Choosing a Photographer. Going Gourmet or Fast Food?

Frankly, anyone with a fancy camera who charges for their services these days could potentially call themselves a professional photographer. And many do.

 

When choosing a photographer it’s critical to look for one with the right experience and qualifications. Hiring someone with an expensive camera that offers discount pricing and expecting great pictures is like going to a restaurant that has a nice kitchen and expecting gourmet food. The quality of the product is highly dependent on the creator’s innate abilities and on skills that have been perfected over many years of learning and practice.

Not all photographers who sell their services will have the artistic vision, compositional skills, camera knowledge, post-processing skills, business know-how or passion necessary to offer a client the best photographs or service. All too often, when buyers are swayed by discount pricing they get disappointed. I have heard over and over again, “I once hired someone to take my photos because they were cheap and wished I hadn’t, the results were horrible”. It’s like deciding to eat fast food instead of a gourmet meal and then complaining about an upset stomach. You get what you pay for.

I recently gave a newbie photographer a hard time for selling himself as a professional photographer when his images were clearly amateur. Even the simplest of adjustments, such as correcting poor composition, color and lighting, were neglected. I advised him that he was doing a huge disservice, not only to his clients, but to the professional photography industry itself, and that he needed to learn the trade before marketing himself as a professional photographer. Needless to say, it didn’t take him long to realize his shortcomings and that he couldn’t make a decent living on the low prices he was charging and has since gotten out of the business.

What I see time and again are photographers who charge very little for their services as a way to break into what they perceive as being an easy business to start up. In reality, they use discount pricing as a way to gain experience and pass the cost of learning onto their customers who are often disappointed with the results.

 

With so many wannabe photographers discounting their pricing, many companies are surprised when a realistic quote is received from a true professional photographer.

 

This is partly why I am writing this blog, to help educate potential customers on the difference between amateur and professional photography. I’m not saying don’t use discount photography but realize that if you do, make sure you know what you are signing up for. You may find it suits your purpose or you may end up with a bad stomach ache.

At one time I sweated over the existence of discount photographers and thinking they would kill my business. I drove myself nuts and nearly folded trying to compete against their low prices. I finally woke up and decided to just ignore that they even existed, and focused all my energy on my passion, which is taking the best pictures I am capable of taking. I am passionate about photography and always push myself to learn the latest and greatest techniques to wow my clients. I enjoying delivering above expectations and hearing my customers praise when they see the results.

As for pricing, I priced myself as was necessary to deliver a superior product and to sustain my business for the long term. I am confident in my skills as a photographer and have attracted clients that place a high value on my unique style of service and imagery. Sure, many of my realtor clients stopped calling me but I was ok with that. I stopped competing on price and have learned that my ideal customer is the one who knows the competitive edge and appreciates the value that my photography can bring to their business.

My business continues to grow and I work with only those clients who want the best for their business. They appreciate images which are carefully crafted and are not just snapped. Clients view me as an extension to their team and I’m an integral part of their success.

If you think you have what it takes to become a true professional photographer, check out my next blog ‘Tips on Running a Successful Photography Business”

Carsten Arnold
carsten@carstenarnold.com