I’ve created this post to illustrate how we can’t help transferring our feelings of the quality of an image onto the person or product that’s in the image. And as a direct result this will influence the interest that we have in that person or product.

We can’t escape that engrained part of our nature that, in the first 5 seconds, we will have assessed and judged a subject by it’s appearance and a lot of our following attitude to the person/product will have been decided in that 5 seconds.

During a recent conversation, I was asked whether or not it was worth having a professional picture of themself to use on websites, email, business cards and other marketing materials?

My reaction to that is of course "Yes", but they suggested that existing snapshots from a recent holiday or wedding should suffice?

While the holiday/wedding snapshot may be free, what image will they really be portraying?
Poor Quality? Slapdash? Cheap?….. none of which you want potential clients or contacts to associate when they think of you or your product.

If you look at successful people or companies, you’ll see a common trend in that they only have quality images representing either themselves or their product or service. As an example, some companies invest tens of millions of dollars in advertising every year just to encourage us drink their brand of fizzy pop.

It’s nothing to do with ego or pride, they just know that people instantly judge by image quality.

So, an example.
If you were attending a business seminar or looking for a professional service from someone and you see a flyer or promotional email or poster with the following images … which person would you instinctively want to listen to or hire?

It’s the same girl in both pictures, but we all expect the person conveyed in the image on the right will be the one that will give us the quality service we want. You may think that it’s an extreme example, but it’s not. You’ll be surprised the number of images you see around that are like the one on the left.

But the good news is that it doesn’t actually cost much to get a professional image and therefore you can be 3 steps ahead of your competition.

If money is super tight then you could still book a photographer for a session, but by sharing the session time with a few friends or colleagues you’ll find that it’s much more affordable. The photographer won’t mind sharing and in fact they’ll probably encourage it.

I was recently asked:
"this is my first commercial job and all I’ve done so far is agree a price. Presumably I’ll need some sort of contract? Or do I? And is there such a thing as an example or template I could adapt and use?"

It’s a sad fact that the imaging industry is being eroded by the uneducated.

When I say "uneducated" I’m referring to people that don’t invest any time to know their rights, how to manage their copyright/license or just how to run a business.

It’s fantastic that talented image makers get an oppertunity to be rewarded when asked to make an image for a client, but when they don’t know how to quote and they give away their pictures for virtually nothing or their objective is only to buy a new bit of kit… that’s where a problem can begin for both client and supplier.

All too often people are doing bits on the side without covering their basics never mind making a profit.
(It is a business after all)
Some companies are quick to exploit the uneducated, because it keeps their overheads down. It’s not their fault. They’re looking for the best price and so they may discuss a project with someone lacking in business knowledge and talk them into working under the market rate.

But it can turn out like printer ink……

I stocked up on some cheap ink off the web for my document printer at 1/3 the price of branded ink.
Bargain I think. Keeping my overheads and expenses down.
The TV adverts said "Buy branded ink – it’ll last up to 30% longer than unbranded ink".
I sit there thinking "Yea, but I can get 3x the ink for the same price."
I get the ink, I put it in and it doesn’t work or the results are unreliable and no good, not what I wanted.
I end up trashing all the cheap stuff and having to go out and buying the branded ink to do the job right.
Waste of my time. Waste of my money.

You’ll notice that larger companies skip the ‘cheapest is best’ approach when it comes to their public image and they’ll go straight for the right person who can deliver the desired results first time.
They understand the value that they will bring to their product.

It’s easy to spot how we get programmed as it spills into other areas of our life too.
For example, if you go to a restaurant, and we find ourself looking at the prices more than the fare, then chances are we rarely end up with the best plate of food in front of us and we’re left unsatisfied.
If we ordered our favourite dish then we get what we want – even if it cost a few percent more

I’m happy that people get out there and sell themselves, there is plenty room for everyone, but to properly exist side-by-side with full time photographers, they need to correctly quote and bill for the job.
Even if the license is free/included, we still need to know how to create the paperwork to protect our commercial and private clients.
Clients also need to protect themselves by making sure they get hold of the right paperwork.

I did a couple of years semi-pro before I moved to full-time but I always quoted and billed a proper price, even though it wasn’t my main income. Ironically it was easier then as I had an income from the day job so I had some security. If the job didn’t go through then I had my weekend free to relax or do my own projects with no fiscal dent. Win-win.

So, how do we get educated?

If you’re interested in making money from photography then there’s really only one source that’ll answer all your questions. It’s the best investment you’ll make and is useful for clients that need to know their rights too

A great video was sent to me from a photographer friend that details the reasons why a photographer should value their work and not devalue it. It also talks about negociating a middle ground on contracts and to work with your client, otherwise it can damage your long term business



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