I recently had to justify my photography pricing philosophy to a potential client. I have to admit that I hadn’t sat down and put it into words in a while. As a senior/family photographer, my primary goal while I am shooting is to capture a handful of iconic, beautiful art pieces that you will want on your walls or in an album to preserve who your family/child is at this moment in time. I want my images to become your memories… your heirlooms… That being said, there are several different philosophies when it comes to photography pricing.
The Full Service Photography Pricing Philosophy
The goal of the full service photographer is finished artwork. Whether that is wall ready artwork, beautiful albums, or prints and cards to share, a tangible, finished product is the goal. The best outcome is when we, photographer and client together, discuss where you want to display your image(s) and work together to create the final display. Nothing makes me happier than placing your finished artwork in its designated location. I see this as the best service I can offer, like a fine restaurant delivering a fabulous, well prepared meal.
The Guided Service Photography Pricing Philosophy
I, personally, understand that isn’t always the best solution for each of my clients and it isn’t doesn’t work well in all situations. Because of this understanding I do sell the individual digital files. When I sell individual files, my clients have selected which fully edited images that they want and I have even worked with my clients cropping and retouching the images to their planned artwork size. I see this as a guided service. It can be compared to the Blue Apron type service that provides you with the pre-measured, high quality ingredients along with the recipe, but you have to cook the meal yourself. The ingredients are ready for your fabulous meal, it is just dependent on your execution.
The Self Service Photography Pricing Philosophy
Some photographers charge for their session fee and then hand over all of the resulting images. There are some clients that see this as a great advantage. They love that they are saved from choosing their favorites from all of their images… they also love that they have so many options… and on a per image basis, the price point seems like a great deal. Following our analogy, this would be like standing in the grocery store. You could search out all of the ingredients of your fine restaurant meal home and prepare it yourself. There is a chance that you would be able put it together just perfectly creating the exact meal that you would have gotten at the restaurant… maybe… There would be money saved, but you also might not quite get what you envisioned.
Drawbacks to the Self Service Photography Pricing Philosophy
Procrastination– Because you have access to all of the images, you can decide which one you want to frame later… When things are a little less hectic. Not only have I had clients do this, I have lived this. Having a client select and purchase individual images causes them to at least make decisions and a plan, which brings them one step closer to hanging them on their walls.
Complications– Most likely your digital image is at a 4:6 ratio. Problems can arise if you then want to make an 8:10 print. Crucial parts of you image might get cropped off. Other problems can arise if you order a canvas and parts of your image are unexpectedly wrapped around the side of the canvas.
Quality- You might get lucky and find a printing place that produces phenomenal work. You might find a print place whose work is lack-luster. A full service photographer usually has tested out several print houses and additionally has developed a relationship with the printer of their choice. They are aware of the quality of product that they are ordering, where as the average consumer might not be as aware. You might save some money, but you also might have to place the order multiple times at multiple places to get a product you are happy with.
Overall, it is really about how much time you want to invest on your part and how much risk you want to take on. If you are looking for a fabulous finished product with minimal work on your part, then, like a patron of a fine dining establishment, you will probably find it worth your while to spend a little more and hire a full service photographer. On the other hand, if you aren’t in a position to make decisions right now, you are willing to put in some time researching providers and you feel confident in your ability to walk through the providers ordering systems then you might be happier with a self service photographer. It is really all about what works for you.