"I'm sorry, we just don't have a budget for photography..."
I hate that my first blog post is a bit of a rant, but it's so relevant to the question of why I charge what I do for my services as a photographer that I feel it's appropriate.
I recently ran across a letter that a musician wrote in response to a request for his music to be used in a video project "FOR FREE". (Read the letter at the bottom of this post). I loved it... LOVED IT.
The same applies to photography in a huge way! It's amazing how many times I've heard "We don't really have much of a budget for buying photos" from MAGAZINES! While I doubt I will be as harsh with my response, the next time I get a request for doing what I do for FREE, or I hear "Oh that's way to high"... I most definitely WILL respond in kind.
I do not understand why it is that people think they should get things for free or for a reduced price. They certainly wouldn't go work for free (at least not the vast majority of people who actually have to pay bills). To ask for actual profit when it comes to photography is usually met with the same response as if you had spit in someone's face! Yet, just like everyone else who attempts to make a living in the photography business, we have household bills just like everyone does, and most of us have additional "business related" expenses that must be covered somehow.
For example... You tell someone you charge $3,000 for the wedding package that they want and their heart starts to palpitate! However, they never take into account the fact that when all is said and done you will have done a week's worth of work (including overtime) for a net profit of maybe $1,800 (if you are lucky) after all other expenses have been considered. Not to mention that you very well may not have 1 gig a week making that kind of money (certainly not on average for the year), therefore you monthly income is far less than that "$1,800 for a week's work"!
It's funny to me how people will go out to eat and never even flinch at the fact that an average soft drink now costs an in excess of $2 and the restaurant has MAYBE $0.25 in it. That's a ton of PROFIT (8:1) and no one gives much of a care. Try and sell a photo with a 3:1 profit margin and they will literally exclaim the horror of your greed!
I've heard it theorized that the reason people don't want to pay for photography is because everyone now has a camera and can take good photos. To me that doesn't jive. People can cook yet they don't mind spending 10x what it would have cost them to cook a meal at home when they go out to eat at a nice restaurant. No, it seems to me that the problem is a lack of respect for for the craft. A lack of respect for the amount of time (in years) to learn a craft. A lack of respect and consideration that the photographer has a family and a life too and would like to earn a living very much on par with their peers. A lack of consideration that photography is a business and has a multitude of expenses that most folks never even consider. Try getting health insurance as an independent business, paying your own self-employment tax, paying for all your own marketing and other business expenses and I think you'll see that a photographer who is "making" $75,000 a year isn't really making a living at it, much less "raking it in". And most photographers don't normally hit the $75,000 a year mark!
The way I see it, anyone who asks me to do what I do for a living for free, or even "for less" is taking food away from my grandson who lives with my wife and I... or is telling me that it's unreasonable to want enough "profit" to provide a home and a life for my grandson that is comfortable and includes the very same things that my potential clients want for their families.
So NO, I don't have much sympathy for people who roll their eyes when they hear how "expensive" I am, and I certainly don't have any sympathy for anyone who wants my photographs or my KNOWLEDGE for FREE (damn it!).
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