I find that I get this question asked of me and thought it might be worth posting about! I found an excellent resource at www.professionalchildphotographer.com so be sure to go there to read more! In the meantime, I’ll go over a few excerpts!
What custom photography ultimately is all about is choice and experience (as in THE experience). Custom photography is about finding someone who will photograph your family, give you devoted 1:1 attention without worry of the next ‘in line’ or the feeling of a crowded portrait studio. A custom photographer will typically show you a fairly extensive gallery culled to only show the good images that meet the photographers’ creative sensibilities. Often the images are fully edited images that are color corrected with blemishes and under-eye circles removed, and often have creative additions such as color pops, special black & white conversions, textures, vignettes, etc., to give a truly customized look. Custom photographers are also known as boutique studios, offering a range of products and unparalleled service. Think Lexus vs. Hyundai, think Nordstrom vs. WalMart.
Custom photography should have you, the client, and your experience in mind.
Custom photography is more of a luxury than your cookie cutter chain experience. Custom photography, truly, is not for everyone. It requires a level of commitment, investment in time and money, forethought and planning on the part of the subject/client and requires a larger time commitment for the photographer as well.
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, and some opt to have custom photography sessions done to record their child’s stages in life. Having said this, it is clear that custom photography is not in everyone’s budget – it is something that most families save for to splurge on from time to time to memorialize their children as they really are.
Why does custom photography cost more?
I took this from the same website as above and it’s very accurate!
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 traveling to your on-location session. Time break down:
- session prep time (30 min – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks, battery charging,- vehicle checks)
- 30min – one hour travel time TO session
- 15-30 minutes prep time at location
- 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
- 30 min – one hour travel time FROM session
- 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
- 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
- 1-2 hours in pre-editing (color balance, image prioritization, converting to editable image format)
- 4-8 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
- 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
- 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
- 1 hour sorting through and checking order
- 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
- 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped/delivered
- any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues
As you can see, average client time for a session ranges from just over 14 hours to 19 hours. This is time dedicated only to your session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 14-19 hours complete time for your session.
So as you can see, photographers don’t really make much money on session fees. They make their money on the prints. Now that doesn’t mean they are getting your prints at the local chain store. They get their prints from professional labs, on the best papers, with all the bells and whistles available to them (special mountings, coatings, textures, special papers, etc.) These labs frequently calibrate their machines and only use qualified technicians who know how to get the print colors accurately represented each and every time. Most of these labs have minimum print orders, which is why many studios have a minimum print orders (even on re-orders).
So, the bottom line is that every single time you see a custom photographer, they are investing their time and talent in to YOU and your family! It’s an investment that will hopefully result in the purchase of the beautiful prints that were created especially for you to treasure forever!