Raise your hand if your bank account is full and you’ve got money to burn. Yeah, me neither. Raise your hand if you think most photographers are only affordable for those who raised their hands the first time. Yeah, me too. As it turns out capturing our “priceless” memories apparently does have a price, and unfortunately it’s quite a bit more than many of us can afford. Photography is considered a fine art and as such it is priced accordingly. However, there are a great many people out there who are not looking to expand their gallery, they simply want some nice pictures of their family.
I’ve heard a number of professional photographers attack the throngs of amateurs who run around with their consumer grade digital cameras, have minimal training, and charge rock bottom prices, in turn doing a disservice to the customers who turn to them because they want to capture life’s irreplaceable moments. On the contrary, I feel it is the professionals doing the public a disservice by forcing them in front of the lower priced lenses by way of their fees that are simply unattainable by a large majority of the population. As much as young parents might want the museum quality portrait of their precious little ones, it is often monetarily out of reach.
A recent photography newsletter post on how to approach a sale mentioned that a lot of photographers lament, “I LOVE being a photographer but I HATE having to talk about what I charge when my clients ask for my prices.” To that I say, “Then change your prices.” It shouldn’t be about a slick sales process in which you convince your client that they should take out a second mortgage on the house in order to have a nice picture.
Family, friends, and even clients, have encouraged me on numerous occasions that I could be charging a lot more for my services. Yes, I could! It is a conscious choice on my part to be priced considerably below the going market rate for a private photographer. Not to undercut the competition and steal clients (well…maybe a little). Not because I don’t feel my time and product is worth it. Not because I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to ensure that everyone has equal access to excellent photography. I want new parents to be able to have their newborn, who changes daily, to be photographed every couple of months. I want people to have pictures they love and not go into debt to get them.
Sure, there are those out there who can afford to drop a couple grand on photographs. I however, do not fall into that segment of the population. If I can’t afford my own product, I’m charging too much. Are the images worth the high prices? Absolutely! We’re talking about treasured memories that can never be replaced. But, it is my desire to stay committed to keeping those irreplaceable moments accessible to everyone. In the end it’s the family that didn’t have the money to blow on overpriced photos that will cherish even more the gift of a priceless image.