Recently I quoted for a commercial job. I love commercial work.. it’s an opportunity to be extremely creative and present something really dynamic and exciting to the client. After all, we all know that good images can make or break a product.
Previously, someone had done some photographic work for this person for very little money. The reason for this was because that person was employed full time in another job and didn’t need the money. He was just doing it as a favour.
On the phone the client and I talked about how photography could really bring his site alive, how we could inject a lot of fun into his site, how we could promote the fashionable side of his business, how also we might also expand other ideas to the buyer through photography… He was keen until…
He said he wasn’t sure where the value was I was offering… and could I show him how spending money on hiring me would give him what he wanted. I asked what he did before he entered retail and he said he was an accountant. I asked if people asked him to prove his worth before they gave him their accounts and he laughed and said no. So what makes me so different I asked?
Well, how come the other guy could do it for him so cheaply and I was more expensive? I explained… this was my day job, not just a part time thing. The other guy was just a pal doing a favour, which was nice…but I’m running a business, with expenses, and insurance, and equipment…
I ran off some quick test shots as he’d requested and emailed them through to him that afternoon.
Then I called to follow up the next day and it was then he said he’d decided to find someone else who charged less, even though he loved my shots. In fact he really liked them so much, that he’d really like me to do the job, but he couldn’t really afford me.
He waited for me to drop my rate to not much at all, but I didn’t. I let the job go.
The problem is that many people do photography for ‘not much money’. It’s ok when you’re starting out to offer low prices if you are portfolio building. That’s fine. But you have to make that much clear.
The reason people can’t see the worth in photography is due to a few issues…
…whether you ‘Shoot and Burn’ or whether you print your shots.
And that given you’re ‘digital’, then you don’t have to buy film and pay for processing.
In the olden days before digital cameras came out, photographers used film and it was normal to have shots printed and paid for by the client.
Then digital came along and the client now thinks that as you’re doing this ‘cheap’ thing, then you can burn all your images to a disc and give it to them.
That’s all well and good and who wouldn’t want all their shots on a disc, ready to print?
But are you completely comfortable with that as a photographer? You have no control over how they’re printed, the print quality or their presentation. That’s your reputation on the line right there in the misrepresentation of your work. Are you happy with that?
Recently someone requested I just ‘send through the unedited file’ so they could do their own edit on it. I don’t personally ever send out unedited work because then all the control that I have and the style I work hard to achieve is taken by someone else, and changed. Do I want my work being used in that way? Do I want my name on something I haven’t edited? Nope.
Secondly, let’s make it clear. Whilst digital photography has ‘cheapened’ things, a digital camera has a shelf life. It needs to be upgraded once that processor has taken so many shots. Digital cameras come with their own issues. Upgrading firmware on them, cleaning, maintenance, upgrading lenses, insurance, software to process etc costs hundreds of dollars. It’s not cheap! Even as a hobby, it’s one of the most expensive ever! Making earrings is much cheaper I found recently. And as creative. ; )
It’s a quandary for all pro photographers how they handle this issue.
Some shoot and burn for a low price. Others charge for the rights of the CD by putting a package price on it. (Smart!) Others put it into the price of the package they offer.
There’s truly no right and wrong of it in the end and you have to try to strike a balance between giving everything away but still maintaining the worth that you put into your art work.
Love to hear your comments.