Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be breaking my blogging drought. It’s been a while since I have blogged regularly and it’s my New Years Resolution to get back on the wagon. I don’t want to just show you pretty pictures (although there will be plenty of eye candy!), but instead I’d love to talk about some of the feedback many of my customers have shared with me over the years regarding reasons why they held off booking family photographs (some for MANY years!). There are lots of little reasons you’d delay booking a professional but all added together it turns in to a great big fat “not yet” or “maybe next year”. I totally get it. I see it and hear it all the time. Booking a professional family photographer is a HUGE deal for many reasons.
So I’m going to start this series by addressing the HUGE elephant in the room. Price. Let’s get that bad boy out of the way shall we?
Photographers tend to have a (sometimes very unfair) reputation for being pushy sales people and far too expensive. Honestly and truthfully I can say with my hand on my heart – that is not always the case. Not just for me but all of the many photographer friends I have dotted around the UK and the world. Most of us are very passionate about what we do and pretty nice to boot and are trying to make a living from what we love. Anyway. As objections go price has to be pretty much up the top. It always has been.
“I’m not sure we can afford it.”
“That’s more than we wanted to spend.”
Firstly here’s a question for you? Do you NEED a professional photographer to photograph your family? If you are just looking for a couple of shots with half decent likenesses and your kids looking generally in the direction of the camera then the answer might well be no. If you can do it yourself then that’s fantastic. If however you are looking for something more unique, have tried doing it yourself and failed miserably, if you are looking for someone with experience and quality display products for your wall then the answer is yes..
Booking any type of professional is always going to cost something whether that’s a plumber, mechanic, builder or hairdresser and so on. It’s their living and how they pay the bills. How much you pay depends on two things – the quality of work, the experience of the professional you book and also what you ultimately want them to do for you.
That’s they key to price or rather value. Finding the right professional in the first place to deliver the results you want first time.
Let’s face it, there are lots of photographers out there these days. It’s getting easier and easier to pick up a camera and call yourself a professional. I have no problem with this as everyone has to start somewhere (I remember those nervous first days of business 11 years ago and I truly empathise!) and I even train people who are looking to start it as a career. But with so many photographers out there how on earth do you pick the best photographer for you?
Let’s start out by being totally honest. I AM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU I AM THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU. It might not be and that’s cool as I know my work won’t suit everyone (but it’d be pretty lovely if I was).
So, with that aside here are my FIVE TOP TIPS for picking the right family photographer for you and getting the best value.
Do you like their work? The most important thing to consider first is do you like the style of images the photographer produces? Does it fit your vision for what you want to get out of a photo session? Can you see their work on your wall? Does it suit your personal style? Have a good look through their portfolio, check out their social media. Look for a high level of consistency. Do they have experience, especially crucial if you are looking for a newborn photographer. If the answer is yes then you’re part of the way there. The hard part is pretty much over.
Talk to them. Give them a call for a chat (we are generally a nice bunch) and if you like the sound of them, like what they have to say (and they seem to be on your wavelength) move on to the next step. How much is it likely to cost you?
Should you always pick the cheapest? I know. You are expecting me to say no! Well you are wrong. My Dad always says “buy cheap, buy twice”, whereas I don’t think this is always the case (sorry Dad) it is always a good idea to jump back to number 1. Do you like their work? If the answer is yes and they are the cheapest then that’s amazing. But and it’s a big BUT. If they are not your number one choice but they are cheaper there is always the chance you won’t get the results you want and will have to book a second session further down the line. That’s not good value. These are images you’re going to want to display for a long, long time and it’s worth getting it right first time if you can.
What is it you ACTUALLY want? It’s always worth thinking about what end results you are hoping for in regards to how you want to display your finished portraits. Digital negative files will always be the most expensive option as you are basically buying just that – the negatives (in old school terms) which you can reproduce as many times as you like. If you have a smaller budget, do you REALLY NEED all of the digital negative files? What will you do with them all? Do you NEED ten huge frames of your newborn on your wall? Your baby will grow and you’ll perhaps want space for pictures over the years. Wouldn’t you rather have one breathtakingly beautiful frame which will cost less that all of the negative files but you hang on the wall with pride? The amount my customers spend on artwork varies massively and that’s fine – as long as they are buying what they love. Some customers spend a couple of hundred pounds and some spend thousands. I get most of my work from recommendation so the hard sell is a big no no in my book. I’m happy if my customers are happy with what they walk away with – what ever that is and what ever that costs.
Finally. Speak to your friends. Have any of them booked a family photographer? As I said, I get most of my new customers on recommendation and it’s a really good place to start. Have a look at the images that were captured for them. Do you like them? What was their experience like? Would they recommend the photographer to you? Also please bear in mind that someone who is a good photographer is not always necessarily a good family photographer. I have shot a couple of weddings in my time but I would no way ever call myself a wedding photographer! I have the kit and technical ability but I think weddings are a totally different genre and require a different skill set. Being good with kids is pretty much a deal breaker in my game and I’m not sure how singing twinkle twinkle little star would go down at a wedding reception! Make sure that your photographer has lots of experience working with tiny humans.
So the moral is. Go with your heart. Find a photographer you love and invest in that experience. You don’t have to spend a fortune if your budget is tight, just invest in one beautiful image you adore and hang it with pride on your wall.
So is professional photography too expensive? It really doesn’t have to be. The trick is finding the right photographer and getting the best value for you.
Next up in the series is … “So I’ve invested in a professional shoot but I just know my kids will be a total nightmare!”. I’ll find a punchier title I promise.