Last week my wife and I began renovating our master bedroom. We hired a professional flooring expert to install the floors and a finish carpenter to complete the baseboards. We prepped the room for the flooring and painted the walls and trim.
Hiring professionals to do the important detail work like the floors and baseboards was absolutely the right decision. They were able to finish those projects in much less time than we could have and in a much more aesthetically pleasing way than we could have.
It’s interesting how home projects like these segue quite nicely into photography—given the frustration I hear from professional photographers about amateurs providing microstock or art directors doing their own shoots. In effect, Home Depot and Lowe’s have done for home improvement what inexpensive and high quality DSLRs and Photoshop have done for photography.
However, just like those people willing to take on a home renovation project without a professional may risk headaches and even more money in the long run; companies that take on a photography project better suited for a professional may risk the same fate.
To make this analogy a useful one, I stopped to think of the specifics that would cause me to hire a professional for a home project over doing it myself. I suspect these same factors affect a potential client’s decision to do it themselves or hire a professional photographer.
Specialized equipment: Does the job require expensive tools or ones that are difficult to use?
High price for failure: What’s the penalty for failure? If I choose the wrong paint color, it’s inexpensive to fix, but if I fail to install the floor properly, the mistake could be very costly.
Specialized skills: Are there specialized skills necessary to complete the job? For photography, these might include splash photography, complex lighting setups or extensive post-processing.
Big project: It’s one thing to paint a room, install a light fixture or plant a garden, but building a house from the architect’s plans is a whole different scale of difficulty. Is the photography project easy to execute or does it require extensive planning or logistics to pull off?
As you think how to strategically position your photography, consider the barriers to entry that would prevent, or discourage amateurs or novice photographers from entering your industry. Strategically positioning your company vis-a-vis your competitors (both professional and amateur) will help you sustain your photography business for the long-term while allowing you to focus on your strengths as a professional.