Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/02/22

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Tina/Reimbursement/Value Placed on Work?
From: Mark Rabiner <>
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 11:14:21 -0800 wrote:
> I am not a professional photographer but I certainly understand the value that
> people place on outstanding photography.   Recently I was asked to photograph
> the children of an acquaintance.  I am a real sucker for children and I get a
> tremendous amount of enjoyment capturing their activities.  If my work shines
> it is in this area.  On this day I took about 120 pictures and of those there
> were around 50 that were exceptional.  I must have spent at least 40 hours in
> the darkroom working on these prints.  There was a lot of waste as I am a
> novice with the enlarger.  When I delivered the prints to the parents they
> were overwhelmed with the results and stated that they were much better than
> they anticipated.  When the subject of money came up I told them that I don't
> charge for my work but if they wanted to buy some paper for me to please see
> my friend at the camera shop.   Several days later they brought me a pack of
> 25 sheets of paper.  This would hardly cover the cost of the film.    It was
> not the money, it was the principal.  I spent two hours making the pictures
> using $20,000 of equipment, spent days in the dark plus paper and chemicals.
> No telling what my total cost was.    They were totally ignorant of the costs
> and they reimbursed me what they felt it was worth.   Since taking those
> pictures I have received calls from five other couples to take pictures of
> their kids.  I don't think so.  I would rather ask to take pictures of
> children and give them to them than to be depressed when I learn how much
> value they place on my work.  For me, when business is brought into it the
> enjoyment diminishes.   I appreciate the commitment that our professional
> photographers have made and hope that situations like the one that faced Tina
> are not common occurrences.
> Bob Bedwell
> << At 10:58 PM 2/21/99 -0500, you wrote:
>  > If everyone else volunteers their time and energy, I'm
>  >happy to pitch in and help.  If the staff is receiving a salary, then the
>  >photographer should, too.
Hi Bob:
Its like being a hooker, first for oneself, then friends, then  love,
then for money how does that go?
Your experience echo's my own only mine was a while back.
I would type a short little letter to these prospects about your 100 or
250 box of paper that they would pick up for you and what exactly that
cost and when they get their pictures and when you get your paper.
People love you just as much as they can **** you. If they love your
work they will think its worth something in return. It also seemingly
contradictorily that the more your work is worth the more they like the
pictures. Give someone a free print of moonrise and they will thumbtack
it to the wall. People will begrudge you for an unframed print.
I remember during my high crazy days making an Ad company force their
receptionist to go to the camera store an buy me a pound of Metol while
I sweated it out in the Darkroom cranking out their deal. A dumb crazy
unprofessional situation but if I ran one more errand I would never get
their darn prints done and this was before I had any assistants.
After graduation from Art school as such in '76 if felt out of my
element in the biz world but I was told to simply say what I was going
to do, put it in writing, and then do it. And also put in terms. I would
say "I did my end my handing you these pictures but you have to do your
end by remembering your ****** checkbook."
You can tell you are in trouble if you listen to me.
Remember: for every penny Kodak has spent developing special purpose
professional films for us they spent a dollar convincing the world that
any idiot can click a shutter. "We do the rest" The paper you are asking
you to buy cost more that the snapshots they can get with their precious
kid's images on them. A sheet of paper means nothing to them, your time
means nothing to them. I am getting carried away but this is often true.
A special note when working with the rich: Don't say "3 $100 hours" say
"3 $100 prints of your exquisite kids"; your time really is worth
nothing to them, their kids are worth everything to them.
The worst people to work for are friends and family. I won't go into
that but you can imagine.
Mark Rabiner