Who are you competing with?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich Leave a Comment

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine and professional photographer asked to have a conversation with me regarding my take on the current photographic market place.  Their timing was right on as I’ve been trying to figure out this market.

During our conversation an interesting point was raised regarding so many “photographers” in the region and their services.  Many don’t have business licenses, don’t pay city or state taxes, and have an unfair advantage over our businesses.  See, we each pay sales tax, we have studio overhead, etc.  Many of the fly by night photographers in northern AZ operate out of their houses under the radar of the city and state.

So, where we have to do things like charge tax on our final product these folks don’t.  Interesting to ponder.  Maybe you’re thinking that sales tax isn’t too much of a factor, but at 9.35% here in Prescott let me tell you it adds up.  So, how do we as legal businesses deal with competitors who aren’t “doing the right thing?”

Honestly we couldn’t really come up with a good solution.  Every week I see new adverts on Facebook, Model Mayhem, and other places for new photographers in the area.  Their prices are so low.  Too low for me to compete with.  I have overhead to pay, equipment to maintain, the government to pay……  Competing with the $50 DVD of images including the shoot would just put me out of business in a week.

This isn’t a phenomena only here in Prescott.  It’s nationwide, and it does make this a very hard business to survive in at this point.  One good resource that I return to again and again is Take Off Your Mommy Goggles.  If you’re ever in the market for professional photographic services I suggest reading her consumer tips.  She’s very up on the reality of studios today, and she’s aware of issues like the one I’m trying to figure out right now.  And the link I’ve added addresses a real studio’s expenses in point one.  Give it a read, it’s an interesting article.

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