Ansel Adams famously said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
I find myself coming back to that quote a lot. Not just as a photographer, but in life, I say to myself, “Why in the hell am I standing here? I should be standing over there!”
As photographers, our job is to observe and document. Wait, that is oversimplifying. We look at the world and we choose a way in which to convey what we ‘see’ to others. That better? Anyway, sometimes, we get so wrapped up in what we are seeing through our lens that we don’t stop and take a look at our surroundings.
Deep, I know. This whole thing is a metaphor for life, weddings, work in general… and this doesn’t just apply to photography. Whatever your profession, you need to take a time out and observe yourself and what you are doing.
If you have been working on weddings for a long time, you probably know what it is like to get into a ‘groove’. It isn’t hard to do, especially if you are working on 20…30… or more weddings a year. You just have to make sure the ‘groove’ doesn’t become a ‘rut’ where all of your work feels exactly the same. The same pictures if you’re a photographer, the same designs if you’re a stationer/cake maker/florist… because that is not good for you or your clients.
I was recently on a photojournalism assignment that included covering the opening of a gallery show by Courtney Love. There were at least half a dozen other photographers there, all waiting to get photos of Courtney when she came in. When she finally arrived, she began talking to one of the people there and gave the crew of photographers her ‘full back’. Some of them started shouting her name. “Courtney, over here! Courtney, this way! Courtney! Courtney!” No good. I could have either stood there with the gaggle of paparazzi or I could find somewhere else to stand. So I moved around a corner and got some fantastic shots of Ms. Love talking and gesturing, with no idea she was being photographed, with the gallery sign for her show in the frame as well.
You and your product are awesome. You feel you have set a fair price for what you offer and in the words of our Cheryl “You’re Worth It” Then what’s with all the potential clients wanting to barter with you? It can be utterly soul destroying to be repeatedly asked to lower your rates because somebody else up the road is doing the same thing as you for less.
There are some vendors who love to haggle over prices and don’t ever expect anyone to pay their full rates. If this is you then I wish you well but most of us set a price that we actually want to achieve and feel disheartened when asked to take something off. Interestingly, the most haggling happens at the lower and upper ends of the market. The couple with around £1800 or less to spend on photography often feel that because this end of the market is so overly saturated that they have the power… and quite frankly they do. They have a huge amount of choice and there any many wedding photographers out there willing to compete on price to get the work. If you are somewhere around this price bracket, and find yourself repeatedly asked to take off 10-20% as ‘that is all they have budgeted for photography’ you will quite often get to the wedding and find that the bride is in a £3000 dress or they have a Choccywoccydoodah cake that cost more than you. What that couple actually meant when they said they were on a budget is that they didn’t value your services above some of the other things at their wedding. Sadly these are usually the things that are only there for the day.
Perhaps supported by some kind of celebrity culture, but it seems to be widely accepted that in order to be deemed as ‘successful’ in mainstream society you have to be liked by as many people as possible. You have to have a certain number of ‘likes’ on your facebook page. You need as many followers as possible on twitter and your most recent blog post is only as strong as the number of comments that sit at the bottom of it. While this is not all together wrong, I’d like to start thinking about the other side of the coin for a minute.
Think of someone you admire. Someone that is regarded (by you) as successful. It doesn’t matter if they’re successful financially, creatively or because of their social status, but that same person that you obsess over is certainly also going to hated by someone. Not just disliked. Hated. It almost seems a given these days, that in order to really make a difference, you have to ruffles some feathers… and as well as connecting with some people in the way you present yourself you will, in turn, repel others.