In this post, you’re going to hear me speak very candidly about things that can help your relationship with your photographer go more smoothly. If that’s with me, then Yay - win for both of us! If it’s with someone else, I hope I make a positive impact no matter where you go!
Now if I ruffle some feathers with this post, SORRY! However, if you’re my type of client, then you’re going to appreciate my candour!
Here we go!
1: Session fees include much more than just the hours spent shooting the images.
Now I can't say I've had this come up too much for me but I know its a thing within my industry.
"Oh, your prices are too high!"
"Can you cut me a deal if I book x y and z with you?"
Well here's the thing, our prices are covering more than just our shooting time with clients. The price is also covering things like, editing time, admin hours (time spent planning and taking care of office work like invoices and contracts) and also overheads (the expenses we have no matter how much work we have - utilities, internet, cell phone, web hosting, software subscriptions, etc).
For example, Newborn sessions aren't just the 2-4hrs you're in the studio with me. It's covering the planning of the session beforehand, setting up on the day, cleaning up on the day. It's also covering the selection of props I bring in to create those images and also the software to be able to edit those images. I probably missed a whole list of other things, but you get the idea!
Our prices cover the cost of doing business. Those who live in an area with a higher cost of living, are going to have higher prices to offset their higher overhead. Photographers with more experience and a more distinct style are going to have a higher rate to compensate their billable hours for their years of practice and refining their craft.
2: Don’t leave your photographer hanging after you book elsewhere. Just tell us.
So when you, as a client, get in touch to find out more information, I am under no egotistical guise that I am the one and only photographer you’re looking at.
I mean..... there are over 50 photographers in Milton alone!
Now if you've emailed once then fine, no big deal if I don't hear back from you. However, if you’ve gotten through several follow-ups, it’s sort of like the start of a relationship, so when a client does this and then suddenly ghosts, you can’t help but wonder, “Was it something I said?”.
It’s totally cool if someone isn’t your first pick. I've said more than once that there is a photographer out there for everyone. I would rather get some feedback that you've booked elsewhere than to feel like I'm bothering you by following up.
3: There’s a big difference between “someone who takes nice photos”, and running a professional photography studio.
Now, I'm not saying that someone who is good with a camera can't do a good job of taking your family pictures. That's essentially how I started 9 years ago.
However, saying "that's a nice camera, it must take great pictures" is also demeaning to those who have painstakingly honed our skills over years.
There is a skill in knowing what light/location will be best for images. Professionally editing those images and handling the rigours of turning around several orders for family members all wanting different prints, sizes and finishes. Knowing the safety issues with newborn photography and poses. The list goes on and it's much more than just... "snapping a picture"!
4: The phrase “Oh you can just Photoshop that” does not magically make it so.
Now, this has popped up more than once for me and after the fact, I've delivered a fully edited gallery.
"Can you edit my child in from picture x into picture y?"
" I prefer my smile in this picture can you swap it?"
I think we all do our best to inform clients of what to expect in terms of the level of editing that is included with their service, but inevitably there will be someone who assumes all Photoshop work is created equally. So, it boils down less to the cringe-worthy assumption of being able to wave a magic Photoshop wand, and moreover the feeling that very often, the person saying this assumes that this extra level of work is free.
You wouldn’t go into your accountant’s office with a disorganized box of receipts and say “You can just Quickbooks that, can’t you?”, or into your car mechanic’s shop with a busted oil line and say “You can just Jiffy Lube that right?”, without the expectation of paying extra for that service. So too, then, you should be prepared to pay extra for retouching services that are not something the photographer had any control over.
Photoshop is a very sophisticated tool, but like most skilled creatives, a photographer wants to be paid for their time. A fact that is stated in my contract, which brings me to my next thought.
5: Photographers Wish Their Clients Would Read Their Contract
This has happened more than once: I've been asked a question, which is answered in the contract, and it has lead to an awkward conversation with the client.
"Hey, can I get all the raw image files from the session?"
"erm..........as stated in the contract, I don't give out raw files".
Most photographers, I know myself included, are just trying to do right by what we think clients like. If we get a special request, we are usually more than happy to accommodate!
Reading the contract ensures that everyone is on the same page, and gives you a chance to ask questions before your shoot, rather than after the fact.
SO PLEASE READ YOUR CONTRACTS, I understand how it’s easy to overlook.
6: Focus on the Fun, not on the Photos
I can't emphasize this enough! I wish clients would learn just relax and enjoy the process, stop stressing every hair and wrinkle, and enjoy themselves.
Photographers know how to make you look your best and if you're stressing and being stiff, it'll come across in the photos. Think about it - if you’re having fun, you’re smiling, your body language is inviting, your demeanour is warm and relaxed, and your expression depicts someone who is genuinely “in the moment”.
That is how you get great photos. Yes, I can manufacture emotion where there is none, but if you look back on those images and remember how you were annoyed that the people in the distance might be ruining the shot, or you look at them and recall how you kept shooting darts at your spouse for wrinkling your shirt, you aren’t going to associate the images with a positive, happy experience.
This also relates to what you wear for your sessions. Do you normally wear a stiff shirt and tie? No? Then don't wear them for family photos. Instead, wear something you feel relaxed and comfortable in.
7: We Really Care That You Like Our Work…So Tell Us!
I love seeing emails from clients telling me they love their images. Post Instagram stories/photos and tag me so I can see. I love seeing how you print and frame your images. I also love getting client reviews! So why not write that Facebook review for me ...especially while we sit at home in lockdown.