Sunday, February 20, 2011

Protect Your Industry

Consider photography like any other industry. Although unlike most other industries, it is founded upon the many individual operators rather than the industries with massive workforces at any given workplace.   With this, it lacks structure and standardization that are certainly commonplace in other industries.  Not to mention that with improving technology, it is easier and easier for people to assimilate themselves into the industry, with or without any background education.


Where am I going here?  Well consider a grocery store analogy; what happens if everyone thinks they can go to their local grocer, and say 'Hey, lemme get these steaks for free today, and I promise I will tell everyone how good your butcher is!"  or similarly going to a hairdresser's for a cut and requesting highlights too at no extra cost.  It just doesn't work like that elsewhere and cannot continue to work like that in the graphic design industry.      




The problem stems from the fact that the value of graphic work will depreciate as more and more people give it away for free.  Simply because in time, people will come to expect it for free. To argue this point, some photographer's would say that they need to work for free for the exposure. So be it, everyone has been in that position.  But make sure those you are collaborating with understand the actual market value of the work you have done, even if you don't charge. 

An effective way to do this can be attaching invoices with every shoot.  Even if it has been agreed upon that no money will be exchanged, let your clients know how much your services should have cost them with an actual dollar value. 

I should really not even get started on the point of 'all the photographer does is hit the button' deal.   Time is money.  If that phrase applies to the client, the client better understand it applies to the photographer.  Its not even over when the shooting is finished - chances are for every hour of shooting, there is 2+ to do in post processing.  How about equipment costs?  Why doesn't everyone have a Canon EOS1DsMkIII?  It costs too much.  Photographer's have to pay for their camera too, now add on the wealth of lenses, flashes, modifiers, filters, tripods, lightstands, etc.  Again, that is just equipment used at the shoot, what about equipment used in post?  Computers, software, hard drives, DVDs, internet bandwidth, again - all extra costs that may not be apparent to your client.  Not to mention, none of those come cheap. Last but not least, how about all the time invested in learning and honing your craft to the point where it is today? Experience shows in photography.

I am not saying that no one should do anything for free anymore, or just crank your prices.  Just that you should be mindful of exactly what you are doing. 

Remember, there is a difference between cost and value. So protect your industry. Whatever you do with your costs is up to you but, make sure people still understand your photography's actual value.   Appologies if this post comes across 'angered', but it is a hot topic in the industry right now with lots of conflicting arguments, my goal was to share those arguments with my readers.

Something about owning your landscapes is coming up next..


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