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Scott Alan Photography

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Are you a minimum wage photographer?

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I always see people posting on social media about how they are unhappy about the fact that “hobbyist” photographers are undercutting “professional” photographers pricing. I see people complain about how its ruined the photography industry and how they are discouraged. However, some of these professional photographers that are complaining still have some stuff to learn as well. Recently someone posted about this topic and stated what they were charging and explained that they wanted to eventually do photography full-time. Now, while everyone has to start somewhere we never want to sell ourselves short of the end goal. I started doing some thinking about the rates they were charging clients and started doing a little math on what it would take to pay bills, buy groceries, pay taxes, and put some in savings…

I wanted something to compare to so I started with the United States national average minimum wage which is $7.25 an hour… At $7.25 an hour while working 40 hours a week for an entire year one will gross $15,080. The figure this person said they were charging was $175 for a shoot. To make this same amount in a year this photographer would need to shoot roughly 86 photo shoots in a year which averages out to 1.7 photo shoots per week. That does not seem difficult but it is actually more difficult than it seems considering the thousands upon thousands of other professional and hobbyist photographers who are charging the same amount of money. Keep in mind…. This is just to make minimum wage…

I used to have a job where I was on straight commission. I made close to $70,000/year a few times. I was married and in the process of starting a family. and the sole income provider… Lets do the math using that $175 per photo shoot…

$70,000 / $175 per shoot = 400 photo shoots per yr or 7.7 photo shoots per wk… Forget it! Photography may be your passion but you don’t realize how quick photography WILL NOT be your passion anymore doing that many shoots a week while shooting stuff your clients demand and stuff you may not even WANT to shoot! I’d say that the photographers who are shooting 7 shoots per week have people working for them doing post work and other jobs, and those photographers are grossing a lot more than $70,000 / year.

Weddings tend to be a little more pricey in the photography industry so lets say one wants to gross $70,000 in a year doing weddings and the photographer was going to shoot one wedding a week they would need to charge…

$1,333 x 52 weddings in a yr or one wedding a week = $69,316 and that’s if you can average one wedding a week for an entire year at $1,333.

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All this is to just make one think about the future… You may not desire to be rich and make lots of money off photography. However, if you want to do photography as a full-time job and make a decent living you are going to have to figure out your cost of doing business and how much you’re going to charge. You definitely don’t want to charge $175 for 5 years or so while establishing a target market and a client base, then figure out you need to double, triple, or quadruple your rates to make what you need to make to live how you want to live or raise a family. If so, you will lose your clients and need to start from scratch gaining a new target market and client base. And you definitely don’t want to be stuck being a minimum wage photographer!

The One-Two Punch In Photography

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We all like to purchase new gear. I think that is something that every photographer goes through at some point during the years while doing their hobby or business. And over the years I’ve seen so many people question what lens should they buy for this or that. During the last year and a half or so I have tried to practice minimalism to an extent. I’ve thinned out everything from the clothes that I own, to books, to my photography gear. While I like gear I’ve come to learn what I need and what I don’t need. After some thought I’ve come up with a photography minimalist gear list and there are only three items on the most basic list. I will compare my list to a more common list of what a lot of people end up with.

The minimalist photography gear list consists of the camera and two lenses which is as follows: (The One-Two Punch)
Camera – I won’t list a cost here because, one, there are many different bodies that can be used for many different reasons. Some might think they need a full frame body while others may want to take advantage of a body that houses an aps-c sized sensor and can shoot 12 frames per second. Plus this article is supposed to be about lenses.

Lens: Canon 24 – 70 F2.8L = $1699.00
Lens: Canon 70 – 200 F2.8L = $1799.00
Total = 3498

Compared to option 2 which covers the same focal range:

Canon 24mm f2.8 = $549.00
Canon 35mm f1.4L = $1699.00
Canon 40mm f2.8 = $179.00
Canon 50mm f1.8 = $125.00
Canon 85mm F1.4L = $1599.00
Canon 100mm f2 = $499.00
Canon 135mm f2L = $$999.00
Canon 200mm f2.8 = $749.00
total = $6398.00

The difference here is that option 1 allows one to carry around only two lenses and it covers all focal ranges between 24mm and 200mm. This focal range is useful from portraits, to weddings and events, to some sports, to documentary photography, and product photography, landscapes, and other types. Compare the costs and option 1 is almost half of what option 2 is. Many people would argue that prime lenses are lighter than the zooms, which is true, however, if one is shooting a wedding, event, or even portraits and decided to bring multiple lenses, I would bet that the weight difference ends up being very minimal if anything. Another argument would be that primes are sharper than zooms. While this is also true, while viewing the end product which would be an image on a screen or a print, no one would be able to tell that the image was made with a zoom lens rather than a prime.

I would like to note that during this quick research, I did not include all L glass throughout the primes. If I did the cost different would even be greater. I decided to go with Canon when comparing, but the difference would be about the same if comparing Nikon lenses. No matter what option one ends up choosing to go with, I’d strongly suggest buying used from Used Photo Pro or KEH and saving. In my personal and professional opinion one could build solid photography career with just one camera (it’d be wise to have a back up) and two lenses, the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8.

Sensors Gathering Light, ISO & Exposure Triangle…

Most Underrated Piece of Photography Gear…

Stiff Strap Wrist Strap

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I’ve been doing photography for 23 years. I’ve purchased various photography products off of others recommendations as well as my own research, or lack thereof. I’ve purchased very inexpensive gear as well as dished out a lot of cash on various items. I overpaid for junk as well as found some great items that didn’t break the bank.

The other day I received a package in the mail and in the pack was the Stiff Strap wrist strap (I did an un-packaging video which you can see here). This strap is made of 550 paracord. It’s hand made. It’s made right here in the U.S.A., and most importantly, it’s comfortable! The Stiff Strap has a lifetime warranty. I’ve owned several wrist straps and honestly, because of the quality, I lost interest in them. I had just decided to wrap my neck strap around my wrist several times. However, that gets messy. LOL. Now, I have the perfect wrist strap. I liked it so much that I purchased another one and will be receiving it in the mail just a few days after I placed the order. For just under $25, in my opinion, it’s the best wrist strap you could buy!

Sociable Classics

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Sunday Jan 13th 2019 my son and I met up with another local photographer to walk the very cold streets of the Fort Worth Stockyards. I brought along my dad’s old Bronica ETRS which he gifted me around 2001. This camera has become my all time favorite as it’s very sentimental to me as my dad is not living anymore. Anyway, us three meet up and we start walking, talking photography, and making images on the streets. Soon a stranger comes up to me and tells me how cool my camera is. We talk for a while and then move on. We keep shooting. Another person comes up to us and asks about my camera. We walk the streets for about 2 hours and then decide to call it quits as the cold is getting to us. In total I’d say about 4 or 5 people stop me to talk about my camera.  That’s 4 or 5 new people that I got to meet because of the camera I was carrying. Over the years I’ve done the same, as far as going on walks, many times with a up-to-date more modern digital camera. Maybe 1 out of every 10 times someone might ask about my camera. However, just about 9 out of 10 times I take this camera out people stop me and want to talk about it. I’ve actually gotten clients because of this camera. I love meeting new people and this has been a great way to do so. I compare classic cameras to classic cars. Nothing wrong with new cameras (or new cars), but the classics just seem to turn heads and start conversations more often than not compared to “latest and greatest” new stuff!

Black and White On Both Sides

Here are a couple of images that I recently made that will be in “Black and White On Both Sides” which is a book I will be publishing later this summer. I have really enjoyed playing with lighting over the last several years. I really like high contrast and low key black and white imagery. I decided to take on a project that consisted of nothing but just that.

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The above image was created with a speed light placed directly behind the subject.

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The above images was made using a speed light inside of an octabox to camera left.

Olympus Stylus Infinity

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So this little camera pack a good-sized punch for a point and shoot camera. I previously did a blog on the Minolta Hi Matic AF 2 and said that it was one of my favorite point and shoot cameras. This Olympus is right up there with the Minolta. This was the second camera that I brought with me to San Diego our wedding / honeymoon trip. I shot around 6 rolls with this camera and focus hit nearly every shot.

This camera has a 35mm F3.5 lens, which isn’t super fast but isn’t too terribly bad either. There is a f2.8 version as well but I don’t know if I can justify the cost different in the two cameras. I did not run into a situation the whole time on the trip where I thought I needed a faster lens. The camera has multiple flash settings including turning it off. One downside to the camera is that when you turn off the flash and then turn off the camera and then turn the camera back on, the flash is automatically set to auto mode again. I’d rather the flash be set to off by default. The camera feels very good in the hands and is small enough to fit in a front pocket in your jeans. Everything about this camera is automatic (except being able to control the flash functions). I do like the fact that this camera can read film DX codes and can shoot faster films than ISO 400 and ISO 800. When you are finished with the roll of film the camera also automatically rewinds the film for you too. Two other features worth mentioning are the tripod socket on the bottom and the self timer mode.

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The only downside that I can think of with this camera is the flash being turned on auto automatically when the camera is turned on. Overall this camera is almost the perfect point and shoot for just about any situation. I bought this camera for $15 and have seen them being sold for $30 and even a little more. This camera is well worth the purchase if you are looking for an all around film point and shoot and can deal with the flash function.

Cons:

  • Some might say the f3.5 lens compared to the f2.8
  • focus is a smidge slower than I would like but definitely not a deal breaker
  • The flash function

Pros

  • very very compact
  • very nice sharp lens
  • auto rewind
  • reads DX codes
  • can be had for a great price

Minolta Hi Matic AF 2

In late 2016 / early 2017 I took this camera (along with the Olympus Stylus Infinity) on my wedding / honeymoon trip to San Diego, California. I must say I was quite pleased with the results of both cameras. I will do a review on the Olympus as well.

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The Minolta Hi Matic AF 2 is a funny little camera. It has manual wind and rewind and just about everything else is auto. The shutter speed, aperture, and focus is all auto and only auto. There are no manual overrides. The only other option the user can manually control is the ISO, which goes from 50 to 400. The viewfinder is nice and bright. The camera feels good in the hands. There is a switch that turns on the flash when desired. One other option that the camera has is a self timer. Oh, and I almost forgot… There is a tripod socket on the bottom. During my trip I shot around 6 rolls of 24 exposure film with this camera and I think I MAYBE had 1 or two frames where I missed focus. I must say, I was quite pleased with the results.

Cons:

  • Some might say the manual wind and rewind but that does not bother me
  • I wish the ISO went up to 1600 or at least 800

Pros:

  • Feels great in the hands
  • Great build quality. Built in Japan
  • Awesome… Sharp… lens
  • flash can be turned on or off by the user
  • great battery life

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