The first time I received a wedding photography inquiry, I was offered a piece of cake in return for my services.
No joke. Not even an hourly wage.
I had only photographed one wedding previously (my brother’s), and I was a new photographer, but I knew that I had to set the bar then for how I would be treated in the future. And I knew that my time was definitely worth more than a piece of cake.
This happens to all of us. All artists go through this period of trying to explain that your time, and most importantly, your skills, are worth something.
But what I really want to drive home is that it’s up to you to get that worth across to someone.
If you book shoots at $25, and still complain that you don’t make enough money or that people don’t value your time, that’s on you.
You are responsible for setting the bar.
Don’t ever walk into a situation assuming that someone knows your worth, and should have already guessed your price range. I've come up against these situations with myself being the buyer, as well. Situations where the artist didn't charge what they were worth, or didn't get the message across of their expectations - leaving both us feeling terrible and making it difficult to find a solution that leaves both parties feeling satisfied.
As much as I wanted to shoot my first official wedding, I knew that I could not work for someone that didn’t even value my time as a human, let alone an artist. A few months later I booked two weddings in a row, for the original price that I had decided on. No compromise. And it felt so much better than if I had taken that first offer.
When you sell yourself short trying to please someone else, you end up resenting them and in turn, feeling negative towards your work. It doesn’t help anyone.
You are worthy of being paid, and those that are worthy of receiving your art will never question that.