Friday, March 30, 2012

Heart and Soul

Recently I was able to participate in a photography workshop with the renowned Sandy Puc'.  She said this, and it really struck me.

"We don't just take pictures, we capture art.  Inside of this image is the magic.  It is my heart and my soul..."

I love it.   

That's exactly what it is.  We're not selling paper.  We're selling art.  We're selling ourselves and our time and our talent.  A successful (and fiesty!) photographer said that when she has someone say, "Why can I get an 8 x 10 print from the machine for $1.99 and you charge $150 (yes--that's right!!), she says, "Would you like a $1.99 print?  I'll get you one."  And she goes to the back, gets a blank 8 x 10 piece of photo paper, and hands it to them!  Her talent ON the piece of paper is what the client is paying for.  I don't think I'd have the noive do that--but she made her point!  

These days anyone can purchase a good dSLR camera.  However, a custom photographer not only has a good camera.  They know how to make the human form look its best.  They understand lighting.  They understand posing and grouping people in a manner pleasing to the eye.  They understand the technical aspects of photography and how to maximize their equipment--they switch off auto! They're constantly working and learning to develop their craft and creativity.  They know how to work with people to make them comfortable in front of the lens.  They give their individual time and attention.  They have experience using post processing editing tools to reduce blemishes and make clients look their best.  They use technology to create fine art pieces from the images by working with colour, textures, overlays and more.  They use a quality lab so portraits are printed on the best paper and mounted to ensure durability and beauty for years to come.

Yes, going to a custom photographer gives you a completely different experience than going to a chain.   

Does a chain  studio go out with you to a cool location like an old train?  
Then spent the time adjusting the colour and texture  to make a work of art?

I came across this blog post that puts it into words way better than I can.  The writer says it beautifully, and I hope anyone who has questions about cost will read it. There are a number of photographers in this economically depressed area, and we're aware of the limited financial means in this town.  It's like walking a tightrope to determine how to meet costs to stay in business with what is happening economically here while not undermining what photographers do as artists.  As such, photographers here are not nearly charging the international standard for photographers---not even close.  As for myself, when I reviewed my pricing this week I realized that I'm charging just what I need to to make what I do worthwhile and still cover the costs of equipment, software, time, lab, travel, and the other expenses associated with running a small business, not to mention what my talent and skills are worth.  I certainly don't come remotely close to charging $150 for an 8 x 10!! 

I'm passionate about what I do.  I love it!  It gives me joy.  But if I'm going to do this, I have to guarantee a certain return to keep going and growing and sharing what I love with others.  There are amazing photographers here, and it saddens me that people would think that the phenomenal, artistic work of a custom photographer is only worth $1.99.  It saddens me even  more to think that perhaps due to their own insecurities and/or negative feedback regarding pricing that some photographers might think their talent and time and experience is worth less than it really is.  It saddens me to know of photographers no longer doing what they love to the extent that they could be because they've either devalued themselves or have been devalued by the perceptions others.  

So--remember that when you hire a custom photographer (ie. not a studio department store chain and not Uncle Joe who happens to have an expensive camera), you're hiring someone who is going to give you their undivided attention, their talent, their knowledge, their individual style, and hours of their time to work with your portraits to make them unique and beautiful.  

Indeed, custom portraiture IS a work of (he)art!

No comments: