Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography What is the Value of a Good Photograph/Photographer?

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  • #19011

    I am in transition from photojournalism to running a regular photography business and it’s been quite difficult.  Firstly, the reason I am being pushed out of my job with a newspaper is because the company that publishes the paper is using iPhone courtesy photos and photos taken by their reporters.  The new editors of the paper have no respect for good photography; they just want a picture. So why pay a photojournalist when you can have your reporter shoot with his iPhone or Point and Shoot camera?

    Anyway, I am finding out that in this day and age there is a lack of respect for photography (I mean REAL photography).  Everyone thinks that they’re a photographer!

    Yesterday I put together an estimate to take some food photos for a local restaurant to use on their website (I’ve become very proficient at food photography) and they replied with, “Can’t you do better than that [moneywise]?  Maybe our staff can take some photos?”

    Honestly, I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about their reply!  Would they ask the electrician to lower his fee and offer to have their nephew help out?  Would they as a plumber/carpenter/etc. to lower the fee and mention that they could do some of the work themselves?

    I have also found myself in the position of being taken advantage of by another local restaurant who hired me to do some office work for them. They pay me monthly to deal with emails and other odds and ends. However, recently they have asked me to “just take a few pictures” here and there. I ended up taking many photos which they are using on their Facebook page and for their marketing. And I get no pay for these.

    Yes, yes, I know. It’s my own fault. I am letting these people take advantage of me.

    I’m so depressed about all this. I am a good photographer and a terrible business person. Period.

    #19012

     I am a good photographer and a terrible business person

    Me too…..

    #19013
    Trainwreck
    Member

    I’m sorry Rise.

    When I see something like this I get physically sick to my stomach. I love photography and it puts my Heart on the Ground to see it cheapened and diluted by what you are describing. Sadly, I see it way too much.

    The bane of the digital world.

    #19014

    Thanks Trainwreck.  It’s a crying shame, really.  People are now used to seeing their photographs on a tiny iPhone screen or on a tablet and they think the pictures look great. Try printing some of these things and they’re just garbage.

     

    #19016
    Trainwreck
    Member

    I doubt that this helps any Rise, but a while back I had a potential Client come to me wanting some of their hand blown glass art shot. As I’m sure you are aware glass is one of the more difficult subjects to shoot correctly and they had seen some work of the same nature I had done for another Client. They wanted jury submissions, retail website, and print media. No clue what would be required for anything (file types/sizes/jury requirements, nothing). They just wanted me to provide all their answers and fulfill those needs.

    So cool! I told them I would be happy to shoot for them, handle all their legwork, and submit a finished package to them ready to fulfill all their requirements. I submitted itemized pricing for approval including time already spent liaising with their printer and website guru.

    You would have thought that I had killed their dog on purpose in front of their children! They would get what they wanted done and they would get it done substantially cheaper than my rates.

    Well, they couldn’t find another photographer (good or bad) that would even touch a glass assignment.

    So in their infinite wisdom they decided to DIY it. These are glass artists, no knowledge whatsoever about photography. You can imagine the (if you’ll pardon me saying) trainwreck that ensued! They took the garbage to print, website, and jury submission.

    After a time they noticed their sales slumping. Increased calls from potential customers on the retail end wondering what the hell color a certain item was because they couldn’t tell from the image. Returns because they couldn’t tell what the hell color it was to begin with. Increased denials from juried art shows due to sub-par image submissions in the wrong format and size, and the print aspect was just too horrendous to even consider!

    Back they came wanting what they had originally wanted from me in the first place.

    So cool! I told them I would be happy to shoot for them, handle all their legwork, and submit a finished package to them ready to fulfill all their requirements.

    It would cost them exactly double the original quote and it would be done on my deadline, not theirs. And I have never missed a deadline (especially my own)!

    And just to show there were no hard feelings I tossed in an 8×10 print of each piece I shot for jury gratis for them to hang in their studio.

    What is the value of a good photograph/photographer?

    Well, they found out the hard way!

    Hang in there Rise.

    #19020
    emf
    Member

    That’s dreadful rise. I feel the same way, well I don’t know about the first bit of your last sentence but I don’t have a business head for sure. I have been doing a lot of free shoots to build my portfolio, I have had no issue at all doing this for free, but recently people have started getting in my ear saying I should charge, which I haven’t wanted to at all. Then I arranged a shoot of a friend of a friend, not planning to charge but she asked me how much. After much deliberation, I said a ridiculously low price and I didn’t hear back! It makes you feel like crap. Another friend of a friend said she’d be interested in me doing a free shoot of her newborn, but I couldn’t use the images in my portfolio?! But that she would ‘spread the word’. The only reason I’m doing free shoots is for my portfolio.

    Maybe this is just a transition that this medium has to go through since the arrival of digital and hence the fact that photography has never been more accessible to people. Maybe it’s like when microwave ready meals came out and everyone thought they could cook. Eventually people realised they tasted like crap and started going back to restaurants again, if that makes any sense lol! Don’t lose heart.

    #19021

    However, recently they have asked me to “just take a few pictures” here and there. I ended up taking many photos which they are using on their Facebook page and for their marketing. And I get no pay for these.

    Haven’t read all the posts yet, but my first thought is that you seem to be in control of their web presence.  If you didn’t already, make up a new set of the same photos, with your watermark tastefully in the corner of each, and repost them.  Free advertising.  If someone else contacts you about photos for their business, suggest a rate for the photos they use.

    Several have said “Photography is a luxury item.  If you can afford your rates, you are not charging enough.”  Of course, this assumes you can shoot well enough to be considered a luxury item.

    #19051

    Trainwreck, thanks for sharing your story. And yes, I’m familiar with the difficulties of photographing glass. I have had to photograph wine bottles on location…what a nightmare!

    #19052

    Cameraclicker, I’ve been doing a lot of reading online about the changing business model for photographs/photographers. It seems that most people want digital files PERIOD.  Even if they order some prints from you, they still want the files.  Trying to figure out what to charge people is a nightmare of such proportions that it makes me want to throw in the towel!

    The other day I gave an estimate on a job for a local restaurant. They balked at my fee and asked me to lower my rate. They said that maybe they could just use their own photos for their website (food photos). Rather than negotiate with them, I sent them a picture they had taken of some of their food (snagged from Facebook) and a picture of food that I’d taken so they could have a visual of the value of properly done food photography.

    Within minutes I received an email back from them saying “Okay! Let’s do it.”

    Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words!  🙂

    #19053
    Trainwreck
    Member

    Now you’re talkin’ Rise.

    That was the point of my story. Not that glass is difficult to shoot.

    If your business depends in any way on photography (web, art shows, magazines, or menus) then it pays in the long run get it done right the first time.

    I know I’m not telling you anything being a food shooter, but if I sit down in a restaurant and the menu looks beautiful and shows their food at its best, then I will probably be back. It will probably even taste better. I have been unable to decide what to have because everything looked so good on the menu. If the menu looks bad when I first sit down, I’m not so inclined to even place an order.

    An good business tactic that worked.

    #19057

    Hey Trainwreck,

    Yes, I know that the point of your story was about the value of a good photographer. I couldn’t help injecting my dislike of shooting glass.  🙁

    Thanks for your comments!

     

    #19058

    I did a lot of work for a company, mainly because what they made was shiny and almost impossible to photograph. The woman that I dealt with was great and they gave me regular work for years.

    Then she got pregnant and replaced by a guy who didn’t have a clue!

    The first thing he did was email me to say that he’d seen our prices on our website and could we do it cheaper. The second thing was to say that he wanted BETTER photos and he sent me some pics from a competitors site, to show me how it should be done.

    The pics he sent were AWFUL, full of reflections, burnt out high lights and shadows.

    So I emailed back saying that,  as regular customers they didn’t pay the same rates listed on our site, and just what was it that was BETTER about the pics.

    Turns out that he liked them more, because they were close ups. The fact that they were dreadful and I hadn’t done close ups because I was told not to by his predecessor, didn’t seem to matter. This guys job title is head advertising and  digital media. But I now have to supply images in low res web sizes, because he doesn’t know how to resize them.

    The point of my story, A picture is only worth a thousand words. If you know what a picture is meant to look like.

     

    #19065
    EyeDocPhotog
    Member

    Rise, there’s a lack of respect for EVERY professional – doctors, photographers, painters, lawyers… fill in the blank.

    A major contributor to this unwelcome phenomenon is the internet, an entire world enveloped by the technological equivalent of the Unabridged Encyclopedia Britannica updated in micro-seconds and searchable with the speed of thought.

    We all know that a little information is a dangerous thing, but the dangers from the internet are often not recognized by the non-professional layperson. Since it offers unprocessed (and unregulated) information, the folly would be akin to taking the medical boards with the benefit of Google and no formal medical education – since the exam is mostly cognitive and rely very little on rote memory, the attempt would fail miserably.

    Unfortunately, however, many people in the world do not see this as the case. In fact, they perceive the reverse. Not a day in my career as a physician has gone by (only in the last 5 years or so) without a patient calling my office regarding the diagnosis I just made and wanting to know why I didn’t offer the therapies / medications DIFFERENT from those discussed in the exam room, most commonly the eye drops which will ‘cure’ a cataract.  Doctor Google speaks highly of this remedy, I understand.

    And so it goes. There will always be the shade-tree mechanics who repair their own vehicle or the tinkerers who try their hand at refinishing cabinet doors, but these folks learned by the school of hard knocks how ‘to do it right.’  But the internet allows the instant gratification generation a rare glimpse into perceived perfection (I watched a youtube video on it last night, how hard can it be?) These folks don’t want customer service or for anyone to explain – well, anything. They have a smartphone, it’ll tell them how. Or why. Or what. Or how long.

    It’s a DIY world. Until it’s serious. Problem is, lots of folks wait until it’s too late.

    #19078
    cassie
    Member

    EyeDoc, I totally have to agree with you 100%.

    I have a client from back in the day that wants to work with me again (I teach horse riding lessons). The mom is trying to see if I drive to her barn or they get a trailer and come to my barn and use their horse, if it would be cheaper than using one of my horses.

    Of course the answer is a flat no, just because she’s using her own horse, at the end of the day my horses have still gotta eat. And I’m sure it will be interesting when she finds out that if I drive out to her she won’t be able to get the discount I give people for prepaying for lessons in bulk to cover my extra travel time and gas.

    And this is probably the number one reason I haven’t started shooting for people for business at all. I’ve shot for a few friends and family members and that’s it. Luckily you don’t run into as many cheapskates with horse riding lessons because almost everyone assumes it is going to be expensive (rightfully so) and we aren’t oversaturated in our market. I can still get all the work I need (want) doing that without having to worry about getting pushed out by someone doing it for much less money.

    #19085
    nesgran
    Member

    I know I’m not telling you anything being a food shooter, but if I sit down in a restaurant and the menu looks beautiful and shows their food at its best, then I will probably be back. It will probably even taste better. I have been unable to decide what to have because everything looked so good on the menu. If the menu looks bad when I first sit down, I’m not so inclined to even place an order.

    I don’t know about you but if I was handed a menu with pictures on it I would walk out of the restaurant.

    Everything needs to be done on the cheap it seems. I just got asked if I would shoot my girlfriend’s sister’s wedding. For free obviously… I am going to do it for them as otherwise I know the only photos they will have are a couple of blurry iphone photos but I won’t agree to it before I’ve managed their expectations. They are people who simply don’t appreciate value of good photography and they would be prime candidates for hiring a fauxtog. Apparently they’ve completely run out of money and now the wedding will be in their grandparents garden (it isn’t even a nice garden). Blergh, I basically can’t say no and I’m sure they are going to be really grateful but it still irks me a little that they just assumed I would do it. Oh well, at least for once the missus can’t complain I’m taking lots of photos

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