RECESSION By John Pforr Chromatek Brisbane.
The prophets of doom on the television, radio and Press speak of a recession.
However, I would like you to remember the following-
"The Recession Will Only Effect People Who Lie Down, As They Go To Sleep."
"Plan And Promote"
PROFESSIONALISM AND THE BACKYARD MOVEMENT
IT HAS BEEN MY EXPERIENCE THAT in recent times of recession such as 1962 and the very big credit squeeze of 1963/64, that there was an emergence of backyarders. It also happened in the late 1940's and now we have people who openly promote the moonlighters.
For instance, if a guy goes into George's Camera store to purchase equipment
and suggests that he would like to earn something from it, he finds himself in
a situation where he is being strongly advised to go and make a buck from photography simply on the basis he has the equipment. Also there are Labs which openly promote this, and thus we have the moonlighters.
I don't care what anyone has to say, history proves certain facts about the backyard movement and history will do nothing but repeat itself in the future.
By "moonlighters" I don't mean the photographer who is in a small town and has some other career which he follows. Such small towns cannot support a total photographer anyway. I mean towns such as Rockhampton or Newcastle.
Anyone who is particularly concerned about this developing opposition, really should have nothing to worry about. If you do one thing and one thing only which is -STAND BY YOUR GUNS. Your guns being quality of your professionalism. Price in the long haul does not have a great deal to do with
it. For anyone who wishes, I can repeat points of history which will prove this so.
NOW JUST WHAT "Professionalism" is.... It starts from the moment someone comes in to see you. As you know I am a person who first questions myself before I go questioning anyone else. Am I right in what I'm doing? Is it right? There are too many people who think they are doing the correct thing without questioning themselves. This is obvious in many things we see on a day to day basis.
Take a long hard look at the way you display your work. Do you continually change your displays? Are they static month after month, year after year? Are you creating traffic simply by the fact that you have changed your display. Create a constant interest in yourself as a photographer.
Remember the moonlighter may start putting pictures in the paper. Have you given that away over the years, because you didn't think it was worth it. Yes, I have heard that - "We can't get it in our local paper". Do you constantly keep up with the "Getting Married" segment on the radio on Saturday morning. Do you do this every Saturday? Have you given away writing to engaged couples a short hand written note. What I hear is, "Oh yes, we have to get something printed," but you don't. Just a simple humble note and a little offer of a free engagement photo. Usual comment is "But I don1t get a return on these" - But you will get the wedding in the future.
Pricing, most think they have to get all the money before the wedding, and scare the hell out of the customer. The majority of people in the world you can trust. Still today, it seems by saying, unless I get $xxx I will not do the job! Remember to accumulate, one has to speculate.
Do you say to yourself, that you cannot sell a lot of pictures and therefore you will only take x number and edit your shooting down to that number instead of having the situation where your customer sees that you do shoot a lot of pictures, therefore you have got additional appeal. These are all points which count if you are fighting competition, and this is all part of "Professionalism".
What about your posing, different pictures and different ideas. I often hear "Yes, I do those pictures", and then I see what comes through the Lab, and that's a different question.
Question yourself and question the negative quality. Some people are still using an automatic flash - great! What about professionalism? That's like an engineer throwing a peice of string with a rock on the end of it to get a measurement because he is too lazy to accurately work out the distance.
A couple of photographers recently came to my attention when they said photography could only get better, if photographers had to do a series of matching black and white and colour photos of similar objects taken under the same lighting conditions to come up with matching sets of prints. I simply say that it would be very good for all photographers to have to shoot their Weddings in transparencies. It would be interesting to see how many had enough courage and professionalism to have fixed time premier proofs or fixed time supa-proofs made at the Laboratory.
I must say the albums some people select are absolutely beautiful. But there are photographers who tend to trim the corners and the pennies. Then the minute a moonlighter gets onto the Photo Curio Album, they scream. There are photographers who say they won't do double exposures, because they feel they are old hat. However, if a customer thinks they are great and wants them, you should do them, or you will miss out. Is it really that they are "old hat" or is it because the photographer himself cannot do them with a professionally creative approach, rather than just the brandy balloon.
Sure you have to do the brandy balloon, because everyone wants it, but add to it some other creative approaches. What about a candle or a cross, double-exposed over someone who is having a Nuptial Mass.
How about checking more often, that your camera is sharp. Something in the order of 12% of wedding negatives are not sharp. The reason for this is just lack of care to detail in focusing too far back or too far forward. We see a number of prints through the Lab where the print is sharp, the grain is sharp, but the negative isn't sharp. Some people send the print back saying, it isn't sharp, but look at the grain and you'll find it is. Unfortunately, we cannot, as we are at times asked to do, wave a magic wand. Check your focus! Care to detail!
Care to detail extends very much into the clothing. How many times do we see where trousers haven't been hitched up and seams aren't straight. Uneven coat seams, buttons not done up, dresses showing an uneven hemline. Very simple things - veils and trains which haven't been correctly placed, show a lack of professionalism in our work. It is a photographer's duty to remind people to fix this little thing or to attend to that little thing, before the photos are taken. How many times do we see a tree which appears to grow out of a persons head? We must constantly look out for these things which make a big difference to your customer. Such details should be pointed out and taken to advantage. Another reason you get the job rather than the price factor.
Let us consider the purchase of a door handle. All door handles look alike, but what is in a door handle? Most of it when fitted, is where you can't see it. With a photograph you could consider a piece of paper for the price alone, but all those things on the piece of paper are important. The Lab can only have 2 effects, the colour and the density. Remember you have to make a good negative to make those two things possible.
Then there are all the other things that go to make up a door handle. It is not only brass but coated to keep its lustrous look. Is the mounting flanged pressed metal or cast metal? Is the return spring big and strong, will it stand a lot of use? Are the tumblers in the lock machined or just pressed? Is the sprint in the latch a coil or loose spring? Are further replacements available if something should go wrong?
In the same way I believe we photographers should point out to our customers the difference between our selves and others. Simple things such as the back One of these is the clock analogy where he reminds customers that the face of a wall clock has to be at least 4 inches wide to be seen from any point in the average room. Smaller clocks are frustrating, he removes his wristwatch and holds it to the wall to demonstrate.
One important part to remember is that once you approach life size in a portrait for some unknown reason yourself and you clients will feel uncomfortable. Sure they will remark on the dramatic and they will notice it, but will they live with it.
(I believe that Phil Charis's concept of seven-eights head size as the maximum head size in any print is true and should be adhered to. I.P.W.)
This means is you want to make a large print for sale then you have to put more space around the photograph.
Instead of doing a head and shoulders photograph do a full length.
Instead of doing a full length outside move away and make a picture instead of a photograph perhaps even include a full house and make a 6Ox8O photo.
A letter from Donald Jack has prompted me to think about Flash Units
Think about what is available in New Zealand and pass on for general consideration Donald Jacks comments.
He asked for a Flash Unit for his demonstrations with a maximum power output of 50 watt seconds.
To put this into perspective the lowest power on a Bowens 400 Mono-light is 100 watt seconds, and Donald wants the 50 watt seconds as his maximum power output.
As this Newsletter is being read by Wedding and Portrait Photographers it makes me wonder why Wedding and Portrait Photographers are unable to buy a flash unit that is more in keeping with the amount of light output that they need.
The average GP studio that has 4 Bowens Mono-lights or their equivalent and has therefore a total output of one thousand six hundred watt seconds, enough to shoot all of their portraits at f45 at 10 feet.
Donald Jacks words in his last letter was for portraiture keep the power down, f45 at 10 feet Don says is ridiculous.
ARE YOU GETTING STALE?
Talking to a photographer on my recent South Island trip he was saying how he felt he was becoming stale at photography and that when he looked at photography throughout New Zealand they could all have been more or less taken by the same photographer because of the sameness of them.
Some were done a fraction better and some a fraction worse. But the style was basically the same.
He said was getting weary of this feeling that he had to produce this sort of work all the time because thats what the public expected.
My suggestion to him was that he allocate 2 exposures from every sitting to himself and he takes those 2 exposures to please himself and not necessarily what he feels would please his client. In this way he may find that his technique changes and his concept of photography changes and that he does become a much better photographer for it.
There IS a certain amount of sameness to the photography in New Zealand and whilst this is not a bad thing because it establishes a good solid base for people to work to I feel there is not enough experimentation done in photography.
I feel that various photographers should get together and have photographic safari's where they experiment at producing the most different photograph that is still basically good portraiture.
Different does not necessarily mean bad but a portrait that shows the most imagination and to this end our next print competition that we will be having after the one that is announced in this Newsletter will be for the photograph that shows the most imagination in its concept that is still a saleable photograph.
ABOUT THE OVER FORTIES
Gordon Dryden talking in the Magazine "Management" about the over forties states that 70% of motor cars are purchased by people over 40. 80% of new kitchen sales ie (rebuilding) were to the over forties.
28% of those interviewed over 40 were planning an overseas trip within the following year, their forecast spending was from $2000 to $10,000 on this trip.
He points out the over 40s has the largest discretionary dollars to spend, they do spend more but, very little of the advertising is directed at them.
You should be aiming a large portion of your advertising towards this group.
He describes the age group of between 25 and 40 as largely the young married's The new poor.
So next time you plan some advertising ask your self. "Is it aimed at the over forties", and if not what age group is it aimed at and why?
If you spend advertising any sort of advertising you must be sure of a good return, and indications are that the over 40s have the money to spend, do spend the money, but don't assume this to mean they will buy anything. Most times they are very particular about what they buy so if you have something to sell them make sure it is good.
DO YOU HAVE AN BELLOWS CAMERA?
If you do when did last vacuum out your bellows?
Yes it does collect dust and if you haven't done this for a while take the back off, take the lens off, rack your bellows out to full extension and have a look to see how much dust there is in the bottom of the each bellows.
Even if you can't really see it you should make a practice of vacuuming this out on a reasonably regular basis, of course you will make sure your mirror is up first won't you.
SORT OF CUSTOMERS DO YOU HAVE?
What sort of cars do they drive? What sort of houses do they live in?
Well if they all drive 19514 Ford Prefects and they live in a suburb which is your equivalent of Mangere or Otara then perhaps you don't need a 10x8 Wedding Display Album
However how many of you have a 10x8 Wedding Album done up in the most expensive cover you can get with 50 or more photographs in it ?
Unless you have an Album like this to show your customers how are you going to ever sell one?
If you don't have one yet and you have one on your price list are you not indicating to your customers that it is so expensive that
A. you don't have one yourself because it is so expensive
B. you don't expect them to buy it if you had it.
You can only sell what you show.
only sell a 10x8 Wedding Album if you have one to show.
There are people in your town driving expensive Jaguar's or Mercedes.
You may even have somebody driving a Rolls-Royce.
What would you have to show them if they came in wanting photographs ?
Would you be able to take off them all the money they want to spend ?
I'm convinced that people will buy 10x8 albums if you can show them a good looking album of a good looking wedding photographs presented nicely.HOWEVER as a result of our 10x8 Special there were 13 people who took advantage of this Wedding Album special. They ordered an average of 141 prints each with a high figure of 60 and a low figure of 30. Not a great success as promotions go and unfortunate that people aren't showing 10x8 albums.