23 Jul Opinion: If Photography was any other profession…
…we’d all probably have our bills paid!
I want to start off by saying that not everyone thinks that photographers are overrated, underappreciated, or just picks up a camera and becomes one overnight. I also want to point out that not every photographer that’s worth a damn has a degree in the subject. I’ve seen a plethora of individuals with talent far greater than myself behind a camera that hasn’t paid for a fancy piece of paper and has garnered quite a bit of knowledge from YouTube and from other professionals in the industry.
There’s a lot of people in the world that think that photographer’s are a dime a dozen, and now with the advent of iPhone tech allowing for lenses to be attached, or your android phone taking 42MP images, they’re just as good as high-end level DSLRs or medium format cameras and stuff, right? RIGHT!?
Well, that’s the case of a lot of mainstream media corporations these days. They’re basically saying fuck off to photographers that have worked in the field for decades because they’re apparently defunct and out of date. Everyone wants everything as soon as it happens. That’s the problem, not the camera or photographer themselves. But, alas, the 20-something intern with an iPhone now has the job of posting hashtags, instant snapshots that are out of focus or crappily angled to that mainstream companies website, social media page, and publication because the photographer just got booted and the company doesn’t care because they saved the company a salary’s worth of money by telling the 20-something to do what they were going to do anyway.
Which leads me to the next point. What if technology advances so much, that we no longer need plumbers, electricians, burger-flippers, video editors, sound mixers, recording studios, lawyers, anesthesiologists, mechanics…..
“Well….our best friend’s fourth grade daughter just got that new Canon Rebel for her birthday a week or so ago….”
I get a lot of inquiries about photography gigs, mostly family portraiture and weddings, potentially, as the location I’m in is overflowing with photographers already established. My last inquiry was for a family portrait session that the client said they had never had before. I told them, that’s amazing and I’d love to capture their first session as a family! The client said my price was the same as someone else’s but they offered 12 photos as opposed to my 10. Mind you, my price was after military discount and was actually $38 less than the other photographer. While I’m not saying this person thought photographers are unappreciated, they were obviously wanting more “bang for their buck” yet not focusing on the actual quality of the work. Would you hire a person working in the plumbing section at a store like Wal-Mart, Sam’s, Home Depot, or would you hire the RotoRooter company that actually does real plumbing?
“You get what you pay for!”
What I don’t quite understand, is when a potential client says they want to book you and it gets time to put that deposit down and they stop responding to you, or when they respond, they finally end up saying something similar to: “Oh, we found someone that will do it for less.”, or, “We’re going to have my friend’s cousin do it because they have a DSLR.”, or “This other person said they’ll give us a disc with all the images on it.”
This why I have since been privy to not actually put anything on my schedule until I receive an actual deposit and if I get booked prior to a different client, oh well. I go out of my way to do pre-consults and post-consults without any extra cost attached. I’m not changing a lightbulb, don’t treat me like you would the person that rings up your groceries. And if you ring up your own groceries at the self-checkout, well, don’t compare me to that either or your photos are going to probably end up being horrendous.
The overall point is this: why does society think it’s okay to underrate a professional photographer by getting their friends to take images instead of hiring a pro? Is it because everyone has a camera and they think the camera does all the work? Is it because they are friends with actual photographers? Is it because western society is becoming more of a consumerist society where they try to do the same thing with every other profession? I wish I could negotiate with the car care place when I get my vehicle looked at, for example: “Hey, I know I only told you I needed to check out my transmission, but do you think while you’re underneath you could just take a glance and fix that drive shaft at no additional cost…ya know…since you’re already underneath the car?”
No. I wouldn’t do that. At least not in a serious way, because I know, like everyone else knows, more labor means more money. So why can’t people take artists in the same seriousness?
Constantly, I see a lot of shit work. Yes, when I first started, my portfolio was horrendous. However, when I first started, I wasn’t also claiming the title of professional either. Eventually, but not right off the bat. But the shit work I see…somehow is some of the most popularized shit on social media that people eat up. It’s preposterous at times. Like, people take you seriously as a Model/Photographer/Make-up Artist/Stylist with that portfolio!? They actually PAY you money? Facepalm. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” comes to my mind every single time.
So the next time you’re looking for a photographer, take into account that they are also skilled and trained tradesmen/tradeswomen that offer a lot more than holding the camera above eye level, clicking the shutter button on auto mode, and delivering a disc full of unedited images with horrid lighting and squinty eyes and faces.