I’m running an experiment this summer, to see whether name-your-price style billing can be applied to photography. From June to August I am letting “independent artists and performers” name their own price, if they let me photograph them in action.
Why am I doing this? There are a couple of reasons. First, I’ve always been a fan of this way of pricing. Provided people are honest and not too greedy (which is most often the case when dealing directly with another person, in my experience), this is truly a value-based way of doing business. It inspires me to deliver a better product. Secondly, I love shooting other artists and performers in their element, but I also know that most – like myself – are not exactly swimming in cash, which can keep them from ever even contacting a professional photographer.
I know, I could easily kill myself this way, working for peanuts and being taken advantage of, which is why it is a limited experiment in the first place. For now, it only lasts over summer and only independent artists/performers qualify.
To further protect myself from being taken advantage of, a contingency for taking this approach is letting me “do my thing”. In other words, trust that I know what I’m doing. An important point for me, is to shoot more of the kind of pictures I love taking – like the ones used in this post – and while I am always open to ideas and suggestions, I ultimately reserve the right to turn any job or specific shot down.
I’m nervous and excited to see what comes of this way of doing business. I don’t consider myself especially savvy in business, but I am open to experimenting with alternative ways of doing things – and since it works well in other contexts, I figured it would be worth a shot, so to speak.
Come fall, I will write an update on how the experiment went, and whether I will be adopting this approach, or a variation thereof, on a more permanent basis.
Update: This way of pricing leads to a TON of extra emails and administration. I found it difficult to manage, very costly, and I think my clients found it confusing as well. The experiment was terminated early (July 1st), because it simply does not work.
Photos in this post (from the top)
- Entertainer Mike Phirman, during sound check at The Triple Door in Seattle (@phirm).
- Actor/Writer Wil Wheaton, reading from one of his books, preparing to go onstage (@wilw).
- Legendary Designer Art Chantry, in his old half-emptied office.
- Author Sean Beaudoin, in his office in Fremont, Seattle (@seanbeaudoin).