Monday, June 01, 2009

Oil Change, Any Car: $19.95

Every so often something happens that makes me wonder why I work so hard to adapt to new technologies. I work so hard at it that, at least in one case... Internet web sites, I was first to market. Well not 100% first, but clearly one of the very first photographers to establish an Internet site. I was so first that when The New York Times did a story on photographers' web sites, they profiled my site in their story.

This morning I received an e-mail which began, "Hello, we are in search for a professional photographer that can take photos of....." When the e-mail starts with such a generic greeting as Hello and not a mention of my name... not Hello Mr. Pobereskin or Hello Joe it's immediately suspect. There were clues that this e-mail was legitimate. It was addressed to an e-mail address that can only have come from my web site rather than to Undisclosed Recipients or some other indicator of bulk mail, the headers revealed that it was indeed from the company the writer claimed to represent, so I called the person to ask a few questions and she told me she'd been to my site and seen my work.

It was comfort-inspiring and after a brief conversation I sat down and made an estimate, almost certain I wasn't necessarily wasting my time. Having said that, and having spent a few hours on an estimate for this new prospect; I was still not surprised to read in a response to the e-mail I sent with the PDF estimate, "Is the total quote for $8,110? We don't need anything creative, we just need photos taken. I can express that this is more than what we expected to pay."

I called back and asked, well, what did you expect to pay? My prospective client told me that the other quote they'd received was for $5000 less, so roughly $3000. We spoke about comparing apples to apples, etc, etc and I was referred to another in her company for clarification of the parameters so I could prepare a second, more realistic (competitive), quote based on real world expectations rather than what she initially thought we could do.

Later on, I had an e-mail from my friend Rob Rathe containing a funny video about clients and their expectations and we commiserated on our similar experiences but then I had to just check.... did my correspondent really visit my web site? Does she really know what I'd do for $8000? The answer is yes... and no.

A check on the logs shows that she did search on for need a building photographer in New York city and the search did point her to my site, but the Access Log reveals..... - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:27 -0400] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:26 -0400] "GET /gifs/pober.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:27 -0400] "GET /jpeg/Picture4.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:28 -0400] "GET /gifs/eat.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:29 -0400] "GET /gifs/asmp.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:29 -0400] "GET /gifs/c3.png HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:29 -0400] "GET /gifs/celogo.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:29 -0400] "GET /gifs/SAA-logo.gif HTTP/1.1" 200 - - [01/Jun/2009:11:49:30 -0400] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404

.....that all she saw was the splash page. She never looked at the web site, she never saw the quality, never learned of the value I bring to a project, never read my bio. I cannot believe (sorry if I'm sounding like John McEnroe), I cannot believe she didn't look at the web site!! She searched alright, but she failed to learn anything about me or my work. All she wanted was a number.

Is this what 23 years of hard work has come down to? Forget the expertise, forget the value, forget the eye, we don't want anything creative just tell us how much you charge for a picture? We don't want to see your pictures, we don't even care if you're any good at it, just come to the bottom line?

Okay, that's it, I've had it!! I'll change your freakin' oil, any car: $19.95!


Anonymous Rich Green said...

I haven't gotten any email requests lately - ones I can't even complain about - but last year, in the final months, the ones I responded too with prices, nobody hired me. How does someone without a name or connections, survive? (A rhetorical comment. No need to respond.)

8:28 AM  
Blogger Joe P. said...

Lately, I'm not feeling like I have either of those! (name recognition or connections)

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Douglas Levere said...

I'll change your oil or anyone else for $19.90 (just a joke) As a photographer I don't like to get my hands dirty.

10:45 PM  

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