So I just got back from Portland, Oregon. What a place, the first thing I have to say is what the hell is up with “Urban Camping”? You’re a squatter and don’t want to pay rent so you figure you can just “camp” on the streets? And don’t even get me started on the junkies and fake hippies who live there. Oh, but there is a fun game called “homeless or hipster?” that we got to play, the only problem is that sometimes it is both!
But on a lighter note, the people who actually live in houses that they pay for are amazing! The food is good and the weather was incredible. I got to shoot for some clients over the weekend and I will most likely be heading up there several more times over the next 18 months (more on this on a later date). So all is well in the Pacific Northwest for The Average Jim. But I will not give you my change if you have track marks in your arm you stupid junkie.
There is one thing that really made me think while I was up there. It was a consistent thought, it was all about style. How to make money, how to market yourself and how to just get by in this world with a million other photographers out there. I spoke with a 22-year-old wedding photographer who thought her work was just amazing and that she was so creative with her lighting. I hate to say it, but her lighting was terrible! I checked out her website, it was so wrong on so many levels but she insisted that it was her “style”. Doing something wrong that looks bad over and over again is not style, if anything it is a lack of style. I saw another site of someone who has been shooting for over 20 years and it was probably the absolute worst site of photography I had ever seen! How does this person keep getting work?
I know how they get work. I really should not say this out loud or in print, but here goes. Their client’s just don’t know the difference between good and bad photography. Their clients just look at the price or they just hire who was recommended to them. Lots of photographers call themselves “the best” but there can only be one best photographer! But clients don’t know about the photography industry and sometimes they too have really bad taste!
I have been an advocate for style for years now. Define your style, show what you shoot and people who want what you do will find you. This is still true but I’m starting to think it is not as true as it once was. With so many photographers out there how do your potential client’s find you? It’s like a crap shoot out there, no idea where the dice will land or if you’re lucky 7 or snake eyes! So maybe it is about upping your odds?
This is where price comes into play. I think the people who get the work are smart enough to know how much to charge for the work they do. Some people charge a whole lot of money, the ones who are really good usually get that paycheck, the ones who think they are just as good usually complain about not getting the work. This is where the lightbulb above your head should be going off if this is you!
People with really bad work should have lower prices and the people with better work should have higher prices. This is why a 1982 Toyota Corolla is a much lower price than a new Mercedes. They both have wheels and will run and get you to work, but one is just a little nicer and up to date. If you want to book yourself you really have to do several things.
First, find your style and stick with it. Next, find out who your clients really are. Price yourself accordingly. But the biggest thing you have to do is be honest with yourself. Just because you own a camera does not mean you are a good photographer! Just because you own a Porsche does not mean you know how to drive it fast. To make money you must have a certain grasp of reality. You must know where you stand on the playing field. Just because someone else charges $5000 for a wedding does not mean that all photographers are worth $5000 to shoot a wedding.
You must figure out who you really are as a photographer before you can truly understand your clients. I am lucky, I have clients who pay me what I want. I just need more of them. 😉