Another pro photographer with no business sense

Started Aug 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
Senior MemberPosts: 1,366Gear list
Re: Another pro photographer with no business sense
In reply to IcyVeins, Aug 13, 2012

We all have our friends and neighbors who have a certain view about us. Whether we like that view or not is irrelevant. What is important is whether that view is "Bob the famous photographer" or "Bob the accountant who takes great pictures". If it is the latter, you will have a very hard climb up the ladder to get fair prices from those who know you because you are just "good old Bob the CPA" They will pay the right price for their tax return but regard your photos as nearly value-less. OTOH if you are "Bob the famous photographer" they know that if thy hire you you will not be cheap.

The photographer in question wants to be "Bob the famous photographer" (BTFP)but is going about it in the wrong way. Your annoyance at his response is because you believe the the avenue to success lies in converting those who don't view you as BTFP by acquainting them with your skill through a discounted price. SKILL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PERCEIVED VALUE. Skill is a commodity that is available on every street corner for a nickel. What is not available is the intangible that makes your work worth more than the others.

Tell me, who will get more respect; The fellow who shot last month's Vanity Fair cover shooting your portrait with your iPhone or your neighbor who is a Firefighter shooting your portrait with his new Nikon D800 and six strobes in his garage studio? The same phenomenon is at work with the guy in question. The people see him as generic and pretentious rather than skilled and gracious.

What he should have done is taken a quick photo with a promise to email the shot when he got back to his "studio". During the chat-up he could casually let slip some anecdotes about notable jobs he has photographed possibly joking that the subject would not be as difficult as (insert name of famous person here). I am not suggesting lying but rather creation the image of a busy, successful and glamourous life that is gracious enough to focus his considerable skill on the FREE photo he has taken. They will almost certainly never be clients because his clients pay, at a minimum, a half day rate for a photo session. What it does is establish an image that can be gossiped around to your advantage.

Discounting photography in the hopes that people will be exposed to your talent and be eager to pay full price is misleading. It attracts the bottom feeders who will clog up your time with unprofitable jobs that yield zero positive word of mouth.

What you CAN do is to have a promotion to benefit a charity. For instance, some of my colleagues support a home for battered women. They sell portrait sessions at a discounted price with ALL the proceeds going to the shelter. They market to the board and their supporters (prosperous people) and gain stature in the community as a successful photographer who can afford to give back in the same way a local philanthropist can. This gives them permission to mix in certain social circles (the circles with wallets) where they can be seen as BTFP and not the CPA with a camera.

As for "the market is changing" that is baloney. Anyone saying that has not been in the market long enough. I started shooting commercially in the 80"s and even then old pros were complaining about the flood of newbies and their AE-1s. Most of them disappeared as they do today because they always believe that they can discount their way to success.

Interestingly, the path is to success is plain and pros tell others all the time yet the newbies all turn to discounting and wonder about the "secret" that the successful photographers know as they fail and go back to their day jobs. The secret: IS NOT DISCOUNTING.

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