Saturday, January 17, 2009

Only because I was asked.... (edited)

In addition to this post- and although I feel I have every right to express my opinion (and obviously it is not unlike the consensus with almost every single comment that I have at this point refused to publish or deleted) I am so surprised how many mean feelings and comparisons this post has evoked. I have re-read it, and don't think that I said one bad thing about any vendor. I was respectful and honest. I am surprised how anonymity can allow a fraction of people to be so rude. This was never intended to be a forum to allow the opinions of two sides to be thrown about-
There are only a few comments I have left published- mostly because they are mean- mostly because they are meant to be insulting-mostly because I know that my clients didn't post them but especially because they inadvertently insult a LARGE fraction of customers. Character says a ton (so why don't we let it shine on through? Lets be honest- I suppose there are people out there that think that some vendors in the industry are the equivalent of a second hand store? - well someone better tell a boat load of engaged people out there?) Dreadful!
Please don't leave a comment if you prefer not to leave your name. It's my belief that people would certainly stand behind their opinion if they weren't trying to be hurtful in attempt to defend their opinions.
This week a group of photographers in Winnipeg collaborated and made a list of elite wedding vendors in our city. I normally don't want to say anything- actually even try not to care, but because it was such a buzz and many of my clients asked what I knew about it today I decided to post a little bit of my opinion.
Truthfully, the 6 photographers are fantastic in skill level and business practices- I certainly can't argue with work- nor would I even try. I actively look at 2 of the photographers blogs daily and am in adoration of the work they produce. Who decided that they were the elite?
What I think has been suggested to me via some clients and what I can articulate is that the group refers to themselves as the "elite" and has used the phrase "because you deserve the best" It's a fantastic sales pitch- a well thought advertising promotion.
I think that the only thing that I can express when former and present "brides" comment on the promotion is that the only concern I have is that when someone of a group of people refer to themselves as "setting the standard" or the "elite" it inadvertently (probably not intentionally)refers to anyone not belonging to the group as someone "not elite", and not providing services of the "best deserving brides" which simply is only advertising.
I have photographed weddings for 5 years now and have met countless vendors (photographers and otherwise) who are talented and have a high set of standards that they have set for themselves. In addition, many of these vendors fall much below the price ranges of this elite group. We are so lucky to live in a city with so much selection and vendors of all price levels to accommodate brides of every budget. I actively associate myself with vendors that I know have a high standard with a fair price- I encourage shopping around.
And only because it has come up more than once in the "this wonderful weddingish weekend" I only wanted to say that self promotion is a wonderful thing and I think that any gimmick that brings someone business is fantastic.


Kenzie Prudhomme January 17, 2009 at 7:59 PM  

Great post Carrie

Anonymous January 17, 2009 at 11:25 PM  

You're right, but there are people that will always shop at Value Village, and others that want to shop and buy Gucci. You're free to be the Village just as they're free to be Gucci.

Both stores make a profit, it's just a matter of what the client likes to wear.

Carrie January 17, 2009 at 11:42 PM  

lol, I suppose if going outside of the "elite" is an equivalent to a second hand shop then there are a ton of "used goods/second hand" vendors in our fine city- I guess someone should have told us that

I would never ever tell someone not to "wear the best" I am ecstatic for anyone able to shop at Gucci- keeping in mind that sometimes the "name" is much more expensive then the threads they're on.

Anonymous January 18, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

I wouldn't call these "elite" Gucci. More like Dooney and Bourke. You know...the purse your mom had 5 years ago and it was cool then but then they tried to do the colorful Louis Vuitton thing and just didn't do it as good.

F T P (Wink wink) January 19, 2009 at 1:05 AM  


Carrie, what's the value village talk hahaha i thought that was about photos?

ps I have found gucci at v.v I can never tell whats the real deal and a knock off anyhow

Jeremy Dueck January 19, 2009 at 12:03 PM  

Carrie, you are always free express your opinions, anyone is as long as no one slanders names (which you didn't, although you are trying to tilt all the comments to your favor).

You are also free to shoot at whatever fee makes you feel good and earns a living you want. There are many brides that need a low cost alternative. Why don't you try to be the best at that? Find a way to make it profitable for you.

To keep harping on the "elite" angle as if we hate everyone else or look down on them is wrong. Your spinning words to your favor once again. There are going to be tips for Brides and workshops for photographers like yourself to learn and mold your art to a place you want to take it. (you already follow my blog so you must like my work).

Lastly to say we're just self proclaimed is a bit nasty and tongue in cheek. Two people on that list have been Manitoba's Photographer of the Year, judged by Canada wide talent. There are many other awards between all of them for just about every genre of photography. All have worked extremely hard to be at the place they are at and have been shooting professionally for 10+ years. There is an extreme amount of experience between them all.

You can certainly do the same thing if you desire to.

Carrie January 19, 2009 at 1:06 PM  

Hey Jeremy
Comments that I have removed are particularly untactful and slanderous towards the particular promotion that I originally posted about. It is baffling to me why people are so mean in either direction but I suppose can be bullies when not leaving a name attached to it. I DO exactly what you suggested in your comment and do provide a service in another budget range to about 40 or so weddings per year. I am not unhappy with a wage or living I make or my business practice. There are many vendors in my exact price range- I suppose being compared to Value Village is swaying the comments in my favor?
I told you yesterday that I think your work is FANTASTIC and I have followed it for many many years.
I think photographer of the year is fantastic- I think awards are fantastic.
My opinion aside because it does differ- is that from all the buzz, consider that when a group of people advertise themselves as "the best" the way it sounds and why I have so many anonymous comments from (what I am assuming) are ticked off vendors feeling like day old coffee.

And on another note- thank you for being respectful and leaving a name behind- I appreciate it more than you know!

Jeremy Dueck January 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM  

Good comments, maybe that person should have said WalMart or something else so you couldn't say and feel like "used goods/second hand vendors", but rather inexpensive or sale price.

Yes I can understand when people feel left behind or "day old coffee". That isn't the intent. We're going to try to provide workshops to bring everyone's standards up and hopefully all vendors will appreciate what we can all share and learn with each other. It really is about sharing and helping people out.

It blows me away that the average wedding and portrait photographer's wage in all of North America is $3.25/hour. Not even half of minimum wage.

That's taking into account all those that have the "name" that you say "is much more expensive then the threads they're on." That comment comes across as if non of us are worth what we charge for the work we do. It's no better than the "used goods, second hand" comment. But they're both still up hence why I mentioned your spin on the topic. Oh well...

Let's go out, capture some emotion and make someone happy.

Carrie January 20, 2009 at 8:48 AM  

I didn't want to refer to anyone in particular with my reference to an expensive brand name....price in general is only half the topic. Quite honestly, I have seen a few albums in my days with price tags 2-3 more times what I charge- of poor quality. I will be the first to tell someone that "sometimes" you get what you pay for but also "sometimes" it isn't worth the buck.
And keep in mind I am not referring to any of the 6 listers as one of these.

It's all about what you are comfortable charging- I know this is an industry that spends a lot of effort defending pricing so I certainly don't want to post anymore about it on here.

And I think that's the smartest thing I have heard this past few days "Let's go out, capture some emotion and make someone happy"

Patty Boge. January 20, 2009 at 12:51 PM  

Hey Carrie. Glad that you got some conversation going here. That's what blogs are supposed to be about. Congratulations on your baby-on-the-way for starters and best of luck in this busy year ahead.

I hope that you feel like we're approachable and helpful, as one of our goals in The W List is to raise the overall quality of Photography in Winnipeg by helping other photographers to achieve their goals in business and in the craft of Photography.

Our intention was never to single out anybody as Jeremy mentioned above, and it's good to have a photographer for every budget range.

As a mother of two and full time business owner I find it hard to keep the balance in my life, even charging what I do... I spend many late nights on this job and can't imagine charging less...

It's not about what I'm comfortable charging. It's about calculating how much time I spend on my job, then adding all of the costs involved (professional business insurance, liability, camera replacement costs, professional lenses, car, mortgage, accounting fees, and then some...) and trying to make sure that I'm making at least above minimum wage, as time away from my family should be worth more than that.

You're free not to post this comment, of course, but as long as you actually read it, that's all I can ask.

I hope you call me if you think that there's something I can do for you.

Carrie January 20, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

Hey Patty- I appreciate hearing everyone's opinion

I have absolutely no problem with posting any comment as long as they aren't left anonymously to be snide or hurtful. I have seen a whole spectrum of some pretty nasty views- it is easy to be mean when you can do it from behind a keyboard

I have re-read what I wrote countless times- I even acknowledged that the group is FANTASTIC. I am not sure if what is rubbing people the wrong way at this point is the issue that I brought up price? Just as many have a defense to why a price is high- many have a defense why a price is low.

I would never argue that self- employed photographers

-have no job security
-have no benefits
-have very little summer, no weekends, work through the night on the computer
-have no e.i. (I am having a baby tomorrow and shooting a wedding three weeks later)

Therefore I realize that there has to be some kind of compensation for this. But I also (and mentioned to Jeremy didn't want to post anything else about pricing but I guess it's the issue) do my own accounting and can compare my earnings with some fairly decent professions- and for myself it is what I am comfortable charging and what I feel ok with. I know what I earned formerly in another field- I am in no way making 3.50 an hour. I have joked that maybe my standard of living is just too low? It's not like I haven't been told that sometimes I am selling myself short either.

I have never emailed someone in this industry and asked them why their price was what is was....In the past years, I have received more than a few. It has been suggested that I not give out files, offer prints at a low price, refer to myself as a professional... These are from people that certainly don't feel threatened and have fantastic businesses- I am a little saddened- there are clientele for everyone in Manitoba.

One of the last weddings I shot had a TOTAL budget of 7,500- that's it. If I can capture memories that are of quality at a price that I am ok with then what does it hurt. Certainly I am not that pivotal to bring an industry crashing down? I am really confused why it's a bad thing to say that there are vendors of high standards with low pricing- I don't mean to alienate myself just the same as if the shoe were on the other foot.

I hope this makes sense- I don't want to offend anyone (I suppose it's a bit late now (-:) I think that you are very nice and don't want anyone to be attacked personally.

It's not appropriate for posting, but if you would like to email me directly to find out why compelled me to write this in the first place I would be happy to offer more insight.

Thank you for commenting- I hope there are no ill feelings

W January 20, 2009 at 2:49 PM  

Nope, no ill feelings. You were very kind in saying our work is fantastic. Let's keep in touch! Stay tuned for our next get together probably in the spring!

Kenzie Prudhomme January 20, 2009 at 3:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie January 20, 2009 at 4:17 PM  

I just wanted to make a really quick response to "anonymous" since he/she must have missed that I am no longer posting anonymous comments.

I don't think I am jealous to not be referred to or to be in the "elite" class- I don't think that EVER in my personal or public thoughts have I ever tried to compare portfolios in skill, production or price. I would and have openly expressed to photographers in every class level their skills that I admire.

I'm sorry that you have missed the point, and realize that you don't know me at all (in demeanor or confidence) but certainly feel free to email me personally with your opinions

Lisa Breti Photography January 20, 2009 at 5:30 PM  

Well, I have read all these comments.. And myself I am with Carrie in the LOWer Priced photography..... And I am honestly proud of it. Yes I do way to much, I give a heck of a lot of my customers, and I never sleep all summer, have 2 kids, a husband and a full time day job...... This is all true, but no one has honestly stopped to ask "is it worth it?" Yes to me it is. I make a decent income, and the best thing is I have met some amazing Brides, Grooms, Mothers & Fathers... So to me, that is what matters. That we are out there capturing peoples memories, having fun doing it. As Carrie mentioned, Winnipeg has a society of all kinds, and not everyone can afford High Priced Photography, which is not always a bad thing, cause we all have our style, personality, and price.... I just don't know why EVERYONE with a high income or low income, can't have amazing pictures. The W list photographers are all amazing PHOTOGS and I have got to know most of them over facebook, seminars, and late night emails with question after question, they all have been more than helpful, and I thank each of them for it... Good luck with the launch of this list. And hey, ya never know, maybe a list of different level photogs will hit the web one day.. LOL......


Kenzie Prudhomme January 20, 2009 at 7:40 PM  

Thank you for posting that Lisa. You said exactly what I would have liked to say but didn't have the words.

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