If you see an ass, ride it! by Dominic Lee.

If you see an ass, ride it! by Dominic Lee, AMPA.

The beautifully framed family portrait is sadly now a thing of the past. Back in the day when the average Professional photographer sold a framed 20×16 inch portrait for €500 and two framed 10×8s for Grandparents @ €250 each, total €1000.

Now the photographer can save a lot of hassle by offering the file on a USB flash drive for half the price – €500 – eh, no chance. Unfortunately, no member of the  public will pay €500 for digital files which they regularly treat like crumbs on a plate after eating a scone. So what would they expect to pay? 

Even at €50 for a file they will freak out – “It’s only a digital file“!

And how do they select which image they want to pay for? Presumably with a viewing of all the images, well that’s another hour onto the session time, not too clever for €50. Easier to just hand them all the images and let them choose at home, right? Except now they have about 50 images for €50.

Even if the client manages to get a good quality print (which is impossible for a couple of Euro), other family members who have had the images forwarded to them by email or WhatsApp may not be so competent at printing and within a very short space of time the photographer’s reputation is destroyed by portraits which look like they were printed on toilet paper and left in direct sunlight for a month.

The photographers average sale has dropped from €1000 down to €50 which means sacking the staff and operating from home to avoid Rent and *Rates. Needless to say the customer couldn’t give two hoots about any of that!

Even offering low-res 6×4 inch files is a bad idea, the customer will still attempt to print them A4 size and then be furious with the photographer because they didn’t understand the difference in file sizes.

So how do professional photographers resolve the problem presented by the digital age? The answer is ‘Quality Control’. When any company turns a blind eye to quality control they are on the downhill slope.  So, if you don’t want to join the thousands of photographers who have gone bust because they allowed the customer to dictate the quality of the finished product, you need to stand your ground and refuse to bow to this pressure because many customers go by the motto  “if you see an ass, ride it”!

*Rates are paid to a the local County Council by the owners of a business premises, in my case it was almost €700 a month for my studio and after over 30 years in business I still don’t know what the County Council spent it on. I have a feeling that they operate with the same ‘See an Ass, Ride it’ motto.

Dominic Lee (Retired Photographer).

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