Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1
I understand your feelings about the prices.
But you have missed just a bit about why they charge so much.
In recent years, environmental issues have become very important with anything onboard that involves chemicals. In the "good old days" the ship's photographers just dumped the chemicals down the drain (and they ended up in the ocean). The unsold photos were dumped into the ship's incinerator. Today they must all be saved and offloaded in port as "foreign hazardous waste".
The licensed hazardous waste disposal comapnies charge outrageous amounts of money for their services. They double their prices when the hazardous waste is labeled "foreign". Since nearly every cruise ship is "foreign", these fellows make out pretty well.
My ship is now paying about $60,000 per week to dispose of these chemicals and leftover photos. Who do you think those costs are being passed on to??
In todays market, the cruise lines are grabbing at every possible revenue source to increase their profits and prevent fare increases.
On most cruise lines the photo department is a concession. Just like in a shopping mall the concession must pay rent and other costs to the cruise line. They also agree to pay a rather large chunk of their revenues back to the cruise line. The concession on my ship is currently paying 65% of all their revenues back to my company. They have also agreed to pay a minimum amount to us - even if they don't make their revenue targets.
So the photo concession on my ship must cover the $60,000 disposal fee every week, and pay 65% of their revenues to me. They must also pay rent for their retail space and for the crew cabins for their photographers, for the food their photographers get from us, and for any medical care we give them. They also have to pay the cabin stewards that clean the cabins for the photographers.
Then they must somehow pay for the approximately $750,000 worth of photographic equipment they have onboard (cameras, strobes, backdrops, computers, point of sale machines, print processors, etc.)
Then they need to cover the regular business expenses; flying their staff to and from the ship, wages, insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc.
And finally they must try to make a profit to keep them in business.
The 15 cents per photo you quoted doesn't quite cover it.
Sorry, I'm not going to buy that. If they are paying that kind of money then they are fools. It is not necessary to even print the darn pictures until they're bought. They can be digitally previewed and the customer can choose which ones they want before they are printed.
The cruiseline and photographic company know full well only a tiny percentage of all those photos they print are going to be sold. It just isn't necessary to print masses of non-used photos.
I don't sympathize with them at all. $40 is not worth the cost of an 8 x 10 photo that isn't that good to begin with.
As for the cost of staff and equipment, that's the name of the game. My DH has a heck of a lot of tools in his trade too and he doesn't use that as an excuse. Those cameras etc last a long time. They are written off on taxes. $750,000 divided over how many years and how many ships?
I've spoken to too many photographers - those pictures are not worth $5 - never mind $40.