Only a Slice…

This is a bit of a Rant so let me warn you now.  It’s funny how in a profession of any kind you watch things change over the course of time.  The changes can be small, the changes can be large, the changes can be directly related to you or they can be completely peripheral.  There are some industries where you think things never change though, but that’s completely wrong.  Change is everywhere though, and you can either embrace it or fight it.  Doesn’t mean you should cut your prices to fight it though…

(Canon 5D Mark II, 1600ISO, 1/80th@F4.5)

I shot this at 1600ISO minutes after I walked in the door as I liked what I saw, and it’s awesome that I know my (and quite a few others) cameras can handle it easily;l on the inside it drives me nuts that It wasn’t at a lower ISO.  It’s sort of an old school thought, which for me is strange (having a thought itself, not necessarily the fact that it’s old school), but that’s the way it is.  Emerson here believes in doing thins the old fashioned way.  He makes his pizza’s and calzone’s in plain view of his customers from scratch.  He even makes his own dough.   He wants to show them that they are getting exactly what they ordered, as fresh as it could possibly be.  Very Old School.  His prices are very reasonable as well because he understands that him being there working helps drive costs down lowering his cost of doing business.  I wish I could find the article I read the other day about the cost of doing business, because if you’re going to own or operate a business you need to know what it costs.  Everybody’s numbers are different so there’s no good general equation to solve this problem, but the fact that you have to do it is the same.  Everybody gets a slice.

(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 500ISO, Canon EF16-35F2.8L@16mm, 1/160th@F4.5.  Single Canon 580EX set on the counter behind Emerson zoomed to 105mm at 1/16th power fired by Pocket Wizard Plus II receiver.  Single Canon 580EX Zoomed to 70mm to behind camera left over the counter from the customer line shot through a 32″ umbrella set to 1/4th power fired by Pocket Wizard plus II receiver)

Whether its for equipment, taxes, repairs, space, rentals, gas, electricity, taxes, credit cards…..did I say taxes? Everybody gets their piece of the pie.  You need to account for this, and you  need to respect the work that you do in charging a fair amount.  If you respect your work and charge an appropriate price, people will pay the price because they will respect you as well.  Photographers currently, especially, undervalue themselves because of how saturated the market has become.  There’s a lot of talent out there, and even more people that are confusing technology for talent.  That sounds harsh, but as Mike Guio once said; “Technology doesn’t make people’s pictures better, technology makes nicer looking mediocre pictures.”  I believe that’s a very valid point as there are a lot of photogrpahers out there now that started their own photography business because their new digital camera has made their pictures look better than ever before!  Lots of people out there with their cameras set to AUTO and their on camera flash set to EPIC believe that just because your camera does now have a relatively clean 1600ISO it’s ok to shoot there ALL THE TIME.  Even the first photo on this blog shows that I’ll do it from time to time as well so to say yes I’m no different sometimes.  People are starting to rely on it though, and what can I say?  I don’t think the technology is going to go away any time soon…

(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 640ISO, Canon EF16-35F2.8L@16mm, 1/80th@F6.3.  Single Canon 580EX set on the counter behind Emerson zoomed to 105mm at 1/16th power fired by Pocket Wizard Plus II receiver.  Single Canon 580EX Zoomed to 70mm to behind camera left over the counter from the customer line shot through a 32″ umbrella set to 1/4th power fired by Pocket Wizard plus II receiver)

The nice part of ISO and technology from a professional standpoint is that it allows photographers to do things they had never been able to do before.  Needing to achieve a 1/8000th of a second shutterspeed to freeze action with your speedlights for instance.  Not everybody tries it, not everybody does it, but it’s a fantastic example of how technology actually does make things better for the people that know what they are doing.  Photographers who are undercutting the market aren’t hurting true professionals.  It doesn’t matter what anybody says.  They are only hurting themselves because they are going to be overloaded, which means they aren’t getting paid what they need to sustain their business and they will be worse off than they started; monetarily, and most importantly in regards to client relationships.  Recently a photographer in Carmel Indiana had a post up on Groupon.  She sold 900 portrait packages that she valued at $325 a piece for only $40 a piece.  The groupon had an Expiration date for 1 year.  Considering Groupon does a 50% split with whomever runs on their website, do the math.  Does 3 photoshoots a day for an entire year which includes editing at $20 a piece sound worth it to you?  What if I said that the website said she didn’t shoot on Saturday’s either?  Probably the hardest $18,000 she’ll ever make (and that’s before taxes).  Not that I won’t give her an A for effort, but what she’s offering she simply can not deliver.  Frankly though, I hope she does deliver, if anything to avoid herself a lawsuit of some sort.

Yea this is definitely a rant, as I’ve had a few crazy client emails and calls go back and forth this week.  Some good, and some not as much.  This topic has been bothering me though, so thanks for reading into it.  I’m starting a book project very soon that I’m very excited about, as well as am talking more with the great folks over at the Indianapolis Art Institute about a new project as well.  Lots of projects, lots of shooting coming up and I’m very excited about 99% of it.  As a photographer you’ll always have the problem client, the insulting client, and you’ll always have someone that doesn’t think you’re worth what you are.  I mean no offense to anybody by this blog (assuming that anyone that could potentially get offended gets this far to know that), but this is something that I just needed to say.  If you’re just getting into photography, Learn how to do things the right way.  Change can be good, so go with it but don’t lose your style, and your creative mind.  Read, learn and observe.  Do your best, don’t settle for an ok shot when you have something attainable in mind.  Prove to that client that you’re worth their time, which we know is more valuable than any money; or a slice of pizza.  More Soon.

(Canon Eos5D Mark II, 200ISO, CanonEF 16-35F2.8L@16mm, 1/160th@F13.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight zoomed to 70mm on a stand directly behind the pizza shot through a 32″ Umbrella set to 1/2 power fired by Pocket Wizard Plus II receiver.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight hand held in my left hand crossed to the right side of my body underneath the camera for support, set to 1/32nd power zoomed to 105mm fired aimed at the Italian stuffs on the table fired by Pocket Wizard Plus II receiver.)