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This is a major problem for many photographers. When we get into this business, we want people to pay us for our work. We want it to speak for itself, to bring us new clients without us having to sell it and feel like the guy wearing the cheap suit in the used car lot. As you probably know by now, things don’t work that way. In order to have a growing, or at least constant, number of clients, you have to sell yourself as an artist. I know it sounds horrible, but hear me out.
Most of us have a genuine problem with the concept of describing what we do in such a way that it makes it appealing for the potential buyer. It just shouldn’t be in our job description! Why can’t photographers be like other artists who are represented by galleries and curators and have absolutely no need to deal with the client face to face? Well, I’m probably not the right person to answer that, but in all fairness, we adapt, because if we don’t, our business collapses. After a “money talk”, most photographers have an unpleasant feeling, and that’s when the sale is closed. It’s obviously a lot worse when the client decides to go with someone else.
The thing about selling that makes photographers hate it is the fact that they know the sale has to be pushed often times. Clients are reluctant, they are bombarded with offers (you just can’t get away from the fact that everyone’s a photographer these days) and you sometimes have to insist. But by doing so, you enter a very delicate area and it’s very easy to mess things up with a minimum amount of words. Think of it this way: when you walk into a store without being 100% sure you want to buy something, the people working there will generally try to get you to buy anything before you leave. We all know that can make you regret entering that store, and the salesmen can be extremely offensive. Photographers feel they sometimes have to do the same thing, and understandably, it makes them uncomfortable.
The entire issue is one of mindset. At the end of the day you are an artist, but above that you are a service provider and a problem solver. Your work comes as a response to a certain need. It might be about creating memories, about documenting a certain event or about illustrating a concept. This is what everyone needs to understand, starting with you. I think most photographers enter a negotiation with the fear and frustration that their work might not be good enough for the client, or if it is, it might be out of their price range. And that’s when serious compromises start happening. I believe the entire situation should be dealt with in another way. Yes, you are looking to be hired to take photos. But that is just one aspect and by no means is it the single one. The first thing you need to understand is that as long as you are meeting with someone, they have a need. You are providing a solution to that need and you are doing so by using your talent, skills and equipment. Sure, there will be the dreaded days when you feel horribly unconfident about everything you do, and the last thing you want is to ask money for it. But that happens only if you limit yourself to the idea that you are just there to take the photos. You are putting a price on the help you can give. Having the correct price for your work is indeed essential. But deep down, you probably know what your worth and there absolutely no reason to be ashamed of it. Some people will drive a hard bargain, but that’s because society has made them think you’re just another person with a camera. It is part of your work to explain that’s not the case. Not all will understand and you shouldn’t bother with the people who don’t, but most negotiations do go better once the client understands the way in which you perceive yourself and your work.
Also Read: THE 19 MOST EXPENSIVE PHOTOGRAPHS EVER SOLD
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