Thanks for taking the time to go down this road becauseI think it’s one well worth exploring for photographers new and veteran.
I see your point about undercutting as a tactical business move, but I’m not convinced that this applies to photography. It’s not that everybody has to be friends and get along, writing one another and checking competitor’s rates before bidding a job, but rather understand and effectively communicate the value of our work to our potential clients. Most of us are individuals, not firms or upstarts, so the internal dialogue of how much to charge becomes even more difficult to resolve. And as individuals, we’ve got a vastly different business structure from that of an upstart.
Maybe there is a bit of complacency from the veterans who are accustomed to $50k productions, and I’d agree that they should be very afraid of the young gun, ablaze with passion as he starts getting exposure. But that fear should be an artistic one, push the veterans harder to be more creative and find a new way to see. If he’s truly good at what he’s doing, the young one isn’t a threat. If he’s a phony, he’ll hide behind his gear, as you say. But this is a separate issue from pricing. Your gear doesn’t make you good, and if it does, then you’ve been screwed all along. Eiher way, we’re all better off, complacent or not, if the young gun understands and appreciates his value as a professional.
It’s not about following blindly and I don’t think it should be. We’re in an age (a distinction from many industries) affected by a deep seeded change in our consumption of images. You know as well as I do that there are more images made and consumed in 2015 than there were ever before in history. How else do we retain value as more than just reliable machine operators than to consistently demonstrate and communicate our value to people who think thay professional photography is little more than clicking a button? If your work, your usage, your licensing, your work ethic, your creativity and your attitude on set is worth more than the client has the budget for, it’s your responsibility to walk away. You don’t go to a store asking to get two beds for the price of one because your budget is tight. You walk out with one bed. No need to follow blindly, but if you approach value with open eyes, there’s a good chance you’ll arrive at the same conclusion.