After seeing another "Wedding Photography Horror Story" in the news again this week, i can see a huge PR and public education opportunity for the so called Professional Bodies of the photography world.
The story i read via the Daily Mail's website has been printed elsewhere and even featured on the BBC News!
As i see it, the adverse publicity and the very sad tales of woe we read and hear about all the time offer the so called "Professional Bodies" the perfect PR opportunity to help educate the public, other wedding suppliers, venues and of course the photographers themselves. If the MPA, BIPP etc really had the best interests of the profession and their memberships at heart, they would be constantly shouting the message about why you should use a genuine profession over an untrained or inexperienced "Saturday Cowboy" who is just out there to make a few quid ono a weekend.
Now i know it is a real minefield out there for couples selecting their photographer for the biggest day in their lives and i also appreciate that times are tough for us all, but in my very honest opinion the biggest problem is the messages being given off by photographers themselves. A bit of digging has revealed what i guessed to be the very sad truth within the ranks of the wedding photography world.
These days, it seems desperation has set in amongst wedding photographers and not this is no only aimed at the newer ones either. I have seen countless adverts and websites where basically, in the mad scramble to book any wedding in what is a vastly over saturated profession, folks are charging extremely unrealistically low prices and giving away everything including the kitchen sink.
I have been asking myself why this is and wondering why they are happy to operate at a real world loss.
I think i answered my first question by saying "it seems desperation has set in". For many it is a sad fact that they are desperate to generate any income regardless of what it is doing to their business in the short, medium and long term.
The answer to the second question is slightly more contentious. There are a number of reasons as to why the giveaway prices may be offered. This could mean they are working illegally by not declaring earnings for income tax, NI etc, probably working uninsured and or may be working without adequate back ups, equipment etc. However if they don't meet these criteria for being able to offer crazily low prices they are in fact probably on the short steep road to going under.
The story in the Daily Mail is unfortunate and sad for the couple BUT with the correct education from the professional photography world, they would have realised that if you pay peanuts you tend to get monkeys. I appreciate that £750 is a lot of money in the normal world to anyone but if a photographer is charging a properly priced rate, based on paying taxes, having insurance, having the right training and kit and then actually making a profit, then this figure is totally unrealistic unless they have another major income stream to support them.
Right back to the original purpose of this post; a CALL TO ACTION for the professional organisations; going by past experience over a 16 year career, my feeling is that they won't seize the opportunity to promote true professions to the public yet again. I find this very frustrating and this is one of the reasons why i sadly and reluctantly resigned my last membership of one of these bodies in March.
Maybe if they pooled their resources and worked together rather than worrying about their own little political games against each other, they might actually be able to offer a real benefit to photographers and the public alike.