05 July 2013

What I Wish Photographers Would Do, Part 1

Art Model/Painter, Emily ©2013 Terrell Neasley
More and more people are wanting to get into photography these days. Why? Because its much easier. A lot of the hard and challenging aspects of photo have been eliminated by cameras that do more for you in the automatic modes. Does this make it tougher to earn a living in photo? Yes and No. Photography, as we know it, is definitely under attack. With the Chicago Sun Times firing its complete photography department, you can already see the credits starting to roll on photojournalists. A few months before this, Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer makes a statement claiming "there's no such thing as a pro photographer".

Art Model/Painter, Emily ©2013 Terrell Neasley
I'll talk more on this a little later. The state of the business has got my blood boiling a bit and a third of the fault (if not more) falls at the feet of photographers. Again, more on this later. For now, I would like to see more and expect more from photographers. So I've compiled a short list of what I would like to see more photographers doing, whether they are in business or not.

Art Model/Painter, Emily
©2013 Terrell Neasley

Let me clarify this a bit. I don't mind free work. Two things, however that make me go batty is CHEAP work, and HI-RES give-aways. I would honestly rather do something for free and donate my time rather than go cheap. Cheap work devalues the trade and thins the blood of the business. This is the absolute Number ONE harm and threat to the business. If a client wants cheap, they can go the Wal-Mart studios. If you are doing it and charging $50 or $100...for anything, you need to have your head examined. If your work and your time can only demand that sort of value, get the hell out of the business until you are better. And getting better is easy. Don't fear that or get intimidated by your camera. Don't become a "natural light" photographer just because you don't understand flash or monolights. There are too many tools and free techniques out there for you to learn on, IF you really want to learn.

"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
~Thomas Paine 

Why are photogs doing work on the cheap? For a couple reasons. For one, many don't know any better. These photogs are not confident enough to put a real value on their work and don't know what the going rates are anyway. So they throw out a small figure to a client...usually a friend or relative whom they don't want to offend with a price that's "too high". Then you have those photogs who know better, but become desperate for the business and will low-ball another peer or succumb to pressure from a client who threatens to walk in favor of a cheaper photographer. I gotta say, sometimes you have to let people walk. Price conscious clients are going to take advantage of this as best they can, and what shouldn't they if we choose to let them?

Art Model/Painter, Emily ©2013 Terrell Neasley
The second part of that is the handing over of Hi-Res images. What I mean by this is doing the photos and then handing your client digital images that they can go print on their own. That's your money and your work that's just hemorrhaging out of your wallet. I've heard the argument that its what clients demand. Well, for one they wouldn't be demanding it if photographers all over weren't giving them away en masse.  Its not different from back in the day.

Photogs didn't hand over negatives without triple the pay, at least. On top of that, I know of a photog that debated this point ad nauseum, UNTIL a client used said Hi-Res images to RE-EDIT them in a really crappy manner, yet still leaving the photog's watermark on them, and plaster them all over Facebook. I don't know about you, but I own the copyrights to all my images and control the quality of my work and prints. Only ONE group of people get my Hi-Res imagery and that's the families I do the volunteer work associated with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I voluntarily share those copyrights, and put that info into the meta-tags on each picture.

Art Model/Painter, Emily ©2013 Terrell Neasley
There is no way you can complain about not making money in photo if you are guilty of any of this. Thankfully, all you have to do is change your ways, but it will take longer to change your reputation. If you start out cheap, it's gonna be a pain in the ass to get beyond that expectation, because you've conditioned your clientele and market to view you this way. Word gets around.


Joanie said...

Your images are your calling card. Some client printing them cheaply (after editing them badly) will only make people run from you and your brand.

Would any of us really prefer to hear Jimi Hendrix songs played on a plywood guitar by a guy who's all thumbs? NO. And so it goes with photography.

YOU are Jimi. The client, well, you know...

Photo Anthems.com said...

All true indeed, Joanie. All true.