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It’s very common for me to hear about input from people who are new to the industry or who are very unattached to the business side of the industry to make sweeping statements about the business side of a photography sessions. Any individual members value in terms of marketing or branding the shoot determines the worth of the individual involved. If the staff you hire align with the brand of the business doing the shoot the next item is each individual’s marketability. This doesn’t make individual members artistic ability or skill sets not valuable, but artistic merit is completely separate from an artistic item’s marketability or an artist’s marketability.

Photography is a marketing investment. It’s about a person looking to spend money in hopes of getting a fiscal return. I handle a photography session like I handle investment banking- it’s not personal, it’s business.

This is why high status fashion wants high status fashion model (branding). The bigger the reach the model has, the more value she brings by attaching her to the project (marketability). You can repeat this with the photographer, the stylist, the hair and make up, set builder, and designers attached to the shoot. Your value to the shoot itself is how much you individually can bring attention to the photography session’s end results, good or bad.

I realize this has some unfun side effects- like buzz about a photographer sexually assaulting women can actually bring him more eyes to what he is doing like with Terry Richardson, and while there are petitions to the fashion industry to stop hiring him, there was amount when the accusations were making him more valuable to work with. That moment has seemed to pass and now he is entirely unmarketable.

The problem is, when people start investing their own money they are worried about making the return. So decisions to minimize loss and maximize gains are quickly attached to the photography session. This is something photographer and models never seem to really think about- they are typically just the hired guns that are needed to get the shoot done and look back up at the people with money like “they don’t get it”. They do get it. They don’t have the same end goals as you, but if you had fiscal stakes in the photography session you’d have the same thoughts going through your head but probably at a much more novice level.

Artistic merit is completely separate from an artistic item’s marketability or an artist’s marketability. When we are talking about art in business, we’re almost always talking about their marketability.

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