Free Is For Me: Exposure Vs Paying Bills. The valueless work of creatives
As a new photographer, I was glad of the work. I think it's something every Irish mother does. Volunteering their kids for things. "Sure, John has a Camera and that photoshop thing. He will do it for you". In doing it for your parents I suppose we are in part paying them back for all they do for us, however much we may moan about it.
I am not the cheapest photographer in Ireland. Far from it. I have spent over 10 years honing my craft, creating relationships, humping heavy gear around and working days up to and including a round trip to and from a wedding that saw me on the go for 23hours.
I have worked with and for brands like Canon, Sandisk, and even managed to earn my way into being a supplier for Google. Relationships based on my persistent striving for perfection, my dedication to research and understanding what it is, what is going on behind the eyes of the people I photograph. Learning about light and colour and basics of physics that alter what I do.
but sure.... John will do it. What? It has a financial cost? No. Sure I couldn't be paying that. All you did was spend an hour at it.
I feel there is a vulgarity to money. I remember working behind a bar when the Euro came in. There was an elderly couple that came in every weekend and had a pint and a glass of Guinness. The price went from just over £4 to over €7 for both. There was no physical difference although the sound of asking them for so much almost turned my stomach. Bills need to be paid. So they had to pay.
I often feel when sessions with clients have ended and I have spent up to 3 hours staring into their soul. Holding conversations as intense and deep as the eye contact we share. Taking payment is almost an embarrassment. The great joy of Invoicing and online payments.
But, I have value, my time, my years of skill and dedication, my tens of thousands spent on equipment, software and education. The cost of studio rent, paying VAT and Income tax from every cent earned. The cost of refreshments for clients, even down to buying toilet paper for the studio. Every tiny expenditure needing to be accounted for and considered.
Very often I am asked for quotes, Please let us know how much it will cost for you to shoot our staff, to open them up to the endless possibilities they have and to afford them the same self confidence and self respect we all deserve. For some companies, the value goes beyond the expenditure. For some individuals it is entirely worth every hard earned cent.
Then there are the other kind of people. The ones who believe that their sense of social entitlement and mere presence alone is payment enough. Those who despite being sent a quote, or information on pricing will book and confirm. Only to ask later about cost and look on with glaring horror when they are given the information yet again. Offering barter or trying to negotiate terms.
Seriously people. Come on. I can't walk into Dunnes stores or Supervalu and ask them for that bottle of water you are drinking from my fridge or the toilet roll and soap you used in my bathroom for free because it will look good that I was there. I can't refuse to pay the rent based on the fact I am a hotshot headshot photographer and will offer great exposure to photographers and people all over the world just because I am great.
Consider the true cost when someone tells you the price.
Your headshot or Portrait session you are surrounded by tens of thousands in equipment. With a photographer who has thousands of euro in overheads every month. To provide you with a comfortable environment in which to have your photograph taken.
Just like buying a suit, you can pick one up in Top Shop for €60 and get away with it. Sure its not tailored but it has the basic shape you want. Jacket shirt and the trousers are a bit too big. Or you can go to Louis Copeland and have one hand made. Fitted to your exact shape, with advice on style for you in order to bring out the very best in you and make you feel at the top of your game.
If you don't argue over price in Dunnes or Centra. You really shouldn't be doing it with professionals.