What are you worth?

“$50!?!? Really? Don’t you think that’s expensive in today’s world? All you need is an iPhone to be a photographer!”

This is an actual message I received from someone today, and I honestly wish it had been the first time that I had received something of this nature. I have sat here for the last few hours trying to contemplate whether I even wanted to “blog” about the topic or not, but as you can see it rubbed me the “wrong” way enough that I just had to “vent” about it.

We live in a very digitally flooded world. We are surrounded by multiple sources of tech that has changed how we think, feel, and react to the world around us…and in a lot of ways this is also true for photography. I remember the days of film. Oh, I how I loved the smell of opening up a new canister and the joy of watching my images come to life on paper. It was a magical feeling. But, those days are gone. At least for me. Like so many before me I fought going digital, but even I made the switch a few years ago.

With that said, I fully understand that the market of cellphones is making it ever-so easy for just about anyone to take a good photo. You don’t need some fancy degree to come up with a good snap off of an iPhone. If anyone knows that it is me. I’m a photographer AND I own an iPhone. However, there is no comparison between the two.

There are always going to be those that are going to argue against this, but not everyone can be a photographer. Take my kids’ dad for instance. God love him…he couldn’t properly frame a photograph to save his life. He tries so hard to capture great photos of me working on the computer or whatnot so that I can be “relevant in the digital age”, but they always need some sort of editing. Some people have it, some don’t. He doesn’t.

With that said, who is anyone else to determine what MY worth truly is?

To be perfectly honest, I am under-priced. I know this, and I am okay with this. I’m in my first year getting back into photography, and while I know I am good at what I do one of the first things I knew I wanted to do was be an AFFORDABLE photographer. Sure, I could probably “make bank” by charging $100’s for a photography session, but I don’t NEED to. I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it for the passion and love of what I do.

However, photography isn’t free. Just because YOU think you are a photographer doesn’t mean that you are and it doesn’t mean that I should offer my services to you for free out of the kindness of my heart JUST BECAUSE I love doing what I do. At the end of the day I am still required to carry insurance in order to obtain my required permits for photography in the city of Indianapolis. At the end of the day I still need to pay for my equipment and editing programs. At the end of the day I still have other expenses such as the cost of gas to get to the locations that clients choose to have their photos taken.

People often underestimate exactly what goes into photography. While I may spend a half an hour with a client that doesn’t mean my job is done. There is editing to do once I get home. Sorting. Filing. Uploading. Archiving. It isn’t as easy as pointing a camera and telling someone to say “cheese”. Sometimes I wish it was. If it was just “that easy” I wouldn’t spend hours away from my children only to come home and spend another couple of hours on the computer still working.

And please don’t think I am ungrateful. I’m not. I value each and every single one of my clients. Some I have even come to call friends. But it hits a nerve when someone questions my worth. At the end of the day…I know the value I offer, but it is insulting to have someone question it.

Which brings me to the next topic I hear a lot of?

“Is having your picture taken really worth it?”

I will admit that this topic is usually asked predominately by the male gender. I don’t mean to come across as sexist, because I’m not…at least I don’t think that I am…but it just so happens that every nine times I have been asked this in the last eleven months, eight of those times will have been asked by a guy. Its a fact. Its life. It happens. Lets move on.

This question is largely subjective. If you ask a woman, she will usually say yes. You ask a guy, it could go either way. I can’t tell someone that they will value having family photos all over the walls or in albums because I am not in their shoes. Do I? Yes. My walls are flooded with pictures of the people I love – okay, mostly my kids, but I digress. In the event of a natural disaster or emergency I can guarantee you that there will be photos that I will HAVE to pack with me. Memories that NEED to be salvaged. Photographs of people long gone that I cherish dearly. But that is what matters to me.

And honestly, there are photos in my home that I would grab quicker in an emergency than any iPhone. But again, that’s me.