Hire an Artist, Don't Price Shop
The dog photography market is flooded. That's a fact. But so is every other photography market right now- weddings, family portraits, events, school photos, newborns etc. The world of commissioned art has changed drastically even in the ten years that I've been participating. Photographers are starting businesses without any knowledge whatsoever of camera basics, and film makers are using their iPhones to produce award-winning movies. Like so many other aspects of our contemporary world, technology has led us farther and farther away from the core of the matter. People are looking for fast, easy, cheap and homogenous as opposed to intentional, man-made and truly unique.
So how do you go about finding the right artist to commission? It's honestly overwhelming at this point, with so many artists in all mediums coming at you from all directions, vying for your attention. Instagram and Facebook are great platforms, but it is a level playing field. By that I mean that anyone can use (and should use) social media. However, there are no filters or rules on social media to separate quality working artists from hobbyists, beginners and copy-cats. It can be difficult to sift through all the dog photographers on social media. It's also a challenge to find the right artist through a Google/etc search because some people are putting a lot of time into their SEO, adwords, key phrases and more. Just because an artist is good at web development does not mean their work is authentic and meaningful, or unique.
When clients commission me they have found something in my photography, in the copy on my website, in the authentic messages I am putting forth through my marketing, that speaks to them. I believe that what motivates my clients is a sense of trust - they trust that I will listen to their stories and needs with genuine focus and understand the emotionality of the portraits they want to create. To me, the best advertising is authenticity, incredibly high quality products and very clearly proven results. I'm not worried about what everyone else in my market is charging, what their work looks like or how I can possibly please everyone. All I'm concerned about is creating authentic work and deeply connecting with my clients. As an artist, that's really all I can do. And after doing things this way for the past ten years, it seems to be enough.