This one is more a pondering evaluation rather than a specific business discussion. I know this is a hot topic of discussion on the many of the blogs and posts relating to the business of photography. I will take a stab at what I think the main areas are that relate to the Pro-Photographer, but before I do that lets decide what a Pro is… To me a pro is someone who takes consistently good technically correct photos and combines this with the creative side that encompasses composition understanding of lighting and light, can look at things in creative ways, and are paid for their services. I know that many would like to add the unpaid as well, but I would like to have this discussion relate to business, so money is an important element.
I do some work on spec, to drive some new business, I take the images, do some post processing and offer them up to the subjects for their use (generally students studying make-up artistry), this was generally done in my earlier days to get a name out for myself. What I found is that they generally did not want to spend money to build their portfolios, and settled for rather poor images take from their point and shoot, iPad or iPhone, that didn’t really represent their work. I am sure that many photographers have been in this situation. The examples below show what I think is a pretty good example of what I am talking about. The one on the left was taken by the student using an iPad and the one on the right was taken by me with a little post processing.
I am not sure I need to speak as to which one is more suitable for a portfolio, or which model is better represented. I know which I would pay for…how about you?
Now to the point. What the customer is paying for is as follows:
- Professional equipment, cameras, lenses, lighting, backdrops, studio which can range upwards of 20-50 thousand dollars or more.
- In depth knowledge of the equipment
- Technical skills that have become second nature to the photographer
- Years of training and experience (paid for with cash, blood sweat and tears and time)
- A level of creativity working with that is not generally in the vocabulary of a novice photographer.
- Knowledge and skill working with the subjects.
- A true belief that “good enough” is never good enough.
People who are professional Photographers choose to do so for many reasons, for whatever the reason I think it is only fair to pay them as the professionals that they are. You can settle with good enough, as a photographer good enough does not fit into my vocabulary.