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Why not undercut the competition? Who gets to determine what you charge for a photograph or session? Do you care that you are hurting others with your pricing? Because I don’t.
Ok, you have to be asking where in the world is this coming from?
I read a post recently on Guy Tal’s blog that talked about one photographer’s idea of spending hours at a national park to get the “right” shot and then, while resting, watching a car pull up to a scenic view, roll down the window, and take the picture with an iPad before driving away. Guy explained how the iPad photographer never experienced the place. That made me think.
Didn’t both photographers experience the scene? Yes, but in their own different way. Guy sitting on the back of his car enjoying the smells, sounds, and feel of the place and the iPad shooter who came, saw, shot, and went. One is not better than the other; just different.
About the same time I had read several posts from different authors stating that the Uncle Bob photographers who were shooting senior session, weddings, and such for thousands less than “professional” photographers were hurting the business with their cut rate pricing. I have been to many workshops and conferences where the speakers* claimed that by charging rock bottom/cut rate prices, the Uncle Bob shooters were hurting the industry. That made me think.
Why not shoot for the lowest price? At least they are working and getting paid. The two individuals viewing a landscape, one by taking his time and experiencing the sights and sound of the setting and the other with a drive-by feeling, are both getting what they want out of the situation. Does the drive-by photographer hurt the experience of the individual who takes their time to enjoy the details of the area? No. Why not do that with pricing?
Mr. Professional photographer charges 10-20 thousand dollars for a wedding and/or 1-2 thousand for a senior or family shoot. Uncle Bob will shoot a wedding for two hundred dollars and a senior session for $75. Both are making money from their photography, but in many people’s minds Uncle Bob’ low pricing is “hurting” the profession by devaluing photography.
How is he devaluing photography? He his making what he wants to make for what he does. If that works for him, great. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to make a fortune in photography and I just wanted to shoot to make myself happy, I stopped caring about what others thought. I shoot for me.
If I can make a couple of bucks, great. If not, that’s ok too. I took the above image at my school’s production of Les Misérables. I got $200 for shooting the dress rehearsal. I gave away the images to who ever wanted them. Why? I had fun. Making a few bucks didn’t hurt.
Like news organizations and mass media, the photography business is changing. How many newspapers are shrinking in size (if they even still exist)? Why? Because we get our information from the internet, Twitter, and smartphone apps. Look at the TV networks; they are competing against HBO, STARZ, Cinemax, etc. and now Netflix is putting forward a whole new model of watching series with Lilyhammer and House of Cards. Newspapers and the major networks will either adapt or they will disappear because there are plenty of alternatives to what they offer.
It’s the same with photography. Uncle Bob can get the same equipment as Mr. Professional. Uncle Bob can learn how to use it through the internet and practice. And Uncle Bob, if he want’s to, can offer most of the same products as Mr. Professional. As long as Uncle Bob is comfortable with what he is charging, you have no right to complain. It’s his business. Mr. Professional, adapt or disappear because Uncle Bob is offering an alternative.
Like a lot of things in life, the business of photography is changing. Get used to it.
*I always found it interesting that the people telling us to stop undercutting the “professionals” were the ones who were making the most money.
Posted 8 months ago. 2 comments
The Going Pro podcast is hosted by Skip Cohen and Scott Bourne, two pillars in the photography community. I have been listening to it since the first episode and usually there is some good information in each episode. But in episode thirty three, every idea was important and common sense.
They talked about how to behave as a professional. What they really did was remind us about how we are supposed to act with everyone we deal with in everyday life. They talked about respect.
How do you show respect?
Dress appropriately. Don’t over dress. Don’t under dress. Dress according to the both the situation and your personal style or brand.
Have a good hand shake. Firm. Confident. Look the person you are greeting in the eye and say their name. And then remember their name and use it in the conversation.
Focus on the person you are talking to. Don’t be looking over their shoulder for someone bigger and better. You choose to walk up to that person and start a conversation. Don’t waste their time.
Show respect in what you call them. Don’t assume a first name basis relationship upon the first meeting. Especially if they are a well established individual in the industry or they are older than you. If I was meeting either of the hosts (and I have), I would refer to them as Mr. Bourne or Mr. Cohen until they said to call them Scott or Skip. Not because they are older (I’m not sure they are), but because I respect what they do and what they have done. Calling someone by their honorific is a sign of respect.
Honor peoples gifts. A business card is a gift. If someone you are dealing with gives you a business card, take a moment to look at it, read it, and complement them on some aspect of the card. The Japanese have a ritual about business cards and take the exchange of business cards very seriously. If someone thinks enough of you to give you a business card, show them respect by actually looking at it.
Don’t interrupt. Even if it is just to say hello, the person you want to talk to is already in a conversation, don’t think your presence is more important than that conversation. I am guilty of this and it is something I am working on correcting. I don’t want to wait to say a thank you or just acknowledge a great contribution, so I interrupt with a quick thank you or such. I will be waiting from now on. It’s polite.
The small, seemingly inconsequential points above have been mostly lost in today’s society. We are all about being cool and casual. We have forgotten that there is a proper, polite, and respectful way to deal with people.
If you remember how to show respect, you will get more from the relationships you are trying to form. Both in your personal life and in business.
Besides, it’s the right thing to do.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Posted 2 years, 8 months ago. Add a comment
Those who are following me regularly know that I am trying to start a business. I might not be doing so in a fast pace, but I have my time line and I am close to keeping it.
I am reminded once in a while that photography businesses are based on image. Not just the quality of your work, but also the image that you project to the public.
This last weekend I visited an art fair and was looking at just the art, but the way that vendors presented their art. Most of them were very professional with booths that were well organized and the artists were dressed appropriately for their work and the event.
But there were a couple who just didn’t project that same professional quality. They had food and drink at their booths.
One individual I saw had a plate of half eaten food sitting on the table with their art. As you walked up, you looked at a table of nice artwork and a plate of food. Honestly, it was pretty disgusting and I noticed that a lot of people were not visiting their exhibit.
The other individual was constantly drinking. Not alcohol, but soft drinks and cups of water. He would greet his visitors with a cup or can in his hand and never set it down. When I entered his area, I got the impression that he would rather I wasn’t there so he could finish his drink.
I understand that people have to eat and drink, but you don’t have to do it in a manner that projects an unprofessional image of yourself. After seeing the two I mentioned above, I started looking for food and drink. It was an eight hour show. There were lots of artist who ate and drank during the day, but they kept their food and drinks back in the corner, away from the the customers. They only ate or drank when it was slow, there were no customers, and they could go back and steal a bite or two.
As I observed the different behaviors of the artists, I realized that your image is not just the images you produce, but also the image you project. And that small, seemingly insignificant things can ruin how you are perceived by people.
Hopefully, this makes you think about how people perceive your professional image.
Posted 3 years ago. 1 comment
Last Thursday Tuesday, I went to the OC SMUG holiday mixer. Ok, it was actually the LA, SD, OC SMUG mixer, but it was held in OC.
Usually the SMUG meetings are about business or motivation. the last meeting had Jasmine Star speak about netmaking. Not networking, but netmaking. She talked about getting out of her shell and into the photography community; learning and helping as much as possible. it was actually very powerful and made sense. I have been trying to do that since then.
Basically stepping out of my comfort zone, I have been trying to be active on different forums, websites, and in a few meetings/get-togethers. Trust me, when I said it was out of my comfort zone, it is WAY out of my comfort zone.
I’m usually the one who stands near the edge of a group and waits for someone to talk to me. Now, I am trying to go and introduce myself to people and talk to them. It is working.
I took a Torye Cooke of PVC Photography (a student of mine) to a FEO (For Each Other) meeting at Dane Sander’s studio about a week ago. It lead by Jen Disney and was about pricing. IT WAS AMAZING!! Jen let the discussion go, but kept it in the realm of the topic and let everyone have their say. Plus, she’s a good photographer.
People were very friendly and very knowledgeable about the subject. Plus, they shared. It was amazing to watch and fun to participate with such giving people.
The best part was when Jessica and Robert of Jessica Elizabeth Photography, started talking to us. We had talked to them once before at an OC SMUG meeting and they were very nice. Out of the blue they asked Torye and I if we wanted to shoot with them during an engagement shoot in the middle of December. I was caught completely off guard by that request. Why would anyone want to have me shoot with them? Of course, we said yes. Why? I need the experience.
Suddenly, I started to figure out how this interacting with others might help me in the business and that brings me to the OC SMUG Holiday Mixer.
Again, with the same student, who was VERY nervous, we went to the mixer. There I forced myself (and the student) to actually mix and talk with the people we met. And we met people.
We talked to Lori and Keith Anderson for sometime. I left Torye and visited with Gabriel Ryan and Chris Becker. I met Gabriel at the FEO meeting; his knowledge of photography pricing and the business is incredible. After that I went back and talked to Jessica and Robert about the shoot and hung out with them for the rest of the evening.
The talking part has never been hard, it was always the introducing myself as if I have something important to say and to add to the conversation. I am learning how to do that.
Here are a couple of bad (as in VERY BAD) pictures of the mixer.
Posted 4 years ago. 1 comment
This is going to be a great month. I have three events planned that I am really looking forward to attending.
The first is a photographer’s day at Bodie State Park. I discovered Bodie in late June and fell in love with it. I find the fact that a town of its age and location is still standing. As an environmental science teacher, I like looking at the town and wondering what it must have been like to live there with all of the waste, trash, and other cast-offs created by placing several thousand people in close proximity.
I like wandering around the town and wondering what it must have been like to live there during the height of the boom. The sounds, the smells, the people. It must have been overwhelming in some ways and really difficult in others. I’ve never lived through a winter in the area, but I have heard that they are REALLY hard and demanding. Summers are hot. Life was hard. And there are reminders and remnants of past lives. Everywhere you look there is something that was a part of some one’s life and I always wonder how they used it and how it affected their.
On photographer’s day, for $50, they open the park up at or just before sunrise and close it down at or just after sunset. This allows photographers access to the town and park without a lot of people and at a time that is most advantageous to the golden hour in lighting. I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can get from the situation.
A week after going to Bodie, I am going to the Morro Bay Photo Expo hosted by George Lepp. I heard about this on Twitter and signed up early this year. While there are several social events, I signed up for as many workshop/classes as I could fit into my schedule. I figure that for a relatively cheap price of $75, I was going to get as much photo education as possible, so I skipped the social events and signed up for lots of photography information based workshops.
The weekend culminates with a one day seminar lead by George Lepp. I am REALLY looking forward to this. I have been reading his column in Outdoor Photographer every chance I get and now I have the opportunity to listen to him in person. That should be educational. I’ll be writing more about what I am taking and why later.
Finally, on the 27th, I will be attending Dane Sanders’ REAL TIME COMMUNITY with Dane Sanders, Scott Bourne, and Chris Becker.
I have heard Becker speak before at a SMUG (Smugmug Users Group) and he is very well know for not only his photography, but his business prowess and community building skills.
I first heard of Scott Bourne on a podcast and over the last few years have come to respect Scott Bourne for his knowledge and insight into and about the photography industry. He is one of my favorite Tweeters and ALWAYS has something important and educational to say.
I don’t know Dane Sanders’ work well, but I know he is VERY well respected in the photographic community and I want to hear what he has to say about the photography business.
Of course I will keep you posted as the month progresses.
Posted 4 years, 2 months ago. Add a comment
They’re here!! My mini-business cards from Moo.com. No two are alike on the front and each of them is VERY colorful. The back is simple and gives my websites. I think it’ll be a good addition to some of the networking events I plan to attend.
I like the fact that are unique and get attention from those that I have shown so far. If you are looking for inexpensive, unique cards, I suggest you check out Moo.com. At under $20, they are a great deal. For an extra $7, you can get the felt card holder.
Posted 4 years, 2 months ago. Add a comment
Jeez!! Who would have thought that such a simple thing such as business cards could be such a difficult decision?
Other than the website, Nature Light Photography, I don’t think there is anything more important than your business card. Every get-together/networking event I have been to has required business cards. I have noticed that the people who are most respected seem to have memorable cards. Hence, the search for a good card is in the works.
Having said that, I am leaning to the ones at Moo.com. Why? Because the are reasonably priced and I LOVE the ablilty to put up to 50 different images on the cards. I think it is a way to get a sample of my images out to people.
I’m still looking, but I’m getting close to making the leap.
Posted 4 years, 3 months ago. Add a comment