Saturday, 31 July 2010

Value... at what price?

When times are tough, put up your prices. That's what some people would say - but is this a good idea? Is it better simply to stick to your guns, justify your rates... or do you drop prices to bargain basement levels in order to get would-be clients to part with their hard-earned cash?

These are tough times for sure, and the temptation to undercut one's opposition is ever-present. So much so, in fact, that people do this with a complete disregard for the future security of their industry. This is a real shame, I think, because it is only panic and desperation which leads to such actions; ordinarily, these same people would be comfortably justifying their rates to all clients, new and old.

To play devil's advocate for a second, I'd like to pose a question: Can any responsibility be placed on the buyers' side? You have to ask whether clients who insist on 'cheap' are actually worth considering as customers, if they don't value your services highly enough to begin with. For example...

I'm no expert when it comes to car mechanics. Far from it. I freely admit this and, on occasions when my car needs fixing, it is duly taken to my local garage for repair. Of course I want to know, in advance, what the final bill will come to but - and here's the thing - I appreciate that these people have a skill set which I don't and I expect to pay accordingly. They are trusted suppliers, so I know they won't rip me off, and I also know that their rates for a given job will be a fair reflection of the work undertaken.

How many times have you shuddered when your mechanic announces how much the labour alone will be for your repairs? You might ask yourself how long the work will take and just what is he charging for... but certainly the answer to the latter is a simple one - he his charging for the wealth of knowledge, expertise and skills which will ultimately save you money in the long run.

The same is true of a photographer. I've said many times and, you know what, I'm going to say it again - you are not paying a photographer simply to press a button! The technical side of producing striking and effective imagery is a given (we all need to learn our craft) but a shoot is so much more than the sum the parts you see on the day. What about organisation, people management, styling, props, lighting, assistants, location scouting, research, creative meetings...? The list goes on.

When the kit bags are all packed at the end of the day, my work doesn't stop there either. Depending upon the scale and duration of the shoot, the editing process might take several days, along with continued communication with the client, fielding further requests and requirements.

I have recently stumbled upon two local photographers going in far too low on their pricing, jeopardising the local photography supply chain for the sake of getting some quick cash through the door. And we're not talking a just few pounds here.

On one occasion, I heard of a quote being 60% below the going rate. That was shocking enough, but I was stunned to hear of a second at... wait for it... 83.5% undercharged for the work involved. Surely, this can't be a good thing, can it?!

Explaining to new clients that they should think of photography not merely as an additional 'cost' but as 'value to their business' has always been part of the deal as a photographer. And I'm more than happy to have those conversations.

After all, everyone likes to know where their money is being spent, and an educational approach is never a bad thing when it comes to getting the message across.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0002

Thanks, everyone for your feedback following last week's post (Findings for a Friday - #0001). As of next week, I will be adding additional descriptions to the links I share.

As for now, though, here is a selection of the resources which found their way to my screen in the the last seven days. Enjoy!

Article: No Assignments Without Experience, No Experience Without Assignments... Yeah, That Makes Sense, Right?

Article: Pelican i1015 iPhone Case

Article: Bringing It All Back Home

Article: Creepy German Robot Learns From Humans

Article: How Real Transformers Work

Article: 7 Superb Podcasts For Summer Listening

Article: 50 More Classic Examples Of Art Photography

Article: Twitter Set To Include Photos And Videos In Stream

Article: Sinar Creates Adapter To Mount DSLRs As Digital Backs

Article: FWIGTEW And Other First Weding Acronyms

Article: Morning Brief: YouTube Banned In Russia, Amazon's New Kindle, Motorola Earnings

Video: 2010 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial | Black Sheep Kia Hamsters Video

Video: Walk Across America (Levi's latest viral ad) + Walk Across America - Behind The Scenes

Video: Behind The Scenes Of A Domino's Pizza Photo Shoot

As ever, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts - either in the comments section here or on my Facebook page).

Remember, don't forget to let others know of any great links you come across - it's all about the sharing!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Knittage simply lit

When Inny needed some snazzy new shots of her knitted wares recently, for use on her blog and online shop, we used the absolute bare-basics approach of 'one camera, one lens, one light'. The location/studio arrangement was also just about as simple as you can get - a living room coffee table table.

What you see in the picture here is the lighting set-up... A single SB-800 with Pocket Wizard (for wireless connection to the camera); attached to the front is a diffuser panel (for nice, soft, even light). A Magic Arm was used to support the rig just off to camera right, positionable back and forth, left to right, as required.

The camera, incidentally, was hand-held.

You'll notice daylight striking the 'set' from the front - this was taken out of the equation not by closing the curtains, but my letting the flash be the sole light source (and adjusting settings accordingly). Flash light is perfect for close-up detail work, as it is very clean and crisp.

As many of you know, I don't believe in relying on post-production in order to 'save' poor technique - clearly, it makes far more sense to get things looking the way you want them at the time of capture. Case in point - the image you see up top is essentially unaltered.

The most Photoshop work that was applied here was to the image which ended up as Inny's banner - a simple case of choosing the crop and superimposing her logo, to end up with this:

Photo shoots are expensive, time consuming, stressful affairs, right? Nope. This little lot took all of about 10 minutes from setting up to taking everything apart, including time to arrange the object (a Spring Greens scarf, no less!), discuss framing options and, of course, sip a nice cuppa.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Findings for a Friday - #0001

As my online activities grow and diversify - specifically through the use of Twitter and Facebook - it's very clear that a great deal of the information I come across is/would be of benefit to a lot of my followers and those who keep track of what I have to say.

This past week has got me thinking. What use are all these wonderful links to books, podcasts, web pages, assorted resources... if I don't share them?

Here's my plan.

Every Friday, I will be writing a post on the GBP Blog, containing a list of all the useful, intriguing, thought-provoking and fascinating content which I have shared - and which has been shared with me - over the past week.

It won't all be about photography, but a mix of topics including the arts, media, technology, marketing... really, anything that will inspire and inform!

So, to kick things off, here are your Findings for a Friday #0001:

Article: 6 Things Photographers Like To Argue About

Article: 12 Excuses For Sooting Photographs For Free - And Why They're Bogus

Article: Officers Claim They Don't Need Law To Stop Photographer Taking Pictures

Article: Mine Is A Wi-Fi World (GBP:Blog)

Article: 505 Marketing Ideas

Article: Mindful Earning - 3 Rules To Set Prices With A Conscience

Article: Free Weekly Tips To Help You Grow And Enhance Your Photography Business

Article: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport

Article: Has Demand For Microstock Photography Peaked?

Article: Proof That Social Media Can Work For Your Photography Business

Article: A Few Things That You Shouldn't Say On Twitter

Article: What Do We Really Mean By Art?

Article: Scanning Around With Gene: Those Darn Cats

Blog: The Photographic World Of Drew Gardner

Book: Purple Cow - Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable

Book: The Linked Photographers' Guide To Online Marketing And Social Media

Comic Strip: What The Duck

Discussion: Is It The Camera Or The Photographer? (GBP:Discuss)

Discussion: What Makes A Photograph Great?

Podcast: BlogcastFM - A podcast by bloggers, for bloggers

Prodct/review: Tweetymail

Product/supplier: GoPro Wearable Digital Cameras

Video: In Praise Of Pea Soup - Shooting In Fog

Workshops: 1-to-1 & Group Tuition with GBP:Workshop

For more of the same, you might like to also check out my bookmarks over on Delicious.