Thursday, October 24, 2013

Does Social Media Devalue what we do?

Good Thursday from Prospect.

All pics shot with Fuji XPro-1 with 35mm f1.4
Queen Street TO.
So I'm going to make a jump here and talk about my xpro-1 and street photog. I'm not one to do camera reviews and this isn't one. I want to talk more about usefulness instead.

Then here I am with about every format covered and what do I grab as I run out the door? XPro-1.

Out on the street is where this camera shines. Sure you can use it in studio and, guaranteed, it will perform as well as any c-sized camera on the market, and I mean top gear dslrs. (Check my previous post)

But outside and during events you just can't beat it. 

While I was in TO this summer I touted this camera everywhere I went. You need to know that I was suffering from a pinched nerve in my right shoulder the whole time I was there. If I had have taken any of my Canon DSLRs I would have been out of luck for shooting. Just too heavy gear.

Now with the onslaught of quality mirror-less/range finder gear that meets pro standards I'm truly wondering why I have such heavy stuff. Oh I know why, because it's sole purpose is to shine in studio and nail sporting events. And you just can't beat full frame quality.

But wait, what about the Leica M for street and studio? Oh yeah, have to sell my kids for one with some great glass. Oh well, nice idea.

Costing is usually the main factor to purchase any gear. Whether it be for personal or professional/production. It needs to have purpose. It needs to perform and ultimately, in business it needs to return a profit.

Personally I'd love to tout a Leica M (240) system around and maybe some day, but right now I need to be practical. There are so many people selling their wares as photographers I need to stay focused. Use the great gear I have that does what I want it to do that satisfies not just my clients but ultimately me. Yeah I'm a bit fussy, so it's got to be great stuff.

You know, this post looks like a good time to lead into whats been going on as of late.

To be honest my career seems to be at a stand still. Everyone keeps telling me that it's slow all over. It is easy to just buy into that and hope it gets better but that's just not me.

What does it take, beyond my current efforts to get above the newest crop of mouths all looking to take that bit out of the that one apple.

I know my skills, hell I better, been in this game for over 30 years. It's always been a struggle with new faces on the scene vying for the same piece of pie, for next to nothing and devaluing the general market. But eventually there's always been enough to go around.

I just loved the contradictions here.
Nice patch though
But here's where it's been taking a turn as of late. Recently I was covering an event, freelance in a public space, and the organizer had the gumption to hauler over to me and ask if I could hand over all the pics for them to use when I was done. No this wasn't an offer to purchase. They thought it acceptable to expect them for free. I mean it was their event, in a public space without entrance fees, why should they have to pay.

Where do you start when the general public just don't understand the value of a craft. Is it caused by the freedom of info we see around us? Is it caused by the manufacturers saying how you too can be great by just buying x gear?

It's one thing to strive to be you, different or unique. To standout. But what do you do when the market just doesn't get it?

I have rates, ones well within the industry standards, sometimes lower than I feel are acceptable, but I've got to eat too right? I mean I have my share of overhead. Being a designer and photographer does come at a price. And I don't just mean the 10s of thousands of dollars for hardware, software, office/studio space phone, internet and travel. I also mean the countless hours spent selling, educating and improving your craft to be the best you can be.

Is that really only worth a snap shot to share for free. It's one thing to request a discount but to see no more value than a gift?

I honestly do believe the whole social sharing thing has gone too far. We're expected to share everything we do so anyone can use it.

The whole industry has gone to hell in a hand basket so to speak because of it. Or am I wrong here.

What real benefit does producing to share really net. I know you can't sell anything if you don't get out there and show it. Let people see what you do. But after years of doing that does it really cover the cost of sales?

I will continue to trudge along sharing what I do, what I love, and displaying it in galleries and portfolios but I have to wonder. Does social media truly net any ROI? Recently, Coke just released a study that buzz generates zero short term sales. And I think they know what's working. They haven't ended their study yet but I just wonder where it will take them.

So the perception shows, can people like Zack Arias, whom I admire as an honest and down to earth photographer, honestly say social has made him money. Or is he in the light for the buzz. Or should he say a head of an educational company, Scott Kelby, pushed his career by referring him as a wonderful photographer and human being, working for Kelby Training at the time, through his sales network. So it definitely benefited Kelby.

Is it Zacks' fame through Scott that gets his work or old fashioned sales? He says trudging along selling his wares does it for him. He may have a statement about what I've said and that I'm wrong. 

Maybe I so, only he really knows. I wish him all the best. I mean if it wasn't for social media I'd have no idea who he was.

Working hard usually nets you your goals, but I wonder if we are devaluing ourselves to the point of being not worth the effort we apply. 

Note: this doesn't just effect photographers, see how many photographers devalue all areas of creative by buying things like 50 dollar logos through a competition on line or wonder why models are so expensive, I mean they just stand there, right?

You know I could go on and on about this stuff, but I think you may have the gist.

To boil it down I've got time on my hands, things are as slow as I've ever seen it. I may not have a handle on why, but I can assure you I'll continue to plug away until I'm done. I mean I love my work and can't see myself doing anything else.

Look close he doesn't really think it applies to him

Oh, for the hell of it I've included some of my favourite shots from TO this summer (on the streets with my new found tool) since that's what started this post in the first place. It is, after all, what I love to do.

Enjoy Derek

My girls enjoying the trip
BTW, if you have the solution or constructive thought to my questions place a comment below. I know you're reading these so pipe up. love to hear it.

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