Friday, August 9, 2013

The Price of Choosing a Photographer

We see it every day.  In every aspect of retail services.  Heck, Walmart even has a price match guarantee.  But, have you ever stopped and thought... Is it really worth it?

I booked a photographer to take my family photos last fall.  Being a photographer, I knew I was going to be a nervous wreck on the other side of the camera.  But I chose a photographer I knew could handle the job.  And here is why.

My photographer charged $100 session fee.  She has packages, wall portraits and other options to choose from.  I knew it would be expensive, but I looked at is as an investment of my memories.  Days prior to our session, I seen a new photographer share her pricing on Facebook -- 2 hour shoot, images on CD with 12-15 edited images for $50.  I'm not sure if this person had any type of training or if she bought a camera and someone told her she was good so she went into business.  Well, the photographer I booked was more expensive.
Should I switch?
Should I ask my photographer to lower her price because obviously people can do this cheaper?

But then I looked at what I had invested.  What I had already paid for before I had even arrived at my session.


I purchased each person an outfit for our photos.  Being a family of 5, it wasn't cheap.  My kids had outgrown their fall clothes, and I had to even purchase boots!  No country photo is complete without boots!  I don't know an exact budget because I picked up things here and there but I would assume I spent $350 on clothing alone.  Next, hair cuts for a family of 5.  Well, 4.  I had my hair highlighted and cut so mine was more expensive.  But we will do the math... 4 regular cuts @ $12 each and a highlight at @60= $108.  Being a mom of 3 girls and needing to get out the door on time, I had my wonderful hair friend come over and help with hair that day...  additional $50 (and a trade for photos).  I also had a manicure.. $15.  Gas to the shoot 45 miles away (and back home).. $50.  So what am I up to now...
Clothes-$350
Hair-$158
Manicure-$15
Gas-$50
total of - $573

Now, I would like to mention the amount of stress I put myself under to find those perfect outfits for each of us.  I wanted it to be PERFECT.  I'm a photographer for Pete's sake.  I can't have someone seeing our photos and us look like hillbillies!  (which I am btw, and very proud of it)

Plus, you have the stress of the day of the shoot.  Making sure everyone's hair is perfect, they don't puke all over their clothes on the drive over, afraid your 4 year old might have a meltdown and act horrible, afraid I will look awful in every photo because I have gained a spare tire somehow.  UGH.

Day went GREAT!  My family laughed!  Had a great time.  My photographer knew how to hide that spare tire and make me look great in the photos.  We had great lighting.  No one had sun spots all over their faces.  The photographs looked professionally edited with great color and retouching.  My skin wasn't smoothed out to the point of only seeing nostrils.  And to top it off, we had 80 fantastic photographs to choose from to hang on our walls. 80.

I cannot begin to tell you how upset I would have been if I had only gotten 12-15 photos after 2 hours of shooting my family photos.  12-15 photos after investing $573 in clothing and things BEFORE photos were even taken!  Why would I have even risked opting for the $50 disk with 12-15 images?

When choosing a photographer, please do not base it on price.  Choosing the right photographer for your needs should be based on:

1.  Skill.
     Can the photographer handle different lighting situations?  Lets face it.  We have no control over the weather.  If it is going to be a bright sunny day or a cloudy situation... each requires the knowledge on how to be properly lit.  Look thru galleries.  Are people evenly lit?  Do they have sunspots?  Are they over exposed?  Editing..  Does it look professional or over saturated and blurred to hide the bad photography?  Posing...  Is everyone posed to look their best?

2.  Style
    Every photographer had a style.  Some are more artistic, some are more editorial, others are more high fashion, some are old school, some are traditional...  You need to pick a photographer who matches the style you like.  Hiring a traditional photographer wanting editorial/ interacting photos doesn't make since.  And asking a photographer to be like this photographer is insulting.

3.  Trust
    Is this someone I can trust to capture my family as great as I see them?  Even if Kenz has a meltdown, can I trust her not to say- Your kid is a brat and I am done.  Can I trust her to give my photo session the quality that she has given everyone else I see in her Facebook gallery?  Can I trust she knows what she is doing?

4. Budget
    Don't hire a photographer out of your price range.  Make sure it is someone you can afford.  But also look at what you are paying for.  You have so much more invested than just $50 for a cd of 12-15 images.

These are you memories.  You can't get them back.  You can only look at the photograph and remember the day.

I can look at the photo hanging on my wall and recall Doug and I being so nervous that we left Kenzee in the truck.  Everyone had hopped out and we walked to the field a few steps before we realized she couldn't get her carseat unbuckled.  I remember the laughter of my kids playing and enjoying having their photos taken with me.  Normally, I'm threatening them to cooperate with me so I can take their photos.  I remember my husband having his arm around my waist telling me to relax, I looked beautiful and our pictures were going to be perfect. I remember smiling.  I also remember learning a valuable lesson.  My photographs would have been perfect without the clothes I bought.  See, a good photographer has the ability to photograph a family as they are: how they love each other, how they laugh, cry...  It wasn't about the clothes.  It is about the people in them.

What do you remember?
What happened to the disk of the 12-15 photos?
Did you print them out?
Did you have to hire another photographer because your session didn't go as you had hoped?

I am not writing this blog to insult or offend anyone.  I am not trying to persuade you to book me for as your photographer.  I'm not doing this to cut people down for being cheaper.  The world is full of exceptional photographers new and old.
I'm writing this blog so you can ask yourself

"Is this the right photographer for me?"

Special thanks to Joyce of Joyce Bohm Photography for the great family photos!  Get ready to see us again this fall!












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