LeightonD's Photographic life.
Talking to a model friend of mine the other day, I come to realize that many of us on a day to day basis, face a challenge of what to spend our money on when it comes to like goods and services. In many things we buy on a day to day basis, we do not know what the true value of an item is, so we can only compare it on the price. What it costs us. While Price is a measuring stick, can we say that it really tells us the value of an item?
I love the steak at Texas Roadhouse. For under $20, you can get an awesome, gut busting meal. I also enjoy a delicious Cowboy Rib eye at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Steak alone will probably set you back close to $50, add sides and a drink and you are close to the $70-$80 range. So, is Ruth’s Christ steak 400% better than Texas Roadhouse’s? It might depend on the value it has to you. If you are a family of four, hungry for a good meal on a Friday night, will $80 satisfy your family or will you need $300? What if it’s the night that you want to get down on one knee and propose, or celebrate your 10th anniversary? Does the exclusivity of Ruth’s Chris and the significant event add value to the evening? Do you want to remember it with crushed peanut shells on the ground, or candlelit ambience?
As you can see, value is not only in the Price, or the cost of something. Often times as models, vendors, and photographers begin searching for others to work with on their portfolios, they think of only one or two things; price and cost. Very rarely to do they think of overall value or return on investment (ROI). Take a model for instance. I model can go out and seek to put together a wonderful portfolio. She seeks out the best photographer in town, who photographs for 5 of the major agencies, and asks him for a test shoot. The photographer tells $5000 to include makeup, hair, and wardrobe, with printed and digital images. The model feels that this is too expensive and is not “worth” it. Her value of this arrangement is strictly based on the $5,000 investment. The model continues and finds a photographer who only charges $250, but that is only digital images, and does not include anything else. The model will have to provide her own hair, makeup, and wardrobe.
The model arranges the shoot on a Saturday so that she can have her hair done on the Friday. Her hair style runs her about $85. She then goes to the mall to buy a fresh new outfit for her shoot. As a matter of fact, she buys 2 outfits for different looks. Each outfit averages about $150 apiece. She then gets up the Saturday morning and goes and get her makeup done before the shoot, costing her about $75. Altogether, for just this one shoot, she has invested over $700, not to mention the lost time from running around. She doesn’t notice this, because in her mind the SHOOT is only costing her $250. Her value is looking only at $5,000 compared to $250.
Unfortunately when she goes to her first casting call, the casting agent, glances at her portfolio, and tells the model that her portfolio is of poor quality images and that she needs to find better work before coming back. Defeated, but not destroyed, the model finds other photographers, averaging a total of $700 a session. After about 6 months and 10 photographers, the model finally gets her first break. The model has spent 6 months of her life, and well over $7,000, but she has finally made it to her first big gig. At the same casting that model meets another model, named Jenny, who is casted and begins to look at her portfolio. The model tells Jenny how awesome her portfolio looks, and how she must have been modeling for a long time. Jenny replies that this is her first casting, and she has only been shooting for a month. Amazed, the model tells Jenny that she must be a natural! Jenny responds that she isn’t a natural; she just shot with a great photographer that provides everything that she ended to make a great portfolio. The model is quite as Jenny mentions the name of the original photographer.
Is there any guarantee that our model would have made it in less than a month? Of course not, but was waiting longer and paying MORE over time worth it? It’s always better to do it right the first time than to have to do it over and over again, wouldn’t you agree?
I want to remind us all that whether it’s hiring a photographer, booking a model or makeup artist or even just going out for a steak; we should establish value FIRST before analyzing price or cost. If investing $5,000 will result into making $50,000 a year, isn’t that a better value of $500 making you $1,000? Do not just look at the photographer that is charging $50 and think that is your final cost, or look at the $900 as being too expensive without looking at what the entire package entails. A makeup artist that is non-licensed or bonded might be half the price, but may cost you more in liability in the long run.
So next time you have an opportunity to work with a production, create a portfolio or any other project; do on let price be your sole determining factor. Remember, price and quality go hand in hand. It is often better to pay a little bit more and get a whole lot more, than to pay a little less and get a whole lot less. The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price has disappeared.