Category: Customer Service

Choose Photographers based on your needs

September 4, 2009

When you are looking at a photographer, you really need to take into account the type of photography you want. Contemporary photojournalistic wedding photography has very little to do with studio portrait photography; commercial product photography is unrelated to fashion photography.

If you live in a large photography market, you can find photographers that specialize in a specific type of photography. Wedding Photography lends itself to specialization: David Ziser is a long established wedding photographer in the Cincinnati area; Jasmine Star is a great California based photographer. Most metropolitan areas will have a number of wedding photographers to choose from.

Other photographic specialties include: Portraits, Senior Pictures, Commercial Photography (itself having numerous sub-specialties), Stock Photography, Sports Photography, Event Photography, Photojournalism, and the list goes on.

In a small market (like Beaufort), most photographers need to diversify. It is not unusual for photographers to offer the big three: Wedding, Senior Sessions and Child Photography. If a photographer is not a specialist, it does not mean they don’t have an excellent product. It is simply that the business reality is such that they can’t do their preferred work all the time.

They key is to look at a photographer’s portfolio and choose one you like.

Or, if you’re lucky, you can find a photographer that doesn’t charge anything unless you’re satisfied with the end product :)

What kind of photographic services are you looking for?

September 3, 2009

When it comes to photography, you can get varying degrees of service. It can vary from self-serve to full service with body massage and sea weed wrap included. Keep in mind that in general, you get what you pay for.

Self-serve (aka free photography)

These days, everyone (including Uncle Vern) has a digital camera. This is a fantastic state of affair! It allows families to capture important moments. Our own family has accumulated well over 8000 photographs in the years. These images document the family history: children’s birthdays, Christmas, various family outings.

When most people take their own photographs (or have Uncle Vern do it), they tend to have a “snapshot” quality. These are great photographs for the family album but usually not something you would frame and put on the wall.  This is where a professional photographer comes in handy.

Another issue people encounter is the relatively limited number of print sizes you can get; usually 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10. A photographer has a much better selection of format and finishes. Square formats like 8×8 or 12×12 that make a statement. Large format – 16×20 all the way to 30 x 40 – which can really fill a room. Even canvas for a classic and unique look. These are all options that allow you to showcase your family in a truly inspiring way.

Value Studios

These are the large chain studios (like Olan Mills) that can offer relatively inexpensive photography since they make it up on volume, similar to a Wal-Mart business model.  Bring in the family, have your photograph taken, select the package and in a few days, you can get the prints. They have a number of different props and backgrounds for all occasions. If you are on a limited budget but still want something professional, this is certainly a very good option.  In fact, we have a few photographs of the children that were done in this type of studio.

There are two main limitations to these studios.  You need to go to the studio to have the photo session, and that can quickly become as stressful as picture day. You will also be more limited when it comes to print choices.  They certainly have a larger selection than what you can do yourself, but not quite the breadth of possible choices a boutique photographer can offer.

Boutique Photographers

I use the term boutique refers to the level of service received. When you go in a boutique store, you expect individual attention. The staff should take the time to understand what you’re looking for. If they are unable to meet your needs, they should be honest and tell you so and maybe even suggest another establishment that might help. Of course, you pay more than at JC Penney, but you get service.

And so it should be for boutique photography. A good photographer will try to understand what you want and attempt to deliver it. If they can’t, they should be upfront about it. It would be great if they even referred you to another studio.

Once the session is over, a boutique photographer should do more than just give you some prints. They should be able to advise you about displaying the photographs. What is the point of paying good money to get photographs if they sit in a drawer or in a seldom seen album? Photographs should be exhibited in your home.

As we see it, these are the values a boutique photographer brings to the table. We strive to be boutique all the way.

How I learned to hate school pictures

August 31, 2009

For most parents, when you mention children and photography, the first thing that springs to mind is “Picture Day” a.k.a. the dreaded school picture photo  session. I am convinced this is a Machiavellian plot by cardiologists to give parents a heart attack due to elevated stress levels.

Dress you lovely child in their finery, send them to school with nice hair and pray they make it through recess without getting dirty or disheveled because without fail, your child is in the afternoon session.

If you survive the day, then you anxiously wait for the proofs to arrive some time later. If you are lucky, you get a decent photograph. However, we invariably tend to be disappointed with the pictures we get.  Now, I don’t blame the photographers one bit.  Simply consider the working conditions: 1 day – 600 kids. They only have 2 or 3 minutes per child! There are only so many shots you can take in that amount of time. I imagine you settle for “good enough”.  I simply couldn’t do it!

As bad as things used to be, you could always decide not to order anything. However, I have encountered a new practice which just stuck in my craw! Instead of sending various proofs, studios are actually sending their most popular “package”: 8 x 10, 5 x 7, wallets, etc…  You are supposed to keep what you want and send your payment along with the unused photographs back to the TEACHER within a week or two.

This is simply a tactic I despise. It now puts an extra burden on teachers to collect money and pictures. It’s not like they don’t have more important things to do!

Thsee tactics are insidious. They count on the parents not having time to go through the photographs. If you are a busy parent, it is much easier to simply write a $40 check for the package and be done with it! That’s easy to do. Going through the form and deciding what to keep and what to send back takes time. With a two week deadline, I don’t have time to do that!

Just give me the proofs and when I’m ready, I’ll order those prints.  And if I forget…at least I won’t get a bill in the mail!