Sunday, 10 January 2010

Assigning value

Let us start with the condition of an amateur photographer like me and probably you, too) who's in this for the love, not primarily to make money.

So how does this photographer assign value to his work? It must be worth something, and that may not necessarily be monetary. And if the aim is not primarily to make money, should it matter that anyone would wish to pay for it. And how does it measure up to others in the same position?

If you've asked those same sorts of questions, here are some thoughts I've been having on the subject (and you may also detect a hint of the economics reading I've been doing recently).

Let's start with the money bit. Any pictures I might produce or print have a very limited cost associated with them - the direct costs of reproduction. There is no cost associated with the making of my work. Remember the starting premise - don't do photography for the money, so I'd be doing my work regardless, for the pleasure it gives me. Therefore I cannot assign a value to my time: there is no opportunity cost of doing an activity I'd would do anyway. If I get to feeling that I need to assign monetary value to the time I spend doingg photography, that means that there would be something else I could or would be doing - suddenly I'm not doing it purely for the love.

But there are other qualities of value. the pleasure the product gives me. Memories it invokes for places I've been or emotions I've felt. The pleasure of seeing others enjoy my work - receiving praise thereby.

And I think one of the highest terms of value I might assign (although you may differ) would be that others (photographers especially) might want to own my work, either through a swap or other means. That's not that I want to actively market or make money, which defies the principle of my starting assumption.

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