I get it, we live in Dunedin, this tiny, cold and damp place where a huge portion of our population doesn't make all that much money. On top of that Dunedin has to have more photographers per capita than anywhere else I have ever lived. Portrait and wedding photographers galore, commercial and fashion perhaps not so much but hey, maybe the clientelle doesn't really exist for that here (except it does!).
Here are a few home truths I have learned over the past few years that may put a few things in perspective both for artists trying to make a living and for people who are trying to hire a photographer but don't understand why they cost so dang much!
Sometimes you're our only client that week
Expensive is a relative word right, I can live comfortably on about 30k, but perhaps you have more children than me, higher rent, a mortgage, health complications, the list goes on. Not only that, but I really only make money when I make sales, and while I may enjoy a high from time to time do not make the mistake of thinking there arent weeks where im eating porrige for breakfast and beans on toast for dinner...every day. This is the real world guys and as much as we love art and want to create it all the time, it just doesn't work out the way we planned, I'm sure you can all relate.
Part of being prepared for this is that like a waged or salaried worker who saves a portion of what they make, we creatives need to know what our sales need to be and we need to have plans in place that help us stick to a budget during those high times so that we can afford those beans and porridge in the lean times. It really is a numbers game and each photographer bases their prices differently; we have to consider how long it takes to edit each image, what the average photo shoot takes in terms of preparation and all those business tasks as well, and how much it really costs to live. As an example have a look at your rent, add your bills, and food for a week, and keep that number in mind. Now imagine you have a job where it takes 2-3 hours for the first portion and then it takes 1 hour or so per thing you have to do for a client before the job is finished. Now imagine that the client needs 10 things finished and they already took that 2-3 intial hours beforehand. That means it took 12-13 hours to complete the job for one client. Now you might say, hey well that means I could have 3-4 clients a week. But it doesnt take in any of the business overheads or the cost of finding those clients, and that does cost money. Very soon you're working for like $18 an hour before business expenses are even taken out and people are constantly telling you you're too expensive.
We are not expensive, we're just not as high on your priority list as other things... like food or a place to live
And again, that is totally, 100% understandable. One of the things I know, is that one of the most demeaning things you can say to a photographer...especially a good one is that they are too expensive. Saying someone is too expensive is like saying they suck, they are not worth that amount of money, they are not a good deal...
How many of you have a new Iphone, the latest tv, the car you fell in love with, or the home that was out of your price range...but you just had to have it. Even when things are out of your means, if you really love it, you just have to have it...9/10 you find a way to make it work.
Sometimes your perception of us being expensive is because you're on a limited budget and I get that, i'm on a limited budget too...which is why I take both credit cards and payment plans. But if it still isn't an option and sometimes it isn't, well., in that case I would suggest finding a more budget friendly photographer, there are plenty out there...remember how I was saying about Dunedin being ridiculously high on the photographers per capita thing. I wasn't joking. We have photography courses based in Dunedin which means that every single year there are new students out there trying to hone their craft, trying to get off the ground and get their name known. Most of them (but there is always an exception) probably don't have all that much experience, your pics from them (from my point of view) might suck, but you might love them, and in the long run that right there is all that matters. On the plus side, they are getting some much-needed experience, they are learning on the job and they are hopefully getting better at it in leaps and bounds, and you are making that happen. It is absolutely a legitimate option if you like their work, and they fit your budget. And while I might not appreciate their technical prowess at the start of their journey, I started there too and with any luck they might be where I am in a few years...still learning and getting better every day.
You're not really into the whole art thing
I actually come across this a lot, and heres the thing. To work with me, its probably best if you do have an appreciation for art. Specifically because I really am not here to documentationally portrait you or your family, I go out of my way to create art of you. As someone whose sole purpose in life is to create beauty in the every day, I am honestly not the one to ask to take an image of you standing bluntly in front of a white pull down backdrop, can I do this...yes I can. But I will die a little inside...and unless you hate me...no one wants that. lol.
So here is the "thing"
It's all about value
And everyone has a different perception of what good or great photography means to them. Sometimes going through the motions, doing a shoot that takes 20 minutes and you get a bunch of photos that all look fairly similar is really all you need, thats not me and thats fine.
I have this vision, where what I create is meant to be beautiful, thoughtful, and graceful, it takes time, it takes understanding and most of all it takes patience. What is this value I give to my clients...it is this vision, my understanding, my patience, its guiding you, it's not judging when you think your child is being a monster (trust me Ive probably seen worse), it's not pushing you to buy the images you don't like, it's a technical understanding that comes with experience and time...and gets added to with every passing day, it's making the process as easy for you as I can, because no one has time to waste, and finally, it's about providing you with images you really care about, and that make you feel something.
Really, a photographer that understands what you want and delivers it with as little fuss as possible AND makes the experience enjoyable, is worth their weight in gold, but it is up to you to figure out where paying those prices sits on your scale of priorities.
It is just like anything else, Im not here to demand you buy my services, but if you have ended up here, and read this far...maybe you like what I have to say, I am a real person witha real life and someone who genuinely cares about my work and the people I get to work with...this is why you will often find I have worked with people more than once.
So if you do like what I have to say, and you wouldn't mind getting to know me a little bit more before taking the plunge and booking a photoshoot or you just like my sassy attitude why don't you sign up for my emails I dont spam, but I do tell some pretty awesome stories.
And if you were just interested in my prices... contact me, let me show you why I could have some value for you before writing me off as too expensive. If youre still to shy to do that maybe my page on portraits could be to your liking...
Leave me a comment below if I struck a chord and don't forget to share!