Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Question of the week

What's your opinion on the 500 dollar photographer? Or the 1300.00 Judge Joe Brown photographer that I saw posted all over facebook?

Where to begin-
Well, I am no longer a 500 dollar photographer (about 4 times that) although in this industry even that is looked down upon by some. I always try to see both angles when I see lots of hub bub via twitter or facebook about pricing...if you know me, or have booked me, you know I have a very unique approach to how I price and why I do so. Is it to cheapen this industry? Absolutely not. Is it because I lack experience? Absolutely not.

So lets start with a 500 dollar photographer. I think you have to start somewhere and it is my guess that someone charging 500.00 is doing this as a part time gig, probably didn't go to school and probably doesn't spend a ton on equipment....Do I think this is bad? Absolutely not. See because I know that usually (although not always) you get what you pay for. If someone books a photographer charging 500.00 because it fits their wedding budget- it's probably because it fits their wedding budget (and not because they are "Manitoban", or "cheap skates" or "shopping for price". Most people know, and in most cases, more money buys you a better product and as a client, they are more than willing to deal with perhaps a lack of experience, cheaper lens and *maybe* a finished product that isn't as good.

Do I feel the need to harp on a 500.00 photographer
absolutely not
Then I try to wonder why someone would
Is it the "love of" and trying to maintain the integrity of this industry
Is it the knowledge of what it takes to take and make a good photograph and a need to protect the consumer
Is it because it would be nice if everyone charged *big bucks* than no one would feel the need to defend a higher price

You see, I don't feel that I have to defend a higher price. I am not threatened at all by someone charging 500.00. Because truthfully, it hasn't harmed my business one bit. I realize that a client looking for someone charging 500.00 isn't even looking at someone charging 2000, or 4,000 or even 10,000. I also realize that when myself or someone in my industry looks at a photograph and analyzes the lighting, depth of field and composition- this is not what many regular clients see. A lot of people see a cute pose of someone jumping in a field and it doesn't go beyond that if that's what "sells" them into a booking so be it. If a client isn't interested in the likes of burnt corners, actions, a 1.4 aperture that makes a photo creamy, back up equipment, experience....then I am okay with that.

You gotta start somewhere

In my first year, I received an email from a fairly popular and expensive photographer.
There was no subject line- I opened it, and it read

"Wow, you're cheap. Do you make any money?"

it wasn't even signed- a small generic signature with a link to a website was scrolled across the bottom
I will never forget it
I was naive- I emailed back. And I won't bore you with the details of an email dotted with cautions and "words of wisdoms" regarding cheapening the industry with low prices and digital files that are given away which made it hard for "real" photographers to make a living. Also the thoughts that " I wasn't a professional and shouldn't pretend to be"
And that's when I realized- I was never going to EVER have that perception of anyone charging less than I or that I would EVER feel the need to ask someone to raise their price for any reason.

You gotta start somewhere

Now, I will tell you in most cases the more you pay WILL DEFINITELY get you a higher end product- BUT NOT IN ALL CASES. I do a lot of newborn and family sessions where I see a ton of wedding albums-
Do I at 1900.00 see myself short?- most definitely.
I see albums that people have paid a lot of money for that are a little sub-par but I also see a ton of amazing work as well.

I always say if the price isn't listed- it's unaffordable. But that is necessarily true. I have a friend who purposely does not list any of her prices because they are fairly low and she doesn't want the industry to label her as being a lower end or a mid-range photographer- and that is just silly.

So here's the scoop

Charge whatever you want to charge

Pay whatever you want or can afford to pay

The beautiful thing about the province we're in is that it's Buyer Beware and there are all sorts of price points available

And for a laugh, watch this Judge Joe Brown :-P
Take from it what you will
I personally think it's more about being an idiot than being priced at 1300.00. On another note, last year my price was 1350.00 and I know what an f-stop is, have a tri-pod, shoot in churches without flash photography and I think everyone of my clients thought their photos kicked a$$

PS- I love all you photographers- and I have come to respect all different price points. So don't email me suggesting a price hike- and I won't email you asking you to lower yours :-P

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