[editor’s note: This is rambly and resentful. I’m aware. Just take it for what it is and we’ll be cool.]
Plain and simple. It’s a fact of life as sure as death and taxes.
And it is becoming increasingly more obvious that people are becoming less and less willing to pay for what they want.
And it’s upsetting me.
I don’t know what I can do.
When you think you’re doing everything you can and you’re not getting the results, you’re looking for, you’re doing it wrong. But damn if it doesn’t suck to find your way to that conclusion. Like for me I’ve started to get more and more people inquiring into my work and my services because they like my product. That makes me feel amazing. It’s such a great feeling when strangers who have found you through efforts of your own (but most certainly not entirely) and like what you do enough to have you do that for them or help them reach their goal. And words could never express the gratitude I have for all of my friends who have truly supported me and my photography. Whether it be through a simple like on Facebook, a share, visiting my email, or even going as far as recommending me to their bosses or hiring me to capture the most important moments in their lives thus far. That’s incredible and I’m at a loss for words for how great the majority of the people I’ve come in contact with are. It’s amazing.
But there’s always something else, this is the part that strangers attempt to take advantage of for whatever reason. Yes, I it’s true that I do this because I like to do it but that’s not the only reason. I do this because I love it enough to put enough effort into it to become good enough for you or others to give me money so I can support myself and my “hobby”. This is where I’m having trouble pushing past with potential customers. I’ll receive and email asking about my services for a commercial shoot or album cover or spending hours upon hours documenting parts of people’s lives. All of these things I find interesting but… I’m not going to pretend that I’m jumping at the opportunity. The largest issue for me and so many others who rely on ‘freelance’ work, especially those who are young, is that these emails are filled with keywords like “exposure” and “portfolio building” and “good for your business” and “young” or “budding”. Words and phrases that are hardly included: “Our budget includes…”, “We are willing to pay you…”, “For your time and expertise…” or anything of the sort.
Naturally I respond, in certain but not confronting tones, that I work for money and do no work for photo credit but I would be more than willing to try and work inside the budget.
And I never receive another response.
Once people are told that they can’t have what they want, they move on until they can find what they want for the price they want but hardly for the quality they want. And if that’s not me, so be it, that’s fine. I’m not pretending that I’m the best or even that I’m really very good at what I claim to be. I let me work speak for itself and if you like it, fantastic. If you don’t like me… good, it means I have something to work on.
But assuming that I don’t know what’s best for my business is insulting. I know how you came across my work. Exposure. I did that. You are the result of that work. I’ve hit that goal. Well almost, my goal is for you to give me money in exchange for my photography, time, and skills. You can at least email me back saying “no thanks”.
How about this. How about I come to your place of work and ask for your services, products, and time for free? How’s that. Great, right!? You’ll get TONS of exposure.
No. That’s stupid. That’s not how things work.
Soon I’ll make it past the point of every email being declined and I’ll be on the same page as a potential client. Until then I’ll just keep working on things I can control and hope my work continues to speak for itself. Hopefully, to someone who is willing to listen to the whole speech and not just their favorite line.