PPAS AGM Dialogue 2017

A panel discussion on “Surviving the Photography Business” was held on 9 September 2017 at *SCAPE and we are grateful for the significant turnout by many of our fellow counterparts.


The objective of the discussion was to gather thoughts from professionals in the different genres of professional photography on current challenges, and possible approaches when navigating the ever-changing world of imagery marketing.

We are grateful to the panel of Sebastian Tan, Teo Chai Guan, Eric Seow and especially Mr Terence Tan, Founder/CCO of ICE Inc, for offering his view from the client’s perspective.

A summary of the more important parts:

1. The retail sector is in for a complete change and faces disruption that has caused an inevitable slash in advertising spending in the traditional advertising mediums such as print and newspapers. Stills photographers will need to work out of their comfort zone; for example, venturing into motion photography or at least be capable of going into this adjacent business segment when called upon to do so.

2. Consolidating / sharing of resources among photographers is increasingly becoming a viable and practical option to cut costs and remain effective without the need to place significant financial investments in acquiring rarely-used equipment.

3. Being a professional photographer demands that one must achieve high-quality work combined with professional business practices, far beyond that of the hobbyist photographer. Whilst there are many good amateur photographers such as those on Instagram, a professional whose livelihood depends on photography must possess far more knowledge than knowing how to use filters and apps.

4. Studio ownership is proving to be a very costly affair; resulting in many professionals who have since switched to the rent-per-use model. However, a rental approach may restrict flexibility and/or self-initiatives and trials. 
Good and experienced studio photographers will need to know the importance of a pre-light, test-shoot & set up / delays and hold-sets for a later tear downs should the need arise.

These are valid issues on the long-term implications, where the large studio requires strong cash flow to justify the spending on space and overheads, and strives to deliver on par with, or surpass International studio production standards, whereas those who work from residences may find it hard to emerge to parallel with the likes of regional creative work standards. Failure to properly adapt may lead to photography degenerating into a substandard creative industry which is neither sustainable or any good for the future generation.


Do let us know what you think & share your views with our community!