As an entrepreneur/business owner I’ve learned that no one can fully appreciate my abilities and that’s why I’ll never stop explaining how great a photographer I am. And with that being said, the photo below has some glaring mistakes in it. But pointing it out is one way I show just how great a photographer I am. Not because I am perfect, but that I am able to accept that I make mistakes.
YOU CAN’T APPRECIATE WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE
My wife says I have a “quiet confidence” and I tend to agree. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance and I have a good understanding of where that dividing line is.
So why am I saying that I’ll never stop explaining how great a photographer I am? Isn’t that arrogant?
WHO’S YOUR MOMMY?
I’m sure there’s a relationship you have with someone where you aren’t fully appreciated. It’s hard for you to just tell them why they should value you, but unfortunately that’s what’s needed in business. Regardless of whether it’s in your personal life or in business life, we all know how difficult this can be!
If you aren’t a mother, I’m sure you know just how underappreciated yours is. They do so much behind the scenes that we just don’t see. If they want their children to have a great life then they’ll work hard, with or without payment (in this case appreciation). Now that you’re older (and are getting older) you appreciate them more and show them how much you love them.
As a business I like to be appreciated, but money is the only way I can be compensated and use it to grow.
THE VALUE OF ARTWORK
If you’ve ever been to an art gallery you’ll be perplexed by some of the things you’ll see.
If you take a friend with you you’ll quickly learn that you have different tastes as well. You’ll wonder why you appreciate different pieces and even try to explain what makes something beautiful to you. However, once your friend (or tour guide) explains what went into its creation or the history behind it, you gain a new found appreciation.
Where you had previously considered it being worth a couple bucks you now see why it’s been appraised at $1.2 million.
It works the same way for my photography. Although, I’m not saying that anything I’ve made or offer is worth $1.2 million…yet.
Selling artwork through photography (and in my case an experience as well) is quite difficult to price out. There are a ton of things to consider: from the value of my time spent preparing, shooting, editing, and providing the perfect atmosphere and coaching; to the cost of materials; to the invisible costs of practicing and growing my art and business. However, what matters most is that I can create enough value that allows me to charge a living wage.
In reality, I charge even more than that, but it isn’t because I want to become filthy rich. It’s because I have a vision that I want to fulfill. This is the only time I’ll share this information with you (and the world)…I want to create a studio/gallery in Milton (Ontario, Canada) that functions as a communal place for all my clients and potential clients. It would be a comfortable place to hang out, meet in supportive groups, have coffee, a bite to eat, explore some artwork, and also a space to create spectacular portraits.
THE STRUGGLES OF A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER
When potential clients find me they have one of three reactions:
- “Wow…that’s expensive. You’re crazy!”
- “Yea…that makes sense, when are you available to photograph me?”
- “Hmm…I looked at your work…why are you so cheap?”
To be honest, I don’t get much of the third one, but that’s a good thing. In fact, I want to be considered a little expensive. As a luxury experience/product, customers should be faced with the struggle of affordability.
Anyway…so why do I ever get the first reaction?
One reason is that they come from a place in a society that has taught them that everything should be as cheap as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that! In a lot of cases I can honestly put myself in this category too.
But another, more important, reason is that they don’t see the value of my work. I certainly see the value of my services and products, but I mean…I’m the one that came up with the prices right?
OVERCOMING THE OBSTACLES
To make them see the value I’ve got to explain how I create value. That means creating content that is valuable to them, showing how much effort goes into creating portrait artwork, etc. Another method is comparing myself to other great photographers, but I avoid this because I haven’t seen anyone else that provides the same mix of experience, quality, and expertise that I do. Notice how I didn’t use the word “passion”?
One way of showing how great my work is it by explaining what makes great and horrible photographs and artwork. The only way I can point out the quality of my work is to (unfortunately) point out some of my own mistakes.
Most people won’t see the value you create unless you point it out!
That’s a great thing to remember in your own personal life too. Don’t get mad when no one sees how great you are. At the same time, don’t try to make them see it either; who cares, they’re the ones missing out. Don’t sacrifice your health just to be seen! And if you really are having a hard time with “being seen” then I can always help you with that!
I, on the other hand, constantly worry about being appreciated (read: compensated with money) because my business depends on it!
P.S. If you didn’t notice the mistake in the photo it’s that I allowed her hair to wisp in front of her face. However, emotion and connection trumps any mistakes for me, so I kept the photo. I always press the shutter when I see connection as opposed to being finicky and losing a beautiful moment.
Jonathan How is the photographer behind Made by Ten and calls Milton his home. He specializes in creating beautiful, creative portraits of real women. He uses photography (and this blog) to help them build confidence and love for themselves and creates artistic images for their homes and offices. You can see him driving around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario, Canada from portrait to fashion shoot and back again.