Growing up in a first-world country like America means I’ve also grown up in a capitalistic culture, where I’m sold ideas, objects and thoughts on a daily basis. Studies suggest that the average American is exposed to 5,000 ads a day, which is insane. The irony of it all is that my degree is in advertising and I’m incredibly passionate about it. I love advertising, marketing, demographics, buzz words like “return on investment”, “ideal client” and “branding.” I could talk all day about colors, shapes and sounds that can drive a person to purchase.
The issue with capitalism is that it can adversely affect the creative industry, especially in a culture that covets technology, real estate and saving money. I’m sure any creative reading this is nodding their heads, thinking of every time they’re asked to work for free, for “exposure”, for mere unkept promises that make us bitter in the future.
This one artist does this service, could you add it?
I met with one photographer, they offered me this price. Could you match their price?
So and so does this service, why can’t you do the same thing?
Admittedly, I do this gig full time, so I bend over backwards for my clients on a lot of things, but no, I will not photograph your wedding for $500 because someone on Craigslist offered the same thing. Now, I’m not going to rant about how much all of my equipment costs (over $15k), the insurance I pay for (hundreds a year), the taxes I pay (thousands upon thousands), but instead, I’ll focus on how I’m different from big name pricing matching brands *coughWalmartcough*.
First, as a small business owner, I do have bills to pay, especially since this is how I make money every day. When you ask me for a 1000% discount (it’s happened) that’s literally saying, “I don’t think you deserve to eat this month, because I don’t value your creativity.” Refunds aren’t something you can just demand either, because I’m not a multi-billion dollar company who doesn’t blink at a $1000 loss. I would much rather work my ass off to make you happy and keep the money you agreed to pay.
Second, as a creative, I get the luxury of choosing what I want to offer my clients. I currently don’t offer albums, which is unusual in the industry, because of two reasons: 1. my clients told me they never actually LOOKED at their albums. It just took up damn space! 2. I hate creating albums, as it can create tension in trying to design it. So no, I’m not going to entertain trying to price or inclusion match a “competitor” because my ideal clients would much more prefer wall prints in their home.
Third, that photographer you also like and want me to price match isn’t my actual competition. I don’t feel motivated to compete with them, because I’m Jenna Avery. I have purple hair, I tell the corniest jokes, I have colorful hair, I love tattoos. Joe Schmoe isn’t like me, will never be like me and I don’t want to be like him either. Don’t ask me to be one of the crowd please. Either appreciate me for the bad ass little bird that I am or hire Joe Schmoe.
Finally and the fourth point on the agenda is that unlike Walmart-eqsue companies, most creatives give a shit about you as a person. I have been the secret-keeper for clients, seeing the dress before the family, helping organize surprises, hold clients while they cry through other life challenges. I get drunk with my clients, share my life with them and learn their stories. I show off their photos like a proud grandparents and tear up with they have their first baby. I give a shit about my clients.
While Capitalism is a wonderful thing, in my opinion (let’s not discuss Wall Street mmmmkay?) creativity also has a place in the system. We just don’t have an obligation to abide to the norm. It’s why we work fifteen hour days, pay extra taxes, cry ourselves to sleep sometimes and basically own stock in wine. We aren’t like the big conglomerates. If you want to price match, please go to JCPenny. Rumor has it they have portraits for $25 and don’t even need to learn your name.