TWiP 318: Brides, Grooms & Roller Coasters
Hosts: Frederick Van Johnson
This week on TWiP…
- A special double interview episode of TWiP!
- Daniel McGarrity on the changing landscape of wedding photography
- Kris Rowberry from Great American Thrills & his quest to document America's obsession with raw excitement
This week Frederick sits down for two great interviews. The first is with wedding and event photographer Daniel McGarrity who discusses the changing landscape and commoditization of the wedding photography industry.
In the second interview, Frederick is joined by Kris Rowberry, the guy behind Great American Thrills, who discusses his passion for amusement parks and his quest to document America's healthy obsession with raw excitement.
1. Daniel McGarrity Photography
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We provide you with a song, you listen to it and interpret the song as best you can in a photo. This contest's song is: “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly, as performed by the artist Charice – you can watch her perform the song here.
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Connect with Our Hosts & Guests:
Daniel McGarrity: Website, Twitter, Google+
Kris Rowberry: Website, Twitter, 500px
Frederick Van Johnson: www.mediabytes.com, Twitter, Google+
Pre-production by: Bruce Clarke
Post production by: Suzanne Llewellyn & Vince Bauer
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A better title for this episode would be “The Wedding Photography Industry Has Changed and I’m Bitter”. In the 30min interview, Daniel McGarrity spends the majority of the time complaining about the changes in the wedding photography industry that has occurred in the last 10-15 years. I have news for you, EVERY industry has changed in the last 10-15 years. Shocking, I know. Furthermore I can guarantee that 15 years from now the wedding photography industry will be completely different than today as will all industries. If there was ever a book that Daniel should read, that book is “Who Moved My Cheese”. Grow and adapt or die.
I didn’t detect a trace of bitterness in Daniel’s discussion. It was perceptive, interesting, and correct, especially his mention of the ubiquity of “hobby professionals” whose spouses pay the bills.
Wow guys as someone that listens to you all the time, i have to agree really sounded depressed. Your only retort to a changing industry is ” quality and professionalism”…we are and they are not.
As the other commentator said all industries face the commodity change. The economy getting better is not the answer. Talk to professional journalist and many other jobs of the 1980s and you will find similar issues. The answer has to be to re-invent your trade…Video, editing, production, teaching, guides, location events, etc, etc. It seems like there are better answers than to sound reactionary about change.
I always look forward to your casts. Looking forward to the better one that comes after this.
Robert, chances are if you speak with a professional journalist who was laid off, you’re speaking them across a counter. It isn’t that things shouldn’t change, but simply adding things like Video Editing and the rest ignores the central tenet- That with the abundance of, and to be fair-democratization of- photography, the perception of why something should cost so much when anyone can point a cell phone and take a “decent” picture.
It’s a outcropping of the sense of immediacy we are all used to.
Economically, professionally, and logistically, as well as logically, a wedding photographer doesn’t up and become a teacher, nor does the network you’ve built over years lend itself to the other things-location events for example.
If you make a living as a carpenter and then everyone buys a hammer, it’s not economically sound to simply wake up and say “I’m a teacher now”
Someone has to hire you-assuming you meet the criteria, there needs to be a job opening, there needs to be demand.
So in short, the supply side of the equation is increasing over the demand side. It will level out, it always does, what the landscape-and landscape photography- looks like at that point is anybodies guess, but the current business model provided by the “We’ll do it for less” type of thinking is not one anyone can plan for lasting financial success. The only finish line on a race to the lowest cost for services is the line at the bankruptcy court
Thanks for the response and fair points all around. These supply and demand issues exist in all businesses of course and eventually every business faces the commodity challenge. It just so happens, that many chosen careers face that plus other disruption brought on by technologies or globalization etc.
With that however comes new opportunities, but yes retraining yourself is not easy.
An old book that predicts some of these problems is “The End of Work” by Rifkin. interesting takes on changing ways that that society will have to deal with in the future.
Yes, I am bitter, I can’t stand the way I look in that video!
However, the point apparently NOT made was not that the industry shouldn’t change, but rather the fact that, in direct opposite proportion, the greater your degree of expertise and craft in a particular skill set, and wedding photography is a skill set unlike the others, professionals are commoditized down to “person with camera” the perception is that the camera does the work.
The more companies and individuals who come in with that mind set and lower the going market rate, or worse the perception of what an experienced professional photographer cost, affects the ability to do the work we love.
Not saying you can’t do other things, but any wedding photographer whose been in the business and pays the mortgage with it, will tell you, simply adding more items to your workflow and ability does not alter the perception of so many potential clients these days that your work is not what you bring with experience, but rather with your shiny big camera.
I can sympathize, I left photojournalism for commercial photo before its economic collapse. During that period half of all photojournalists were going to do weddings, add in a large group of people with DSLRs who were unemployed after the recession who decided they too were going to be wedding shooters, it was no wonder the wedding market became depressed.
I shot weddings through high school and college to pay bills, I might do 2 weddings a year that I over charge for because i do not have the temperament. I will take a demanding exec or ticked off cop before dealing with a bride. 😉
Personally I think we are seeing a decline in the value of photography because of loss of the alchemy of the darkroom. Basically losing the magic, mystery and some intimidation.
Another issue is the constant message that is being delivered to general public by companies that all you need is this camera, or tablet and you will be as good as any pro. I still remember Kodaks old commercial of Seth Green running around with a point and shoot with 800 ISO film out shoot the pros.
Unfortunately there is not a Pro Photographer Trade Association. It would be nice to have some PSAs promoting the value of pro photography. Just like milk and dairy and cotton do.
The problem is that you spent scant time dealing with how you shape your customer’s perception. This is one of the key elements of any solid marketing strategy. If you are not actively shaping your brand in the hearts and minds of your clients, you deserve to become a commodity. Think about any four star restaurant. Billions of people cook in their homes (and have for years) yet somehow these high end restaurants stay in business and many even thrive. Admittedly there are a lot more commodity fast food joints, but the high end is still there and going strong. All that to say you should have come with more solutions to the issue and not merely spend a ton of time complaining.
Paul, you are 100% correct.
no if and’s or but’s
I agree Daniel. I think a large player in the public’s perception of photography and professional/commercial photography is social media (anyone, anywhere can see and get access to outstanding work, making it less outstanding) and the camera manufacturers advertising/feeding into the public that with their gear, you can be just as great.
Take this as you feel. I despise wedding photography, I was a second shooter on three weddings over 20 years ago. I certainly respect it as a profession and I have a close friend who’s father ran a respectable wedding photo business with a studio and lived an upper-class life while raising three kids doing so. Today, he would never be able to do that, because his competition would undermine his classic business model. My niece was just married in July and the mediocre photographer she hired claimed with esteem that he was “self taught” on his website. I would never make that claim openly, let alone seemingly brag about it. He was a nice kid and not a good photographer, but he can get better. I couldn’t believe that during the vows, he was chimping the camera repeatedly, instead of looking through the viewfinder. I know that there are shooters out there that respect the profession, but when mediocre photographers like Jasmine Star use the web to market themselves as hero’s in the business, WTF do you expect! She’s average as a photographer, but she excels as a marketer and others follow her lead. She also looks good and she’s very smart! And because SEO is King, magazines/organizations will give her Awards and then use their association with her to sell their BRAND. Its good for business and a good lesson to learn from.