Questions I'm Asked Most As A Photographer
Here are a handful of questions photographers in my network get asked all the time. Often they struggle to answer them without being politically correct (PC). I'm going to take a stab at being that voice of the hushed photographer and tell you the truth from my perspective. Keep in mind, these are answers I have actually given and my community of photographers have shared with their clients.
Why do photographers charge so much?
I can't and therefore won't speak for all photographers. Personally I've calculated what my costs need to be to run and grow my business. My rates are also a reflection of my talents and the experiences I provide. If you feel that a photographer is charging too much, take time to get to know what goes into your session and how long your photographer has been at the trade.
Consider the hours they dedicate to booking your time together, arranging any permissions for site visits, communicating any changes or confirming your session, taking the photos, editing the photos, and doing clerical work (invoicing, contracts, sharing your photos through their gallery, etc.). Taking that time (in hours) and dividing it by their session fee should tell you their hourly earnings and lend perspective.
Somewhere along the way I picked up the saying, "If you can't discern what it is that you're buying, you shouldn't be buying it." I practice this rule in my house religiously and encourage you to do the same.
Do you have insurance?
Yes. I carry insurance up to $1 million dollars.*
*If your photographer can't answer this question it may be indicative of the size and age of their business . Realize this could be a liability in any given scenario but doesn't have to be a deal breaker depending on your needs. For example: would you hire an uninsured tree company to cut down a tree next to your house? You could. Should you? It's totally up to your level of comfort!
What do you use to edit your photos?
Every photographer has a different workflow. If they say they use Lightroom, Photoshop, or Bridge, that isn't necessarily telling. Some photographers can shoot so clean that they only use Lightroom to batch resize images. Depending on how well your photographer can calibrate their manual settings will determine how much edit your photos will actually need.
When can I see some sneaks from my session?
Some photographers post sneaks immediately after your session while others wait until they're done editing. If you have a preference it's always great to weigh in - especially if the photos from your session are being used as a gift or surprise.
When will you be done editing my photos?
The answer is always different! Here are some things to consider:
Does your photographer only do photography or do they have another job too? If they have another job and aren't editing simultaneously, their post-edits may be delayed.
Depending on what your photographer's specialty is, will determine what their busy season looks like. If they mostly shoot weddings, expect their edit log to be backed-up from April through November (tentatively). If your photographer specializes in family sessions, be sure that if there's a string of good weather, they may be backed up on editing too!
In any case, if your photographer gets you images in less than a month you've got a keeper!
Keep in mind, it isn't rude to ask when they'll be ready if you take time to hear and accept the answer. If you ask right after your session, your photographer should know how back-logged they are and can speculate. Just remember that life happens and that's only an estimate.
Personally speaking, if I tell you a date, I will meet it. That's why I try to skirt sharing firm dates and say, "Right now, based on my workload I think I can have these for you in two weeks. I shot very clean tonight and the images are consistent so it'll be easier for me to get through them."
Can you make me skinnier, whiten my teeth, swap out my child's upset face for a happy one, and make my hair look like I had time to style it before our session?
I often joke that photographers are dental hygienists, cosmetologists, stylists, personal trainers, and baby whisperers.
The reality is that even though you want to be all of these things, you'd starkly recognize yourself when someone else manipulates your image to make it what you think you want.
Plus, we'd have to make that same tedious edit to all of the photos in your gallery. Yikes! That would take so.much.time. Even the simplest of edits take more time than you care to imagine when multiplied tens if not hundreds of times over.
So please, don't skip your workouts, teeth-brushing, or hair styling before your session. We love our clients and want them to feel their best BEFORE we resort to Photoshop.
Can I get a pro-rated discount since I don't need a full session?
Visit your photographer's website. Does the language on their pricing or investment page read as "session" or "hour" when explaining their rates?
I choose to say session because it implies that whether our journey takes 15-minutes or three hours, I want to be sure I get what I need from our time together. This also alleviates any firm parameters that an hour may imply.
Maybe your photographer feels differently, so take this into consideration when you want to ask about pro-rating or pricing.
Can I rhetorically ask:
Would you ask your child's school for a pro-rated amount on the subjects your child doesn't want to learn?
If you don't want the pickles on your sandwich, does the restaurant give you a discount?
Does the doctor charge you differently when your visit takes 15-minutes or 45-minutes?
A good photographer LOVES what they do. They also LOVE being able to cover their costs and pay for their expenses. Please don't ask your photographer to choose between their two loves.
I know there are 45mph winds, it's raining, and there are tornado warnings but can't we still have our session?
Aside from being selfish for the safety of very expensive camera gear, the last thing your photographer wants is for you to be in harm's way. When you get pushback on your session trust your photographer to make the call so that you can have the best photos they're capable of producing.
Thanks for the photos! We love them but I'd like to see more filters/edits/etc. Not to worry, I'll just add those. You don't mind, right?
If the argument is money, then save up! The right photographer is worth the splurge. Isn't one photo session a year with the photographer of your dreams better than three mediocre matches if the photos were exactly what you wanted?
Be honest with yourself before you book. Your feelings get hurt when your expectations aren't met and your photographer's feelings are hurt when they feel their work doesn't meet your expectations. The truth is, a photographer's work was never going to be what you wanted if you aren't honest with yourself at the beginning of the process.
We know our session is supposed to start in 10 minutes, but we're going to be about 30 minutes late. Is this a problem for you?
Meanwhile, if you liked what you read here, be sure to explore more posts on my blog before booking your next photography session!