Time and again I have the same conversation with a client: they love my work but want to know if I can offer a discount or if I can just include the CD of images rather than albums and proof prints. Despite working in the industry, I actually understand why clients so often wind up here... hiring a photographer is expensive and people need to consider their budgets. That being said, I wanted to un-pack the idea of investment and heirlooms when choosing your photographer...and why so many photographers are trying to move beyond shooting digital images and simply uploading them to online galleries.
Our digital world is very fast-paced and it changed the face of photography forever. Suddenly the world of photographs, which was limited to the few who wanted to take part in the slow craft of film, was open to everyone. Please don't misunderstand me; in some ways this was incredible. It leveled the playing field and ushered in a record amount of images that helped better connect our world. Yet on the downside, suddenly anyone could go pick up a DSLR at Costco and be shooting weddings by the following weekend. This made the pricing of professional photography services become chaotic and the quality of a photographer's skills were harder to measure. Suddenly the art of albums and image sale meetings were a thing of the past and Facebook became the main means of sharing your images. This is even more intensely felt with Snapchat. I'm sure this app can be fun when used socially, but for me, it is a nemesis. Why would I want the images I worked so hard to create, to simply disappear?
You add all those cultural changes together and it's rare that I have a client walk into a meeting excited about albums, framing or 10 full hours of wedding coverage.
WHEN YOU HIRE A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU INVEST IN CREATING HEIRLOOMS.
All photographers have different views on the issue of pricing and products offered and I think this differs from region to region as well. However, in my opinion, a good photographer creates a full experience for you that includes the following things in some form:
- Clear Communication + Wonderful Customer Service
- Personal Connection
- A Fun + Relaxing Shoot w/ Ample Time
- Gorgeous Images Delivered Digitally
- Products Delivered In Beautiful Packaging (Proofs, Prints, Albums, Framing, Etc)
These things matter so much! It's a massive collaboration between you and my camera to create the images you are dreaming of. Clear communication, as well as you and I connecting on a human level, is key. In order to accomplish that, it's going to take some time...which is why I don't recommend trying to squeeze content for eight hours of wedding coverage into four or five hours. Seeing your online digital proofs of your delivered images is incredibly exciting, but it pales in comparison to what it feels like opening a gorgeous album wrapped in luxurious ribbon and paper. When you curl up with that album and enjoy it with your loved ones, guess what you have? That's right, an heirloom.
When I was a little girl, I used to take the photo albums out of my mother's glass cabinet and look at them for hours. I'd run my hands over the leather finish of my parents' wedding book and press my fingers into the gold foiled letters of their names. These moments are so precious, because the soul of your photograph longs to be framed, held, admired and loved. You've invested a lot of your time, energy and finances into creating that photo, so why not archive it in a special way. After all, when you only share on Facebook or Instagram, it's piled up on by thousands of other images in seconds...unlikely to be remembered by the viewer.
When I stand in front of you with my camera raised in front of my face, I am already picturing you enjoying your album and your grandchildren enjoying your framed prints. Not because I take myself so seriously, but because I take YOUR time, energy and trust very seriously. When you take all these things into account, the whole experience really is an investment. An investment worthy of far more than Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram.
At the end of the day I'm just a photographer. There are far greater professions and millions of opportunities to spend your money. Yet, no matter what kind of photographer you look for, I encourage you to invest in heirlooms and quality service. Of course, there are good and bad photographers out there, but with a little research, you can find a great one (which I'll be writing some tips for later)! Then feel your eyes sparkle with anticipation as you wait for your albums and prints to arrive in the mail.
Because photographs are so much more than #hashtags.
Our signature Album is handmade with love in Portland, Oregon by HingedStrungStitched