Pro Photo

Pablo Picasso Joke Explaining Why Your Work Is Worth It

A parable I tell often to clients

There's a great story, I don't know if it's true, but I'd love to think it is. It goes like this:

A woman is walking through the streets of Paris when she spots Picasso sitting at a cafe drinking coffee. She is overcome with the urge to approach him.

“Oh, Monsieur Picasso! I'm such a huge fan of your work. I hate to bother you, but I'd be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to ask if you might make a portrait of me. Please, it would mean so very much to me. I'd pay you gladly for it!”

Picasso agrees, and the woman sits with him. He pulls out a sheet of paper and a pencil, and in a few moments, she has her very own Picasso.

“Oh!” she gushes, “It is so beautiful, I'm so honored. I will cherish this forever! Now what do I owe you?”

“Fifteen thousand francs.” says the artist

“FIFTEEN THOUSAND FRANCS?!? But it only took you three minutes!” she protests.

“No, madam, it took me my entire life.”


That story explains so much. I cannot tell you how many times I've told it to a client, especially after they balk at a price. I've spent a couple of decades honing my craft. So much so, that sometimes it looks like I'm barely working, like anyone could do it. But could they? Technology is a wonderful thing, the tools make it easier than ever to get a properly exposed picture. But what about the eye behind it, the composition chose, the lens choice, the depth of field, capturing the decisive moment? 

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