"What could the recent pay-your-age event at Build-A-Bear and photography ever possibly have in common?" Let's take a deeper look!
Big news! Head to your local Build-A-Bear this Thursday for bears as cheap as $1.
You throw your kids in the car skip breakfast, speed on the highway hoping to be one of the first in line. You get there only to realize there's already 1200 other people in line an hour before they open.
At this point, you have to decide if you're willing to give up the "experience" of a well-known children's store for a great deal. You decide to stay… you wait with your screaming kids for 6 hours in line and finally it’s your turn! After being allowed 2 minutes in the store, you finally walk out with sad kids and an unstuffed teddy bear.
This happens in the world every day. Deal seekers are out to snag any deal they can, knowing that they will have to give up some aspect of an experience they love. Whether that means waiting in long treacherous lines, giving up the quality of a well-loved product, or simply just not getting the experience they have grown to know and love.
How does this relate to photography you may ask? I can't tell you how many countless inquiries I get, where the very first question somebody asks is "How much, and do you have any discounts?" I know that we all have budgets, but if price is your number one factor in finding a photographer, then I may not be the photographer for you.
I believe that providing quality and exceptional customer experience is the number one key to having a thriving and everlasting business. Sure, I can give you a dollar photo shoots all year long, but I'm going to be out of business before we get to your second photoshoot because I would not be able to have a sustainable business at that point. I would literally have to do 30,000 photo shoots in one year, just to bring in slightly under minimum wage for my family, not counting any overhead costs I have. Not only is that not humanly possible, but, since I would be based on quantity, not quality, you as the client would cheapen your experience.
1. I would not have time to sit down one on one with you before your session and delicately plan out every detail of your session so that it meets your vision.
2. Your photoshoot would have to be less than 5 minutes, so that I could meet my goal of number of clients for the year.
3. I would not have time to thoroughly retouch your photos, so I'd have to give you half-done photos on a cd and be done.
4. There would be no possibility of a gallery reveal/ design consultation, where I go to your home and we sit down and go through your photos one by one prefaced by a slideshow set to music. We would not be able to design a masterpiece gallery for your wall, an album for your coffee table that guests will enjoy for years to come, or even just decide which photos you wanted printed for grandma.
5. You would be responsible for sizing for photos appropriate to the print size you want or face the dreaded pixelated photo.
6. There would be a lot of trial and error on your end trying to figure out the best consumer labs that will print your photo without a green tint across the whole photo; Or a lab that will print your canvas without sacrificing quality. Not to mention, you would still be printing at a consumer-based lab, where the quality is no-where near the quality of a lab that only prints for professional photographers.
Let me paint a better picture for you. You send out an inquiry to a photographer who actually takes the time to call you back and get to know you and your wants and desires. You have a 45-minute phone conversation because you really start to connect. You not only talk about photography, but you talk about life in general and find out you have many similarities. The photographer starts to ask about what you envision for your photoshoot and what would make the photos perfect for you. She asks questions like are you looking to display this as a large canvas in your home, a framed print, or design a keepsake album that can be passed down through the generations. These are all questions that will help your photographer know exactly how to take your photos and which angles to capture.
Then you meet up with your photographer for your photoshoot, and your photographer has not looked at the time once, because she is not concerned about the time that is spent with you, but rather accomplishing her goal of capturing the photos that you wanted. You have been laughing so much and having such a good time, that you forget you are actually doing a photoshoot.
A few days later, maybe even a couple weeks tops, your photographer calls you up and says your photos are done being retouched. Your photographer has hand edited each and every photo to make it the best of the best. You arrive for your gallery reveal.
A slideshow starts playing with music that is hand-picked to best suit your session. You laugh. You cry. Your emotions run wild as memories of that day replay in your head. Since you have decided that you want a custom wall gallery designed, your photographer uses special software to show you exactly what your gallery will look like on your exact wall, with accurate sizing. You completely fall in love and seal the deal.
A few weeks later, your wall pieces arrive and are ready to hang! For the next few years, maybe even generations, your wall pieces are noticed by the many people that enter your home. You receive compliment upon compliment on how gorgeous those pieces look on your wall. You then realize, its time to schedule your next session with that amazing photographer who has made your memories come alive for so long!
None of this would have happened if you were only out to seek a deal.
Now you have to decide… are you only looking for a photographer who can give you all your photos (edited or unedited) on a disk for $50, or are you looking for a photographer that you can develop a lifelong relationship with? One that you can laugh and cry with? One that will be there as your baby takes his first steps, as your baby goes off to college, and as your baby gets married. You choose!
You could always walk away with your unstuffed teddy bear too….