Have you ever looked for a mechanic and everyone recommends someone they know that lives down the street from them. This person usually has the worst car in town and fingernails filled with grit. On more occasions than one, you will find this guy broke down in his own car on the side of the road. There’s usually a dirty dog running around his garage and an old school bus in the backyard. If you call his office phone, you’d think the person that answered chewed aluminum cans for fun. He writes down his appointments on the back of a ©Big Mac wrapper and consistently has an unlit cigar in his mouth. You can pretty much familiarize with each scenario that depicts the mechanic that people feel has the best offer for you and whatever problem it is that you have with your automobile. They also never fail to mention how cheap he is, as if you are more concerned with the price than the quality of work he does.
These past experiences are not only subject to auto mechanics. Photographers are also recommended to potential customers in this same fashion. “He’s really cheap”, “You can get a lot of pictures on a disk for little money”, “This guy doesn’t even charge a sitting fee”. If it’s a cheap price people are looking for, why do they even need the photographer? You would do better purchasing a $69 point and shoot camera and a tripod, then updating your family portrait every year by setting your self timer and running back to be in the image. If it were that easy. Photographers spend endless hours honing their craft, purchasing new equipment, and editing images to make them look as though they’re about to be paired up with Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
People should seek out a photographer who has quality work, plain and simple. Before pricing is even discussed, you must think about their work moves you. How would this particular photographer portray you and your family in the final product? Does this photographer have experience in the field that I’m requesting? A very important question should be, do you like their past images? If you don’t like their work, there should be no reason at all why you should go forth in hiring someone to capture images of you. That would be the equivalent to handing over the keys of your luxury car to someone who works on go carts. There definitely has to be that moment when looking at their images simply takes your breath away. Photographers who are constantly keeping up with the changing times and themes are always going to be more sought after than that shooter who has that ‘bus in the backyard’.
Ask your potential photographer to see his or her web site. Does their current imagery remind you of That 70′s Show, or is it modern cutting edge? As photographers, we should be constantly finding out what is new, what do the customers want? We need to continually look at other photographer’s work. Take time to look at web sites and periodicals that are unrelated to the actual subject of photography. These magazines and web pages highlight recent trends and techniques that customers are seeking. Learn from tutorials about capturing images and delivering a great finished product. If you follow these steps, when a potential client comes across your images, the price should not be the determining factor whether they want you to photograph them as much as the love for the images you produce. Don’t be the mechanic with that cheap price. The customer will value your work as much as you take time to produce exquisite images.