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When you say “What is my photography worth?” are you asking:
What price should I be charging for my photography?
Or are you asking?
What is the value a customer would get by working with me and having one of my images hanging on their walls?
Aha. Two different things right?
If you look at price, you simple are looking for a number. And that’s when you get in trouble. That’s when you start looking at all the other photographers out there, and concentrate on the numbers they use in their own business.
But a number is a number.
Value is what changes it all.
Value isn’t a number. It’s an intrinsic assessment of what you have to offer. If you hang two portraits on your wall, one snapped by a seven year old child, the other by Annie Leibovitz, one would definitely argue the Annie Leibovitz has a lot more value to it.
Yet they are both portraits of you. What is the difference?
Long term value
Think of how the seven year old created the photograph. Somehow he had a camera in his hand. Whether it was an iPhone or a small point and shoot, he was probably playing around with it. You jumped into the situation, he smiled, put the camera up to his eye, and “snap”, the image was created. You downloaded it, sent it to a big box store for printing, threw it in a discount frame, and hung it on your wall.
Now think of the Annie Leibovitz image. She played around with photography as a child. She made it her passion; her career. She photographed thousands and thousands of images over the years. She studied. She learned from the best. She experimented. She found out what worked and what didn’t. She marketed herself. She gained recognition. She continued to put her work in front of people around the globe. Her name grew. Her recognition grew. She developed talent. She learned tricks of the trade. She learned to “see” long before she ever pulled out her camera. She created an experience around the way she works with her subjects. She became recognizable. Her demand grew. Her value grew.
What does the marketplace say?
Okay, so you’re not Annie Leibovitz. Now what? The marketplace increasingly says photography is a saturated marketplace, and that it’s not willing to pay high fees for a simple picture. People want digital. They want the images to do with as they please. What does your photography say?
The reason Annie Leibovitz is where she is today is because she stood out from the crowd. Her work looks different. When you see one of her creations, you know it. What about yours? When you look at it, can it get lost in the crowd? Or does it make you turn your head and say WOW? Do you put in the extra time to make it stand out? Or do you shoot like everyone else simply to be a follower and make what everyone else is making? If you have a name, if you have a look, if you stand out from the crowd, you have more value. More value means a higher price. Simple as that.
Know your worth
There is a third element to price versus value. It’s in knowing what you ultimately need to survive and thrive. If you price your photography like everyone else, you have no idea if it meets your needs. But if you take into account all of your expenses, all of your needs, and roll them up into your pricing plan, you suddenly know exactly what you should be charging for your photography. You understand when you have the right price for the products and services you are offering. There is no guess work; it’s an informed decision that leads to your ultimate pricing strategy.
Too many people get confused and think it’s all about the art, or all about the money. Photography is a business, and business is business. You’re in it for profit; all other reasons are null and void. If you are confident about your pricing, you’ll be a confident artist.
And the rest will come.