by Norman Phillips Published 01/05/2001
So what is the difference between us? A careful study would show that there is not much difference when the products and services are of equal value. On my last visit I witnessed consumer-spending equal too much of what I see in American shopping malls. I observed retailers vying with each other for the disposable pounds being carried by enthusiastic shoppers. I observed a diversity of products ranging from the tacky to the premium merchandise that attracts the more discerning consumer. What professional photographers need to understand is that our real competitors are not our photographer colleagues, but the stores that out image, out market and outsell us. When we see other photographers as our competitors we are most likely competing on price. And when we do that we all lose, not just economically, but image wise too.
Image is everything. The image we create for ourselves is key to our success or failure. When we aim low we get the bits and pieces left behind by those who aim high. And if some of our colleagues are quicker at collecting the leftovers, then there may be nothing left to scavenge. Consumers as a total entity are not as simple minded as often suggested. Those that can not afford our services may resent it, but they also know that if the quality, creativity and service matches the charges their image of us is as important to us as those who can and will afford to commission us. If you have not noticed there are those who shop Woolworth and those who shop Harrods. You have to make a choice. You either want the Woolworth customer or you want those who shop Harrod's. As the shopping habits continually evolve it is unlikely that there is going to be a middle market. There is a growing tendency toward a polarization between the premium buyer and the discount seeker.
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