I get a lot of inquiries from potential Clients who want family portraits, especially during the fall. And while some photographers will try to accommodate all inquiries so they get the job (and the income), I take a slightly different approach. My goal is to help every potential client hire the best photographer for their needs, even if that person isn’t me.
Professional photography isn’t like hiring a plumber or a lawn maintenance company. The artistic nature of the product means it’s really important to find the right person to create your family images. Some families might need a quick session for cheap, while others need someone who can take their time with the process and utilize multiple skills-sets to achieve a certain result. And instead of trying to please everyone, I am very specific about my approach to photography and the kind of service that’s provided.
Below are 5 of the most common reasons I refer potential Clients out to other photographers..
You just want all the digital images on a disk
If you’d like to hire a photographer who will provide all the digital photos to you after your session, I am definitely not the right photographer for you. And trust me, I fully recognize the importance of digital copies of your portraits. In fact, every image you purchase comes with both a museum-quality print AND a high resolution digital version.. but there are a few key differences between my process and the “images on disk” approach.
First of all, final portraits are narrowed down to the very best out of hundreds of shots that are usually taken during the session (so no, you don’t get ALL the photos). There’s no need for YOU to be the person who does that because it takes time, a trained eye, and yes, a ruthless ability to choose from several nearly identical images. And once those final images are selected (and undergo a full retouching process) the whole point is that you get to enjoy them in printed form! In reality, that simply doesn’t happen if your photographs sit on a USB or computer hard drive.
The Clients that work with me really love the printed photography products that decorate their home, or the luxurious album that’s on display on the coffee table. They understand that the final images require quite a bit of work outside of just taking the picture (post-production and retouching is everything to the final look of the portrait). And that’s completely different than a Client who just wants a bunch of digitals.
All photography looks the same
If you’re looking through photographers’ websites/portfolios and everything looks pretty much the same, you probably can’t tell the difference between good and bad portrait photography. And that’s totally fine, because 90% of the general population is in the same boat.
A lot of my Clients are hobbyist photographers, have a family member who does photography, or have a trained eye for quality artwork. It’s hard to tell good quality photos from mediocre ones, so it does take a certain skill to know what you’re looking for. And the people who love working with me definitely want a step above the rest.
You typically love photos of yourself
If you look good in every photo, don’t have any concerns about your weight, arms, nose, etc.. then you probably have no need for me. You can literally hire anyone with a camera, pay way less, and get good results. The reason to hire me is for posing direction that will slim your body, ability to control lighting that will flatter your face, and retouching that will take care of all those little details (and allows you to not worry about that scrape or bruise that came out of nowhere).
The truth is, most Clients I work with HATE having their photo taken. They feel uncomfortable in front of the camera and need someone who really knows what they’re doing. They have children who don’t sit still. Can’t seem to lose that last 10lbs. And generally shy away from the camera (I can relate.. because I’m 100% that person too!).
You prefer to DIY
There is a big difference between a full-service photography Studio and a photographer who just shows up for your session and then emails you the files. If you prefer to save a bit of money and handle printing and product creation yourself, you probably don’t need that full-service experience. The big benefit of working with a photographer who does provide a fully finished product at the end is that it’s less work for you. Not only that, but the print products I offer have been hand-selected out of dozens of professional photography products that aren’t available to regular consumers.
My Clients usually know the difference between cheap photo materials and something that is hand-printed to last a lifetime. They realize the need to invest in better quality and want someone who will make sure everything is done right. And the reality is, we all love to DIY certain things (for instance, I do my own landscaping, but hired the best roofer and exterior painters available because I know the difference a truly skilled work-person makes in that field). The important thing here is that the Clients that prefer to work with me don’t want to DIY their photography (at least not all of it). So if you’re looking for a digital photo you can blow up huge and frame yourself, I might not be the right fit for you (simply because the work I produce requires better quality printing in order to look its best).
You want outdoor portraits
99% of my family sessions take place in the Studio. There are a few reasons for that.. some of which are convenience, no need to worry about the weather, full control of lighting, and no bugs. When you hire me, you’re probably doing it because of the work you see on my website.. and the only way to get that look is in my Studio setting. I’m sure I could make more money by accommodating everyone who comes to me for a family session, but I know that it won’t allow me to provide the best quality of work in the end. There are tons of outdoor photographers. There are photographers who do home lifestyle sessions. And if that’s what you’re looking for, you are way better served by hiring THEM. Most of all, hire the person who specializes in the type of photography you’re looking for, because they will always be best suited to complete the task well. So if you really want fall foliage, a beach session, or a baby photoshoot in your home, I know some great photographers you can reach out to!
The truth is, I’m not the right photographer for everyone. And that’s OK. I love referring families to fellow photographers in the area because I know they will be a better fit for their needs. This means that the Clients I do take on are perfectly suited for the service and work I provide. They are hiring someone who is laser-focused on being really good at the type of photography they need.. and being able to make my Clients happy is truly the BEST part of my job. And yes, that often means figuring out what a family might be looking for in terms of portraits, and even saying “NO” to potential Clients.