Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Penny for your Thoughts

I was passing through a drive-through during my trek through the Northwest these past few days, and there I found an interesting insight. "Jack", of Jack-In-The-Box fame, was cited as the source for the phrase:

"Whoever said 'a penny for your thoughts' was a cheapskate."
Who knew this wisdom was a tangential byproduct of fast food? (For the 'Straight Dope' on the initial phrase, click here.)

It's so appropo to creatives. People continue to devalue what your mind dreams up, and what your mind sees. With technology making exposure and focus so much less of a hurdle to a usable image, the value of what's in your mind's eye becomes far more valuable. What you see. How you see it. How you frame it. When you trigger the shutter closed.

At some point, we evolve, as "paid people" to a cap for what we are worth as a physically producing worker. Attorneys, doctors, and consultants, are paid hundreds and thousands of dollars an hour for their extensive knowledge-bases, for their talents, unrelated to how long or how physical their work is. So too, are we, as creatives, best valued for our thoughts - how creative we are, and how we can best solve creative challenges when we're presented with them.

Remember, you set the price for your thoughts, and what your bring to the table. Don't let others dictate to you what you're worth - they will, almost without exception, undervalue (either intentionally, or unintentionally) your contributions.
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Anonymous said...

"So too, are we, as creatives, best valued for our thoughts."

This is a Mantra like statement that I, for one, could benefit from concentrating upon daily. In such a technology rich profession it's all to easy to slide into a belief that our value is based on which camera, what lens, the processing software . . I guess it's because these are the things that come into play when we calculate how much we need to charge to cover expenses.

There certainly seems to be a natural progression that a new photographer follows where the charge for shoots starts low when the overhead is low. Then with some new equipment and more business expenses it becomes clear the prices must increase. Each time my prices go up and my clients are still happy to hire me I get a little surprise. What was I thinking 3 years ago charging so little!? I know I've improved my skills since then, but little did I know my true market worth was more than double what I was charging. And from here I can see that I may well be looking back and saying the same thing in another couple years.

I've learned to tell myself when pricing jobs "They'll never pay me more than I ask for."

It's fun growing, learning, advancing. I can see that a good mentor would be a great help in all this. Not so easy to find in rural Alaska though!

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