This goes out to all of my creative friends and peers out there. I’m sure you can all relate.
I’m sharing this because my friend, another photographer, got burned 2 days before an event by people he knew for another photographer! People, this is our livelihood! This is how we make a living. He could’ve made GOOD money on that day but instead saved it for non-deserving folks. I know how he feels, truly I do, I’ve been there. I’m asked why am I so expensive, why do I need to sign a contract and a model release? Why do you copyright your images?
Well you asked, now I’m going to blog about it. And I’m hearing more stories like this all the time. Don’t be that person. Thank you
The other day I posted this on my Facebook page:
I am part of many Facebook groups, and on one of them, the admin is trying to stop others from the constant selling from everyone who posts. Posting just to sell and run is not just boring and tiring, we don’t get to know the person behind the business. What is it that drives you? What do you want? Here’s what I want: consistant work, clients who value what I do, and come back to me and not just go to the cheapest or a photographer who does it for free. That’s not how you build business relationships. I understand that we all have bills to pay, the same goes for me and my family. But I got into my career not just because I have a B.F.A. in Photography but it’s something that I knew instinctively since I was very little. Thank you www.deirdreryanphotography.com
I want to start a conversation, is investing in professional photography for your business worth it?
Let’s go back in history with me for a few moments or more. While I was re-building my business, I had worked for free for credit, producing what I thought to be great images, and looking back I can see where I have improved. But, I was going with the art direction or my own limitations for whatever reasons. This is called portfolio building and for some I was paid and told that I would be hired back and then to found out that instead they went with someone who did the remaining work for free. Or other clients hired someone else, or friends, neighbors, of mine would use other photographers or a chain like JC Penny’s.
When you are doing everything in your power to build a business and make money to support your family….this hurts. And you know it’s happening because, well, Facebook…hello. My friends know or should know me well enough to come to me, and I will cut them a huge break. Or if you’re a business and I started something, and it’s tough for you as well, at least hire me back and let me finish the job. I understand, all you needed to do was ask, talk to me, right? Don’t let me find out on social media. This has happened more than once. Reaching out to those who have the power to help me get in front of small businesses in my area and beyond haven’t helped me either. But I see them use other photographers, which is fine and the work is great. However when I do buy local or support small businesses, I don’t get the same respect with repeat customers from said other businesses.
This is a stab to the heart and you try so hard not to take it personal, it’s business. But you can’t help it. We’re artists and creative people tend to be sensitive. It sucks, we put on a brave face and a huge smile every day. Our work is out there for the world to judge and see all the time. Yes, I did ask for this career and I do love i, but I know that I’m not the only one.
So, back to the original question: is investing in professional photography worth it?
Let’s look at the real estate market first. Now I understand that the salespeople and brokers must pay for many of the expenses of marketing properties up front unless I’m wrong. But I’m seeing a lot of horrible cell phone or point and shoot camera photos that are literally thrown up on the site. It doesn’t do the properties any good and as a possible buyer, I know that wouldn’t entice me. And if I was the seller, frankly I would be more than upset. From my research, it seems that real estate photography is still inexpensive for what you get but it’s anywhere from $150-$300 in my area. And what about real estate agents still getting their headshots taken with a cell phone against a white wall in the office?? Please hire someone that knows what they’re doing, invest in yourself, make others take you seriously. I’ll admit, I’m not a real estate photographer, but I know for sure that I wouldn’t use a cell phone to sell any property.
For non-profits, yes you need professional photography to get more donations and marketing to get better reach for your cause. But pay the photographers, we know there’s money for us somewhere. I’ve done my fair share of work for credit and let me tell you something….nothing has come out of those.
A professional photographer wrote a post and gave a creative license for everyone to use it.
But, but….I can’t afford a professional photographer, you’re all so expensive! I can just take a fancy Canon or Nikon DSLR with a pop-up flash or my cell phone, that’s all we need.
Look, I get it, in fact we all do. And if that’s all you can do for certain things, go ahead. However let me tell you something when you put a camera on auto. Those photos may or may not come out. My daughter was in a 5K earlier this year and they had a guy taking pictures. He didn’t have a flash and when I heard the shutter, it sound very slow.
I used my mirrorless camera, because I’m a mom first, I was there taking pictures of her and this time I didn’t bring my huge Canon gear like I had to last time, I had to because using a cell phone is not acceptable. And oh this year it poured.
Well, I saw the pictures that the guy took, they posted them on Facebook, and most were out of focus, blurry and I was right about the shutter speed being too slow. I felt bad for the parents who thought that they were getting great images. But this is a classic case of you get what you pay for.
Be Your Own Brand
For businesses you want images that fit you and your brand.If you use stock images, your customers are not going to see who the real people behind the business really are. Also by using a stock image, there’s a big chance that someone else is using it as well. Tell your story by being unique, work with a photographer, bounce ideas off each other and have fun with it.
Why am I so expensive?
If you ask around, I’m expensive, or some people think I’m very reasonable for the support that I give my clients with what I provide for them. Some of my friends who are photographers charge way more than I do and think that I should do the same. And I’m very close to it. Many factors come into play, but first is this:
I run a business. When you have a business, you pay quarterly sales taxes, insurance, extra bills, leases, and oh if you think that digital is not as expensive as film, you’re very much in the wrong here. There’s the time we spend editing the images. We’re constantly having to upgrade our camera bodies as they don’t last as long. Cards get corrupted, computers need upgrading, repairing or replacing. Websites aren’t free, same with domains, and since I’m a pro Canon user, I pay for a service to get discounted repairs and cleanings. Is that worth it? Yes, because last year I had to have 2 flash hotshoes and the top of my Canon 5D Mark III replaced…$480. Without the discount it would’ve been double that. Oh and don’t forget that we’re constantly backing up files, that costs money too on hard drives and the cloud. Credit cards charge fees too. I have a CPA. A copyright lawyer. Bills for the car, healthcare, daily living expenses, networking events, marketing, copyright and usage fees, oh and there’s my experience.
Let’s talk about my experience.
How much is your time worth? When you work with someone who takes a longer time and is not able to give you what you want the first time, with the quality you need, the creativity and customer experience behind what I do. Do you want to miss deadline and get sub par work? How many times have you gone into a place like a restaurant and said,”Hey, I love your food, I’ll pay you half of what you’re asking for. If I like what I’m eating, because I’m an established business and I’ll come back and refer you to others.” Sounds nuts right? But what I’m saying is if you ARE an established business then you know the value of what I do already. I mean you don’t want to say, go to a deep discount plastic surgeon or lasik eye doctor right? So considering what I charge, for what I do, I’m well worth it.
There will be people who will not like this post, and that’s fine. I don’t like it either, however there are many things that I’ve had to explain over and over again to others and I wanted to get it out in the open. I’ve worked in this field with all men who talk rough, so in turn, I’ve had to play that game to survive at times. In the end, I know who my target market is and is not. I’ve come too far to give up, I’m not a quitter. My goals are clear, and I need to keep moving forward.
My next post will one of answer these questions:
Why do I need to sign a contract and a model release? Why do you copyright your images?