Why It's Impossible to Place a Price on an Art
Updated: Oct 16
I guess it's possible I might have lost count of just how many times I've been chided by friends for charging impossibly low rates for my writing services. But each time, I just laugh off their concerns because despite the effort and skill I invest in my work, clients still seem to manage to bargain and ask for even lower prices from me. I suppose there will always be those clients who would try to ask for marked-down rates even from a freelance writer.
Not surprisingly, it's similar in the world of professional photography, and many talented artists out there will share a common groan about high expectations from clients but less-than-optimal remuneration in return. Some would have even experienced being asked for their services in exchange for exposure only.
In an industry where it's impossible to precisely set or measure standards and quality, it's difficult to calculate a photographer's "net value," so to speak. You may argue that with so many photographers out there, cross-referencing should make earning a reputation easy; but keep in mind, there are photographers who make this their livelihood, and then there are those who are in it just to earn a quick buck. And there are, indeed, freelancers out there who offer ridiculously low prices or are even willing to shoot for free in exchange for publishing rights (or I should say, bragging rights). Well, as the common Chinese saying goes, “一分钱，一分货” meaning, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Coming back to your wedding, would you rather save a few dollars in exchange for the risk that your photos might not turn out the way you had expected, or maybe not even turn up at all? It’s hard to put a price on peace of mind, assurance and of course, ethics. A professional prides himself in being someone who not only follows the code of ethics but also ensures that his clients are truly satisfied with his work. Hence, many choose to meet up with their clients to discuss expectations and artistic directions even before the client has signed on the dotted line. Personally, I spend time with prospective clients to understand their needs and allow them to see my portfolio in order to see how I might better contribute to their vision before I even agree to take on their business.
But why would we do that? There's a possibility the time spent on pre-consultation may go down the drain if in the end the client chooses to walk away, but we pride ourselves that as professionals, what we market to our clients is our dedicated passion and skill, first and foremost.
Written by Kally Tay
Edited by Priscilla Lai
* Kally Tay is a writer who used to be a bride from Annabel Law Productions and a friendship blossomed with Bel after her wedding. She loves to share her knowledge of being a mum and her corporate experiences though her blog at Middle Me.