What is custom photography?
The photographic art you choose to place on your wall is ultimately the result of the vision of the photographer. This vision, coupled with what you wear to your session, the environment, the lighting, even the mood the subjects are in at the time of photographing creates the work that you will want to proudly display on your walls forevermore.
What custom photography ultimately is all about is choice and experience. Custom photography is about finding someone who will photograph your family, give you devoted 1:1 attention without worry of who is 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: color corrected with blemishes and undereye circles removed.
- Custom photographers are also known as boutique studios, offering a range of products and unparalleled service.
A custom photography experience should have you, the client and your experience in mind.
Why choose custom photography?
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, 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, 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 (not posed and primped in the cookie cutter studio setting).
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 supberb 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.
Why does custom photography cost more?
The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art. We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”
The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business. [Custom photographers spend hours preparing for sessions, uploading, sorting, and editing photos from a single session to ensure that their clients receive the highest quality and service possible.]
Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service.
A little history – the whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”. Your portraits that are meant to symbolize a once-in-a-lifetime stage in your child’s life are part of what a store considers a way to get you in there door to spend more money on goods that you might not really want or need but because you’re there “anyway”, so you buy.
Also keep in mind that when you go to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for as well as the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience.
To sum it up…
The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.
There is so much time and skill involved with a dose of talent thrown in. Assessing the light, assessing the dynamics, assessing the environment are skills that are not easily achieved, nor do I believe everyone is capable of. Connecting with your subject(s) is also a skill not every one, including every photographer, possesses. Coupled with the technical know how of their camera and equipment, today’s photographer makes a sizable investment in time and monetarily to create photographs that have meaning and that truly stop time. As a photographer [I] understand the hard work, the perserverence, the dedication and the long long hours that business ownership requires. Clicking the shutter and composing a decent picture is NOT rocket science but understanding all the fundamentals, knowing the rules, when to break them and having the boldness to create something timeless…that requires extreme dedication and a desire to excel at business.
I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.
Used with permission. Written by author Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography. Full article may be found at http://www.professionalchildphotographer.com