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  • William Hunton

The Price of Admission

There are no photographs in this blog.

All text. Perhaps boring then. However, I did not have copyrights. I took some poor snapshots for my own reference. Had I posted them, they would have been of someone else’s intellectual property. I know how hard we work for money. I am sensitive to such things and observant of the law and the intent that people get compensated for their creative efforts, even when it seems many in the Ether do not seem to care about property rights.

Last week I went to the Capture Integration Photo Fest at Capture Integration, off 10th Street, Atlanta. Take a look at the link and the list of speakers, and then check out their individual websites.

I learned a lot. First, if you want to make real money in photography, that could support you and a family of 4, pay for the kids’ college and give you a decent retirement, your entry fee, the bare minimum you need just for one camera and lens is 10 grand. Check out Capture Integration’s products. Then add your lighting, computer systems, and software, marketing, etc. You will invest considerable capital in your start-up. Remember cash flow, too. You do not want to be investment rich but unable to handle day to day expenses.

The great thing about this level of equipment is that its professional level in every respect, and carries the expectation is that it lasts long enough to get a decent return on investment. None of this is hobbyist stuff you trade in for the next whiz-bang techno update.

The folks who presented at the Photo Fest are all making at least 6 figures or more per year. They have invested years in their craft, and developing lines of business. They spend money to make money. They have clients who are willing to pay, let’s say, $80,000 for a photograph.

One of the speakers pointed out that we price our work way to cheaply. If you cater to the art festival and tents crowd, then you get what that market will bear. If someone is dickering over $100 print, then you probably are in the wrong market.

I had friends who ran a lab near here. Steve and Lavern. Great people. Steve had been in the business for years and years. His customers were professionals mostly. I asked him one time about how I should price my work. What he told me amazed me at the time. He said, “Price it wherever you want to price it. Your price will determine your market and the kind of people you will deal with. The quality of your work will determine whether you belong in that market.” He also told me that people will pay a lot of money for sh**.

Talking tech and to put some of this in perspective, my “pro” camera is a Nikon D7500 delivering over 20mp, I have a couple entry level “backups” also delivering 20mp, if I shoot a full RAW file. My computer system has 8 gb memory. I have to turn things off to run Photoshop and Lightroom at the same time. I need a much bigger processor. I need the cash flow, and I need the investment.

Bare bones, minimum for the pro photographers who spoke is probably 40mp, medium format. A lot of them were talking 150 mp. One said a 1 GP (gigapixel) resolution. I recall that was for architectural photography. Consider the computing power necessary to process these image sizes. Consider the camera and lens quality necessary to produce it.

I saw wall size prints done on aluminum with every eyelash hair visible. I know that is possible with small format. I saw some of Louis Foster’s big prints he did with 5mp Nikon years ago when I worked for him as a contractor. That was also when 5mp was as big as it got. He was shooting events at the World Congress Center. I did shots of the seminars and speakers. However, in general you need the big capture to do the big prints. Think big scale and scale your equipment selections accordingly.

One person who spoke studied film for 7 years, and did graduate level work in art at NYU. That was before he took up photography. He travels the world now. He does architectural photography. His influences were black and white films from the 1940’s such as Citizen Kane, with its depth and lighting.

Am I envious of them? Not at my age. There’s no practical way I could start any of this now, and not really even when I first started shooting professionally as a side gig. These folks ain’t doing no side gig. However, does that mean there is not money to be made? There is still a lot of money to be made in the trade if you up your craft. I’m talking to the few I know who may read this post.

Next time CI does this seminar, I highly recommend you attend. They have locations throughout the United States.

#architecturalphotography #Movies #professionalphotography

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