Friday, August 9, 2013

The Price of Choosing a Photographer

We see it every day.  In every aspect of retail services.  Heck, Walmart even has a price match guarantee.  But, have you ever stopped and thought... Is it really worth it?

I booked a photographer to take my family photos last fall.  Being a photographer, I knew I was going to be a nervous wreck on the other side of the camera.  But I chose a photographer I knew could handle the job.  And here is why.

My photographer charged $100 session fee.  She has packages, wall portraits and other options to choose from.  I knew it would be expensive, but I looked at is as an investment of my memories.  Days prior to our session, I seen a new photographer share her pricing on Facebook -- 2 hour shoot, images on CD with 12-15 edited images for $50.  I'm not sure if this person had any type of training or if she bought a camera and someone told her she was good so she went into business.  Well, the photographer I booked was more expensive.
Should I switch?
Should I ask my photographer to lower her price because obviously people can do this cheaper?

But then I looked at what I had invested.  What I had already paid for before I had even arrived at my session.

I purchased each person an outfit for our photos.  Being a family of 5, it wasn't cheap.  My kids had outgrown their fall clothes, and I had to even purchase boots!  No country photo is complete without boots!  I don't know an exact budget because I picked up things here and there but I would assume I spent $350 on clothing alone.  Next, hair cuts for a family of 5.  Well, 4.  I had my hair highlighted and cut so mine was more expensive.  But we will do the math... 4 regular cuts @ $12 each and a highlight at @60= $108.  Being a mom of 3 girls and needing to get out the door on time, I had my wonderful hair friend come over and help with hair that day...  additional $50 (and a trade for photos).  I also had a manicure.. $15.  Gas to the shoot 45 miles away (and back home).. $50.  So what am I up to now...
total of - $573

Now, I would like to mention the amount of stress I put myself under to find those perfect outfits for each of us.  I wanted it to be PERFECT.  I'm a photographer for Pete's sake.  I can't have someone seeing our photos and us look like hillbillies!  (which I am btw, and very proud of it)

Plus, you have the stress of the day of the shoot.  Making sure everyone's hair is perfect, they don't puke all over their clothes on the drive over, afraid your 4 year old might have a meltdown and act horrible, afraid I will look awful in every photo because I have gained a spare tire somehow.  UGH.

Day went GREAT!  My family laughed!  Had a great time.  My photographer knew how to hide that spare tire and make me look great in the photos.  We had great lighting.  No one had sun spots all over their faces.  The photographs looked professionally edited with great color and retouching.  My skin wasn't smoothed out to the point of only seeing nostrils.  And to top it off, we had 80 fantastic photographs to choose from to hang on our walls. 80.

I cannot begin to tell you how upset I would have been if I had only gotten 12-15 photos after 2 hours of shooting my family photos.  12-15 photos after investing $573 in clothing and things BEFORE photos were even taken!  Why would I have even risked opting for the $50 disk with 12-15 images?

When choosing a photographer, please do not base it on price.  Choosing the right photographer for your needs should be based on:

1.  Skill.
     Can the photographer handle different lighting situations?  Lets face it.  We have no control over the weather.  If it is going to be a bright sunny day or a cloudy situation... each requires the knowledge on how to be properly lit.  Look thru galleries.  Are people evenly lit?  Do they have sunspots?  Are they over exposed?  Editing..  Does it look professional or over saturated and blurred to hide the bad photography?  Posing...  Is everyone posed to look their best?

2.  Style
    Every photographer had a style.  Some are more artistic, some are more editorial, others are more high fashion, some are old school, some are traditional...  You need to pick a photographer who matches the style you like.  Hiring a traditional photographer wanting editorial/ interacting photos doesn't make since.  And asking a photographer to be like this photographer is insulting.

3.  Trust
    Is this someone I can trust to capture my family as great as I see them?  Even if Kenz has a meltdown, can I trust her not to say- Your kid is a brat and I am done.  Can I trust her to give my photo session the quality that she has given everyone else I see in her Facebook gallery?  Can I trust she knows what she is doing?

4. Budget
    Don't hire a photographer out of your price range.  Make sure it is someone you can afford.  But also look at what you are paying for.  You have so much more invested than just $50 for a cd of 12-15 images.

These are you memories.  You can't get them back.  You can only look at the photograph and remember the day.

I can look at the photo hanging on my wall and recall Doug and I being so nervous that we left Kenzee in the truck.  Everyone had hopped out and we walked to the field a few steps before we realized she couldn't get her carseat unbuckled.  I remember the laughter of my kids playing and enjoying having their photos taken with me.  Normally, I'm threatening them to cooperate with me so I can take their photos.  I remember my husband having his arm around my waist telling me to relax, I looked beautiful and our pictures were going to be perfect. I remember smiling.  I also remember learning a valuable lesson.  My photographs would have been perfect without the clothes I bought.  See, a good photographer has the ability to photograph a family as they are: how they love each other, how they laugh, cry...  It wasn't about the clothes.  It is about the people in them.

What do you remember?
What happened to the disk of the 12-15 photos?
Did you print them out?
Did you have to hire another photographer because your session didn't go as you had hoped?

I am not writing this blog to insult or offend anyone.  I am not trying to persuade you to book me for as your photographer.  I'm not doing this to cut people down for being cheaper.  The world is full of exceptional photographers new and old.
I'm writing this blog so you can ask yourself

"Is this the right photographer for me?"

Special thanks to Joyce of Joyce Bohm Photography for the great family photos!  Get ready to see us again this fall!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Training wheels

This week Kenzee learned how to ride her bike without training wheels. She was so excited. She even told me, "Mom, this is the best day ever!"

As an adult, I yearn for those carefree moments in life again. I also crave milestones and excitement. I love adventure and I look forward to a great summer along side my kids.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


It's crazy when you are surrounded by people, yet your heart feels so lonely. My heart has been missing something lately and I plan on finding it. Today, I took my girls to have lunch in the park next to our sign business. It's always nice to forget to take props out of your trunk! Thankfully I had a blanket we could spread out and have lunch on. Nothing special, but here are some iPhone shots from today. Love these girls.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

For the love of photos....

I am not sure why, but I feel like writing.  It's been awhile, and actually…  I kinda miss it.  I don't want to hurt anyone by what I might write, but I just want you to understand.  

People email me several times a day, week, month telling me how they love photography.  How they don't know how to get started.  How they love taking photos…  I know you guys have probably heard it before, but it is so much more than taking photos.  It is stress.  For the love of photos, well quite frankly it just isn't enough.

Just going to be frank, and not sugar coat anything.  If you are taking photos, and charging $25 for a cd.  Or $1 for an 8x10, you are completely insane.  Sorry, but you are.  #1 reason….  IRS.  If you are charging people for a service or a product…  You MUST have a business tax ID number.  This should be STEP #1 in starting your photography business.  All it takes is one phone call from an angry/upset client that you charged $25 to take their photos to get turned in.  Then you will be audited, fined and face more headache and stress from the IRS than you ever bargained for.

#2 Reason…  INSURANCE.  During your $25 session, if Sally gets on a rock and jumps for your photo, and breaks a leg.  BAM!  You are liable.  Insurance is a MUST.  Your insurance must cover your client while taking the photographs, your equipment to protect from the possibility of being broken, damaged or stolen on a shoot or a wedding, and protect you from the possibility of a lawsuit if files are lost or damaged from a shoot or a wedding.  Seriously.  If you are operating without insurance, you are only asking for trouble.  There is no way, I would pick up my camera and head out with a senior without being covered.  People sue for everything nowadays.  It just isn't worth the risk.

#3  That $25 Cd.  Most people think, I will buy this $400 camera and make me some money.  The $25 you charged your client for her 3 hour session and the 4 hours of editing that you did while your kids were with the baby sitter that charged you $40 for watching your kids….  doesn't cover anything.  When pricing your photography, you MUST take EVERYTHING into consideration when setting your pricing.  I know we live in a digital age, but every camera has a shutter life.  You will have to upgrade that puppy soon.  So not only do you have the cost of your camera, your flash, your gas to the session, the computer you edit on, the electricity for that computer, the money you are out while your kids are at daycare, cost of the DVD you are burning to, editing software, internet services,…  and added to this list for me are OCF, studio lighting, education, insurance, phone, sales taxes, PPA membership, equipment updates, insurance, time spent away from my family, insurance, time I miss not being with my kids, insurance, advertising, packaging, mailing, time away from my family….  I know I have missed things.  Point is, photographers charge.  They have to.  It is more than just an 8x10 photograph of your son's senior portrait.  It is the knowledge to know how to properly pose, light, expose, and deliver that photograph to you.  So many more elements are involved than you even realize.

#4  Business Plan.  Google it if you have no idea what it is.  You have to know who you are, what you stand for, what your business goals are, how many sessions you MUST book JUST to cover your monthly expenses, a budget to get you thru the year when Nikon releases a new camera that you think you NEED, goals, where you want to be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 or even 10 years.  Plus, it is always awesome to reflect on and see how far you have came and how much you have accomplished.

#5 Stress.  This one is killer for me.  I am a people pleaser.  I feel like I am failing horribly by being so busy and not being able to give people the attention they deserve.  I feel like I am failing by not getting them their photos in a timely manner they are happy with.  Sometimes, I feel like I have dug myself into a hole and there is NO WAY out.  Dealing with unhappy people who ordered a 5x7 of their child that they didn't receive.  Or worse yet, a failing memory card of a wedding ceremony and reception.  Yes.  Never think it will not happen to you.  Because, it will.  It has to me.  Ruined me in so many ways.  I don't trust myself.  It was my job to capture and protect their precious moments of the beginning of their life together.  And I failed.  I didn't want to pick up a camera again.  I was done with weddings.  I was done with photography.  The stress of the business was so much more than I could even possibly handle, and I had been doing this for 11 years.  You would think I would be used to the stress.  it only gets worse.  And builds.  You take on more than you can handle, trying to make more people happy.  Provide more for your kids, be an awesome wife, ……..  just be successful.  When the only success you are having, is being successful at failing.  If anyone can make this profession look easy, I want to shadow them for a day.

I have a friend of mine, who probably doesn't know how jealous I am of her.  She photographs because she loves it.  She can jump in a truck, backroad for hours, enjoy the peacefulness of the country, capture bunnies trying to cross the road in front of them…  she can laugh.  She can enjoy taking photos.  I miss that.  I miss the joy.  The adventure, and quite frankly I miss the passion.  See, reasons #1-#5 make this a job.  J-O-B.  You know.  One of those things you get paid for doing.  Being self-employed doesn't give you a steady paycheck all the time, insurance, retirement or a heck I don't even know what a 401k is!  It gives you breaks in the road that you must decide to keep going, or stopping.  It gives you unexpected expenses, when you really can't afford to even put gas in your car.

So, I guess.  All in all, I just want to say.  If you love photography, the passion of the moment, the thrill of photographing something so amazing…  think about what I said. You will invest so much more time than you realize and your kids will grow up while you are editing.  Trust me.  I have one that is 11 and going into the 6th grade.  Where has her mom been?  In front of the computer, editing.  And that isn't a memory I want her to have.  

Hope I didn't offend.  Just trying to say… Welcome to my world. G'night all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"He Put A RING on It" Contest!


 For votes to count, each voter must LIKE BOTH FACEBOOK PAGES! 

 After you have liked both pages, come back and find the photo you would like to vote for.  There will be a "Facebook Like" button for each photo. Click the button to cast your vote.  You can comment if you wish, but comments will not count as a vote.  This is so one single person doesn't comment repeatedly trying to win the contest. The photo with the most "FACEBOOK LIKES" on their photo will win a FREE Engagement Session and a complimentary custom Guest Book from Pamela Davis Photography and hair and make-up services for the session from Miracles Salon. Feel free to share to any social media site you would like. {twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc}

Contest will end on January 25, 2012 at midnight.

 The Legal Stuff!! 
 The prizes on the "He Put a RING on It" contest hold no cash value and are not interchangeable. Davis Photography and Miracles Salon have the final say. Davis Photography and Miracles Salon cannot be held liable in any way. Each contestant signed a written modeling contract to participate in the contest. If you would like to be removed from the contest at any time, please contact In removing yourself, you will also be forfeiting any and all votes for yourself.

 Thank you!! and Have FUN!!