Picasso Knew the Value of Experience

I’m often asked about my prices for my prints, my photography workshops or my fees for my photography. My normal answer is, “You’re not paying for how long it took me to print the photograph, not even how long it took to create the image, but you’re paying for my over 40 years of experience in photography.”

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” —Picasso
Picasso Principle in Photography Photo

This photo of Ashley taken with a SUNBOUNCE Sun-Cage and a SUNBOUNCE MINI outfitted with 3-D Raindrops Silver reflector fabric.

If you’re familiar with great artists, then you know their thoughts on the value of their creations are based on the great painter, Pablo Picasso and his principles that your art has value, not perceived value, but value earned through experience, not just creativity.

While there are many stories on Picasso principles, and for that matter even his personality, one of my favorites about his business principal for art is this one:

“Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So, Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

Obviously, I’m not Picasso and my creations are not done in one pencil stroke much less the click of a camera shutter. I normally take the time to plan my shoots, or concepts as I refer to them. Sometimes I face many battles, but I understand this thing they call “life.” Once those battles end, or are avoided, I go to work on my creation, pouring in not just all those years of experience, but my love and passion of creating photographs, not pictures.

You as a photographer, or any artist for that matter, need to figure out, how long it took you to build your brand, accumulate your photography gear and the expense you’ve put into it, plus how long it took you to master the use of that gear. All four of those things have value and you need to take that value into consideration when you determine what you should charge. I get more in-depth with that value in my past article here on SunbouncePro.com titled, Million Dollar Photography Question.

Whether it’s photos you sell, photos you take, or even photography workshops you teach, don’t undercut your value because if you do, there’s a good chance that you will create a perceived value that may cast a negative perception of your artistic abilities. You have to figure out your worth along with the worth of what you can achieve, not just for yourself, but for others when it comes to your photography.


Rolando Gomez is a professional photographer and author of five photography books that has traveled to 45 countries for assignments. The former soldier and U.S. Army combat photographer has taught hundreds of photography workshops for almost two decades. A 2016, 2017 and 2018 Top Writer for Quora, his partial credits include Newsweek, Parade, Playboy, Rangefinder, Maxim, Rangefinder, New York Times, Stars & Stripes, and various other publications. You can find more of his work on AmericanoDream.com.
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