visionchart“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”

– James McNeill Whistler –

I’m not sure if ol’ James was right about this, but it does help explain some things that photographers might want to address.

It has been my casual observation that the price of professional photography might be plummeting. I see this primarily through social media where it seems every other person is a photographer. While I know this is not the case, you would have to agree that there are a lot more “photographers” out there today than there were 5 or 10 years ago. With so many more people with cameras out there, it could stand to reason that competition may be causing the price of professional photography to come down.

So, if it is true that there are more photographers competing for business, they might be lowering their prices to compete with others as each photographer vies for his or her share of the professional photography market. This would coincide with my observation that the cost of professional photography is plummeting.

Now, before you think I am sounding the alarm, hang in there and let’s examine the situation.

If I needed someone to mow my lawn at my home, I would not need to look too far to find someone who could do this for me…probably cheap! I get a ton of cards and door hangers on my front door from individuals and small businesses that all want to mow my lawn. Because there are so many, it really is cheaper for me to let someone else do it – instead of mowing it myself. (See, “Making the Mow-st of Your Time”). It is cheap because there are a ton of folks simply willing to be paid for their labor.

So, if we look at what James says, we can understand that there are lots and lots of people with cameras who are simply willing to be paid for their labor. These are the folks who are working in the realm of competition at the lowest common denominator…price! When businesses desire to get work by competing only with price, the result is almost always that the quality will go down and prices will plummet since there are so many competing.

So when James says, “An artists is not paid for his labor, but for his vision.”, he is providing us the key to a photographer’s success. It is the creative “vision” of the artist that sets that artist in demand. It is educating clients about our unique approach to providing a deeply personal experience. It is the photographer’s ability to inspire clients to demand more and expect higher standards for their photography. It is teaching clients about our unique skillset and our creative vision that we bring to the table in making their images timeless works of art. It is showing clients properly printed and displayed images that sets us apart from the hungry crowd. It includes the efforts by a photographer to provide outstanding customer service.

If you are only paid for your labor, you won’t be in this business long.

I think James got this one right. What do you think?

By the way…

– If you liked this article, would you be kind enough to share it with someone or post it on your Facebook page? Thanks so much.

– Think about how you would market your work if there was no Facebook and then start doing that!


I wanted to share this sweet note from a recent private coaching client:



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