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Future of Wedding Photography
  
 
level1photog
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Future of Wedding Photography


Inspired by the Fstoppers article: https://fstoppers.com/business/future-photography-business-200415

I wanted to ask you guys what you think of the future of wedding photography business is going?And how you are adapting to it?

I think for a saturated market like Los Angeles, it's going to harder and harder to support a living doing just photography. Cost of living is way too high, increase of competitions, affordable and technological advances.

Upper mid to high range wedding photographers will always have a market because of branding, and good business practices. I think low to mid range wedding photographers is going to struggle alot . There are just too many photographers who are very capable serving the price sensitive clientele. Technology advances in camera, lens, and even softwares will make alot of hobbyist become competence really quick especially with AI learning (don't just think for the next couple years, but futher ahead).

I'm trying to be established photographer with good reputation, branding, networking, and providing better quality. My cost of doing business is very low so I can be flexible and be more selective until it's not even worth it anymore.



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:11 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Future of Wedding Photography


The lower and middle markets have always been the most susceptible to trends that come and go. As trends change even faster, I think the people who are the most willing to change with trends will do best in those markets. Likewise, the tech gap is minimizing more and more, so those that can either fully embrace it, or fully differentiate themselves will do best, in my opinion.

For the middle/upper market, I think the standards of service and quality will last longer as the higher end is usually slower to change. However, I think it will change since individualization is becoming more common at the higher end (thank God if you ask me!). As it does, I think those that evolve will do well, those that don't will not.

Personally, the biggest things we're challenging ourselves with is to keep evolving and reading the needs of a shifting market. Sometimes that means making changes in our service, our prices or even our work. I think in all markets, those that are able to be the most nimble and the most perceptive will do really well.



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:25 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Future of Wedding Photography


It's always changing, and there's always someone around to say the sky is falling. On a bookshelf is a copy of Communication Arts from 1992. Guess what? The sky was falling then — computers were changing everything, driving down rates, etc (you've heard it all, many times).

The problem in markets like LA, SF, and NYC aren't with over-saturated photography, but the cost of housing. Any vocation that could support buying a nice home in the Bay Area 20 years ago no longer does. It hits teachers, nurses, and EMT folk just as hard.

That said, society's relationship with photography is going through a revolution. More photos are taken everyday, then existed in all of photography for the first 50 years. Think about that ... 50 years = 1 day. How people think about photography is going through a revolution.

We've been kicking around a fleet of services based on what you see at weddings today. Trying to create lemonade out of lemons regarding smartphone personal journalists, and the desire for fast fast turnaround.



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:28 PM
DannyBostwick
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Future of Wedding Photography


Tony Hoffer wrote:
Personally, the biggest things we're challenging ourselves with is to keep evolving and reading the needs of a shifting market. .


I think about this all the time. What metrics do you look at in terms of decision making when deciding to change business strategies or shooting style? And man, how the hell do you change your shooting style or the way you see?



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:33 PM
InSanE
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Future of Wedding Photography


I think everyone will be able to fearlessly shoot at 1.8 and not miss focus.
Adapting to market yes, not sure its always about evolving.

Edited on Oct 30, 2017 at 04:53 PM · View previous versions



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:50 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Future of Wedding Photography




Well said, I completely agree.
---------------------------------------------

I'm leaning on the side of caution in the future with photography. I think automation will replace alot of jobs in service industry such as McDonald/Starbucks/bank tellers/etc.

The middle class is being assaulted on multiple fronts (housing, inflation, medical, retirement, etc). Some nurses do pretty well with OT 6 figures.






Oct 30, 2017 at 04:52 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Future of Wedding Photography


Tony's first line is word. We have two brands and the low/middle brand is the one with more pressure to change. That brand is more about content then creativity. Winning awards for emotional pj coverage doesn't mean shit if you miss the photo of bride and her Aunt Martha. All of our service issues are always over missing content, not quality of work/coverage. It's the same with video as well.


Oct 30, 2017 at 04:56 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Future of Wedding Photography


> The middle class is being assaulted on multiple fronts (housing, inflation, medical, retirement, etc). Some nurses do pretty well with OT 6 figures.

They always have, but housing, healthcare and college education are recent living costs that have far surpassed inflation rates. Agreed, some nurses do pretty well — and so do some photographers.



Oct 30, 2017 at 04:59 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Future of Wedding Photography


DannyBostwick wrote:
I think about this all the time. What metrics do you look at in terms of decision making when deciding to change business strategies or shooting style? And man, how the hell do you change your shooting style or the way you see?


So I think a big part of that stems from attitude. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and using the "older" photographers as my case study. It seems to me, the "older" shooters out there typically fall in two camps:

1. The 'Get off my lawn' type that bash everything new, different, young. These are people that think all natural light photographers don't understand light, that nit-pick about 'fill flash' all the time. That kind of thing.
2. The type that is generally up with trends, investing in new gear, hiring young people... things like that.

Then I noticed that typically the first type are the ones who are struggling with business while the second type are the ones doing better.

Amy and I had a conversation this week. As we are starting to now be a little older than many of our clients, things will shift and I think it's a conscious attitude choice that we need to make to be optimistic about change, young people and new trends. That's the kind of business we want to have.

....

So all that is preamble to answering your question... Right now, I think the three big evolutions the market is seeing is with regard to 1. Processing, 2. Posing and 3. Lighting. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that I'm trying to remain open as we notice these trends changing. For us, that means picking and choosing ways that we can adjust our style to keep evolving bit by bit with the trends, without abandoning what we're doing completely.

Over the last few years, we've changed the way we light quite a bit. This year Amy and I have been talking a lot about 'posing', what that means, and how we can adapt the way we do it based on the style (and age) of who we're shooting. It's a work in progress... but I'm starting to realize that we're always a work in progress. If we're not, then we're probably on the way out.



Oct 30, 2017 at 05:12 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Future of Wedding Photography


Tony Hoffer wrote:
So I think a big part of that stems from attitude. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and using the "older" photographers as my case study. It seems to me, the "older" shooters out there typically fall in two camps:

Over the last few years, we've changed the way we light quite a bit. This year Amy and I have been talking a lot about 'posing', what that means, and how we can adapt the way we do it based on the style (and age) of who we're shooting. It's a work in progress... but I'm starting
...Show more

Sorry to derail the thread, but do you experience any age discrimination as you get older? I often see young people doing wedding photography and videography.



Oct 30, 2017 at 05:26 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Future of Wedding Photography




level1photog wrote:
Sorry to derail the thread, but do you experience any age discrimination as you get older? I often see young people doing wedding photography and videography.


We’re 35 and 32, so I don’t think we’re there yet... at least I hope not... haha



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:01 PM
form
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Future of Wedding Photography


And just like that, I feel old again. 36 isn't much worse than 35 though, but 35 was a lot worse than 30 IMO, which was much worse than 25.

Many of my recent clients have been 30s and 40s. Only a few were younger. It wouldn't surprise me if someone said my current style appeals more to older clients.

I know I have fallen very lax as far as attempting to keep up in many things, from website design/advertising/etc. to "trendy photography styles." But that's part of my old personality reasserting itself, caution vs. progression. Plus, I don't have much free time these days.



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:10 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Future of Wedding Photography


I think the mom and pop local photography studio that did weddings and portraits is no longer a viable business model. I don't think it was ever lucrative but to a small minority of photographers, although I think there were thousands who made a comfortable living in the '50's and '60's.

I think the definition of "comfortable" has changed. Back then, "comfortable" would have been owning a 1200-1400 sq. ft. house. It would have included one car, probably bought used. I think a lot of what we expect now, such as saving for retirement and saving for your children's college education were just dreams back then.

I think there was a continuity back then that no longer exists. I knew a photographer who came back from WWII and went to photo school on the G.I. Bill. He came back and photographed the weddings of his high school friends. When they had kids, he shot their baby photos. He took photos of their Little League teams and when the time came, he photographed their Senior Pictures. When they got married, he was the wedding photographer. He never got rich. He was usually just a step ahead of the wolf at the door.

His son tried to follow in his footsteps, but never had his dad's success. The digital age finally took its toll and he went back to school to change careers. He's now a nurse.



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:13 PM
level1photog
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Future of Wedding Photography


Tony Hoffer wrote:
We’re 35 and 32, so I don’t think we’re there yet... at least I hope not... haha


Oh that's young. I thought you are late 50s.



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:14 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Future of Wedding Photography


The real disruption was digital and as with the camera market, things are settling down. I think current trends will continue.

It will be harder to sustain a successful standalone business at the low and mid end. This market will be increasingly served by:

a revolving door of new entrants that give up
part timers who are essentially propped up by their other half's income
people with full time jobs who have it as a side gig (increasingly common)

Scope of what is expected to be shot will continue to increase

The middle class is being assaulted on multiple fronts (housing, inflation, medical, retirement, etc)

But is it affecting wedding spending? (Not a leading question, I don't know).



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:28 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Future of Wedding Photography


I'm comfortably twice the age of most of our clients & associates and don't feel any age discrimination — and I shoot more weddings than anyone (over 100 in 2017 and 2016).

On the topic of changing marketplaces, you have to craft your own path — there's no solid "how to manage change" class you can take that will solve all problems. For me, the best thing is to read the stories of business leaders and how they met challenge in their own market space. I've re-read Andy Grove's "Only The Paranoid Survive" three times. There's many others, but that one resinates with me.

> I think the mom and pop local photography studio that did weddings and portraits is no longer a viable business model

Walmart and JCPenny portrait studio killed those businesses 20 years ago. But, great news — Walmart and JCPenny are out of the business now so theres's an opportunity. But that opening is different for the local photographer who started with the GI Bill in the 1950's. My wife's grandparents had an awesome local hotel/restaurant in those days but it would get eaten alive if it had to compete with modern corporate innkeepers and AirBnB, etc.

So few successful businesses run the same as they did decades ago.





Oct 30, 2017 at 06:29 PM
LeeSimms
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Future of Wedding Photography


A heads up — change isn't all about your competitors (digital disruption, everyone's buying a camera, etc). The more profound change in front of you is how people experience/enjoy photography in 2017 versus 2007, versus 1997.



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:36 PM
JacobsLadder
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Future of Wedding Photography


Tony Hoffer wrote:
We’re 35 and 32, so I don’t think we’re there yet... at least I hope not... haha


I know a wedding photog that's nearing 60, if not already 60. He has a young vibe, but not in a false, phony kind of way. He has a very vibrant career, does a lot of destination weddings, speaks at conventions and is sponsored by some great companies. His clients range from young to older, but primarily 20s and 30s. I think if you've built a solid business with solid business practices you can have some longevity in this business.

Tony - just curious, how long do you envision yourselves shooting weddings. And do you have an exit plan? Will commercial photography or something else eventually supplant weddings?



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:36 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Future of Wedding Photography


LeeSimms wrote:
I'm comfortably twice the age of most of our clients & associates and don't feel any age discrimination — and I shoot more weddings than anyone (over 100 in 2017 and 2016).

On the topic of changing marketplaces, you have to craft your own path — there's no solid "how to manage change" class you can take that will solve all problems. For me, the best thing is to read the stories of business leaders and how they met challenge in their own market space. I've re-read Andy Grove's "Only The Paranoid Survive" three times. There's many others, but that one resinates
...Show more

Lee, I just want to say that things like this are exactly what I was talking about above. Not sure how old you are, but hearing from people like you that are more experienced, but are still motivated, adapting and learning is really inspiring. It's no wonder you're doing so well. Congrats.



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:43 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Future of Wedding Photography


JacobsLadder wrote:
Tony - just curious, how long do you envision yourselves shooting weddings. And do you have an exit plan? Will commercial photography or something else eventually supplant weddings?


I am genuinely in love with what I do and have no plans to do anything different any time soon... or in the future. If my career ever changes it will be because I'm forced to change or because I find something I love even more.

My personality is such that I need to be 100% committed to something in order to be good at it. If I start thinking about leaving, then I'm already out the door.


Edited on Oct 30, 2017 at 08:29 PM · View previous versions



Oct 30, 2017 at 06:46 PM
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