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Don’t Bring A $2 Knife To A $50 Wedding

July 3, 2014

How much does a knife cost?

That’s like asking “how deep is the ocean.” The answers are the same: it depends.

I’ve been involved with Boy Scouts and camping all my life. I’ve owned dozens of knives. I currently own at least ten. But it was only recently that I really started to understand the tool I had been carrying around in my pocket for decades.

(We’re going to get to photography, weddings and business, just stay with me a minute.)

Take a look at the two knives in this picture


If I offered to give you one, which would you pick? I’ll tell you the one on the left is several years old and the one on the right is brand new.

If you are like most people, you wouldn’t really have a clue which was the better knife. The one on the left is a Kershaw 1660CKT (Ken Onion Design.) The one on the right is made by Ozark Trail.

Still confused? Let me clear it up and relate it to yesterday’s discussion of a fake photographer (The Bad Penny.) The knife on the left cost $50, the one on the right, $2.

Okay, now you know that the one on the left is more valuable, but you probably don’t know why. And that’s my point with trying to judge areas you are not an expert. Often even when you are informed which is more valuable you don’t really know why.

Yesterday I talked about a guy who tried to pass himself off as a professional wedding photographer by stealing a bunch of pictures from more famous photographers. The point is that while I was researching that story, I had to acknowledge that I don’t really understand what makes a good wedding photographer. To me, the fake and the pro look kind of similar. Just as the two knives probably looked pretty similar to you.

My sister-in-law is a great photographer (Shannon Wilkinson Photography.) I asked her about quality and if that is a distinguishing factor.

But don’t you think this mentality also helps those who DO put in the time and effort? If you think McDonalds represents fine dining and then you have a chance to eat at a five star restaurant, you notice that THIS is so much better than THAT.

I think that in the end, no. At least not in this industry. Yes there are those who are looking for the finest but that is because they can see and appreciate the difference between the photographer who gives you 100 images on a disk for $25 and the photographer who charges you $1000 per print. We have become a people who are looking for the best bargain. We are a nation of price matching and Walmart. There are very few people anymore who live by the adage you get what you pay for.

Interestingly, I bought the $2 knife at Walmart.

But, think Shannon has it slightly wrong. Maybe it’s the difference between photography and tech fields.

I’ve been in the IT business for 25 years. It’s one of the few areas that I have some level of expertise. In the tech world you can only get by so long on a song and dance and a smooth pitch. Eventually you have to actually do something. I had a discussion with an engineer at my company today talking about one of our corporate partners.

Their IT folks really aren’t that technical. They talk like they are, but their knowledge is pretty thin. Dale, however is more technical than all of them.

Dale in IT?

No, Dale the contractor.

And that’s the key. If you are going to work as a contractor, especially a gun-for-hire who moves from project to project you’d better be very good at what you do. It’s insanely easy to fire a contractor.

I’ve been privileged to work with some of the people at the very top of their profession in IT. And the difference between the $50 knife and the $2 knife is not only obvious to those who are involved in IT, it’s absolutely worth hiring the more expensive person. Like Shannon said, “You get what you pay for.”

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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