Playin’ the Blues
As I am writing this with the sounds of a guitar playing the Mississippi blues in my headset, I’m wondering whether professional photography will go by the wayside like so many aspiring professional musicians.
Consider this actual scenario:
I was once contacted to bid on a photography event which involved specialized individual photographs and group photos of the participants. After working several hours on a proposal, I received an email from the contact person with the news that an advanced amateur photographer in her company volunteered to do the work for FREE! (Insert disgruntled looking emoticon here!) She at least wanted to see my proposal for future reference. (As a consolation prize?) This was not the first time I have been undercut by an amateur photographer aspiring to turn professional. By giving your photography away or undercutting other photographers in your market area you are joining the race to the bottom!
So what should you do as a “real” professional photographer when this happens to you? And, I can promise you that it will.
First don’t send any nasty reprimands to your prospective client or to the amateur who volunteered to do the work without compensation. Instead, send a thank-you note to the company contact for considering you and your studio for her needs. Do the same when you receive notice that another professional photographer has submitted a bid that was lower than yours. This keeps you in good standing with that company and shows your professionalism, and might even elevate you to the top of her list for another event.
I’m not tooting my own horn here, (OK, I am.) but I pride myself in building my professional photography business by not giving my work away. I focused instead in making my photography stand out from the competition. I worked on myself and perfected my art so that people would recognize an image from my studio even before they knew who created it.
You can perfect your own style of working and photography to that point where people will want your art over that of other professionals, but keep this in mind: You can’t, and won’t please everyone; but, don’t give your work away, either! You have every right to earn a living in a way that you choose. Move on and search for other photographic opportunities that might not be recognized or wanted by your competition.
Take note of the big-name photographers. Not only do they continue to be in demand for their photography, but they have expanded into writing and selling courses and books on how to become just like them. Check out these working/speaking/teaching professional photographer’s websites:
I personally attended a full day seminar with Bambi and gained much in advancing my style of wedding photography.
Bruce and his son, Josh, recently authored a video workshop online.
Sal asks the question that I’m asking in this and in previous blogs, “Today, everyone is a photographer. How will you stand out?”
Meanwhile back at the local watering hole, you’re listening to a really talented guitar picker who’s playing and singing the blues…for tips!