So I found myself at a high profile school a few days back and discovered that there are still many interesting personalities I am yet to meet on this planet. I would eventually meet one of them that faithful morning. She would turn out to be one of the members of the organizing committee of the fun fair we were commissioned to cover.

The concluding arrangement we had with the president of the committee was to come prepared to take and print pictures of the students & parents at the venue. I insisted that it would only pay us if we charge $6.25 (about N1k) per picture. The assumption was that if at least 200 of the school’s 900 students showed up and had their pictures printed, we would break even. Besides, it was an opportunity to exhibit our products & services to this class of clientele.

While setting up our stand, I was approached by this woman who wanted to clarify how much we will be charging for each 5″ by 7″ picture. I was of the opinion that I had finalized that before coming to the school at all. Apparently she wasn’t aware of the arrangement I had made with the committee’s president. I explained to her what we planned on charging and she asked me to justify why I planned on charging such an “outrageous” amount. She mentioned the fact that she was expecting that we’ll charge $1.25 per picture so that we would “make a lot of money” in the volume of prints that ensued. I explained that there’s a value we bring to the table and $1.25 wasn’t what I agreed upon as a condition for coming on board.

She replied with a question & a tone I would never forget: “WHAT VALUE?” I paused for lack of words. She was apparently expecting me to answer her question. As if I didn’t hear it the first time, she repeated the question: “WHAT VALUE?” Another 2 seconds of silence ensued from my end. How do you answer such a question posed to you by a parent who spends over $20,000 a year to send her 3 year old child to such a school. I thought she of all people would understand what “value” meant. “We don’t want value today, we want dirt cheap pictures,” she concluded.

I was shocked. I explained to her nicely that $6.25 was what we were going to charge and it would be ok by us if just a few parents appreciated the “value”. She would later leave my presence to argue and finalize with the president of the committee. I would later find out that $1.50 was what their official school photographer charges them for a 5″ by 7″ picture. I explained to them (nicely) that I wasn’t their official school photographer and that our pictures were worth more than the other photographer’s. Shouldn’t I of all people know what my “goods” are worth.

Fast forward to 6 hours later. I would be chatting with the same woman that didn’t want our “value”. Only this time, she would be paying us $12.50 to print two 5″ by 7″ pictures of herself and her son. Bottom line: it pays to not just know what you’re worth. STAND FIRM to affirm the value you believe your pictures are worth. You never can tell, the CRITIC that is presently “accusing” you might be the same CLIENT that will write you a cheque for your services.

Plan to attend the next session of Basic Course in Photography
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