Stop and think just for a moment. Is lowering your prices really the right solution. Photography is a tough industry, not only do we have to try to educate the general public that what we do is slight different to what their uncle, brother, sister, father etc… who has just bought himself/herself a DSLR with a big lens does, we also have a war raging from within our own community.
I heard a story on the weekend about a couple of wedding photographers that are struggling to get work. So much so that they have discounted their rates down to under the $1k mark for a full day just to get some bookings. It gets worse, a lot of their bookings get cancelled a couple of the weeks before the wedding because the couple have found someone who will do it cheaper!!! I know there are wedding photographers out there that have a package for under $1k but that usually is for about 2 hours or so worth of photography, not a full 10+ hour day and all the editing and post processing that goes along with it.
It happens in the Portrait photography industry as well. We keep discounting out prices, lowering our works value till it becomes the norm. TFP is great in certain circumstances, a group of creatives getting together to make some amazing work that will benefit all who were involved. However, how did it become the norm for a “model” to message a photographer saying they would love to work with them and their only idea or concept is a swimsuit shoot on the beach? There is nothing wrong with swimsuit shoots but when you receive 10+ requests from “models” a week wanting you to shoot them for free or assuming you will shoot for free it can bring a photographer to breaking point very quickly. What’s worse is if they don’t mention a TFP and you tell them your price, some don’t even reply.
If you look at the workshop industry there are some even more crazy expectations. Teaching is actually pretty difficult there are the hours and hours spent developing a course then you have to be ready to answer some of the most unusual questions. Not to mention dealing with different experience levels (those who think they are advanced when perhaps a beginners course would have been better suited) and of course equipment. You start to see full day workshops popping up for $50! Or Camera Clubs expecting their members to only pay $20 per person. I’m all for giving a discount to camera clubs, in theory it should be easier to fill a class, your market is there, people who want to learn and you are offering a discount because you don’t have to spend as much time marketing the workshop.
You then have those who have full-time jobs, who are amazing photographers and they get asked to shoot a wedding for example. Instead of asking around what the cost of a wedding would be to shoot they offer it at a rate that they are happy with which is in most cases extremely cheap. This news spreads through the bride ranks and suddenly that price is what people expect to pay.
Stop and think for a minute. What if your lively hood depended on photography? What if that was your only form of income? How would you feel? For some of you this will be all to close to home. The argument can be made that the pro photographer needs to market themselves better, educate the customer on the differences and that is true, but what happens when you get an amateur who shoots at an extremely high quality level happy to shoot for a fraction of what it would normally cost because they have a full-time job.
There are some amazing amateur (those that aren’t doing photography as a full-time job) photographers out there that might not think they are doing any harm? I’m not saying don’t shoot if your friends ask you or if an offer to shoot comes up, I’m saying for the sake of the photography industry ask around and find out what the average price would be for said job.
This isn’t an attach on those awesome amateur photographers, camera clubs, models or anyone really. This is simple a post to make you sit up and think for a moment. We all need to work together to create a sustainable photography industry, and we need to start working on it as soon as possible.