We live through our memories. Every single moment we live is fleeting, despite our perception. So I ask: why is professional photography not valued as it should be, it being a longer-lasting reminder of what has been when we as people know our minds won’t let us keep the things we cherish long enough? We will inevitably lose our most intimate version of the times we loved.
Of course, the simplest answer is to say our current technological capabilities, the fact everyone now has a “camera”, via their phone, yada yada yada. However, there are several points against this answer:
Despite some technological ignorance in the average person, pro photos are clearly (recognizable to the layman) better than anything a phone camera can produce. There really isn’t an argument here, as I’ve produced cool shots with a Nokia Lumia 1520 and Samsung Galaxy S6, but would never charge for them (okay, maybe as a stock photo).
People obviously see some sort of value in photography. Just ask any photog that is asked to bring their camera to an event they were invited to as a friend/family member. When the photog respectfully declines (because they don’t want to be working at this time), the host gets pissy and doesn’t get it. This obtuse value is also seen in social media, where an impossible number of photos are shared every instant, and the propagator of said photos didn’t have to pay a dime.
There are still photographers…occasionally getting paid for their work.
So this brings us to the likeliest point, the economy. Simple stuff here, as an oversupply of a product drops demand, and there are seemingly far more photogs than paying customers. Also, many people are still struggling financially. But again, this shouldn’t be the issue. Living in Kansas City, it’s painfully obvious that the one thing people will pay for no matter what is food/drink (thanks, barbeque and tap rooms) and there are countless new places sprouting up constantly. The thing is, people love photography of their food as well. Why? Because it is about the memories. We will only experience the exact sensations of this meal once, better capture it before it’s gone. The recipe will change, or the cook will, or maybe the grill won’t be hot enough to make the steak the perfect rareness next time.
Spend $20 at Applebee’s, spend about an hour gorging, pay for two employees’ work in that time. Those employees surely don’t think they’re getting paid well for their time. Most pro photogs are going to ask for a minimum of $20 for an hour shoot due to equipment setup/cost, their training/expertise, and the known fact that it’s nearly impossible to get a client to understand that we can take A LOT of time editing the photos, not because we suck, but because we are thorough and perfectionists (and will have several drafts in case the client hates the direction we’re going).
Are the memories our clients want captured not worth what we ask or are we being unreasonable in our rates? Is there another answer? Let me know in the comments!