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Tuesday, 30 August 2016


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Ansel's List. But instead of tiers, you have different zones.

Maybe you should talk to Amazon? It would be a way for them to break into the service industry.

This is only partly tongue-in-cheek. I think there's an untapped market out there for divorce photography. Selling wedding photography as timeless must be getting more and more difficult when half of marriages end in divorce. But every marriage can potentially result in 2 divorce parties, and so long as they don't both occur on the same day, that's a potential 2 photo assignments for just the one marketing pitch, assuming you can get them both in the same room for the presentation.

I've attended a couple of divorce parties, they're almost the same as weddings really, except less music and catering, so more money left over for photos. And attendees at divorce parties all get along, no in-law fights to dodge. In addition, divorce parties are excellent places to market yourself to people who might need a wedding photographer in the future.

Go for it Mike. You can hire a programmer to do the software part. The business end is a bit more difficult to resolve.

We recently had a photographer shoot the people at our wedding anniversary. Our daughter arranged and paid for it so I left it up to her and the photographer. I did note several things that I would have done differently if I were the photographer. He left the shot list entirely up to our daughter. I'd have had a few suggestions myself. Although he paid attention to backgrounds (he was overly focused on that IMO) to the point that he missed seeing things like hair that should have been combed and awkward poses. A few shots had poor composition or were tilted. Overall they were technically okay but having his assistant carry a comb, hair brush and hand mirror would have been a good idea. I think the biggest problem is that most photography training is just photography and not the nitty gritty aspects of dealing with clients.

Buyers, like photographers have professional associations that have accreditation processes but unlike nurses and lawyers, anyone can call themselves a buyer or photographer. My professional association, Supply Chain Management Association of Canada, puts a lot of effort into marketing the value of its certified members to the marketplace. I expect that PPOC also markets its C.P.P. designation to its marketplace. What we both have in common is that we have a long way to go in educating our customer base on the value provided by our certified members.

It's been years since I was doing wedding photography in Orange County CA. My niche turned out to be couples who had been married before. They paid top dollar, there were no morher's of the bride to deal with, and they basically let me shoot the event as I wanted to. I have no experience with this site, but I'm told SnapKnot is used by quite a few photographers these days: http://snapknot.com/

I don't think so. First, many (most?) professional licensing programs are established more to protect practitioners from competition, and less to protect consumers from shady operators. You need a license to trim and paint nails in my state. Second, weddings. Yes, a photographer can screw-up a wedding in a way that can't be easily fixed; but so can the unlicensed florist, the unlicensed cake-baker, the licensed minister, the unlicensed musicians, the licensed champagne vendor, etc. Finally, the licensing authority has to have some disciplinary function. Is it a peer review situation, or review by amateurs? Open to the public or closed? By anonymous complaint, or do you get to face your accusers? It's hard to get all this right. I'm not opposed to regulation where there's a clear public benefit, but I'm not persuaded that licensing pro photographers is one of those areas.

...when I had a commercial advertising photography studio in Milwaukee in the 80's, you had to have a "photographers license" which as I recall cost about 25 bucks a year, from the city. I think they basically 'vetted' you for moral character and a clean rap-sheet. I remember I had to apply for one or get fined, and when I finally got one, I'd get a call about once every six months from a "cop sounding" guy asking if I did "nekkid pichers".

But still, as a response to the above, what is "professionalism"? You can't write a license or law judging someone to make sure they have enough "professionalism" (well, I didn't have enough, but then I got more, so they gave me the license).

This country needs to stop measuring and quantifying everything so the sycophants can feel good about getting their little ribbon every time they reach a goal! Quit trying to turn the arts into engineering. If you want to starve down here with the rest of us, start taking pictures full time, but don't make my job into the job you left!

Points to consider before looking for first-round venture funding for your "clearinghouse" service.

- Marriage rates are declining, in some places rapidly. Thus wedding rates are also declining. There are some localized exceptions but shacking-up, or just hooking-up, is on the rise. Perhaps smartly so.

- There are already countless local/regional wedding service reference sites online. Here, for example, is one in the Chicago area.

- And there's also a little organization called the WPPI that has its own pseudo-certification program, as well as annual conventions in Vegas, publications, ... Eh?

- Personal referrals from friends and relatives is, and will remain, unquestionably the strongest marketing force for wedding and portrait snappers. I don't think "certification" would be very meaningful for most prospective clients. Chrissy will often just want the "awesome" photographer that her friend Sissy used for her wedding.

- At the end of the day who is going to pay you? Brides? Doubtful, plus most will only use you once in their life. Photographers? Well then you're up against WPPI and potentials for conflicts. How much will they get from your "certification"?

Icky. Messy.

- Shark Tank Board -

[Do people understand that this post was about why "certification" *isn't* needed? --Mike]

Or people could just go to https://www.theknot.com

There is a whole industry around vetting and certifying Wedding Photographers, and has been for years. They run the gamut from simple clearing houses, to services that post vetted reviews, and some that coordinate all wedding services & vendors. Wedding Wire, and The Knot are two. Then there is Scott Kelby's WPPI organization -around for years, they expanded into an on line certification program last year. They teamed up with NYIP https://www.slrlounge.com/wppi-nyip-launches-first-online-certification-program-for-wedding-photographers/
The Idea is to combine education with certification.
Then there are also organizations like PPA who have standards & Practices
But the way the wedding business really works, is word of mouth, Brides show their albums (physical & On Line) and the most common source of business is--"you did so and so's Wedding and we loved the Pictures". Another source is from Venues who like your work and have been cultivated with photos for their website and brochures.
But most Brides in our experience are not "going in blind" they have seen the work of a couple of photographers through friends, they ask their friends how the photographer was to work with , and only then do they start with websites or a personal meeting.
My daughter has found that by being completely honest about the kind of work she does, and the services she provides, as well as what she does not do, she ends up with virtually all happy clients.
She also sets a minimum fee, which includes a second shooter and a lighting assistant, to which the client can add hours of coverage, and a higher end or larger book. So she somewhat self selects by price. She carries duplicates of everything and never over books a weekend. Clients appreciate that.
Where there is a bigger need for help, is the 'budget wedding' which is understandable, and virtually every wedding photographer starts there. But the costs of running a real sustainable business prohibit operating in that space for very long.

I do think the vetting/ education process is helpful for new people getting into the business. And The Knot, Wedding Wire, & WPPI are big businesses. Some are more Photographer focused and some are more Bride focused, but taken together, -for the wedding space at least-- the the vetting is fairly well covered.

I once shot a wedding. For friends, no budget, pre-digital.
One Nikon F2 (meterless, though I had an external meter with me), a 35/2.8 lens, three rolls of color negative film.
I got all the obligatory shots(bride and groom with bride's parents, B&G with groom's parents, etc) plus some general shots of the ceremony and gathered friends and family. I handed the film to them at the end, with instructions about where to get it processed.

"Seems a bit much to believe that that was mere coincidence."

The moral of this story is don't invite Steve Jobs to Xerox PARC 8-)

When dealing with thieves (another name for BIG business) you need to lawyer-up. NDAs, etc are a good thing.

For what it's worth, I hear from local contractors that Angie's List ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Not unlike the Better Business Bureau, AL sells its "seal of approval" to the service providers. The more the contractors pay AL, the higher their ratings are.

As a subscriber, I felt cheated when AL sold out and started giving it away. I've become part of a class action law suit against AL with a chance to get a $10-$15 settlement. Whoopee.

I haunt the Apple support boards and people are always wanting to talk to Apple to give them the "next big thing". We just point them to this:

We just watched Sunset Boulevard a few weeks ago so I perused the Wikipedia article. Billy Wilder was sued *twice* by people claiming to have pitched the idea first.

re: pitching ideas to companies

When I was a Nikon rep, it was a fairly regular occurrence for someone to approach me saying that they had an idea for a product and could I put them in touch with the right folks at Nikon to pitch it to.

My bosses had a boilerplate response: the company and its official representatives could not, and would not, speak to anyone about a product idea unless that person held a patent on the idea. I'm sure this policy served several different purposes, but one of them, I think, was to avoid situations where somebody thought the company had stolen their idea without paying for it. Nikon, at least officially, would listen only to outside ideas whose ownership was already legally established and which Nikon would therefore have to pay a license fee to use, if they wanted it.

Of course, Nikon has violated patents in the past, and paid dearly for it, so there were holes in the overall system! In fairness, I should note that Nikon has also collected plenty of money from other companies who violated Nikon's patents. And in these ways, they are like nearly all other electronics companies. The dog-eat-dog world of capitalism gobbles on.

MikeJ says in an comment above: "Do people understand that this post was about why "certification" *isn't* needed? --Mike"

I think the problem is in the title: "The Solution to Professional Certification (Weddings Are a Big Thing)" can be read a couple of ways.

Wouldn't "An Alternative to Professional Certification (Weddings Are a Big Thing)" have set the scene better.

You should have a word with whomever writes your headlines. :-)

On the bigger issue: certification almost always benefits the certifiers more than the certifiees or the end users.

The issue of professionalization, in areas that can't kill or injure people, is almost always an attempt at a guild-like job protection scheme by people already in the business to restrict entry to newcomers.

The world changed a while ago and it isn't going to change back. Setting up to be the next Musicians Union railing against recorded music (another social/technology change that we now take for granted) isn't going to hold back change.

The future may be in decentralized systems that rely on reputation as your scheme does but even reputation based systems are known to have problems. Even Cory Doctorow is coming out against them after being a proponent for some time.



This is in general a difficult problem that hasn't been solved yet.


As usual, you come up with great ideas Mike!

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