I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from new photographers asking questions about how I started, and any tips I have for getting into business. I will say that there is SO much information out there and available for those just starting. When I was starting, there were not blogs and blog and sites upon sites and even tutorials about photography, editing and the business. Established photographers were really tight lipped and very hesitant in sharing their information. (which now I understand why) Over the last 6 years the industry has been saturated….When I moved to my small town, I was among a handfull of professional photographers, most of them had studios, but really there were only 2 others doing natural light, on location, photography, and they were doing it part time!
A few weeks ago someone posted on Facebook “do you know a photographer who specializes in newborns and is reasonable? ” This was local…and there were over 30 names listed of “photographers” NONE of them I had heard of. My jaw was dropped! Photography has become the new Tupperware, people think that there is a low start up cost, that you can just start taking pictures and posting on Facebook that if you make $50 for that…and do that 3 times a week..WOW, you’ve got a pretty good part time job!
PLEASE THINK AGAIN! If you love photography, then please think about what you are doing to this industry! The biggest issue is the price over digital images…
- First: I believe that people can charge what they want
- second: I do believe that new photographers shouldn’t charge the same as those who are seasoned
- Third: I believe that digital images have devalued our work, our art, and cheapened our industry!
Remember when your parents dressed you up and you headed to Olan Mills for a family portrait? It was a big deal! Then your folks got a little post card in the mail saying, come see your pictures. IT WASN”T INSTANT, there was anticipation, a wait, it became more valuable. The problem with the digital age is that people think
DIGITAL = INSTANT= EASY (which couldn’t be further from the truth) because we have educated the public that digital means instant, quick, easy, we have DEVALUED our product, our service!
I recently did an online survey and I was shocked that the majority of people feel that a fair price for a session (my time, my talent, my artful eye, my scouting locations, my consolations et) and for digital images (which I will most likely sit on someones computer somewhere and forgotten in a year or sooner) was under $150. I could go on and on as to why that thought process is CRAZY…but lets get back to the Olan Mills experience…
Your family went back to their studio, and started to look at proofs (not digital images) hold and touch printed proofs. From there you ordered. Most of the time, you couldn’t leave there without at least a $500 investment (for prints…maybe 2 to 3 poses) why should it be any different for digital images???? Just because something is digital should not mean CHEAP or INEXPENSIVE. In fact it should be MORE!
Digital Images are NOT easy…(if we are doing them right) They are NOT cheap (again if handled the right way)
When we offer digital images we are offering the following:
- we loose the ability to make a profit on that image (which for me is how I make a living, how my family eats, what pays for my studio rent etc) I’m so tired of people feeling that photography should be lower than any other art industry. Why is that people feel (and photographers feel) that we should be valued at pennies?
- we cheapen what we do (we devalue the art of what we do) We say, it’s not valuable, there is no skill involved, no education, no expense etc
- we make it look easy, even if you are just taking the images, running some actions on them and loading them on to a flash drive, it’s NOT EASY, it takes work, it takes time and we need to be paid for that. For photographers like myself who spend hours and hours with each client, it’s NOT EASY…its WORK
- we send the message that EVERYONE can do it! NOT everyone can! That’s just a fact, and it’s okay! Just like not everyone can pick up a paint brush and paint a beautiful painting or throw a pot on a potters wheel, NOT EVERYONE can take a beautiful picture! I do agree that the digital age has made that easier and more accessible for so many, like myself. AND I don’t think that I would be a professional photographer if I wasn’t a digital photographer, but that doesn’t mean its EASY!
So am I saying that we shouldn’t sell digital images? NO, please hear me out! I think digital images are awesome, I love it when clients purchase them and I know that the majority of people out there want digital formatted images (its the age we live in) BUT please place a value on it! Please know (if you are a client) that it’s not just slapping the images on a CD …for me there are hours behind every image you see! I talk more about that here
I get asked time and time again…”how much for the digitals” and my response is this “I”m a fine art photographer, which means that I value and sell art for my clients walls and homes, art that they can share with friends and family, art that they will look at over and over again and it will bring back memories” That doesn’t mean that I don’t offer digital images too, but for my studio the wall art, the prints is what is most important, digitals come with those beautiful pieces!
I know this is such a touchy subject, but my goal is to help educate those who are working really hard, who want thriving and sustaining business, who want to build a brand..you have to begin by valuing your product. Yes, it may mean that you don’t do 15 sessions in a month, but work smarter not harder!
So with that, I have this sweet little (or should I say BIG) bundle in my studio last week. You can view his birth story here! Totally got my baby fix with Mr Welsey!