Sunday, 20 April 2008

On the cost of amateur photography

These days everyone owns a digital camera. Modern cameras are so good it is easy to take a decent photograph. And that's great - it means that everyone can capture family events. Get memorable shots which make good enlargements to grace the mantelpiece. Yet some photographers fear that it is killing the photography business. Micro-stock sites are now overloaded with shots taken by just about anyone, selling for a fraction of what they should be worth. Many people don't even realise they are underselling themselves. When you shoot as a hobby the cost of your time is free.

It also means that photography retailers are offering more and more gift products directly to the consumer. Anyone can now make a mug, a cushion or a calendar with their own photographs. For the professional or anyone trying to break into the business this makes life harder. With so many consumer products it has become difficult to find suppliers who will offer significant discounts for bulk production. As a result the retail margins for the professional get smaller and smaller.

Yet there there are still photographers making money. People are prepared to pay for quality. Few are prepared to take a risk with weddings. My guess is that things will settle down. Technology is always redefining markets, but in the end there is always a niche for the professional or serious amateur. And if anyone is tempted to despair then there is always the encouragement of seeing just how many dreadful photos are posted on Facebook!

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