Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Justify Prices

This is a real conversation I had. The question and my response.

Q:  So, my thing is, how do we justify the cost of our prints when savvy consumers could see how inexpensive it could be? Just curious as to what your thoughts are.

A:  We justify our prices by artistic merit, print quality, service, and experience. We have invested hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in knowing how to make beautiful prints - from lighting and posing (making people look fabulous in camera) to retouching and fixing blemishes in post-productions. We invest HOURS of time in each client with initial consultations, phone calls, the actual appointment time, the preview/order session, and that is before any prints are made. The cost of the actual PAPER is far and away the smallest cost in the equation. We charge the same price for all "small prints" (8x10 and 5x7) because the difference in our cost is so small. Ultimately, we are selling heirloom portraits that will last a lifetime. we know every print is PERFECT and we guarantee every print for a lifetime. We deliver prints in custom mats and beautiful bags. That doesn't even account for custom framing. Every print is A LOT of work. The price takes care of itself when you know how much things actually cost. not just the print but the total Cost of Business calculation. So, let me ask the other side of the question, how do you justify your clients having low-to-moderate quality versions of your work on display?

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's 5 am

It's 5 am and I can't sleep. I want too, but I can't.

I keep thinking about my industry, about all of the changes that are coming, and how to stop them.

My name is Brent, and I am a Professional Photographer

I don't usually sit up at night and worry (at least, no more that any other small business owner). But tonight is different. I have had 3 events in as many days that brought me to this sleepless night, and they all revolve around the industry, the de-valuation of what we do, and the emergence of the "faux-tographer."

  1. Black Friday, we had a boy in for his senior portraits. His dad was worked up about the cost of everything and was giving the assistant a hard time while she was collecting the sitting fee. I told her I would talk to dad (I wasn't shooting the appointment) and Dad was pretty adversarial from the start. I answered all his questions and over AN HOUR I won dad over to seeing that portraits are not paper and that custom artwork is very valuable when done well. By the time his sone was finished, dad was not only happy, but excited to see the results.

  2. Yesterday, I was volunteering my studios time at the downtown Christmas walk doing pictures with Rudolph. The girl in the costume was awesome- a 17 year old, volunteering her time and spending her Saturday night in a hot, itchy, reindeer costume hugging little kids. During some down time, I was chatting with her and the topic moved around to her senior portraits (our specialty). She said a "family friend" was a photographer and spent a day with her at 3 locations and gave her a disk with over 100 images for $150. I said, "if you like them, that's great"- but, she didn't. She sent me a link on Facebook - they are not good.

  3. Tonight, I was on a Facebook group for professionals helping out an aquaintence with (what I thought was) a technical problem. It turned it to be a stunning lack of basic photographic education.

It isn't that I am afraid of change, or competition, or being left behind.
I'm afraid of dilution - of over-saturation - of needing to work even harder to educate my clients on why they need a professional.

There is that word again. Professional.
Meaning I do this for a living. Everyday.
It feeds my family, pays my bills, provides my health Insurence and pays my employees.
It is not my hobby, my weekend job or my "passion" - it is my craft. It is my business.