Custom Photography is part of my brand name, but what exactly is custom photography? I recently found this article explaining what custom photography is:
What Is Custom Photography? here
are some very wise words by Marianne Drenthe as to what Custom
Photography is and why it does cost more then going to Walmart or Sears!
What custom photography ultimately is all about is choice and
experience (as in THE experience). Custom photography is about finding
someone who will photograph your family, give you devoted 1:1 attention
without worry of the next ‘in line’ or the feeling of a crowded portrait
studio. A custom photographer will typically show you a fairly
extensive gallery culled to only show the good images that meet the
photographers’ creative sensibilities. Often the images are fully edited
images-color corrected with blemishes and undereye circles removed.
Custom photographers are also known as boutique studios, offering a
range of products and unparalleled service. Think Lexus vs. Hyundai,
think Nordstrom vs. WalMart.
Custom photography should have you, the client and your experience in mind. Digital
technology is brilliant. The digital revolution has brought amazing
flexibility and amazing amounts of control for the photographer, the
hobbyist, the professional, the amateur. With flexibility comes a price
though. Camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you
factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for
processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the
effort that goes into all of this.
Even though you pay $1.99 for
a print at your local drugstore and paying for film is pretty much a
thing of the past (although you still pay for memory) you may be
wondering why you may pay upwards $$$ for a custom photography print.
Some photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
“How in the world can you charge $20 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at the local drug store?”
The answer is multifaceted and has a lot to do with the time,
aforementioned equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the
photographer, expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate
TIME of the CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHER:
from a time standpoint, for instance let’s imagine if you will that you
have hired a photographer who has work that you love and that is
travelling an hour to your on location session. TIme break down:
session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks) one hour travel time TO session 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject one hour travel time FROM session 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images 1 hour sorting through and checking order 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues As
you can see, average client time for a session ranges from just under
13 hours to 19 hours dependent on the photographer’s level of service.
This is time dedicated only to your session. When the photographer
charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot you are not just paying for the
two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19
hours complete time for your session.
COSTS of the CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHER:
equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of
good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer
set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer.
Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for
about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good
lens for portrait photography can run up $900 to $2500. A dependable
computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can
run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.
Then come lab
costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows the lab is
integral to their success. Photography labs dedicated to the
professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products
that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new,
innovative products for you, the discerning client.
other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll
skip the intricate details. There is of course much more: including
costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the
photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs
of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer
will likely bring to your session, etc.
APPLES to ORANGES:
times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the
mall/department store only charges $$$ for an 8×10 or they may mention
other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those
discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1
service. According to several articles at the time, did you know that
in February 2007 a rather well known discount department store that
started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the
nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢
“professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly
enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often
charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50
for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering
portrait studios in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer,
in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in
other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the true “loss
Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have
the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child
is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home
environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom
photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural
expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience.
Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.