Obviously, writing can be cathartic and just know that something recently happened to cause me to write the following. It feels good to get it off my chest:
I am a professional photographer. Do you know what that means? It means I have been extensively trained in all areas of photography and I earn my income from making and selling photographs and photographic services.
Photography has both the honor and the burden of being not only a (somewhat) lucrative profession but it’s also a great hobby enjoyed by millions and millions of people. And herein lies the problem: this is my hobby, my passion, my favorite thing to do, my first love, my obsession…. but it’s also my JOB. And I definitely need a job. (Just ask all of the people, companies, and utilities to whom I owe money.)
It is my job. It is my job. It is my job.
I have to keep saying this because I don’t think anyone is hearing me.
I admit I am lucky. I have a fun job that looks very glamorous (looks can be deceiving, let me assure you). I work primarily from my home so yes, there are days that I don’t even shower until 7pm only to put yoga pants and t-shirt back on. There are days when I watch a movie at two in the afternoon, but please understand that I was probably up until 2am the night before editing photos. There are days when I can have a long leisurely lunch with my mother or friends, I can pick up my kids from school and attend most, if not all, of their school events and activities. I easily schedule doctors appointments and avoid long lines at the bank and grocery store by running errands on a Wednesday morning instead of Friday afternoon or Saturday like the rest of you. Working from home has its perks.
But do not be fooled into thinking that I have a life of leisure. I work. Hard. I shoot on weekends while you’re enjoying time with your family. When you’re asleep, I’m editing photos and working on projects for clients. When you leave your job, you leave your work behind you, mine is always staring at me so even at 11pm on a Friday night I’m probably working.
And let’s not talk about sick days. I don’t get them. Ever.
But here’s the larger truth, and indulge me, please, while I repeat myself: This is my job.
So no, I won’t “just snap a few head shots” for you for free. Please don’t invite me to your wedding as a guest but yeah, don’t forget to bring your camera. I actually get paid to photograph weddings. Again, it’s my job.
If we make an appointment, please show up. If you have to cancel, please have enough courtesy to call or even just send me a text. I had a “friend” not show up to a meeting to discuss her wedding and I sat there for nearly 90 minutes because you know, she was my friend and I gave her the benefit of the doubt, certainly a friend wouldn't just stand me up like that! Two days later I received a short email that oops! she decided to hire some guy from her church who’s cheaper.
You know what happens when you don’t show up for a doctors appointment? They charge you. And guess what… your neighbor, who is also a doctor, won’t perform your surgery for free because ya know, you guys are such great buddies. Well guess what else… I won’t photograph your kids for free either. Same reason.
It’s my job.
The definition of a job is this:
1job noun \ˈjäb\
: the work that a person does regularly in order to earn money
Please don’t ask me for a “deal” or any “specials”. Please don’t think that just because we kinda sorta know each other that I will hook you up. Please don’t think that I’m willing to photograph you just for free, to you know, boost my portfolio because honey, look, I’ve been shooting for twenty odd years, my portfolio is far from thin. If you know my son or my daughter, that doesn’t give you the friend of my kid discount. That doesn't exist, in fact. And please don’t assume that because “someone” else received a special rate, that you will too.
My rates are my rates and they are adjusted yearly based on demand.
I have bills. I have a mortgage. My family likes to eat food and we like hot water. I have a son in college, a daughter who is probably one of the greatest dancers you’ll ever meet who needs dance shoes and lessons that are sooo worth it but certainly not cheap. I have an adorable eleven year old who seems to have overdosed on human growth hormone and needs new pants and shoes every two months.
I have, on occasion, given people discounts. I stress on occasion. For friends sometimes. For people whose Life Event I feel like I really need to be there because I really love this person so much and they already know the deal, they respect me and what I do so it isn’t even work it’s a gift and I’m glad to do it. Trust me, you probably don’t fall into this category, sorry.
I’ve bartered with people. I give them photos, they do work or a service that I need. I actually have no problem with doing that… Any good mechanics or roofers or house painters need some photography? Too bad Kroger or Time Warner didn't have a bartering system. Oh wait, they do, it's called money.
I provide a service that is unique to me. There are dozens and dozens of photographers out there. Some are more expensive than I am. Some are cheaper. Some are reallllly freaking amazing, I cry at how inadequate they make me feel. Some should probably get their eyes checked. So if my prices are not in your range, there’s likely someone else who is. And that’s okay because we are all different. Each photographer, each artist, brings something unique and special to their craft. We bring our experience and our outlook on life and our education and creativity and energy and ideas and our Vision.
I had to remind myself of something just last night:
If I don’t value what I do, I can’t expect anyone else to.
So this is me, valuing what I do. I’m placing value on the work that I make, on the images that I create, on the services I provide. Art is hard work, and it’s certainly not free, or even cheap. But it has Value.