Beware: The “weak sauce mindset” will cripple your photography

First position.

From my really, really limited understanding of ballet, first position is…umm…well, the first position you learn. I guess that didn’t need explanation. It’s also a foundation.

In your business…

First position must be this…

You are not a sad sack of a product wrapped in plastic, hanging on a store shelf.

There is no price tag over your head.

You are one of two people in a negotiation to find a way to reach an outcome you both desire. You don’t need to “sell” yourself, but you must advocate. This right is yours, because you care and take care, and you commit yourself to creating the very best possible outcome.

You are a problem solver who solves a unique problem that no one else can. If you do not, then you have to find out what you do or how to do it. Because this is survival.

Customer service does not dictate that you put yourself in the position of the servant, pleading for business. You don’t need to lower your price, justify your price, or be guilty about your price.

Nor do not need to succumb to the assumption that price defines you. Which will be the first assumption of many, many clients. It is up to you to turn it around. And you must.

Price tags are for commodities wrapped in plastic sitting over at Staples.

You are an equal party in a journey.

So you deserve to be paid what you’re paid.

You must believe this, or else people will feel it. They will know. People can smell blood and sense fear, and it will seep into any relationship you have. Professionals know that it is their duty to keep the relationship from unravelling.

It will lead to a fundamental doubt and even a distrust, allowing the client’s understanding of photography to take precedence over your own, undermining not just you, but the client.

You must come from a position of power, not because it serves you, but because the trust it earns is the only way you can do your very best.

Take care of the client.

Take care of you.

And return to first position.

—Spencer Lum

P.S. The full Want Engines course countdown continues. How do you achieve first position in your marketing? It’s easier than most people think. Instead of focusing on being good or getting exposure, you need to start from a much more basic premise. Want.

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  1. says

    Yes, this is true. However, it’s hard for new photographers who are trying to get established in the industry or trying to make ends meet. There’s a fine line between sticking to your guns on price, and losing a sale. It’s a tough battle virtually all of us struggle with, at least in the beginning.

    • Spencer Lum says

      Thanks for sharing, Jeremy. I get what you’re saying, so I should clarify a bit, because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I’m not saying that you need to charge a lot or that you can’t bend. I’m saying that in any form of transaction, coming from the assumption that you’re of less value will always impact your leverage, whether you have an expensive or inexpensive product. For example, there are ways to negotiate that preserve your leverage, and there are ways to do it that lower your leverage. The key isn’t in the final number. And it’s not even whether you compromise. The key is in maximizing leverage throughout. Many things affect this, but mindset is a large part of it. In other words, even as a beginning business – in fact, very often, even more so for beginning businesses – you have to know your value beyond the assumption that price is the only thing people are interested in.

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