday afternoon or tuesday evening.

Well, I won't miss the business part of the photo business. And the good point is I can keep doing photography for FUN! biggrin.gif




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Ghidra
post May 10 2014, 01:35 AM
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I wish you success!

BTW, why did you post this in Sub-Underground Lounge? Sub-Underground Lounge can only be seen by people who are Members+, regular Underground Lounge can be seen by everyone. But maybe you did that on purpose.




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TB74
post May 10 2014, 07:35 AM
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Queen Bee
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QUOTE (Syxx @ May 9 2014, 09:35 PM) *
I wish you success!

BTW, why did you post this in Sub-Underground Lounge? Sub-Underground Lounge can only be seen by people who are Members+, regular Underground Lounge can be seen by everyone. But maybe you did that on purpose.


Thanks!

Regarding why I posted here, I didn't realize it was the Sub-Underground Lounge until... now. laugh.gif

Feel free to move the thread to the Underground Lounge.




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ren shizu
post May 10 2014, 03:25 PM
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uwahh..TB74! so you're really doing translations then? Wishing you all the success! Hope we'll have another time to chat! biggrin.gif




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TB74
post May 11 2014, 03:02 AM
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Queen Bee
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Group: Members
Posts: 2,040
Joined: 7-September 11
From: Levis, Canada
Member No.: 380
Favorite Character:
Country: ca
Favorite Pairing: Me + Kugimiya Rie :)
Favorite Anime: Maria-Sama ga Miteru
Favorite Comic: Philemon
Favorite Movie: The Big Lebowski
Favorite Book: The Complete Works of Howard Philips Lovecraft
Favorite Musician(s): Kalafina



QUOTE (ren shizu @ May 10 2014, 11:25 AM) *
uwahh..TB74! so you're really doing translations then? Wishing you all the success! Hope we'll have another time to chat! biggrin.gif


Well, I'm not doing any professional translations yet, but yes, I'm going for translations.

Thanks for the wishes, and hope to chat with you again soon too! smile.gif




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