Trading wedding gigs for classical compostion
Glenn Bering has been doing photography for thirty years. Seven or eight years ago, he shot forty weddings a year on film. But the recession and the availability of cheap digital cameras forced him to cut his fees in half. Now, he says, wedding gigs have disappeared completely.
"I remember when there'd be a family photographer at the wedding, and he'd show up with more equipment than I had," Bering says. But that was before digital technology. "During the recession, anyone laid off with a digital camera could be a photographer--or say they were. Now if you go online you'll see page after page of wedding photographers, probably more photographers than there are weddings!
"People with money to burn will still hire a whole coven of photographers, and they'll pay eight to ten grand for all of them. Everybody else is looking for the cheapest thing they can find." Bering doesn't see things improving. "This is the new normal. People who made a living at it can only continue by pandering to the upper 5 percent."
To make ends meet, Bering is cannibalizing his business. "I've sold tons of equipment. I still have enough to do wedding or corporate things, but I don't foresee myself earning a living as a photographer. And I don't know about the future of photography. There're a lot of new photographers out there, but they don't have the training. It's just point and shoot."
So Bering, who has a masters in composition from the U-M School of Music, has turned from photography to an earlier art: "I'm writing a string quartet. I'm also writing quirky songs, but now everyone has a home studio, so everyone and their brother is sending their amateurish songs to artists. I figure in classical music it'll be easier to break in--because there's less competition."
[Originally published in January, 2014.]