I’ve been trying to jump on the blog wagon for a while now, but I’ve been in a slump on what I should write. I’ve been a semi-pro photographer since 2007 and I have established myself as a professional in the last couple years. One thing that I have struggled with recently is increasing my prices. I’ve kept my prices very low because I live in a military community. Being a military spouse myself, I know how much everyone gets paid. I love my military clients and I would hate to hear that someone couldn’t afford me. But after having my fourth baby, I’ve realized (and so has my husband) that I don’t get paid enough for what I do and the time I put into it. So I sat down and re-did my prices and the way I will run my business. I’m not going to lie, business has been a little slow. Potential clients contact me asking about prices and I feel that once I tell them, they go running to the next person with a camera because they are charging far less than I am. So I’ve been asking this question to myself for the last few weeks, and now I want to ask you……Do you value your photos?
There are so many photographers out there offering to take your photos for $25-50. Let me tell you, some of those photographers produce great work! I have friends who are new in the field who offer cheap sessions and their work is amazing, they have a gift. But also know this, you get what you pay for. Price should not be the ONLY thing you consider when picking a photographer. When you are considering photographers and you come across one who is charging less than others, you need to ask questions. Why are your prices less than others? How long have you been taking photos? Are you still trying to build your portfolio? What will you do if I’m not satisfied with my photos? What is your knowledge on working with a family? Children? A couple? A good photographer will be able to answer these questions, even if they are just starting out. A new photographer should be able to answer these questions honestly and let you know right away that they are still building their portfolio. They should advise you that every photo may not be perfect but if you are willing to help them out, they can offer these deals. You need to have a realistic expectation of the work you will receive when you go into the session.
Why are my prices much higher than $50? It’s simple. I have been working in this field for six years and I have continuously increased my knowledge on making sure your photos are perfect. I don’t need to build my portfolio anymore. I am very experienced in working with family and children. I have 4 children of my own that I practice on often. If you are not satisfied with your photos, I will do everything I can, including giving you another session to make sure that you are happy with your photos. This is part of being a professional and things that I want my clients to know when they hire me to be their photographer.
Someone once told me that having professional photos taken is a luxury. A family should not be able to come to you every month to get their photos taken. If you are pricing your sessions this way, then you should think about how you value your work. Over the years, I have paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars on professional photos of my family because in the end, photos are all you will have to remember them. Instead of spending a little money for a quick solution you may later regret, save your money or make payments on photos you will cherish forever. Most photographers who charge more offer payment plans, including myself. My husband and I had our last baby 3 months ago and our family is now complete. We went to a trusted photographer and paid her to take our family photos. I paid more than I was charging in my business because I knew it was worth it. I did not want to go to someone just because they were cheap, I wanted someone who knew what they were doing. My husband and I also recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary. While I don’t like being in front of the camera, I had photos taken of us because in 10 more years, I want to look back at this time and have photos to remember it. I value my photos. I value the photos taken of my family and I value the photos that I will take for your family.
One last topic I want to address is the issue of the disc. The biggest question I get asked after price is what do your packages include? Do I get all my photos on a disc? What I want clients to think about is this; what will you do with that disc? Put the images up on Facebook, then put the disc in a drawer? When you have company over will you take them to your computer and show them the Facebook images? You may, but probably not. Do you expect your mom or your grandma to get a Facebook page so they can see the photos? I know a lot of grandmas who have Facebook pages. My grandma does….but my mother does not. Both my mother and my mother in law are much happier when they get actual prints of their grandchildren so they can take then to work and proudly show them off. I bet your mother, grandmother, father, grandfather, and in-laws all want the same. They know the value of a photo because digital photography wasn’t big when we were younger. Our generation and younger ones are losing value of a photo because of digital photography and the prices that anyone with a camera can charge just to make a few bucks. Clients view the photos from their session and get excited about how great they look. But instead of getting prints of these photos to show on their walls or in an album, clients ask for discs and end up doing nothing with them. I’ve been guilty of this many times and I know I’m not the only one. This is one reason why my print packages are cheaper than my digital images. Value your photos. Buy the prints and display them proudly.
So in conclusion, think about how you want your photos to look. Save your money so you can afford more beautiful images. Consider purchasing prints so you can go home and immediately hang them on your walls or put them in an album. Think about how the photographer values their own work and their business. Do they genuinely want you to have beautiful images or is this just a hobby that makes a little money? Find a photographer who knows the value of a photo, you won’t regret it.