Monday, August 26, 2013

#6 & #7: Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

NUMBER SIX: "You charge HOW MUCH? Just to push a button?"


Don't you just love being a professional photographer? It's great isn't it? Now I have to admit with number six, it is getting to be harder to defend. When I was a film photographer - using RZ-67 and Hasselblad cameras - there was a lot more than just pushing a button. I had to focus, determine exposure, etc.

Today, the general populace uses the same equipment we do in many cases, and in their eyes it IS just pushing a button. The camera does pretty much take care of the rest. Having said that, there is still the matter of composition and posing, not to mention the post production work.

When a customer says this to me, I always reply, "I wish that was all there was to it. But there is a lot of work that takes place AFTER I have made the initial image. And I do have a substantial investment in education, equipment, etc. So I do try to make a profit as a matter of customer service. You see, if I cannot stay in business, I won't be here the next time you need or want a great photograph taken. That's important, wouldn't you agree?"

That pretty much takes care of the matter.

Number seven is very easy to answer. Whenever someone says that to me, I take the 8x10 and place it on the table so only the white back of the photograph is showing. I then say, "That is a $50 piece of paper." I then flip it over to show the image of their family, baby, senior, bride, etc. and say, "It's the image on THIS side that makes it worth $50. I think your family (baby, senior, bride) is worth at LEAST fifty dollars... [PAUSE] don't you?" I then I don't say another word.

I once had a guy come in and tell me, "$50 for an 8x10 is outrageous. I do some photography, and I know what an 8x10 costs!"

I didn't issue any rebuttal at that moment. I said, "I understand how you feel. What do you do?"

He said, "I have a trenching business. We do trenching so you can lay pipe, cable, etc."

I asked, "I need a 10' trench at my house. I want to run power from my home electrical box to my new garage. How much will that cost me?" He replied that it would be about $125. My reply was, "You charge $125 to dig a hole!? It doesn't even cost you anything! Talk about outrageous."

He was hot right now. "You don't know my expenses. I have equipment, wages, insurance, overhead!"

My simple reply was, "And I don't?" And that was all I said. His wife said, "I'll take it from here."

I continued to be his family's photographer for many years...but he was still always a cheap so-and-so, even though he lived in a huge home and always drove a Hummer or Escalade. Ain't it always the way?

Again, never argue with a customer. Just lay out your case, be quiet, and smile. It's the best way if you are doing Photography for Income. Til Next Time!


  1. Steve,
    Thanks for the great review of my novel, "Alternating Current," as a struggling author, I really appreciate that you enjoyed the book and took the time to post a review. Please continue to tell all your friends, too. I'm not allowed to comment on the Amazon book page, but I wanted you to know that I appreciate your review. Thanks for reading!

    John Agostino, Author.

    1. You're very welcome. Enjoyed the book very much. Maybe you can return the favor sometime, working on a couple myself.


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