Thought I should make a follow-up post after my last blog post, one that could be a bit controversial. I've gotten only encouragement from my assessment of photographer greed, which tells me I might be on to something. The photography space needs changing, and photographers need to recognize that in order to keep their jobs because they are disappearing fast. Have you ever noticed how many big name photographers that are just becoming entrepreneurs and pursuing totally different companies or ideas? Jeremy Cowart and Chase Jarvis come to mind. Photographers who managed to make decent money in the industry are now realizing it isn't going to last, so they are transforming their photography knowledge into something completely new. That's where I think we are going.
I did want to make a clarification in an area that I feel like I come across as overly critical here on this blog and in real life. I tend to prod at the "Lightroom-cruisers" (I believe that's how I put it), those who don't know how to use Photoshop and simply toss presets on photos and consider that worth being paid oodles of money for. They claim to have expertise, but they never go out of their way to learn how to use the digital darkroom, Photoshop. I just want to be clear, I don't dislike Lightroom or presets (or more specifically VSCO presets), in fact, I use them quite often in my editing workflow. Lightroom is usually my base-line starting point and from there I take it into Photoshop.
Lightroom was made to be an add-on to Photoshop, not really a substitute. When you're not willing to learn one of the biggest tools in the photography world, you're really just hurting yourself and your photography business. It is required for a photographer to be a full-service everything now, and if you have missing pockets of knowledge in the photography world you ultimately short yourself. No other job or business allows you to just avoid learning parts of it, just because you are intimidated by it or something. Learning everything about your trade is just how you do business if you want a successful business.
When you charge $3000 for a wedding, and you don't know how to do things like get blemishes of a faces, improve skin tones, fix perspective, and other various Photoshop techniques, you are not worthy of your expert-level price. You're scamming people; you're unintentionally (or intentionally) seeing how much money you can make with as little work as possible, as opposed to having a goal where you want to be as good as you possibly can be. That's greed, whether you realize you're doing it or not.
I use Lightroom as well, and even some VSCO presets from time to time. Lightroom is good for two things, organizing your photos, and making quick tweaks. Most of my Instagram photos, for instance, mostly get altered in Lightroom for efficiency sake. That said, my Lightroom experience always ends with Command-E, the key command that imports whatever photo I'm working on directly to Photoshop. At the very least, it's much easier to fix aspect ratio and prepare for print in Photoshop, but that's a blog post for another day.
Another way greed shows in photography is gear. We are always willing to buy cool new toys, whether we need to or not, but we aren't willing to spend any money in any other aspects of the photography job. Dropping $5000 on this year's camera body when yours gets to the ripe old age of 1 years old, but then getting the lowest quality Walgreens prints for your client is an extremely common form of greed in this industry. The gear is the least important part of the job, the work and the service is most important. Learn to create a high-end product instead of trying to buy a high-end product by spending boatloads on a camera. Having nice equipment doesn't make you a pro, honest and good work does.
When we trade basic knowledge for the look of expertise, we will always be at a disadvantage. Those photographers that whine about how "Moms with cameras" are stealing business need to make their business less steal-able. If you fill those missing pockets of knowledge and charge what you're actually worth as opposed to what you feel like you're worth, you probably won't have business taken from you. We have to be ready for anything, and always adjusting and changing for the market. Be ready to start making money on video when the photo work dries up; in your free time, learn how to use Adobe Premiere. Practice Photoshop so maybe you could make money teaching it or doing some other Photoshop related work for someone. Buy a drone and learn how to fly it, so you can claim to have everything covered. Be truly full-service, and be able to say "yes" to every request. That is the ONLY way to survive this changing world, and that's the only way to run a successful business. If you think you're above learning new things, or it isn't worth your time, then your time as a money-making photographer will be short.
Being greedy puts you at a disadvantage, it may be profitable for a moment, but ultimately, a greedy photographer will fail.
When you think of a greedy photographer, you probably think of a Scrooge McDuck character with a camera, diving into his pile of dishonestly made money. I think a greedy photographer is more subtle than that, and mostly the type of photographer that doesn't even realize that they are greedy. A greedy photographer is one that charges pro prices, but doesn't take the time to have basic knowledge in their field. A greedy photographer is someone who spends thousands on themselves for camera equipment, but puts as little effort into their customer as possible. A greedy photographer spends a bunch of time looking like they have a cool, freelance lifestyle, but doesn't put the time in making their work better or good.
The reason I make these posts isn't do appear like I'm better, it's because I've been a greedy photographer, so I recognize all of the traits of one. All of what I'm saying here are things I've realized in myself and I'm working to change. It takes one to know one.
Most photographers out there right now are greedy, and I truly believe that their time will be up very very soon.