Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Is Professional Photography Really "Worth It"?

Being in the photography business for years has been an amazing journey and a great accomplishment for me. I believe that the people I meet are the best clients anyone could wish for. For the most part, my clients book an appointment, look at the images and then make a purchase according to the price list I provide and they go home a happy camper! Once in a while, though, a new client will express concerns about what they perceive to be the high cost of professional photography in general, and they wonder aloud if it is really worth it. And that is when I say to them, maybe I can help you to better understand why professional photography really is “worth it”.
Now, I don’t launch into a list of expenses that pro photographers have to cover just to stay in business. I don’t mention things like rent, insurance, licensing fees, business taxes, equipment cost, software upgrades, photo lab costs, assistants, shipping fees, travel costs, equipment upgrades, editing and retouching fees, ongoing education, and advertising costs . NO, I don’t mention any of these things; I wouldn’t resort to that! ;) But I do tell them about Sunday, October 28, 2012.
Yes, October 28, 2012, the day that President Obama issued a declaration of emergency for New York State. Schools, bridges, and airports were closed. Here in my home town on Long Island, the orders were given to evacuate immediately! A "super" storm named Sandy was headed directly at our island as if guided by some hi technological laser gun.
Hurricane Sandy came to New York the next day and for those of us that survived, our lives were changed forever. A lot was going on in the hours of that Sunday afternoon before the storm was due to land. The neighborhood was alive with commotion, yet there was a sort of calm panic. As if by coincidence (or something else) as I packed my vehicle, I looked around and noticed all my neighbors were doing the same thing at the same time. It was eerie, almost as if we had rehearsed this like the synchronized swimmers in the Olympics, or the newest young and bold dance team on America's Got Talent, but we hadn’t.
As my neighbors brought their valuables out of their homes and into their vehicles, not knowing if there would still be a house when we were allowed back, I saw something I will never forget; we all brought the same thing out of our homes!
I didn't see any Xbox console, or stereo system, I did not see any plasma screen 90 inch Super Hi Def TV, I didn't see any air conditioners nor did I see any comfy sectional sofas or fancy bathroom sinks, I didn't see any kid's bunk beds. No desktop computers or pretty Tiffany lamps.
What I DID see was that EVERYONE was loading their cars and mini vans with the family photos that they took off the walls, frame and all. They had their wedding albums and wall portraits. They had their kid’s photo albums filled with years of school pictures and Halloween costumes, taking their first steps and posing proudly on their first bicycle. And there were shoe boxes full of photos from years of assorted family occasions, even that last picture of Grandma before she passed ,and I understood. I understood. I really understood.
We know that at the end of the day, of all our “possessions”, it is our memories that we treasure most and place the highest value on. Pictures represent our memories. Our memories cannot be replaced with any amount of money or any material goods - it really is the most valuable thing we have!
I tell these “wondering” clients to keep in mind that when a photographer hands over custom prints with the images of your loved ones, these are now your “priceless” treasures forevermore. These are now the most valuable thing you own! And as they get misty eyed and give a quick sniffle thinking about what they would have done, they get it. They get it.
They really get it.
©2015 Richie Schwartz
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