I like quotes. I’ve committed quite a few to memory because reciting them in a group setting makes me sound much smarter than I actually am.  That doesn’t mean these quotes lack truth.

I’ve always liked this one:

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.

I was reminded about this during a conversation with a friend who is a professional photographer. This person lamented that things are tough for freelance photographers on the open market. Too many prospective clients for marketing projects (usually a bright-eyed 20-something with more energy than smarts) undervalue the professional photographer, asking for a full photo shoot without fair or reasonable compensation. I’m not discussing someone who is right out of school — this photographer has 20 years of professional experience. My friend said photographers in these exchanges are fortunate to even get a money offer, but instead are usually offered a super-valuable photo credit as compensation. You ever try to feed a family with photo credits?

Simply put, that marketer doesn’t see the value of a professional by failing to account for the cost of someone’s time, experience and their investment in thousands of dollars of equipment. The photographer said the problem always has existed on some level for his industry, but has escalated in the age of digital photography. Quick access and seemingly unlimited volumes of photographs on SD cards lead the ignorant party to think photography is now a point-and-shoot endeavor. His exact phrase, “They think if you take a thousand shots, you’ll get one that works.”

Inevitably, according to my friend, is that the rejected party keeps fishing for talent until they find a student hungry for portfolio material or the unqualified friend of a cousin’s neighbor whose roommate is a photographer. The quality is substandard, and the client is left paying a little or no money for poor photos. Back to the drawing board. Many times, they will call the original photographer, hat in hand, having wasted time and resources that could have been invested smartly into the project.

Sound familiar? I’ve met more than one horseshoer who has heard a client question price and disregard the work as, “But you are only trimming his hooves.” They sometimes fire the farrier, and opt to hire the cheaper option or attend a weekend hoof-trimming seminar so they can do it themselves.

The cheaper option may be just as qualified, but you never know. And much like the philosophy of “if you take enough pictures, there will be a good one,” sometimes it works out for the horse. But often it does not. By hiring the inexperienced, unqualified practitioner, the owner gets poor footcare in return and the horse suffers from it. And if a veterinarian has to intervene, watch the cost escalate.

All of this because they didn’t want to pay the professional. And sometimes, like that young marketer and photographer, the owner remorsefully returns, wanting to hire/rehire the farrier.

My photographer friend always says he’ll take the work, but increases the cost of the project to the potential client. Maybe that would work for farriers too? After all, it would still beat paying the amateur.