Friday, August 19, 2011

Dollar for Dollar

Today, I’m tackling the hushed topic of money.

“Why,” you ask, “are you going down this path? It’s such a beautiful day outside! The birds are singing, the clouds are puffy, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and all is right with the world! Why, on a day like today, would you want to talk about money?”

Because I love you.
Because those of you who faithfully read this blog know me. You know that relationships, to me, are the most important things that we can build. And I’m trying to help you.

“Money? You’re trying to help me by talking about money?”

Yep. Here’s the deal – we’re going to get a little education that will color your lovely minds for the rest of your lives. Be brave. Work through it. You owe it to your families, your kids, and grandkids, and fantastic generations to come.

“Alright, fine. What’s this about?”

Buckle your seatbelts, my friends, because - in the words of Heath Ledger: “here – we – go”…

You don’t know how many times I’ve fielded the question – “Why are custom portraits so expensive? It’s just a picture, and I can get a picture printed at the drug store for $1.00.”

Have you asked that? Maybe you’ve just wondered it to yourself as you’re looking at the latest chain store flyer advertising 8x10 prints for $7.99. Or, maybe you've wondered exactly this as your pondering the annual holiday picture package that offers you thousands of small scale prints for ONE LOW PRICE!!!  Who cares that it's thousands of prints of the same pose?  (No customizing, please.  Should you choose to customize your package, well that'll cost you out your nose.  But hey - who cares when you get so many mini-wallets that you could send one to every soldier in Afghanistan?! - after you cut them out yourself).

We live in a very strange consumer driven society – one in which we expect extreme quality with no contribution requirement.

"What, on earth, does that mean?"

Just this, our society wants the world at our fingertips, and we don’t want to pay a dime for it.

The tragedy is that we don’t even realize how our standards for quality have plummeted because of our unwillingness to pay for a better product and service. Somehow, we’ve become satisfied with a thousand prints of one single posed picture, thinking we are getting a steal! Our mouths have become so used to horrible $1.00 cheeseburgers, that when we go to an authentic burger joint, complete with a waitress for our table, we gasp at the thought of paying the $10.00 they charge.

Suddenly, we’re getting our own drinks at a drink station. We’re cleaning our own tables before we sit down. We’re standing in line, waiting for a mass produced frozen product. And we’re okay with that.

It wouldn’t be so bad if we actually appreciated the $10 burger – and all that goes into it.

Now, let me make this disclaimer. I’m not down on chain-store photo shops. Not at all. It serves a need for some people, and that is important. After all, not everyone can afford custom work. And not everyone values photographic art.

All I’m saying is that custom work, custom art – it’s valuable. And you’ll never get the quality of the $10 burger, complete with service, atmosphere, and experience, when you’re only willing to pay a buck…

Tomorrow I’m going to spell out more about the distinctions between chain store photography and custom portrait work. We’ll compare burger to burger, (actually, photo store to custom work) and clearly differentiate the separation in value between the two different types of photography.

Then, you’ll know EXACTLY why custom portrait work is so much more valuable than photo-store offerings.  In the mean time, let's take a look at one more beautiful custom image that - ahem - could never have been captured in a chain-store shop...
See – that wasn’t too painful, was it?

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