Oh we all know this to be true, don’t we! Think about it for just a second, I bet you could think of at least 3 people you personally know that are either professional photographers with real, legal businesses, hobby photographers or a sort of cross breed photographer who shoots and gets paid for her work but isn’t fully “out there” as a real photographer paying taxes on his/her income and running a fully legitimate business. I have been all three of those and I am happy to now be (and have been for some time) a real business with taxes and a lawyer and an accountant and everything else that goes with running your own business. And let me tell you, it’s a lot… and most—er some days I still don’t know what the heck I am doing on the business end of it all.
Anyway, back to my point. How do you choose a photographer? It can be daunting!! I get inquiries all the time where prospective clients ask for my pricing or availability and then disappear once they see that my prices don’t automatically include all digitals or that I charge a $100.00 session fee (you mean I don’t GET anything with that?!).
It’s hard, I know. I know not everyone can afford professional photography and not everyone can afford ME. I don’t enjoy that part of it, but I have set my prices based on calculating A LOT of factors and, really, right now, I am still priced on the low end for all that I put into your sessions. Things like time, talent, classes I take, software I own and pay a monthly fee for, equipment, advertising… the list goes on and on. I also have to price it to be worth my time. I don’t mean that to sound snooty either but if you know me or have dug around my website, you know I have three young kids, a home and a husband to take care of (ok, the husband takes care of ME, but let’s just stay on point here). I can’t afford to leave my children with a babysitter and go to work for minimum wage at Walmart so I certainly can’t afford to leave them with a babysitter to go to work for MYSELF (where I am also responsible for all of the overhead) either.
So, what do you do when you want great quality photos but you cannot afford my prices? Listen, I get it. I can’t afford MY favorite photographers either. But if you are looking around for a photographer, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
First of all, just because someone has a camera does not mean they are a photographer. Wait, what? Doesn’t that sound kind of snarky? Yes, I guess it does. Everyone starts somewhere. I started as someone with a camera who “takes really nice pictures”. But I didn’t start out charging people the first minute I could. I took classes, in person and online, worked with other photographers and LEARNED for four years before I became a legitimate business. I upgraded my camera twice and acquired more lenses, professional lighting and a slew of backdrops and props. Now that doesn’t mean everyone needs to take four years before they can start their business. For me, it was slow going because I had a full time job and also went from 0 kids to 3 in that time.
So keep that in mind. Just know who you are booking. Take a look at their portfolio. Not always, but often the “cheap” photographers are just that. Cheap. The saying “You get what you pay for” is a saying for a reason. I never get mad or upset when clients inquire with me and then end up going elsewhere. Heck, you can go to JCP and get OK photos for the price as far as I know (I am not familiar with their prices). I don’t hate anyone who uses chain portrait studios or other photographers. Want know a secret? Dominic’s 6 month photos were taken by…. Sears. Yep. I took MY child to sears. I wasn’t a photographer, didn’t know a thing about editing or lighting and I wanted milestone photos of him. That’s where Sears came in. We didn’t know where to go!
So I’ll never hate-cha for going somewhere else. What I do cringe at is when someone does inquire with me, tell me “oh we’re going with xyz because they gave us a deal" or a great price or their prices included all digitals for $50.00 and then I see their photos or I check out the photographer and they are a HOT mess.
People, please PLEASE… if you book a photographer or are thinking of booking one and you can’t afford your first choice, COMPARE THEIR IMAGES to your favorite photographers! Even if none of those photographers are me! Take a look. Are their images sharp? Are they portrait quality photos and candids or are they awkward snapshots? Are their images sharp? Are they well lit? For the love of god, are they sharp???? Do they edit your photos to bring out the best in them? And by edit, I do not mean take your child off of a green screen or some other background and insert them into another background that never existed… or your child is not placed on the background to scale (read… your child looks humongous amongst whatever is behind him/her).
Remember, folks, these are your children’s milestones and CHILDHOOD you are capturing for forever. Your family’s milestones. Forever. Are you going to look back on these photos when your child is an adult or a teenager and still adore the images that you paid some random guy or girl $25.00 or $50.00 to take? I hope you choose a photographer that will make SURE you do. That is what you get when you book with me. I promise you that. I don’t do crazy edits, crazy backgrounds or anything majorly trendy in my imagery. If you cannot book with me or another favorite photographer, find someone else who does that as well.