The value of our services
Singapore, 30th March 2011
An issue frequently haunting us is inevitably linked to our fees. How much or how little should we ask for our (professional) lighting design services? This debate has recently been stirred up in relation to Vivid Sydney were the IES ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) are inviting lighting designers to provide their skills in lighting up selected buildings in Sydney as part of the festival. The issue here being that the equipment is to be sponsored by the manufacturers, whereas the lighting designers more or less has to operate on a FOC basis…sort of honour and pride thing. I experienced a similar situation in Singapore last year where the main return from the organisers was (and I assume here is as well) the “publicity” that you will get from participating. Well, all I can say from my Singapore experience is that there were a lot of promises, but little came through. There was certainly no equal opportunity or exposure for everyone. Promised write ups and interviews never materialised, except for a few of the perceived “top attractions”. I am sure there is an explanation and reasons and in the end I had to do my own publicity and promotion.
In our project fees we encounter the same thing over and over again. Clients who wish to have our services basically for “free” or at very little fees. Most of the time with promises of future work, public exposure and a high end reference project to boost about. Promises are easy to make, but seemingly easier to break! The point in fact is that they simply do not know or understand the value of our services and that we provide these services for a living! While architectural services are well accepted, lighting design services often don’t even appear to be included in the budgets!
Education of the client in regards to the (added) value of our services is thus important but unfortunately that does not happen overnight. It is therefore important to take a stand whenever possible whether it is towards speculative design or providing services at unreasonable low (read non- profitable) fees.
In Light Watch today nevertheless my mention of Vivid Sydney to be held 27th May- 5th June 2011, as despite the non-valuation of our services the event by itself is laudable, enjoyable and interactive.
Light Watch 62: Pictures from Vivid Sydney 2009