Urgh! The amount of complaining by photographers of all kinds just fries my brain lately. Yes, the market has changed and it will continue to. Every business in the world has to deal with change, suck it up and go to work. The only person losing out is the complaining photographer who blames the world for his/her problems.
I have been thinking about writing this post for quite some time now, and spurred on by reading a magazine that I used to purchase quite often. The entire thing filled with constant "complaint" articles about this or that - whine -whine - whine. I honestly threw it away in disgust. Is this what photographers are today? A bunch of wobbly-kneed relentless complainers? I for one do not think we are, and this garbage needs to stop. So I am writing this as a coup d'état because our industry deserves better. I for one will not be silent about it any longer, and neither should anyone else. Put up or shut up, if you will.
The fact is we now live in a world that has endless possibilities to market our work and go further than we ever have before. For instance, I can reach out on any one of my social media channels and reach a thousand people in the blink of an eye. That is power. If a person sees this as hindering their career all I can do is throw my hands up in the air and walk away. "Suck it up princess" as they say.
Here is Why
No One Likes a Negative Nancy
I strongly believe there are two things a person needs to do to be successful as a photographer. The first is to produce amazing work. The second is to be great to work with. No one likes a complaining negative businessperson; they are terrible to work with. I can guarantee one of major aspects clients look at when hiring anyone (freelancer/company/staff) is the person's attitude. A bad attitude ruins organizations and it is infectious.
If Everything is Terrible, Guess What? That Person is The Problem
There is that old adage that when it seems everyone else is the problem, they are actually the problem. All businesses have the demands of a digital age. It is everywhere, not just our industry. In fact, photography has managed to remain virtually unscathed by the exportation of jobs to other countries. Photographersshould be tremendously thankful of that. Think about how many steel workers, autoworkers, manufacturers etc. have lost their jobs in the last decade. I imagine it must be tremendously insulting to them that photographers are complaining about a company having half the budget they use to, when being hired.
If a Photographers Work Has Little Value, There is a Good Reason
Here is the thing, and I do not know how to say this delicately. If a photographer's work is subpar, actually, if it is not outstanding, it has a tremendously smaller value to a client. If people are asking a photographer too constantly to work for free, or for experience they probably need it. We absolutely have to produce work of a high value to a client, and it has to be exponentially higher than what we charge for it. If clients cannot see a tremendously high return on their investment by hiring us, they will not. We absolutely cannot blame them because of it; after all, it is our fault.
Are We Problem Solvers or Do We Cause Problems
I am always amazed at the amount of times I am called in to do a job because a previous photographer royally screwed it up. Honestly, I find it insulting that some of my competitors have that little amount of respect for their trade and their clients. It makes me angry, and it should to every other photographer invested in this industry.
Do good work. If a photographer is providing a client with garbage and charging them for it, they are ripping them off plain and simple.
Now for the Road Back
Smile, Gosh Darn it
Photographers get to do one of the greatest jobs in the world for a living. How about some appreciation? Stressors will always come up in our professional lives. Be open to opportunities, and they will come. The more a person gives of himself or herself the more that will come back. It is the whole Karma thing, and it works.
Learn to Negotiate
When someone asks for something learn to negotiate. We really need to see certain scenarios from a client's perspective as well as our own. For instance when someone is asking for a discount it is probably because they have to, and honestly most people hate asking for a discount. If someone asks for free use instead of flipping out and telling them how they are the worst person in the world see if a compromise can be made (this happens and it is sickening, check any photo forum for these stupid rants berating someone for simply making contact). It could start like this:
Dear Charity, Who is trying to cure cancer and make the world a better place. Unfortunately, my costs prevent me from authorizing unlimited free use. Perhaps we could come to a mutually beneficial solution that would work for both of us. For instance maybe a partnership where a portion of every sale would go to your charity. This way I could cover my costs and we could also increase your donations at the same time. Let us meet and make the world a better place together.
Get the drift, now we are doing something good that benefits both us as photographers and the client. We are not jerks anymore but good people.
Photographers should over deliver to every single client they have. There is no better way to justify the expense of a photographer than if they do an amazing job. We have to prove our worth. If we think we have automatically earned some respect just buy gracing the world with our presence, yes my friend we are jerks.
Work Really Hard
There seems to be a myth that photographers do not work very hard. Frankly, it is true in some cases. Work tremendously hard for clients. Let them know they are hiring the best and better yet prove it by our work ethic.
Just have a lot of fun. It is infectious when we make our work a lot fun and enjoy it. If a person does not enjoy their work, they are probably in the wrong field. That is okay it happens to us all at one point or another. Make a change and find happiness because every person owes it to himself or herself.
I hope that anyone who reads this post realizes that I am writing it from a good place and I only mean to help. I am reminded by the words of my mother when growing up "What made you think that life is fair. You have to create your own opportunities." tremendously smart woman. I carry this advice with me, everyday.
I know that some readers may take offence to this article. It is to note, by having terrible attitudes and blaming the world for their problems, they are only making it worse for themselves in the end. So put your head down and go to work.