As many of you know, I shoot a lot of nightclub photography. I love it – the challenge to create cool and unique images in a difficult lighting situation, the chance to socialize with patrons and some of my own business clients – its tons of fun. Plus, with the local economy the way it is, this niche market has carried me through some trying months. The winter stretch is traditionally challenging in the professional photography world, and our area is heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry. With the downturn in that industry, people are cutting back on spending on what they deem to be luxury items.
Recently, I was shooting an event for a client in a nightclub. It was a typical evening, highlighted by an injection of patrons from the nearby Ladies Night Out event. These ladies were easy to pick from the crowd, with some very unique dresses and accessories. Needless to say, they made for some very cool models!
At one point, I started chatting up a group of ladies and asked if they would mind being photographed. One lady in the group had a look of disgust, replying in a very snobbish tone, “I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER!” Her insinuation was that nightclub photography takes little to zero skill, and anyone shooting in that genre was somehow beneath her.
Wow. Alright, then.
I carried on with the rest of the evening, garnering images for my client (who is one of my best regulars, I might add). But the words from that lady stuck with me for some reason. I quickly realized, “who cares what she thinks,” reminded of the quote, “if someone is trying to bring you down, it means they think they are below you.”
Yes, it’s a competitive business out there, but there’s work for everyone. I love working with fellow artists in collaboration – it’s a chance to talk shop, discuss different styles, or just hang out. I doubt the person I encountered would be so open, or even realize the benefits of collaboration. In the few brief minutes of our interaction, it appeared as though she could benefit from some mentoring – especially in the field of customer service and communication skills.
Oh well. Can’t please them all.
For those of you that we can please, feel free to contact RyKie Images & Events any time to book your next session, to schedule a mentoring session, or to just say hello!
A great master of the photographic art that I love to follow is Peter Lik. Back in December, he made headlines for selling one of his wonderful works – Phantom – for a record $6.5 million. This prompted a discussion on the value of art, with several people aghast that someone would pay that much for ‘just a picture.’ Others congratulated Lik, acknowledging his skill and were genuinely pleased that such artistry is finally being recognized.
I am of the latter group.
However, it seems like as photographers, we are continually educating our clients on the value of an image.
Seen through our eyes (as artists), an image is priceless. We spend countless hours putting together pricelists that will both cover our costs and still attract customers. We antagonize over the simplest of details, worrying if the images we create will be seen as beautiful by our clients as we see them.
Through some clients’ eyes, the bottom line is the pricetag; where can I get the cheapest photographer. But, they also have to be able to turnaround the product within short order. And only on a disc. So, to recap: give it away for darn near free; give it to me now, and only digital files to share without credit.
Hmmmm…. There seems to be a gap here, and this is why there are two camps on the Peter Lik ‘Phantom’ debate. The general public simply does not (for the most part) view photography as art. After all, anyone with a new camera can call themselves a ‘professional photographer,’ right?
What I would ask these folks to do is look at the work Lik produced. Actually look at it. No, not a fleeting glance as if it were on a social media feed, but spend, oh, three minutes actually looking at it. Study the curves, the lines, the light. Then tell me if this is art, or just somebody with a nice camera taking a picture.
I’ve written at length previously about how much experience, continual learning and money we spend producing art. My plea is that people begin acknowledge what goes into garnering quality images; that we are not simply a grind-em-out photobooth.
I always advise people to never decide based on price. Find a photographer's work and style that you love and hire them.