What if being a starving artist wasn’t a thing

I was thinking about photographers and their general dislike of numbers. It’s not that they are unable to run and understand their cost of doing business – it’s just that it’s generally considered the least exciting part of being a photographer. Most of us are in the business because of the buzz, the “high” we get when we’re in the zone…creating beautiful imagery for ourselves or our clients.

understand your cost of doing business

I remember the “buzz” creating this photograph. I had to climb a fence and was inches from falling into the lake in order to line the boats up. This photo won the best pictorial photo in Canada in 2013 and went on to represent Canada at the World Photographic Cup.

Very few of us get that “buzz” when we’re calculating our cost of doing business.

This lead me to think about the world of business…and how the majority of creatives are at a disadvantage. The world of business is run by people who enjoy or are at least very good at math and analytics. It’s their job to get the best possible deal or pay the least amount of money…and many photographers take deals where their work is undervalued.

I think of all the photographers out there who have stopped (or just didn’t know they could) negotiating fees for editorial use with magazines. Or all the wedding photographers who provide free content to magazines or their vendors in exchange for credit lines (the only people who read credit lines are photographers!). Or those royalty-free stock agencies who pay photographers a dollar or two for their photos (that was not a business model invented by photographers!). Ugh.

Imagine if photographers understood their numbers and the value of their photographs. Imagine if photographers were empowered to negotiate the worth of those photographs. Imagine if photographers were empowered to say no to crappy deals.

Imagine if being a “starving artist” wasn’t a thing anymore?

That would be awesome.


What do you find the hardest part of placing a value on your work? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll address it in an upcoming blog post!

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