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Are You an Artist or a Vendor

14 September

A recent Seth Godin blog post I read has been bouncing around in my mind since I read it last week. In it he mentioned the difference between Vendors and Artists. I thought it was quite relevant to the photography industry, especially wedding photographers who are often looked at as just another vendor.

Here’s an excerpt that really stood out for me, from the full post:

That’s the key economic argument for the distinction: if you treat an artist like a vendor, you’ll often get mediocre results in return. On the other hand, if you treat a vendor like an artist, you’ll waste time and money.

Vendors happily sit in the anonymous cubes at Walmart’s headquarters, waiting for the buyer to show up and dicker with them. They willingly fill out the paperwork and spend hours discussing terms and conditions. The vendor is agnostic about what’s being sold, and is focused on volume, or at least consistency.

While the talent is also getting paid (to be in your movie, to do consulting, to coach you), she is not a vendor. She’s not playing by the same rules and is not motivated in the same way.

A key element of the distinction is that in addition to the varying output potential, vendors are easier to replace than talent is.

So how do you represent yourself to your clients? It would seem that all wedding vendors are artists themselves; the Photographer, Florist, Baker, Musician, Dress Maker, and Coordinator/Stylist all are at some level an Artist.
Yet we are stuck with the moniker of Vendor.

Just as in Seth Godin’s post I don’t really have any answers for you. But it does at least open the inquiry to how you present yourself and your wedding photography services to your clients. Are you just another vendor providing a service, or are you an artist? And are your clients aware of the distinction.

I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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