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The Ten Most Overpaid Jobs In The U.S. 1130

Posted by simoniker
from the it's-a-gas dept.
misbach writes "Here is what the 'compensation experts' have to say are the ten most overpaid jobs [original article at CBS MarketWatch]. 'Almost no one in America would admit to being overpaid, but many of us take home bloated paychecks far beyond what's deserved. 'Fair compensation' is a relative term, yet human-resource consultants and executive headhunters agree some jobs command excessive compensation that can't be explained by labor supply-and-demand imbalances.'"
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The Ten Most Overpaid Jobs In The U.S.

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  • by anaphora (680342) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:43PM (#7436827) Journal
    This was taken from http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1016490/posts SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- Almost no one in America would admit to being overpaid, but many of us take home bloated paychecks far beyond what's deserved. "Fair compensation" is a relative term, yet human-resource consultants and executive headhunters agree some jobs command excessive compensation that can't be explained by labor supply-and-demand imbalances. And while it's easy to argue that chief executives, lawyers and movie stars are overpaid, reality is not that cut and dry. Corporate attorneys earning $500 an hour and plaintiffs lawyers pocketing a third of a class-action or personal-injury settlement certainly don't go hungry. Yet many local prosecutors and public defenders are hard-pressed to pay off law-school loans. Hollywood stars, making $20 million a movie or $10 million per TV-season, qualify for many people's overpaid list. But for every one of those actors and actresses, there are a thousand waiting tables and taking bit movie parts or regional theater roles awaiting a big break that never comes. "A lot of people are overpaid because there are certain things consumers just don't want screwed up," said Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation for Salary.com. "You wouldn't want to board a plane flown by a second-rate pilot or hire a cheap wedding photographer to record an event you hope happens once in your lifetime. "With pro athletes, one owner is willing to pay big money for a star player and then all the other players want to keep up with the Joneses," Coleman said. "The art with CEO pay is making sure your CEO is above the median -- and you see where that goes." What follows is a list of the 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S., in reverse order, drafted with input from compensation experts: 10) Wedding photographers Photographers typically charge $2,000 to $5,000 to shoot a wedding, for what amounts to a one-day assignment plus processing time. Some get $15,000 or more. Yet many mope through the job, bumping guests in their way without apology, with the attitude: "I'm just doing this for the money until Time or National Geographic calls." They must cover equipment and film-development costs. Still, many in major metropolitan areas who shoot two weddings each weekend in the May-to-October marrying season pull in $100,000 for six months' work. Yet let's face it; much of their work is mediocre. Have you ever really been wowed flipping the pages of a wedding album handed you by recent newlyweds? Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon they're not, but some charge fees as if they're in the same league. 9) Pilots for major airlines Captains with 12 years of experience earn up to $265 an hour at Delta, United, American and Northwest, which translates to $250,000 a year and more for a job that technology is making almost fully automated. By comparison, senior pilots at low-fare carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue make about 40 percent less. That helps explain why their employers are profitable while several of the majors are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The pilot's union is the most powerful in the industry. It commands premium wages as if still in the glory days of long-gone Pan Am and TWA, rather than the cutthroat, deregulated market of under-$200 coast-to-coast roundtrips. Because we entrust our lives to them, consumers accept the excessive sums paid them, when it's airplane mechanics who really hold our fate in their hands. 8) West Coast longshoremen In early 2002, West Coast ports shut down as the longshoremen's union fought to preserve generous health-care benefits that would make most Americans drool. The union didn't demand much in wage hikes for good reason: Its members already were making a boatload of money. Next year, West Coast dockworkers will earn an average of $112,000 for handling cargo, according to the Pacific Maritime Association, their employer. Office clerks who log shipping records into computers will earn $136,000. And unionized foremen who oversee the rank-and-file will pull dow
  • by anaphora (680342) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:45PM (#7436865) Journal
    Once again, with formatting this time :P

    SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- Almost no one in America would admit to being overpaid, but many of us take home bloated paychecks far beyond what's deserved.

    Fair compensation is a relative term, yet human-resource consultants and executive headhunters agree some jobs command excessive compensation that can't be explained by labor supply-and-demand imbalances.

    And while it's easy to argue that chief executives, lawyers and movie stars are overpaid, reality is not that cut and dry.

    Corporate attorneys earning $500 an hour and plaintiffs lawyers pocketing a third of a class-action or personal-injury settlement certainly don't go hungry. Yet many local prosecutors and public defenders are hard-pressed to pay off law-school loans.

    Hollywood stars, making $20 million a movie or $10 million per TV-season, qualify for many people's overpaid list. But for every one of those actors and actresses, there are a thousand waiting tables and taking bit movie parts or regional theater roles awaiting a big break that never comes.

    A lot of people are overpaid because there are certain things consumers just don't want screwed up, said Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation for Salary.com. You wouldn't want to board a plane flown by a second-rate pilot or hire a cheap wedding photographer to record an event you hope happens once in your lifetime.

    With pro athletes, one owner is willing to pay big money for a star player and then all the other players want to keep up with the Joneses, Coleman said. The art with CEO pay is making sure your CEO is above the median -- and you see where that goes.

    What follows is a list of the 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S., in reverse order, drafted with input from compensation experts:

    10) Wedding photographers

    Photographers typically charge $2,000 to $5,000 to shoot a wedding, for what amounts to a one-day assignment plus processing time. Some get $15,000 or more. Yet many mope through the job, bumping guests in their way without apology, with the attitude: I'm just doing this for the money until Time or National Geographic calls.

    They must cover equipment and film-development costs. Still, many in major metropolitan areas who shoot two weddings each weekend in the May-to-October marrying season pull in $100,000 for six months' work.

    Yet let's face it; much of their work is mediocre. Have you ever really been wowed flipping the pages of a wedding album handed you by recent newlyweds? Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon they're not, but some charge fees as if they're in the same league.

    9) Pilots for major airlines

    Captains with 12 years of experience earn up to $265 an hour at Delta, United, American and Northwest, which translates to $250,000 a year and more for a job that technology is making almost fully automated.

    By comparison, senior pilots at low-fare carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue make about 40 percent less. That helps explain why their employers are profitable while several of the majors are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

    The pilot's union is the most powerful in the industry. It commands premium wages as if still in the glory days of long-gone Pan Am and TWA, rather than the cutthroat, deregulated market of under-$200 coast-to-coast roundtrips. Because we entrust our lives to them, consumers accept the excessive sums paid them, when it's airplane mechanics who really hold our fate in their hands.

    8) West Coast longshoremen

    In early 2002, West Coast ports shut down as the longshoremen's union fought to preserve generous health-care benefits that would make most Americans drool. The union didn't demand much in wage hikes for good reason: Its members already were making a boatload of money.

    Next year, West Coast dockworkers will earn an average of $112,000 for handling cargo, according to the Pacific Maritime Association, their employer. Office clerks who log shipping records into comput

  • by 3waygeek (58990) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:46PM (#7436892)
    The Straight Dope [straightdope.com] on in-flight irradiation -- I suppose your definition of "a lot more" is somewhat different than mine.
  • by jaaron (551839) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:47PM (#7436900) Homepage
    This article seems slashdotted, but there's a similar (same?) article on the CBS site: Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S. [marketwatch.com].

    Also, check a search on Google News [google.com]
  • mirror (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:48PM (#7436928)
    http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1016490/posts
  • by aggieben (620937) <aggieben@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:49PM (#7436930) Homepage Journal
    Just in case anyone cares, an FYI:

    "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt."-Abraham Lincoln

    The attribution is incorrect. This saying came from Proverbs 17:28.
  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:51PM (#7436967)
    Too bad the computer is what does the major work now on any modern jet-liner. You don't even need the pilot to land it anymore... Basically they are there as a backup to the computer system now.
  • by sparkhead (589134) on Monday November 10, 2003 @04:52PM (#7436976)
    Google cache [216.239.41.104]
  • by protohiro1 (590732) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:01PM (#7437064) Homepage Journal
    Wedding photographers! My god what a racket. I worked for a online wedding photography company and the top photographers contracted with us made $40-60k PER EVENT. One photographer I won't name routinely charged $40k for events that he didn't even bother to show up at. He sent an assistant. I am not making that up.

    And what do you get for that price? That's right. NOTHING. They show up and shoot. But they make you pay for the prints. >$10 a pop. And if you want an album? Well...thats gonna cost extra.
  • Airline pilots (Score:5, Informative)

    by grotgrot (451123) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:04PM (#7437115)
    They ignored how pilots actually get paid. It is based ENTIRELY on length of service with their current airline. When they start. it is around $13,000 a year (yes, really). And don't forget they often have to pay back for flight school. The longer they serve, they more they get paid as they move up ("seniority"). Their career can be instantly over failing the six month physical/medical. And that isn't failing like ordinary folk would. The health standards are significantly higher. Oh, and if they have to leave an airline while earning $250,000 a year and start at another, they really do start at $13,000.

    The pay is definitely broken, but it isn't really apparent how to fix it. If they were paid on timely arrivals or lack of crashes, then there would be an incentive to buck the system to improve those in dangerous ways. They can hardly be blamed for maintenance, weather, in flight emergencies with passengers or any other "performance related" means. So seniority/length of service it remains.

    So why do pilots fight so hard for their pay. Simple. When you have been making $13,000 a year and growing slowly until you eventually hit bigger numbers many decades later, you feel like you have earned it. And all the pilots who have put in a decade at low pay don't want the future rewards they have sacrificed for taken away. You should also be aware that very few pilots earn those big bucks.

    Check out the series of articles "Ask the Pilot" on Salon which goes into way more detail. Quite frankly you would be insane to become a pilot for the money.
  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:07PM (#7437146) Journal
    8) West Coast longshoremen

    In early 2002, West Coast ports shut down as the longshoremen's union fought to preserve generous health-care benefits that would make most Americans drool. The union didn't demand much in wage hikes for good reason: Its members already were making a boatload of money.


    Maybe they make too much money. But ports shut down because of a lock-out, not a strike. Everyone that writes about this and wants to paint them in a bad light casually fails to mention that. If the Pacific Maritime Association feels that the Longshoremen's Union has too much of a stranglehold on the ports, perhaps they should consider that the PMA has too much of a stranglehold on the ports. Monopolies suck. Amen. One monopoly has managed to take money from the other monopoly. You think consumer prices would fall if the PMA managed to break the union?
  • Athletes' Pay (Score:2, Informative)

    by PimpDaddie (144603) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:09PM (#7437173)
    I think it is important to point out that the article does not criticize athletes high pay in general, but more specifically players with long-term contracts that under perform. Their examples are an NBA player and a MLB player. I want to point out that contracts in the NBA and MLB are guaranteed. That means if the player gets hurt, or just doesn't perform the team still has to pay them the entire contract. So even if you fire Shawn Kemp you have to pay him the $100 million. Now contrast that with the NFL, the league with the highest chance of career ending injuries. NFL contracts are not guaranteed. If you are cut by a team you are only guaranteed that years money, if after the roster deadline, and your signing bonus.
  • by Asgard (60200) <jhmartin-s-5f7bbb@toger.us> on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:21PM (#7437320) Homepage
    The money that doesn't get spent gets put into some sort of financial instrument, which then is put back into the economy in the form of money that can be used as capital. It certainly doesn't just 'dissapear' unless the owner keeps it all in larg bills under their mattress.
  • and #11 is... (Score:1, Informative)

    by NoNine (690801) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:30PM (#7437442)
    Everyone making over $100,000 per year!
  • Re:#10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by TopShelf (92521) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:42PM (#7437608) Homepage Journal
    Not to mention the fact that photographers are usually on their own in terms of providing benefits like health insurance, etc. A friend of mine is a wedding photographer, and 1) he doesn't rake in obscene $$$, and 2) the guy has a genuine talent for taking great pictures...
  • by ianscot (591483) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:51PM (#7437728)
    Salon.com's "Ask the Pilot" columnist has pointed this out a few times, and I think Michael Moore has a chapter about it in his "Stupid White Men" book. Pilots just don't make good money, not until they're high up on the list. Don't forget the money they pay for their own training while they're pulling in a grand $14k a year during those first few years.

    Somewhere there ought to be a comparable list: jobs you assume are worked by well-heeled professionals, but that are actually basically full of blue collar people who're doing it for other reasons. Pilots are there because they like the work. It sure as heck isn't the money. Paramedics -- you think they're in it for the money? They get hardly anything for the job they do, those people are in it for something else.

    (I'd rather read my imaginary article, frankly. This one's just a bitchy, demeaning piece of pop tabloid crap.)

  • Re:#10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by khendron (225184) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:51PM (#7437737) Homepage
    I've never really understood the whole "wedding photographer" thing. At my wedding, every single guest had a camera. My wife and I asked if people could send us copies of their best photos from our wedding, which is no big thing because most people would do that anyway. It cost next to nothing, and the photos are much more personal than you would get from a professional photographer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:56PM (#7437808)
    Overpaid? The HR people I met that are "fun fun" for employees, organize paintball events, X-mas parties and receives resume they forward to the boss makes 30-55K.

    I knew one incredible HR guy, good enough to do 200-350K; peanuts for what he did. He would be in a business 12 to 18 months, just long enough to 'clean-up'.

    The clean-up varies from getting rid of non-productive workers, re-organize the floor plant or (a lot harder) to disperse the "drug selling union representatives" to the four corners of the factory at different shift/hours attempting to disrupt illegal activities. Believe it or not a known drug-dealer cannot be fired if properly unionized, worst if he is in the union top representatives. Attempting to do so usually brings your factory to a near halt by a series of mysterious incidents and incredible amount of union related paperwork.

    I know of 2 jobs he did. In the first the business saved 1 Million on the first year alone, on the second the business saved 5M the first year. The third place the high direction (2000 miles away) decided to close the factory even if he wanted to re-organize it.

    I never met an overpaid HR, exception of founders who after a few years where shelved under that title.
  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Monday November 10, 2003 @05:57PM (#7437822) Journal
    Geez, I'm a wedding photographer and I WISH I were making $400-$1000/hour. Let me see, I usually spend about 3 hours with the bride before the wedding going over the shot list, eight hours at the wedding, and then another 40 hours or so after the wedding processing, retouching, editing, and color correcting the photos and then designing the album. Man, if I could pull in $1,000 an hour, I'd make $51,000 per wedding! Damn, that would pay off my $40,000 in photo equipment in one week, plus pay for my health insurance, studio rent, and advertising, and help me save for retirement! Oh, well, I guess I'll have to slog along here at $2k ~ $3k a wedding...
  • by mph (7675) <mph@freebsd.org> on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:14PM (#7437988)
    The point is, sports is not *productive* and therefore should not be unduly rewarded.
    Of course sports is productive. It's big business, earning lots of money (in most cases) for the team's owners, the stations that broadcast it, and so forth. The athletes are essential to this profit, and are compensated accordingly.

    Now, maybe you don't like that it's a successful industry, but luckily you don't get to tell me how to spend my money. Too bad.

  • by gregwbrooks (512319) * <gregb AT west-third DOT com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:16PM (#7438028)
    Do what I did: Pick the local daily newspaper with the best photos, and hire one of their photojournalists to shoot the event. Spend as little time as possible on formal photos, and instead instruct the shooter to cover the wedding as if it were a photo essay.

    Negotiate to get the negatives and contact sheets at the end of the gig, and go make your own prints.

    We ended up with a wedding album that's the envy of every couple that sees it, and we spent around $500 total. Oh, and having the negs makes it easier to archive the negs and slides on a CD-ROM.

  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:18PM (#7438055) Journal
    That's the other thing that everyone says when they want to paint the longshoremen in a bad light. And there's an easy answer to that one too: The longshoremen were happy to use new and better technologies in their ports, so long as they got a peice of the action. The PMA wanted to increase productivity and decrease headcount at the same time, and the longshoremen wanted raises.

    It's two monopolies vying for cash. Anyone who picks a side is selling something.
  • by HardCase (14757) on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:28PM (#7438176)
    You want to know why were in a recession? Its simple, really. The people earning that money don't spend it. Not because they're malicious, but because you *can't* spend $700M, not unless you're buying solid gold toilets every day, or something equally silly. Since the money doesn't get spent, it simply vanishes from the economy. The truth is that trickle down would work, if the upper 1% spent all (or even most) of their money. Since they can't, trickle down is doomed to fail, as is the economy unless money starts flowing *out* of Eisner et al, and into the general economy...


    There is no simple reason for why this recession started, but yours is incorrect. Perhaps the most significant reason was what Alan Greenspan called the "irrational exuberance" of investors in horrendously overvalued stocks and of the hordes of investors who chased businesses with pointless plans that just didn't stand a chance of success. The collapse of the "dot com bubble" was one domino of many that led to the last recession. Companies that appeared to be successful, but really weren't caused investors to lose faith in the market...suddenly many people didn't know whom to trust. I suppose the WTC attack also played a role as well. Those are a few.


    Consumer spending, which is what you're talking about, is only one part of what drives the economy. In fact, it's what's brought the economy out of the recession. Another part is corporate spending. And that's where the bulk of the nation's gazillionaire's money goes. You're right, it's pretty damn hard to run through a few hundred million dollars quickly, but that's not how things work. Michael Eisner doesn't have hundreds of millions sitting in a room in his house. His money is in the bank, in stocks, in bonds...in investments. It's kind of like the movie "It's a Wonderful Life". The money isn't sitting in a pile somewhere...it's part of the loan that built some houses, part of the bonds that built the school down the road, part of the venture capital that created jobs in a startup, part of the stock issue that enabled a company to expand into a new market.


    The money doesn't get spent on consumer goods, but it certainly gets spent...several times over. Because part of the money that Eisner put in the bank went into that home loan that employed a contractor who bought a pickup from a car dealer that bought new computers from the local computer store that paid its utility bill to the electric company that paid a lineman to install a new transformer... If that's not trickle down, then what is? Economics is a system with a ton of parts. It ain't simple. Shucks, it isn't so hard to figure this out...just note that the amount of money in circulation is a small fraction of the total US GDP.


    -h-

  • by neonfrog (442362) on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:47PM (#7438388)
    I am not a wedding photographer, but I work in the photo industry and make a product that wedding photographers use.

    They are NOT, as a general measure, in the $40-60K per event range. They CAN'T be. Do the math. How many average wedding couples can hire that single aspect of their wedding at that price? As you said, only the TOP photographers. As the article says, the ABOVE AVERAGE photographer would have to do 20 double wedding weekends in the $5000 range per to pull down $100K. I don't know any that actually do that.

    Most of the ones I know personally make anywhere from $10k A YEAR (they sideline with photo store or other jobs) up to maybe $40-$60k A YEAR.

    I hired someone for my wedding last year. I'm lower middle-class and we felt supremely pinched to consider the $2500 we paid and we got to keep all the files (totally digital) to print as we wanted. He was the most expensive of the several we looked at, but he was considered the best by many. The photographer did 2 weddings that weekend -- and nothing else all week, but that was a PRIME weekend. Assuming he got another 12 PRIME weekends a year (and I think that would be stretching it) he'd be pulling down $60k. Then he'd have to pay assistants so just whack a nice percentage out for that.

    And he'd have to deal with:

    * Mother of the bride
    * Cheap brides who won't pay for prints because they read "how to scan" in Wedding Dress magazine
    * Rude wedding guests trying to steal her shots or triggering her flashes
    * Missing ANY shot that that anyone thought he should have gotten
    * Disposable cameras on the table
    * A VERY FULL WEEK editing
    * Employing assitants
    * Moving 10's of thousands of dollars of heavy photo equipment around in ANY weather, usually in a tuxedo
    * And much much more

    For most of these guys, this is their whole business. They have to pay rent, taxes, utilities and all of that for their studio OUT OF their service price in addition to their normal salary for keeping the lights on at home. Most of the other jobs listed had no such restrictions.

    The product I make comes in two flavors. The cheap one and the expensive one ($350 and $600). The cheap one is extremely popular in the wedding industry. The expensive one is not a great seller in that market. Why? Research shows that it is too rich for the average wedding photographer's blood, even though it is a god send for him as far as function. The guy I hired had the cheap one.

    My practical day to day dealings with this industry do not back up the conclusions reached in that article. Sure, some make the big bucks, but EVERY WEEKEND? All the time? ALL OF THEM?!? I'd be curious what the average PER YEAR PER PHOTOG was for the wedding service you worked for, not just the cream of the crop.
  • by spruce (454842) on Monday November 10, 2003 @06:48PM (#7438399) Journal
    Professional athletes aren't government employees, so the government doesn't have any say in how much we the people are willing to pay them. If we follow your logic, why don't we take some of the cash from the bonehead CEO's who don't deserve what they get, or rich kids who don't ever work a day in their life. They obviously don't deserve the money they have.

    Just because you don't see the value of entertainment sports provide doesn't mean the rest of us should be punished by having less motivated less qualified athletes.
  • Supply and demand! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Merk (25521) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:09PM (#7438596) Homepage

    Don't these idiots know anything about where the salaries come from?

    Wedding photographers make big bucks because people want to make sure they don't get awful, amateur pictures. Everything associated with a wedding is expensive because (at least in theory) it's a one-time event that means a lot to a lot of people, so they don't want to risk being disappointed. Being a wedding photographer requires not only photography skills, but also the ability to deal with angry people (if your pictures don't turn out) and stressed out people (even if they do), as well as taking the same picture over and over again. Because of that, there are few people who want the job and can do it, so the pay is high. Duh!

    Luxury home real estate agents act snobbish towards people who visit luxury open houses because *that's their job*. They want to drive up the price of the home, and make it seem exclusive, and part of that is making sure that if you're allowed to look at a luxury home, you feel privileged! Sure, they make high commissions, but dealing with the type of people who could buy or sell a home like that takes more skills than just the ability to pass a real-estate test.

    Motivational speakers make money because people want to hear what they want to say. Pro athletes make money because people want to watch them play, or buy things they endorse, etc. Often the incremental cost for each of these things isn't huge. Say on average everybody who watched Micheal Jordan play baskeball over his career bought three pairs of "Air Jordan" sneakers and 100 happy meals. That's relatively cheap for them, but since he gets a cut of millions of people doing that, he gets money. Now sure, you can argue with whether people should be buying things an athlete endorses, but that's their value system. Sure, a pair of "Air Jordan" shoes is expensive, but it's a status symbol, and maybe it helps in their social circle. Paying a thousand dollars to listen to a former president speak is similar. I'm sure nobody thinks they're honestly learning amazing new things they could never learn otherwise, however they get to rub elbows with other people. It's networking, it's status, so hwo do you put a price on it?

    Most of the other jobs are either about unions and the undue power they have, or about jobs that take a lot of time and effort to get. (Orthodontist takes years of schooling, mutual fund manager takes years of getting certified as a financial analyst, etc). As for the unions, I think it's accepted that they're pretty corrupt and wield undue power, but eventually that power will fail. As for the jobs that take years to get, most people aren't willing or able to spend almost 10 years after high school to get a very boring, but very high paying job. Those that do can command high salaries.

    It's all about supply and demand. I hope this was meant as a fluff piece, because if this is the kind of serious market analysis these people do, I'm not impressed.

  • It takes more than just snapping photos to be a wedding photographer.

    Just to elaborate a little on why the photographer is paid so much:

    • Equipment: cameras are not cheap. You could easily bring $20,000 in equipment to a wedding. You can't just go in with a single camera, you know... you need AT LEAST three. Two always on you, with different lenses, etc, so there's never a risk of needing to change film at a critical moment. You also take pictures of important events using two cameras, in case one malfunctions, the lab screws up the processing, etc. A third camera is in the car in case on of the two primaries fails. Of course, that's the simple scenario, assuming you're just shooting one type of film. Add to that digital, or slides/prints, and you need more equipment. Want decent lighting? Have an assistant (who has to be paid) follow you around with a second flash (wireless). Oh, and you probably have to buy (no, not rent) your own tux. Furthermore, you're providing the film.
    • Experience: knowing how to pose the bride isn't easy. I'm always amused when watching them get arranged. There are things that the average person just doesn't see, like position of hands, what's in the background, lighting (and proper placement of shadows!), etc.
    Yes, you can do it yourself with your little disposable. But I can guarantee they'll look crappy. You won't know why the pro's pictures look better, because you're not trained to see it. All you'll know is that gut feeling that he did something you didn't.

    Of course, I'm slightly biased, having a father who is a pro photographer. I'll acknowledge that there are many crappy photographers out there. But it's an art, so don't attack the entire field.

    Finally here's my proof [uiuc.edu] that I am qualified to make the above statements. ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:33PM (#7439487)
    Thanks for saying this. I'm a wedding photographer and the notion that the majority of us are overpaid is ludicrous.

    Someone mentioned 6-8 hour days. That's a small to medium booking. This year about a quarter of my weddings were 12+ hours. Think about that.

    We're on our feet the whole time and we're lugging a ton of gear around all over the place. Prep is in one location, drive to the ceremony, drive to the portrait location and then get over to the reception. Aside from the logistics, the practice of photography (at least how I practice it) is one where the eyes, body and mind are constantly engaged looking for those great moments, the right light, making the best of bad conditions (think mixed lighting, irate guests, cramped venues, bad weather, etc).

    It takes me a couple of days to recover from a wedding - if this still doesn't make sense, imagine holding over five pounds of metal, plastic and glass in front of your face all day *plus* secondary and tertiary camera bodies/lenses on either shoulder.

    I could go on and on. So it's hard work, so what you say? Well, let's talk about what we're doing during the week: meeting potential clients, meeting existing clients, designing albums, handling print orders, editing the last wedding we shot, shooting engagement portraits, business administration, accounting, equipment maintenance, training associates, training ourselves, updating marketing materials (websites, proof sets, sample albums, tear sheets, collages, mini albums, etc), dealing with vendors who aren't delivering, and on and on.

    Then there's costs associated with equipment. One thing that often gets overlooked is how much money is spent on gear. We're paid to take pictures and we spend the money to ensure we can do that. That means at *least* one backup for every piece of critical equipment. I take the job pretty seriously, so I've got backups for my backups. That's at least three complete systems for all the focal lengths I need. That's camera bodies, lenses, batteries, brackets, strobes, etc.

    OK, so it's a real job, I get it - but it doesn't sound much harder than lugging your gear around, taking pictures, dealing with clients, investing in and maintaining equipment and handling the business side. Sounds like the stuff most businesses have to worry about. And that's the point, it's a business. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that assume it's not. Instead, the common belief is that you show up with a camera, take pictures, head home and during the week you're spending all the money you made. Not so.
  • by sgasch (239701) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:35PM (#7439503) Homepage
    In fact in a recent USNews article (about the country's most overpaid CEOs) Gates was listed as the #1 most underpaid CEO. I think me makes something like $350k / year.
  • by twitter (104583) on Monday November 10, 2003 @09:42PM (#7440161) Homepage Journal

    After a silly attempt to justify not including salaries of CEO's like Jack Welch, mega lawyers and other thieves, they go for worker bees and people with real and scare talent:

    1. Mutual-fund managers
    2. Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts
    3. CEOs of poorly performing companies
    4. Orthodontists
    5. Motivational speakers and ex-politicians on the lecture circuit
    6. Real estate agents selling high-end homes
    7. Airport skycaps
    8. West Coast longshoremen
    9. Pilots for major airlines
    10. Wedding photographers

    The only time someone is really overpaid is when they are in a position where competition is artificially restricted. One or two of the above fall into that catagory, but the people picked on are at the bottom of the food chain and have little responsibility for their position.

    It's amazing to me that someone would publish such an article while we are flooded with corporate scandals like Enron or Tyson. The other day I was reading a story about how a former Tyson excutive directly stuck the company with more than a million dollars for his wife's wedding party and another million or so from his outrageous salary. His single birthday party is equivalent to eight to ten of the so called overpaid yearly salaries above.

    I envy people who are actually making enough money to have a stay at home wife, educate their children and retire at a reasonable age. These things should not be confined to worthless upper management. Everyone who actually works for a living deserves as much. If there were more competition in the world, things would be better for everyone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2003 @11:05PM (#7440769)
    The longshoremen make so much money because they do a dangerous job. Longshoremen have a higher death rate than police officers and firemen, due to a mixture of accidents (dock accidents are unbelievably common) and continuous exposure to diesel fumes.

    Imagine standing behind a diesel truck (crane or other piece of heavy equipment), in the space between two stacks of TEUs for 8 hours a day. You could smoke 10 packs of cigarettes a day and not be exposed to fumes like that.

    Longshoremen arent being paid for their work; they're being paid for their lives.
  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @12:05AM (#7441145) Journal
    I'm not saying you have to feel sorry for me. I think it's a pretty fair wage. If anything, though, it's too low, for the amount of stress you take on. Running a business is very stressful, in general, and wedding photography is doubly hard...there are no do-overs. You either get the shots or you ruin the most important day of some poor girl's life. I was merely responding sarcasticly to the guy who thinks I make $1,000/hour.

    Oh, and by the way, that's $40 to $60 per hour of real work. Not like people who say they work a 40 hour a week job, but then they come in half an hour late every day, and leave half an hour early, take an hour and a half for lunch, and are sure to spend 45 minutes a day chatting with their co-workers by the water cooler. When you're self employed, when you're not working, you're not making jack.

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