Who’s value system are you selling by?

One of the biggest reasons photographers fail at business is because they never learn the golden rule of a photography business.

Price it at its true value.

I’ve heard all kinds of excuses.

“Money isn’t important; I just love to shoot.”

“I pay $xx for an 8×10, how can I charge my client THAT much?”

“I hate sales.”
You probably have said something similar along the way.

Last night I was watching a travel show on Tokyo. One of the highlights was on the new malls being built throughout the city. They showcased a variety of products being sold to consumers, including fruit picked at the peak of perfection – and being sold for hundreds of U.S. dollars. A cantaloupe with perfect skin with zero flaws or marks, and just the right amount of sugar density was on display – and of course could be yours for several hundred dollars. Really?

Now think about that. Would you pay hundreds of dollars for one cantaloupe? You buy it and you take it home and eat it. That’s it. Yet it has perfect flavor. So why not?

You do it with wine. Sure, you can head in and buy a great $10 wine for dinner. But what if you are really celebrating something special? What if you are a wine connoisseur? You can easily spend hundreds, even thousands on the perfect wine. And because the creator knows exactly why a wine is special, he will have no trouble bottling it up and selling it for its true worth. And people will buy it. Because they know the value.

The true value of your photography isn’t the price of the paper it’s printed on. It’s the value you put behind being a photographer. It’s your education. It’s your ability. It’s the way you work with people. It’s your reputation. It’s the amount of PR you’ve done for your business. It’s the investment you’ve put into becoming who you are today as a photographer. It’s the show you put on for your clients. It’s the customer service skills you present. It’s the final product. It’s the joy you bring into people’s lives.

If you’re just shooting for fun and have no desire to turn it into a career, keep giving away your images. But if you want to “get known” for your work, you have to add in value. People have to look at your work, and say “that’s a [your name here] image”. They do that with Annie Leibovitz. And they can do it with you – IF you choose to work for it.