“I’m looking for a photographer that won’t cost me an arm and a leg to do a family shoot of 12 in three days.”
“Does anyone have suggestions for an AFFORDABLE photographer?”
“I’m looking for a GOOD photographer that is not very expensive.”
Ok, time to come clean. If you are a potential client looking for a photographer, how many times have you said a version of the above statements? If you are a photographer, how many times have you seen those statements and wanted to smash your head on the wall? Probably more times than you want to admit. Let me tell you something guys…I get it. I am a mother of four and we are a military family just like a lot of my clients. I know money can be tight. I search for deals just like every one of you. But let me say this as well, some things are not meant to be “deals.”
Do you know how much investment a legitimate small business owner pays out to start their business? Did you know that they recommend a photographer save at least 40% of the income they bring in just for taxes? Did you know that we don’t keep sales tax? Did you also know that being a photographer is more than just pressing a button on a camera?
If you are rolling your eyes at me right now, then what I’m saying will have no affect on you and feel free to click the x at the top of the page and go on your merry way. But if you truly want to understand how a potential client makes a photographer feel when you wrinkle your nose at their prices or tell them that they are too expensive….stay with me!
We live in a day where “nice” cameras, entry level dslr cameras, are more affordable and almost every proud mama has one. This is a blessing and a curse. I love that moms have something nice to capture their little one’s every moment during the day. Those are sweet memories that people will cherish for years. This is not a bad thing! We also have come so far in technology that we have cameras on our phones…and some of them are also really nice! Using your cell phone to snap those photos is also NOT a bad thing! This generation loves photos. It’s wonderful! When we all get old and start losing our minds, it’s ok because we will have documented every day of our life with photos! 😉 All of these snapshots are a good thing! I don’t take “professional” photos of my kids every day. But I always have my phone on me and I have so many snapshots and videos on that thing that I would probably have a panic attack if I lost them all.
So here is where I want potential clients to understand the difference between what I just described above and hiring a professional photographer to capture memories for you.
#1, You are hiring someone else to do a job FOR you!
If you have pets, do you sometimes take them to the groomers? I do. Can I wash my dogs myself, well of course I can. Do I always want to do it myself? NO! I have 2 huge crazy pups. It’s stressful for them and for me when I attempt to do it myself. So guess what? I HIRE someone else to do a job for me. I personally look for someone who is experienced in the breed of dog that I have and someone who has good reviews. When I find that person, you guessed it…they usually have a higher price that a random person that said I’ll wash the dog for $20. Don’t have pets? Ok, here’s another example….do you like coffee? Can you make coffee yourself? Most of us would say yes. But how many of you go to Starbucks and buy that $6 cup of coffee? I bet a lot of you do. Now why would you pay $6 for a cup of coffee that may cost you 25 cents if you would have just made it yourself? Well the biggest reason is because you (in a sense) hired someone else to make you that coffee. Do you see the pattern now? Whether you are going out to eat and paying a restaurant price on a glass of wine (which would probably be the price of a bottle) or you are hiring a person to come clean your house because you just don’t want to do it. You are going to pay a higher price for someone else to produce a product for you.
#2, I am not just a mom with a camera, I am a business owner.
Guess what guys? I have business insurance. I set aside money for taxes because that’s what business owners do. I have business expenses like having to buy a new computer so I can edit all the awesome photos that I give to a client. When my laptop finally said, I’m done. I didn’t have a choice to just wait it out. I had clients, I had to get photos done…so I had to buy a new computer. I couldn’t just tell my clients, oh sorry…my computer died so you don’t get your images. If I would have done that, they would have requested a refund of the money they already paid me. I would have gotten a horrible review and my business would have died. Some other examples of being a business owner. I have to pay to keep my equipment ready to go..such as cleaning, upgraded equipment, replacement equipment. The list could go on and on. If you are starting out or doing this on the side maybe you don’t have those costs yet. But one day you will. I don’t profit the price of my sessions. This is something that a lot of potential clients fail to understand. They see the price tag and think photographers are being ridiculous in their pricing but we are only trying to survive in this world and not be one of the failed businesses every year.
#3, Behind the scenes. You don’t see us, but we are still working.
When you hire a photographer, you are not just paying for the time of your session. When your session is over…the work continues. We spend hours making sure your images are perfect. For a full family session I spend an average of 15 hours working with that family and their images. So when you hire a photographer, you aren’t just hiring them for a one hour session. You are hiring them for hours of work that you aren’t going to be present for and the final products that you receive.
Those three points describe so much more than my first paragraph about the person with a nice camera snapping photos. Neither are bad. If you have a wonderful camera and you like taking photos…high five to you! It’s a great hobby to have and that’s how I started. But if you are going to be a photographer and a business owner, you are taking that hobby and jumping about 5 flights of stairs higher and committing to a lot of things that are required when owning a business. Potential clients, all I’m asking of you is that you consider all the different factors before making comments about a photographer’s pricing. Also know that there is a photographer for you. Maybe they aren’t the well established business owner. Maybe they are a new photographer building their portfolio. All of this is OK! Just know that by posting you are looking for a photographer, not everyone is going to be a good fit for you. If they are out of your budget…there is no need to slam them on their prices. They could be a single mom that is providing the only income for their children and you just told them that their prices (which means food on the table) wasn’t worth it for you.
I always tell potential clients that prices are based on experience level and the size of an individuals business. This is why we all charge a different price. My prices work for me, but I’m not going to be the same price as the next photographer. So if you’ve managed to stay with me, my final point is be respectful to photographers. Understand that the ones with higher prices are not money hungry people trying to rip you off. Understand that they have expenses that you don’t even know about, nor are they obligated to tell you about. If they are out of your budget a simple, “Thank you but I’m sorry you are out of our budget right now.” is the perfect way to respond to a photographer. We have feelings and while some of us have toughened up our shells, it still hurts when a client tells us we aren’t worth it. We are worth every penny and we are worth our time because we love what we do and we love our clients. We want you have have the best experience with us and we want you to love your products.
I don’t write these posts often and I thank all of my awesome clients who took a chance in me and let me know I was worth it to them! You guys rock! Alright…back to the pretty picture blog posts! 😉