Maybe a new approach is needed?

Before the birth of my daughter I had never really had a desire to have professional photographs taken, sure I took part in the set up photographs on Cruises or at theme parks, but honestly I never thought of having nice photos done.  Then the motherly hormones set in and I wanted to document EVERYTHING including the pregnancy, luckily a coworker who was 4 months ahead of me in our pregnancies introduced me to a local family photographer.  Having never had a professional sitting before, and only minimal information about pricing based off of “glam shots” (remember those??? 80’s style hair and makeup, LOL), we went to a consultation regarding a wonderful “watch-me-grow” photography program.  For one fee the entire year’s worth of photo sessions was included, all the major milestones were covered, we just had to purchase the prints we liked.  I was totally stoked.  This was something we could afford and would not regret.  

So we began our sessions with a fun maternity shoot, an insane amount of  pictures were taken, including a plethora of different poses and outfits.  We had so much fun, and it was wonderful to just focus on our budding new family.   Our photographer was a joy to work with.  The anticipation of viewing the photographs was eating away at my attention span.  Luckily we did not have to wait long, it took 2 hours to go through all the pictures.  Ohhh-ah, I had never looked so good.  This made me feel so beautiful, and even more in love with my little family.  We picked out the ones we could not live without and put in the order, knowing that we wanted to save the biggest print purchases for our daughter’s newborn pictures.

I wish you could experience how amazing our new born photography session was, our daughter was not the most cooperative newborn.  She was more awake than not… so each of the “sleeping” poses were actually frames caught between screams.  But our photographer was incredible working with her.  Even the memory of that time makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I made outfits for her to wear, the photographer had a closet full of props to try out, and after a 4 hour session (YES 4 hours) we all left exhausted yet full of anticipation.

Then came the viewing.   Then unfortunately the reality sets in.

We live in a 57′ long 12′ wide trailer.  Each wall has atleast 1-3’x4′ window on it.  Our hallway is lined with closet storage.

As much as we wanted to buy the largest possible prints of our beautiful daughter in the most amazingly taken photographs, there was just no where to put them.   And this was just her newborn session… what about 3mo, 6mo, 9 mo, let alone 1-year?  Where would we put everything?  Even the refrigerator has pictures on it.   To this day I think back to all the photos taken, and how many we just could not fathom purchasing… and I miss those prints. 

Now that you have made it this far into my post you are probably asking: what the heck is this supposed to be leading to?

Lately in my facebook newsfeeds I have been inundated with posts, by multitudes of photographers that I follow, shouting the merits of purchasing the largest print for viewing.  Trying to prove that a large photograph over the couch is much more eye-catching than the smaller one.    I totally agree with this, but at every photo viewing I have been to in my short career of professional photography, the more prints we purchased the better.    Even purchasing just the modest 5×7″,  the honest truth is there is just not enough room.  I don’t have it, my parents don’t have it… heck my boss who lives alone in a 2 story mansion does not have the room for multiple large prints!

I am just putting a couple suggestions out there, maybe it will worm it’s way into someones business plan, but something needs to change.  Every person I talk to (and trust me I talk to a lot of people… it’s my part of my job to chit-chat) states the same grievances.  They all know that a professional photographer makes the majority of their money off the prints that are purchased. This is a universal understanding.  But this is also an old school of practice.  We are all in a technological age, and things need to keep up.    Most people have pictures streaming onto their TV, as a slide show of sorts.  Or they have an electronic picture frame, cascading through the families most loved pictures.  Ironically 90% of the professional photographers will not release a digital print.   This is such a HUGE market that is being missed out on.

In drumming up business for local photographers I now professionally work with, I get asked quite often if a CD of images is given to the client.  This has now become the demand.   It should also become the standard.

Now as a photographer you may ask: well how do I get paid.  INCREASE YOUR SITTING FEE, get rid of the marketing/print sales. Give a disk (or flash drive, pretty please!) with a set amount of images (10, 20, etc) with free use.  If they want more photos, charge for another disk.   Guess what? This gets rid of the headache of marketing, ordering, distributing of prints.  YOU WILL GET PAID whether the pictures ever leave that disk or not.  I will pay $250 for a sitting fee  if I get a disk with 25 photos on it, no questions asked.   But if my sitting fee is $50 I will not pay for $200 in prints.  So now the photographer has lost that $200 in sales. **

I am not alone in this.

Another suggestion, this has addled my brain with its simplicity.  Going back to my daughters watch-me-grow program, I absolutely loved it and I am sad at how many pictures are lost to me now.  I wish, with all my heart that we had an option to have the photos placed in a professionally made scrap book.   There was an option for a story board book, I admit that.  But what I am suggesting is a full year in book form, from maternity to 1 year.  All the prints together, so nothing was lost and we did not have to choose what would fit on our walls.  I know now, after working with some professional grade printing labs, that they have people on staff willing to put the books together for you.  I would have paid through the nose for that option.  Heck we would still be going for photo’s through out her second year… just to have another one made.  The coffee table book of family photos.

I know there are more options out there, but honestly these are the two that keep coming up.  I love that professional photographers choose to use their talent to help us document our families lives, and I am incredibly happy to have embraced their presence into our lives.   So instead of deleting those professional photography pages that post the irritating “buy the big print” pictures… I just hide that one post and hope that one day they will come around to a different way of promoting.

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**Worried about posting in the internet? Include a file on the disk (or flash  drive) with web-photos, with your logo and resized.  Make sure to stress that these photos are to be used for sharing on the internet not only for your protection but also your clients.  Stress pedophiles, magazines, or foreign agents “stealing” family photos for indecent use… that usually gets peoples attention.   Besides now you have FREE! advertisement.

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Interested in finding/contacting the local photographers that I love working with?

For the amazing “watch-me-grow” program, contact Christine at Dovephotos.com.  Yes, most of the fun photo’s in this post are from that program!  I highly recommend it.

For fun family sessions (more photo’s to come, so check back), mini-sessions, themed photo shoots, commercial photography, ect. Contact Amanda at Amandastarphotography.com.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Capps
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 13:46:27

    I love everything about this post!!! As photographers we sometimes get caught up in “what the pros do”. We forget that each area is full of different people and my client base is way different than professional Fred’s client base in New York. Each and every client is totally unique in what the need and want. Love love love this post. I think I even learned a bit from it!

    Reply

  2. Jodi
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 01:31:07

    I love your ideas about how this field can change with the times. I have NEVER bought the big prints even when I possibly had the room. And as a grandparent I now have less room. 8 x 10 was the biggest I ever wanted. Easy to make a hallway full of your children’s growth by photos with 8 X 10’s and 5 X 7’s.
    LOVE IT!!

    Reply

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