Services Rendered Aren't Exactly Free

It has dawned on me this week, more then most- the troublesome "fly in the ointment" with word of mouth advertising. I photograph so-and-so, they like our images they tell four friends= advertising for the most minimal expense. Good right? Well kind of.
Say I photographed so-and-so at a group shoot. Most often those shoots are free to the models while the photographers chip in a few bucks. Proceed to the next part of the equation- so-and-so liked our images, tells their friends... But here's where it goes sideways.... So-and-so tells them I shot them for free. Not exactly the case. Are there models & friends that I give deep discounts if not shoot "for free"? Absolutely. If I shoot a model for free it
s because the concept is mutually beneficial- they have unique portfolio images and I in turn have unique images to print and sell. And it's totally my choice whom I give a discount to. But when you ask me if I'll work with you on a concept- then have a minor fit when I respond with my photography rate- not cool. Even worse, it's unprofessional. "Well, la-dee-da told me you shoot for free..." Sorry, but no. Do not assume to think that you will get the "free" treatment if I have never met you before.
A little explanation perhaps? Photography (like all other art, we'll get to that later) isn't ever free. I honestly should be charging a hell of a lot more then I do for prints or photo sessions- but I don't. I'd like to think that's an advantage. What small amount I do charge per hour ($85.00) pales in comparison to the other guys I know that charge a base fee of $200 for 5 edited pictures. I give you the edited versions of the best of what we shot. Print wise? I barely break cost. What really exists is the unseen bit. The editing. Everyone knows it happens but that's where the real time is spent outside of the studio, outside of the on location shoot.
I dump my camera's card onto my computer then begins the sorting. I delete the half blinks, the blurries, the oops I hit the button moments, the light tests- all deleted. Then come the deeper sorting- is this shot better then that one, nope- I like the hand better in this one. Awe- that's a cute outtake, we'll give'em that one. After that is the hardcore editing- correcting light, removing dirty lens dots, fixing a showing bra strap, corrected skin blemishes, or removing stubble. I've color corrected lawns, removed electric poles, hidden buildings in trees... You name it- I've had to remove it. And that's just the basics before I start playing with filters and digital enhancing to the images. This is all time spent at my computer. Hours I could be spending with my hubby doing other things. But I'm not complaining- because I chose this as a side job. I refuse to call it a hobby- I call it a job. Because people get paid for their job, as I do.
Now- I am a multi-media artist. I do more then just photography. I do sculptures, paintings, drawings, tattoo designs... If you like my work enough to say something on Facebook- go ahead and commission something. Please spare me the quiet insult of saying "You should draw me something..." then stop answering messages when I tell you how much it would cost for me to "draw" you something. I do freebies once and a while for close friends and family.
Drawing for me most of the time is a quiet refuge from daily stress. Right now, drawing keeps me sane and helps me deal with my anxiety. Drawing is my therapy. I post those results here and on my artist Facebook page. I have ventured into the world of publishing my art in coloring books- so far just one but I am working on two more currently (another swear words one and one that is simply pretty designs to color in). I ask to be paid for my work because my art supplies cost money. Concrete for my castings- costs money. Paint, canvas, and enamel markers for my paintings- cost money. Sketch pads, markers, colored pencils, blending pens. pencils, erasers for my doodles- cost a lot more then you'd think. There isn't a magical fairy that reads a supply list taped to my craft table and magically delivers those supplies over night. So when I get the chance to sell a piece- I take it! Because the money from that commission- be it $5.00 or $50.00 means I can afford to do another one for someone else.
I know this probably sounds like a rant or tirade upon those unknowing- however I know this doesn't just effect me. I know artists and tattoo artist out there that are dealing with the same thing! Tattoo artists that devote time to creating a piece of art for someone pro bono only to have that person never come get it done. Artists that do amazing paintings pro bono but then the client has a change of heart. No the artist is out supplies and the money for that promised commission. It stings! Plus- totally isn't nice!!
Please, on behalf of all other artist out there- don't ridicule them for the price of their work, don't try to barter the price. If you want quality art- tattoos, paintings, drawings, photography then you have to pay for it!


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