Picking Up Small Change

on September 20, 2015

We see many famous and successful professional photographers here in our shop. Award-winners, superstars, iconic ambassadors, and mentors. They are a wonderful experience and do us a great deal of good - not least in the matter of figuring out how much to charge for taking pictures. We don't have an exact number but their general advice is..." a lot ".

That's sensible. They are famous and want to have money as well as fame, so they wish to receive it from their clients. As long as they all agree on this the whole thing goes splendidly.

For those of us further down the pixel chain, the big prices are not really possible. We must take our pay in smaller amounts, though we would still like a largish share of the fame and affection. So we charge less and hope for the best.

Every so often we get an enquiry from other small photographers about what can be done to attract some of the cash. Here is a modest selection:

a. Have you seen how awful Facebook and other social site profile pictures are? This is a result of people having nothing but duck-face selfies available when they come to post time. Why not set out amongst the people you know to take your DSLR or mirror-less camera and provide them with a set of good looking FB pictures. You don't need to make vast files or charge swingeing prices - just make them look good and they'll alert others to your service. You might have all you need right now and no more to outlay...

b. Collectors of anything need to catalogue their collections and like to brag to others of what they have without opening their premises to unwanted intrusion. Stamps, coins, dolls, artillery shells...they can all be taken in studio or in situ in a small portable light tent. Your smallest DSLR or mirror-less is fine for this sort of activity and your output can be a disc or thumb drive costing practically nothing. And the best thing is - collectors always collect more. Do a good job for a fair price and they'll be back time and time again.

c. Take a picture of every object and surface in a person's home before the burglars intrude. The image just has to be clear illustration - the sort of flat light that is easily done with any small camera. Every room has 6 surfaces, and details add more images. Charge modestly but add it all up and offer to keep a copy of the images on a CD or hard drive on your premises in case they have a fire. Costs you nothing and gives them peace of mind.

d. Lots of people have websites these days selling lots of little goods - Heaven knows where they get the dreck from, or who buys it, but that does not concern you. Beetle over to their non-photographic premises with your camera, a couple of lights, and a light tent. Shoot all the little products and deliver small jpegs. Don't be proud - if they can sell junk ear-rings you can take pictures of junk ear-rings and get paid.

If you are worried about not making a fortune every time you click a shutter, remember the story of the Hollywood extra who had such a general-purpose nondescript face that he could be used in any B-grade movie. Year after year he was in the bar scene or the crowd scene or the backdrop. He collected his pay every week from the studio and at the end of it had appeared in more productions than any of the stars. Not fame, but solid meat and potatoes work.

And I like meat and potatoes.