With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
By: Austin Holt // nextlevelphotographer.com
Readers! Thanks for tuning in. Today’s topic is an exciting one. There is a TON of invaluable information and I can’t wait to hear your take aways from it.
With great power comes great responsibility (This was from an old course of mine!)
One extremely important thing I want you to consider:
One of my favorite movies of all time, is the late classic “Spider-Man”. Everyone knows the best quote from that movie, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
I actually opened every single lincoln douglas debate round I ever debated with this quote – and believe it or not, I won almost every round I ever debated.
Here’s why: this quote is meaningful, powerful, and effective in so many ways.
Here is how it applies to photographers:
Here is your power: When you begin calling yourself a photographer – you buy your gear, print your business cards, file your LLC, and begin writing facebook statuses about your photography business.
By doing this, by exercising this power, you are sending a message. You are telling the world you are ready to take their hard earned money, and give them a quality product in return.
Here is your responsibility: You actually know what you are doing, and either own, or have access to equipment that will adequately capture someone’s sacred moments, and will produce a quality product for them to hang above their living room mantel.
When you say you shoot weddings, you are telling a young(or old) couple that you are ready to take on the responsibility of capturing the most special moments of their lives. They aren’t in the wedding, or photography industry, so there is a good chance they will effectively believe you, and hire you, sometimes regardless of your level of skill and equipment.
You are promising them you possess the sufficient power, to provide them with a sufficient result. Don’t tell people you are ready for what you’re not. If you do, you are misrepresenting the truth about your abilities.
Solution: Assist other professional photographers. Seek counsel from other seasoned photographers. Practice makes perfect.
When you are in the training/learning/developing stage of your career in photography, offer to shoot pictures for free, or for “tips” only. That way, if they don’t turn out great, no problem. They were free.
Call your friends, your favorite couple, or grab your dog, and go out and shoot. Just shoot. Shoot a ton. Offer to do the photos for free.
When I used to sell residential properties, there was one fundamental rule that always stuck with me:
You put a house on the market when it’s ready. If you put it on the market, and it still smells like cat litter, or the carpet is stained beyond repair, or if the roof leaks, the buyers that come through, will most likely not return, and if they do, they are going to want a BIG price reduction for the poor quality of the home, and for their “troubles”.
See the analogy? If you participate in a paid photoshoot before you are ready, there is a great chance that the client will never come back to you again.
Or, they will demand another session for free, a massive price reduction, or, God forbid, they will want their money back, trash talk you on every review site they can find, and warn everyone they know about you.
Doubt this happens? Wrong. Imagine someone promises the bride we talked about above, world class photos, for a “good deal” and then delivers horrible photos to the bride and groom. Their perfect day, which they invested thousands of dollars, their hearts and souls, and tears into, and you took horrible pictures. Here is a little tip: Photoshoots, especially weddings, are very emotionally focused and driven. If you royally screw it up, or misrepresent your abilities, you will pay for it, (and rightfully so.)
Remember: With great power, comes great responsibility.
“Fake it till you make it” doesn’t fly in the world of photography. It’s not right, and it’s not fair.
Lastly, you don’t just have the responsibility of ascertaining a quality skill in taking pictures, but you have the responsibility of possessing quality equipment as well. If the client can’t print a nice, large photo for above their mantle because the shot is grainy, and pixelated, they are going to be ticked. I would be too.
Don’t give them the impression that your $500 DSLR is pro-grade. No offence, but it’s not. Rachel and I have over $25,000 in photography gear – it took a long time to amass, and yes, we had to sacrifice lots of fun things to have this gear, but our clients are worth it, not to mention the long term financial viability and longevity those sacrifices procure.
Everytime we purchased a pro piece of glass(lens) we would say to ourselves “Hmm, we could either spend $2500 on this lens, or go to Hawaii…”
Getting the gear will require some sacrifice, but it will be worth it, I promise. (So is it really sacrifice? 😉 )
Assignment: Practice, practice, and practice. Prepare to accept the fact that you need good gear, and a professional skill set, if you want to charge formidable fees for your services.
Try to pick up your camera EVERY day and take a few photos.
Begin to make a list of friends and family that you could shoot for free(no puns, please!), for the experience.
Consider the Latin word “Fiducia” which means trust, confidence, assurance.
Furthermore, consider the role of a fiduciary. Be the kind of person others can trust, have confidence in, and assurance that you will put their needs above your own(In the context of the role they have hired you for), and that you perform competently, and professionally.
You have a fiduciary responsibility to your clients. When you assume the role of both photographer and friend, you are making a representation: make a good one.
EXTRA assignment for FUN:
- Watch spider-man – that movie rocks! (Optional)
- Do something kind for someone this week. (Yup)
Thanks for reading this post from nextlevelphotographer.com. Be sure to have a look around the website, and subscribe at http://www.nextlevelphotographer.com/subscribe
Talk to you soon!
-Austin and the Next Level Team