Last summer my oldest daughter got married — and like every couple, they arranged for a photographer to record the event.

Recently, she presented her mother and me with a beautiful book of pictures from the day, customized with pictures that were special just for us.The pictures were printed on beautiful stock, rather than pictures placed into sleeves. Additionally, the book was beautifully bound and the cover was an actual printed picture. It looked like an expensive coffee table book with beautiful photography and is truly something we will cherish forever.

Lastly, she gave us a disc with all of the photos from the wedding which we can view on our computer or even have additional pictures printed if we chose.

Compare that to recent history when all pictures were shown to the bride and groom with “sample” printed across the front so they couldn’t be copied and negatives remained the property of the photographer. This was so the photographers didn’t get ripped off and the value of their work was protected.

The couple didn’t actually “own” their own pictures and had to pay the photographers every time they wanted a picture printed. I know after my own wedding I resented this blackmail as did many of the people I knew who faced a similar situation.

So how does the modern photographer make money if they give away the rights to their photographs?

It seems they make their money on the actual day of work at a rate similar to the old days (accounting for inflation) — but the real money is made by creating these custom works of art. Not surprising they charge much more for this book than simply printing pictures — because they have created real value.

In my opinion, this book is priceless. As are the ones they produced for the in-laws and various other people who received them.

My Perspective: When you create real value, people are willing to pay more. When you look at things from the perspective of what your customers value, they will reward you with their business and refer you to their friends.

Digital photography forced photographers to re-think their business model. Imagine if some smart enterprising photographer had used this model even before digital photography. Would they have stood out from the competition?

Have a look at your business. Are you currently doing things the same way because that’s how it always worked?

Is there an opportunity to create a new model where you provide real value in a new way to create a point of differentiation from your competition. Will you be the first, or will you be the follower?

When you look for ways to create real value for your customer — they will reward you with their business, their referrals and their loyalty.