Rising Tides

landscape photography by paul ottaviano

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

I think it was JFK who said it. It’s hard to explain why, but this photo reminds of that quote. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been thinking a lot about the photography business lately, and creative business in general. One question in particular, which you are probably no stranger to either, is why do so many photographers or creatives low ball themselves and hence, our marketplace?

We’re not day laborers. We’re not Wal Mart. We’re specialists who have the talent to create and deliver something of true intrinsic value. Depending on the subject matter and the photos intended use, our work has much worth. Clearly many photographers are doing well, so somebody is pricing their work accordingly. Yet many still seem to view low pricing as a competitive advantage. It may be great for some customers, but if you cut your pricing by half you now have to clear twice as many assignments and there are only so many days in a year.

The Uncle Moe’s and trust fund photographers are generally harmless, unless they’re doing assignment photography on the free or very cheap that should be the domain of real business. But the fact remains, working photographers will still sometimes low ball. Now we can’t be in collusion on pricing, but if the saying “rising tide lifts all boats” is remembered, then we all stand to gain if our pricing structure is both factoring in cost-of-doing-business and the value of the photos to be licensed.

With that all said, this is not a rant against the student or “amateur”. I was both too. And yes, people are free to contract with others and negotiate their fees. However, those who are dabbling in assignment photography really should get licensed and insured, write a business plan so they know the real costs, and start a enterprise. And why not? Being properly paid for photography is pretty cool and if your supporters truly esteem your work, then they should be willing to pay for assignments.




One Comment

  1. What I love about that shot, the commentary aside, is how vintage it feels. Could have been a Kodachrome that you found in the basement. Really lovely texture and age to it.


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