photography isn’t free (or cheap)…part two/what we spend our money on…

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my business and on business in general (the rights and wrongs, the costs, the fees, the fear…).  If you’ve ever looked into hiring a photographer and were a bit taken aback by the price, I get it.  I heard a while ago the simple statement that “People put their money towards what they value” and that really resonated with me and got me thinking about my own life.

I hate debt.  Hate.  It.  I can’t wait for debt to be out of my life.  I would say that this is something I value.

I love Starbucks.  Although I don’t drink it as much as I used to thanks to my beloved Dolce Gusto machine, there was a (not so distant) time that I was buying a Starbucks every day on my way to my previous job.  I did this for probably about 2 years (*blushing*).  After a few simple calculations I realized that this meant I was spending approximately $100/month on Starbucks.  $100 x 2 years = $2400.  Meanwhile, I’d have myself a few good frustrated cries about how my car payment was brutal (it wasn’t; it was $300/month) and be a downer about how frustrated I was that I couldn’t get rid of my debt.

Insert epiphany here.

It’s not that I couldn’t get rid of my debt faster.  It’s that I valued my Starbucks more than putting $2400 towards my debt.  There’s nothing wrong with spending money on Starbucks.  But I did realize that I wasn’t as broke as I thought I was.  This opened a floodgate of realizations for me (did I tell you I love clothes?!) which has actually been incredible.

This simple statement has also helped me to relax a bit more when it comes to business.  I used to be TERRIFIED of charging any more than I charged when I was starting out and building my portfolio (even back when I was charging $100/session I received feedback that I was waayyy too expensive).  Once I realized I needed to do a business plan and charge according to what it costs to run a (successful) business I realized that EVERYONE (like me and my Starbucks) puts their money towards a plethera of random or not-so-random priorities.  So, if someone can’t afford me because they’d rather spend their money on other things then that’s okay and I don’t need to take it personally!!  Pretty liberating, no?

I was perusing my InStyle magazine (yep…I value a subscription to that magazine…) and saw some of the following things that people value (no judgement, believe me, just lots of “Aha” moments):

-Rain boots – $70

-Wedge shoes from J.Crew – $198

-A gorgeous dress from Lida-Baday – $850

-Louis Vuitton Handbag – $1000

-Gaming system (PS3 or the like) – $250

– iPhone – $649

-Eating out 2 times a week at a decent restaurant – $60

-Taking a cab – $30

-Leather Belt – $70

Etc.

Yes, I know that, genuinely, not everyone can afford a $300 photo session.  But I also feel released from thinking I need to lower my rates (and my chance of my business becoming successful) because someone tells me they can’t afford it (while they walk towards their nice car with their Starbucks in hand with their InStyle tucked under their arm in their J.Crew wedges).

Thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “photography isn’t free (or cheap)…part two/what we spend our money on…

  1. Agreed. Though I’m just starting out with the business side of photography, being in the art business for the past 5 or so years, I’ve learned that if people like my work, they’ll pay for it. I’ve experimented with my prices and I’ve found that my work only sells a little better when I reduce the prices. For example, if I reduce my prices by 50%, I’ll probably only increase my sales by 30%. So in the long run, I’ll actually be doing more work, but but making less money.
    There’s also a certain perception about how much things cost. A lot of the time people actually want to pay more because then they know they’re getting good quality. The fact that I own all Apple products is a perfect example of that 😛
    I recently went to a portrait workshop and the photographer (he’s been a pro in the business for a long time) said he often gives quotes for higher than he actually wants, and then offers a discount. That way people think they’re getting a deal, and he gets the price he wants. Whether you agree with that tactic or not… it does speak towards people’s perception of something’s value.

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