It’s official, we’ve hit that oh sh*it, I need to get family pictures taken time of year again. In the grand scheme of things, the idea is simple. You are iso a photographer talented photographer who’s (REASONABLY) priced, right?
Most parent’s in the fall, as well as the spring embarks on a social recommendation 5k obstacle race thought their Facebook in search of the best person to hire.
Ducking and weaving in between the “Hey, look at me, I sell stretchy pants” promotions or the always awkward to watch “Hey, Y’all I’m going to attempt gracefully apply eye and lip stuff for ya!” while live streaming.
This isn’t a stand on my soapbox blog post where I try to justify why professional photography is expensive or how much my time is worth.
Secretly, I loathe those preachy obnoxious industry favorite blog posts.
Then when I mentally put myself in your shoes, I think, do they REALLY care how much it cost for someone else to run their business?
I mean when I go and get my hair did, I don’t ask my stylist how much per ounce they are charging me for shampoo and conditioner.
Which leads me to my dilemma and reason for engaging in this candid conversation.
You see, In some weird way, I feel partial (and TBH awkwardly) responsible participating in the often romanticized family photographer pricing conversation. I still see strangers posting on local community pages statements like “ISO for good/affordable BUT I can’t spend hundreds of $$$ on pictures.”
because I think everyone can agree that family photographers provide a lovely service but who’s regulating these prices?
In an industry that’s evolving and changing daily, who are putting up guide rails for everyone to be on the same page?
Seriously, professional photography is a lawless profession it has loose rules but knowing when to break them is the backbone the creative drive.
To say it another way, in my opinion, photography pricing has become quite a monster.
A weird sort of photo session type hunger games where professional credibility and worthiness is the ultimate prize.
Attempting to price match a competitor to showcase talent has become awkward and uncomfortable to watch.
I simply can’t feed this beast anymore nor run my business this way.
And I believe it’time that someone started having conversations about the real problems.
When I sat down to begin researching what problems come up continuously, I noticed a reoccurring pattern between the professional who’s offering a service and the mom/dad <insert your family role here> who goes in search of their local photographer.
Correct me if I’m wrong but the following (in no particular order) are the
I’ve been in some sales job most of my life and yet I can’t seem to figure out how an emotion-based service has turned so commoditized and self-serving.
I’ve struggled for a long time to find some way to be radically transparent with this profession.
I’ve dedicated many hours to learning and protecting my distinct style and visual voice.
Not to say that other, photographers don’t dedicate their time and energy to being honest and fair.
But due to a series of unfortunate mental health events (or as the medical professionals like to categorize it “anxiety and depression”) I’ve had PLENTY of time to stand on the sidelines and observe my peers in an industry that is unregulated.
I began to realize I’ve also taken part in romanticizing the frustrating pricing conversation.
Wondering, why do I keep reading and hearing statements such as
I know you’ve watched someone struggling to take a selfie or squeezing together to group picture.
There is nothing quick about it
We tend to take more than a few pictures
Most of the time we only like Some of the photos.
If they started being honest with themselves, (because let’s be real Time magazines shot covers with iPhones) professional photographers, specifically, family photographers, that unregulated industry but it’s changing. And not to their benefit either.
So many of my peers are trying to swoop in like we are some saving digital pictures superheroes.
The realization even though I am offering someone the ability to relax and be stress-free if money’s involved, it’s going to cause some anxiety.
Based on my background an being the self-proclaimed quintessentially awkward family photojournalist.
I decided to apply the social anxiety hacks I’ve learned over the years to help deal with uncomfortable situations to my photography business…
So I’ve spent the last few months stepping away from the big fancy camera to study the relationship between what triggers the hot seven family photography topics. Learning how to use scientific research (totally nerdy…I know) to strengthen my connection with clients when I’m behind the camera.
Ultimately, Learning To Accept my quirky behavior as freedom of expression not as overstepping social norm boundaries.
Continually questioning, why does photo session pricing set the tone of the relationship?
Then add to it you’ve got to not only get the photo session scheduled and on but also trying to get everyone to show up and look happy.
Family visual legacies are being thrown into a “finding the perfect’ish” family photographer idea blender.
Instead of trying to plan and build a relationship, the standard question that must be answered first before we move forward in an already awkward relationship is “How much do you charge for all the digitals?”
Holy crap…no wonder everyone has the last minute Oh Sh*t stressful I need help moment.
So here I go, opening up the dance floor to engage in incredibly candid conversations around family photographer pricing.
At this point, I have nothing to lose and feel subliminally forced to protest these business standards that are leaving parents and families trapped by the iso a talent but (REASONABLY) price monster I thoughtlessly endorsed for years.
It’s time that I give credit where credit is due.
In the age of horrid yelp reviews and one-star recommendations.
Consumers have a voice, and it’s my goal to help you strengthen relationships and less oh shit moments
Let’s fight this professional photography price monster together, shall we…