An Open Letter to Photographers
By: Alec Watson
A few days ago, I came across this article, which I find immensely important for all photographers to read. Alec Watson is a talented and well-known professional photographer based on Vancouver Island.
He calls his letter: “An open letter to photographers that find it hard to make a living when everyone owns a camera“; which I found his letter very accurate. It is also constructive, especially for those who are new in the photography business. It is precisely my idea, and Alec explained it thoroughly.
Without any further ado, Let’s get to his letter
Alec Watson Website
An open letter to photographers that find it hard to make a living when everyone owns a camera.
Hi, most of you don’t know me. My name is Alec; I’m a commercial photographer working mostly on advertising. Most of my work is in LA, NY 2nd, Toronto 3rd. I live on Vancouver Island. I mainly film these days, but I also take photos. Most projects I shoot both stills and video with HMI and which ever camera we have budget for. I have a great little production team I love working with.
In some ways, it is a tough time to make a living as a photographer. Being older than most of you (I imagine) I have some experience that tells me that it’s also never been easy. It’s not that photography is difficult to make a living at, it’s that most photographers are confused about their contract with their client.
I saw some comments about being a starving artist–how its harder in graphic design– or people want to make contra deals. My experience tells me it’s ALWAYS been this way. Two significant facts have changed though:
1. It’s cheaper and faster to create photographic images than at any other time.
2. There is FAR, FAR more demand to create and consume images than there has ever been.
So supply and demand isn’t necessarily the problem. There is more supply, but there is way more demand. The problem for most photographers is their failure to understand their contractual obligation:
From the client perspective, you are not paid to be an artist. You are paid to provide a service. Yes, FOR SURE it takes art to provide that service; do it with artistry, integrity, personality! But stick with me a moment and think about your delivery as a service. I promise you, this will change your career.
People and organizations will hire you for the service you provide. What that service is, is up to you. If you take great photos and deliver them by Dropbox and your job is done, you completed your service, but relationship-wise you were little more than a supplier. An artistic one hopefully, but at the end of the day a supplier. When people work with suppliers they look for the lowest price. …I bet you do, I sure do.
When people and organizations can count on a specialized service provider that provides them with what they need and things they didn’t even know they needed in a way that was unexpected… who do you think they are going to call next time? The guy who gets them the cheapest images via dropbox? No, they’re not interested in a supplier. They are interested in a service that makes them look better and achieve greater. It’s your choice whether you want to make that you.
You are a photographer, you are an artist, and yes you are a service provider. Let your ego get in the way of providing an excellent service experience to your entrepreneurial demise. Rethink what it is you do and how you provide outstanding excellence and watch the money roll in, and bookings fill up.
I wish you all success. Please be encouraged that in many ways it has NEVER been easier to be successful in business. The cost to enter the business for photography is low. The cost to advertise and let people know you exist has never been lower; AND never has there been a time when your competition is more distracted by social media, spending more time playing games and has more under-delivery than right now.
This time isn’t a time of commoditization. The facts are that people are willing to pay more for a coffee, more for a phone, more for a car. If you believe people and companies are only going to spend less, you aren’t looking at how the businesses that are charging more for premium experiences are operating.
I offer these ideas with respect, and I admit these aren’t my ideas at all, they are the concepts I have learned through my experience shooting and spending time with the minds that created the campaigns for the businesses that charge people more. …and people pay, so do businesses.
Ask yourself how can you create a photographic experience for your client and deliver in a more significant way as an artist, a business, and a service provider.
Sincerely wishing you greatness,
That is all for now. Stay tuned for my next photography Tips. We love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions, feel free to send us your questions and we will be more than happy to answer them. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more Free Tutorials and Tips.
Ted and the Omnilargess Team