What Is Custom Photography?
What custom photography ultimately is all about is choice and experience. Custom photography is about finding someone who will photograph your family and give you one on one attention without worry of the next ‘in line’ or the feeling of a crowded portrait studio. Custom photographers are also known as boutique studios, offering a full range of products and unparalleled service.
Custom photography should have the clients’ specific tastes, style and goals in mind. Your first step in the process is finding a photographer that reflects your style.
Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?
Even though you pay $1.99 for a print at your local drugstore and paying for film is pretty much a thing of the past (although you still pay for memory) you may be wondering why you pay the price for a custom photography print. Some photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
“How can you charge $40 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at the local drug store?”
The answer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision, expertise of the photographer and the usual costs of running a business.
TIME of the Custom Photographer:
There is a great deal of time involved in creating high end custom photography sessions for a client. The luxury of great service, better choices and a superb end product. The result of all this are heirloom quality images. The time invested at the session is only a small portion of time involved in this process.
Approaching it from a time standpoint, for instance let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love and that is travelling half an hour to your on location session.
Time break down:
* session prep time, 30 mins – 1 hour
* half hour travel time TO session
* 15-30 minutes prep time at selected location
* 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
* half hour travel time FROM session
* 30 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
* 2-3 hours narrowing down and preparing images to present in online proof gallery and converting them into JPEG’s
* 5 hours MINIMUM editing images for order
* 30-45 minutes spent preparing final order to be submitting for printing
* 30-45 minutes packaging final order together for client, or putting albums together
* any additional time for shipment of products or client pick-up
As you can see, there is quite a bit of time involved that is dedicated to EVERY session and the price charged is reflective of that.
COST of the Custom Photographer:
Regarding equipment costs, even though you can purchase a really good quality professional digital SLR for about $2500 there are still other costs related to photography. A great lens for portrait photography can run anywhere from $1200 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer. There is of course much more, including costs of lighting and studio equipment, backdrops, props, advertising/marketing, etc.
EXPERTISE of the Custom Photographer:
Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part. Expertise comes at a cost. Their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that beams with professionalism. To create good work, good, reliable equipment is a necessity. The photographer who desires to be known as the best knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is be reliable, dependable, and provide top notch service. This is how good reputations get built.
Apples to Oranges:
Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience. In other words, you get what you pay for. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.
The LUXE Experience
Custom photography is more of a luxury than your entry level cookie cutter chain experience. Custom photography truly is not for everyone…it requires a level of commitment, investment in time and money, planning on the part of the client and requires a larger time commitment for the photographer as well. Custom photography is Art at its finest, not just another snapshot.
Clients who enjoy taking a more active role in the creation of their families’ memories have the desire to have portrait art that is truly personalized. These more discerning clients have been known to budget and allot time for a custom photography session. Many clients opt for it to be a once a year special experience, some opt to have custom photography sessions done to record their child’s stages in life. Although custom photography is not in every budget, it will become priceless as the years pass.
Custom photography can be broken down into even more levels. There are on location, studio, and mixed studio/on location options. The beauty of custom photography is in the choices and in the luxury of those options. The customized service level you are sure to experience will be amazing. The knowledge that your final images are the result of someone caring about those moments so much that they take extra time ensuring that the artwork you receive is good enough to stand by with their name on it. That level of quality and commitment is all but lost in the age of “mass produced,” “mass marketed,” corporate “everyone is a number”. Custom photography is based on being unique to you and creating images that you will cherish for a lifetime. Invest in an artist…photography is forever!