Money ≠ Time
In today’s day and age money is not more important than your time. When I first started shooting weddings I had no idea what I was doing. I was assisting at the time with a local wedding photographer (we are still great friends to this day.) and I can’t thank them enough for taking a chance on me and letting me learn the ropes of the business from an early stage in my creative career, let alone letting me make thousands upon thousands of wedding photographs before I ever booked my own wedding gig. Having that experience of making the photographs was equally as important as it was to learn parts of the business side of it. But eventually I did book my first wedding gig with a family friend who I had known for some time now. At this point I was in art school learning the ins and outs of making a photograph and understanding light to properly make photographs, so at that time I still didnt know what the industry middle ground was in Charleston for weddings. I had no idea, so because it was a family friend with a really low budget, I threw her a number, a really low number. And she snatched it up and it was booked. After the wedding day, everything went great and I began my editing process and eventually deleivered the client my photographs.
Well, she asked for more, so I edited a few “b-side” photographs and gave her those… she still wasn’t satisfied and had eventually asked for every single RAW image I had made that day. So with being a family friend I (as a complete idiot) did just that. And what a mistake that was, and I felt that I had let myself and this amazing industry of creatives down by giving in to a client because of fear of what they might do or say. But, unfortunately, that was inevitable because they were crazy to begin with and continue to do the most insane things regarding my family and me still to this day. (but I won’t get into that.)
But the reason for telling that story is despite not having a clue what I was doing, I messed up both finacially and professionally. I let a client control my art and I was walked all over just becasue I didn’t want my “name” or my “future” to be effected from a bad review or word of mouth. But I let that hurt my industry and myself and I have learned so many professional lessons from this one scenario.
1.) Know your worth.
2.) Know if the project is worth your time.
You must answer those two statements before starting any paid professional/creative endeavour. NO MATTER WHO IT IS FOR.
Small backstory; I currently work for Northwood Church in Summerville, SC. And I couldn’t be happier with my postion there. I honestly have the best job in the world and I could do this for the rest of my life and be so happy. (just saying) But despite doing what I do and despite doing what I was doing before I was hired by them a few films/photogrpahs I have done this year have gotten to the eyes of people who know other people in the church world/non profit world which is great. But with churches/non profit organizations they of course want quality of work for both internal use as well as use for marketing/advertising. Which all of this is great and I say ALL of this to say I am so thankful of every opportinuty I have been approached about and been able to complete this year. They have all been great experiences.
But because of what I learned nearly 5 years ago from that aweful wedding epxerience I can asses any situation I am thrown and take it from a outside perspective and give myself, my client, my inudstry a fair price for the work I do. I have had to make some tough decisions regarding non-profits and churches where they have a limited budget or are in a situation that is financially constricted at a certain point of time.
But I now know my worth and I now know how valuable my time is.
I say all of this to say in my own opinion; in today’s society, that moves at the speed of light it seems, our time truly is worth more than our money. As crazy as that is their are some days I don’t want to be very creative and I want to hang out with my best friends and their are some days where I can’t be very creative. Because of how much I push my limits with my full time job it is not healthy or wise for me to accept every job that gets thrown my way despite how much a young guy would love an extra grand or a couple hundred bucks here and there. I just mentally can’t do it.
And that’s ok.
I feel like most creatives get so upset or stressed at saying no, or undermining their worth and their time that they let clients push them around and they “feel bad” or “want to help” in a time of need for a non-profit or something like that. Or my absolute least favorite; “I’ll do it for the exposure/expereince”
It is absoutely ok to say no to jobs epecially if they are going to overload you with work and mental stress.