Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why do photographers cost so much?

So, apparently this topic is a trend right now, and understandably so. There is such a pricing gap out there in the photography market, and with all the competition, its next to impossible to grow your photo biz. Bad juju. Regardless, pricing is the first thing people look for in everything they do, so it makes sense to know what you’re buying. So, why is it some photographers cost so much while others do not?

I’m gonna refer to photographers in two ways today: Full Timers and Part Timers. I’ve been the latter for about 6 years now. I’ve also worked for a company that had set prices/packages, and where some employees made it their living. And I’ve met tons of people making it in between.

But back to the question: WHY?!
Briefly, you’re paying for the time, tools, and talent.
That’s what it boils down to in the service providing business. In some situations, you’re even paying for a product: printed photos, photo books, and other accessories. Depending on whether the photographer requires you to buy a print package or not is a factor there.

So, time, tools and talent.

Full Time photogs have Full Time business expenses.
These folks are the crème de la crème, and are usually the ones barking about "you get what you pay for!", and technically yes this is true. Full Timers make most of their financial living off of their business, which means they invest a lot of their own money into their work. They SHOULD have the time, and tools, to make your photos look superb. They might even have a studio, or lighting equipment, backdrops, websites, photo-viewing services, printing packages, advertisements, multiple cameras, multiple lenses, etc. and you are buying all of that when you go with them.

Time and tools, my friends, time and tools.

If you can swing it, I would highly recommend hiring a photographer like this; you will definitely be investing in a service provider that can give you 100% of their attention.

Part Timers have a different full-time job, whereas photography is a hobby, or at most a weekend job. The majoring of their income is generated by a different job altogether. However, it’s important to note that these photographers are NOT any less serious, less business savvy, less talented, less capable, or will deliver a lower quality photo/experience.

DIDJA HEAR ME? I said part timers are humans too! In fact, they may be able to relate a little more to the average middle-class photo shopper, because odds are you got bills to pay and cant just whip out the plastic for some daggum pictures.

The downfall is time and tools (wow, those two words again?). Part timers most likely do not have 8 working hours in the day to take and edit their pictures. Usually they’re fitting edit time in here and there, or on the weekends. They also usually have limited expenses: 1 camera, 1 or 2 lenses, no studio, no lighting equipment, no website, no advertisements, no taxes, etc.

Something that can sway either way, no matter the business level, is the last T: talent. A part time photographer is not any less talented than a full timer, and vise versa. I have seen, and met, MANY talented part timers (ahem, me included!), that either DON’T WANT to, or CAN’T YET make it to full time status. This is the most difficult thing to price, as well. I mean, this is a service, but this is also an artform, and art ranges in price from free to millions of dollars. Some people base their entire photography package prices on their talent (and time spent using their talent) alone. This doesn’t seem fair to me, because no matter how much money I make, I am always working towards that pay raise at the end of the year. Aren’t you? If I work hard, the value for my time and talent should always increase. But your pocketbooks don’t feel that way, so you NEED to spend your money wisely.

If you’re in the market for a photographer, consider these things:
- You should be paying for time and tools. Their tools are your tools.
- You SHOULDN’T be paying a ton of money for a PART TIME photographer, who only charges outrageous prices because they CAN.
- You SHOULDN’T pay extra for the photographer to use additional equipment. Say you’re doing a natural light shoot, but the photographer says: It’s getting dark, let me break out the strobe light. It’ll cost you a little bit more, but...
- You need to set expectations and if the photog doesn’t live up to them, get pissy: they say a 2nd person will be at your wedding, then that should happen! They say you’ll get your photos within 2 weeks, then that should happen. They say you’ll get online viewing rights, then you should!
- Ask the photog about their equipment. Even if you don’t understand the lingo. Ask them for a list of everything they’ve got, and then Google the stuff, or ask your photog friend. Do they require you buy a photo package? Do they print their own photos? What is the printer name? Can you see samples? Is the photo paper nice? Are the colors a good quality? Do they use a printing company? What is the name of the printing company? Do your research: check how much that photog is jacking up the prices. Do they use more than 1 camera? They should if they use more than 1 lens. Do they use natural, strobe, or flash lighting? Do they have extra batteries? What editing programs do they use?
- Ask about their experiences: How was their first wedding? Great, they say? They’re lying. How many wedding have they done since then?

Whoa, hold up.
Warning: Some photogs get offended when you get nosy about their prices. I mean, they have had other people pay those amounts, and they think it’s fair, so why should you be so interested?? But if you’re gonna put a few thou down on a car, or on a wedding venue, or for your labor and delivery, you wanna make sure you know exactly what you’re spending your money on. If it’s a good fit. If the vendor is honest, and charging appropriately. If you’re getting into a contract with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, or they’re over charging for prints that you can get somewhere else for a better deal. Seriously. It’s good business, folks.

Lastly, I say all of this as a part time photographer who has the hopes and dreams of becoming a full timer one day. When that day comes, yes, my prices may increase. I will be able to offer my clients that extra time, some extra services (web-viewing), and hopefully use some better tools (believe me, I have a list 10 miles long of lenses I’d love to buy). In the meantime, you can benefit from my part-time status, as long as you understand you’re investing in a part time photographer, full time corporate office worker, full time wife, and full time mom. I won’t overbook my schedule, so that I can get your photos to you in the best time frame possible. I am usually only available on weekends, and let’s make that a morning shoot (cause we both got other things to do).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Parents Like to Party Too

So you may have heard something about M and I throwing a wedding party. It's hard to believe, but we're doing it. Although the major events of our lives kinda happened outta order, we're truly blessed, and truly happy that everything has happened as such. We wanna celebrate. We wanna invite those who have supported us through thick and thin, and we wanna feed them, dance with them, and clink glasses together with them. We wanna congratulate ourselves on making it this far -- in marriage and in family, cause LAWD knows this ain't easy. And really, I think this is a smart choice. I mean, sure spending oodles of cash before you're married sounds like fun but when you actually get your hands dirty in it, in the marriage, and you start a family and deal with a few years of extremes... then you really don't have a whole lot to celebrate yet. I'm proud to say that M and I have made it this far, and we're still wild about each other. If you ask me, that's a pretty damn good reason to celebrate.

So, this weekend we're meeting with our wedding planners! Why wedding planners? Because when you're a busy individual, married with a kid, planning a party isn't something you wanna stress about. Hiring a planner was definitely on my priority list if we wanted to make this thing happen. Luckily for us, we found some FANTASTIC folks. Karla and Mareo have been superb so far (and we've only just started)! I can't wait to get hip-deep, full-throttle, overdrive and overloaded into planning, with the help of IBLE (Inspired By Love Events, Memphis) because I know they're going to help little-ol-spastic-me stay on top of things.

Check out their site here. I'll be singing their praises during this next year, just wait.

The homework I was given for our next meeting includes gathering more details on: colors, theme, vision, budget breakdown, and venue sites. First I tackled the most important (okay, so the most fun); colors, theme, and vision.

The best way for me to describe what I want IN WORDS is:  
Warm, romantic, classic and rustic

But yall know that I do better with pictures, so what I described above might look a little like this:

Is it bad that this picture is my inspiration? 
Mercury glass, burlap/tweed, crisp whites and gold hues. 

With deep navy blue accents.

 Simple and romantic flowers.

Whites and pale yellows maybe?
Love the dreaminess!

Games! I want games like these big domino pieces, maybe giant Jenga, or scrabble?

Texture -- I like the newspaper and brown paper sack textures.

And of course, good/dramatic lighting (only a photographer...). 
These would also look great as mercury glass candle-holders.

No cake for us. Pies please!

Would love to have a "photo booth" in couch form.
Dunno if we can make this happen though.

As for the budget, M and I are trying to stay under $7,000; which is inclusive of the planners, my  dress, M's suit, etc. The ENTIRE party under 7k... can it be done? Creating a budget is probably our best strategy at this point. Knowing where the money is going, and what we'll be spending it on, and how we can cut corners. Every single penny needs to be detailed out. And being that I'm an Analyst during my 9 to 5 its natural that I defaulted to an Excel workbook. I'll share those financial details soon.

As far as venue goes -- hopefully we'll go on a tour of some cool places soon. I'm crossing my fingers we can check out my favorite venue this weekend, and I'm also crossing my fingers that it's cost-efficient enough so we can go with it.

Either way, I'll take pictures, and I'll take notes, and I'll share this experience with you guys as we go.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baby Shoot // Marian Jackson

Okay, so I lied when I said I wouldn't recap what all has happened in the past few weeks. This is something I had to share because she's just too cute NOT to.

I have been photography-less since April of last year (that's a wopping five months, folks) and kinda lost the itch. I mean, I just didn't have the time! But my best friend recently gave birth to her first baby, Marian, and I offered up my services. One thing that has changed since the last time I've taken to the camera is that I've had a baby of my own. Birthing your own child is the best form of experience when it  comes to infant photography. My session with Marian was beautiful, and now I'm itching for another baby shoot.

It helps that I'm in love with this entire family. Heather, Tommy, and now Marian, are close friends of mine and I so hope they love the pictures as much as I loved taking them. I can't wait for our little girls to grow together, and for our families to create memories. :)

With love,
Marie R.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Forceful Life Phases

Waiting is for wimps. When I want something, I often times go after it (*ahem* Michael *ahem*).
I know that patience is key, but sometimes you just gatta take life by the nips and make things happen.

Troof, right?

So, to celebrate getting shitake done I may be putting a little bit of pressure on myself here to write a blog entry.  Trying to get back into the habit here, so any little cheerleading you wanna do will so encourage me -- feel free! I'm ignoring the stinky stack of dirty dishes in the sink, and turning my nose up from the toys that need to be put away. I'm -GASP- taking a moment for myself, to do something that I wanna do!

Moms, you feel me, don't you?

So, I'm just going to pretend I see you on a daily basis and you know exactly what has happened within the last few months. Not even gonna try to recap everything right now. If you haven't mastered mind-reading, and facebook stalking, then you need to shape up or ship out.

There is a lot currently going on, and even MORE on the horizon. I have oodles of DIY projects currently in the works (literally half done projects litter my house, but its only because I don't have enough hours in the day). Here's my life in bullet points, or slashes... whatever:

// 30 Day Shred (as of yesterday)
// Halloween at work
// Halloween at home! Trick or treating!
// Costumes for the fam
// Picking pumpkins
// Painting or carving pumpkins
// Decorating the house
// Making my first wreath (Pinterest post!)
// Thanksgiving at home
// Christmas at home
// Day Makers Project 2012
// New Years at home
// 2013 Resolution: Organize Our Lives (already in the works, with excel spreadsheet and all)
// Bridal Shower, hosted by moi in OH (April)
// Bachelorette party, hosted by moi in Nashville (May)
// Brianna's 2nd Birthday (July)
// J's Wedding, in OH (August)
// Another J's wedding, in OH (June)
// OUR WEDDING! (Oct) Yes, you heard me right... we have begun the planning process for our "reception" doohickey. Planners have been hired. More details later.

So, this is a great wide open overview. I have multiple excel workbooks on, available to me anytime if I should have a few moments to do more pre-planning (in line at the grocery store, right before bed, after washing dishes and before throwing out the trash, whatever). It's quite insane how much we have going on next year with 3 weddings, one being our own, the Organize Our Lives project (OOL, as I'll call it), Day Makers Project, and the rest. Parties, parties, pinterest, pinterest, prayer, prayer... Think I can handle it?

Well, whatever comes our way I am going to try to get it down on... paper/blog. I hope my misadventures amuse you as much as they entertain me. And remember to laugh a little. What's a list like that without a crazy little good madness laugh?

On my way out, I'll share some instagram lovin' with yall.