How many of these blog posts have you seen? You know the ones. Fauxtog vs Photog, Professional vs. Chain vs. Shoot and burners, Pick me! Pick me! etc. etc. Been there, Done that.
This isn’t one of those posts. I don’t think so anyway but I’m only about 25 words in. But what I’d like to touch on is a little thing called perspective.
Like any other ordinary weekday, I brought my children to a nearby indoor play place to let them get some of their energy out during this polar vortex we are having. I had to go out and pick up a box of hair dye anyway because I think all these snow days might actually be turning my hair grey. Anyhow, Its one of those places where the kids can climb and slide and the parents can sit at tables and sip their lattes and watch as their little ones scurry around from one platform to another. The tables are in close proximity and parents chat about what else besides their kids. What they are up to, how old they are, what preschool they go to… etc. etc.
Inevitably, it always comes up that I happen to be a photographer. “Like a professional?”. Yes. Like a Professional. So this time the woman at the adjacent table looks at me and says “Oh you must be those ones that charge like an arm and a leg right?” To which i reply “Well I don’t know, maybe just an arm” 😉 <Insert awkward giggle here> So she says, “We have a great lady that does them at target for really cheap”. “Thats awesome!” I say. Because you know what? It is awesome! If she is satisfied with her photos and they are at her price point, I suppose you can’t really go wrong. But it really got me thinking. Now I know not everyone can afford professional photography sessions. Heck, its something I would have to save up for myself. But what it comes down to is, What is it worth to you? How important is it? I place a lot more value in photos than my husband, for example. Much like he places more value in beef jerky than I do <gag>. So how do we add a little perspective to the situation? When you can go to Target or the Picture People for a fraction of the cost (not really but thats a whole other post), why even bother with a professional.
I always hear “Well.. So and so is in my budget and they may not be that great but they get the job done”. Well thats great and all but what if we put a different spin on it.
When in doubt, turn to food. I always find food a good analogy. Those who know me well can attest to that. 😉
Lets talk restaurants. We all eat out sometimes right? Actually, I don’t eat out all that much since my little rug rats pretty much spoil the dining-out experience for everyone involved…. including restaurant staff and other patrons. But we order in! That counts right? And there’s lots of different restaurants. Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, etc. I like Mexican. My husband likes Chinese. We both don’t really care for Indian, etc. We all have our own personal preference. Not all restaurants all the same. Not every restaurant has what we want.
You get where Im going here?
Not all photographers are the same. Im not talking price either. Im talking style. Some are bright. Some are minimalistic. Some have a soft haze. Some are more dramatic. Lifestyle, studio, indoor, outdoor, etc. So who you choose as a photographer should somewhat reflect your style. Look at these photos… all phenomenally talented newborn photographers. All beautiful photos but all very different! Does one appeal to you more than the other? Can you pick a favorite? (its pretty tough isn’t it?) There is going to be a style that you naturally gravitate toward. And you should certainly take this into consideration when choosing a photographer. And these are all GREAT PHOTOGRAPHERS weeded out from the hundreds and thousands of not so great ones you have to get through. Style should be your starting point. Find those that fit your style… the ones you find most…. well.. appetizing so to speak
Now that you’ve decided what direction you want to go in, we can touch on price points. Let me ask you…If you aren’t that crazy about Mexican food, are you going to go to a Mexican restaurant because its cheaper than your favorite Italian place even if you won’t enjoy it nearly as much? No you probably just won’t go out at all. But maybe you’ll save up and go out for Italian next week. It will be worth it, because its your favorite. MMM Can you taste that delicious pasta primavera???
Photography is a LUXURY. Not a necessity. Repeat it with me. PHOTOGRAPHY IS A LUXURY. Much like eating out.
When I want to indulge myself, I have to save up (or put it on my credit card and make payments on it and hope I can get to the mail to snag the bill before my husband. This is much like the mission impossible trips to retrieve the amazon.com box before he gets home <cough>). Take out Chinese food is in our budget. But sometimes, for a special occasion, we go all out. Once or twice (if were feeling really adventurous) a year we go out to a really fancy restaurant. You know the ones you used to go to before you had kids.This usually happens on our anniversary. We get a baby sitter, get dressed up, order appetizers and wine, and entrees for 2 and dessert and we have a grand old time and we enjoy ourselves. And its totally out of our budget. But we skip eating out for the month and I give up my coffee and somehow we make it work because its important to us for that one time a year we enjoy something for ourselves. Its our little luxury to celebrate a special time in our lives. And we appreciate it so much more because its something we really don’t get to do more than once a year. Its something thats important to us. And we would rather save up and pay that extra for it to be exactly what we want.
Much like photography, you can’t go to TGIFridays and expect the filet mignon of your life. And when you go to Burger King, having it your way really only means they’ll wipe the pickles off if you don’t want them. So if you want true custom and professional photography, your not going to be able to get it off the dollar menu.
It also comes down to a matter of priorities as well. I have a friend who saves up and vacations a few times a year They are by no means wealthy. But its important to them. And they enjoy it, so they make it a point to make it work. Thats not something thats really important to me. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great. But its just not at the top of my priority list right now at this stage in my life. Kinda like how Im sitting here with Loreal Dark Brown in my hair instead of sitting in a salon. Id love to be able to go on vacations, get my hair done, get manicures and pedicures, and eat out every day. But luxuries, when outside of our means, are reserved for special times. And depending upon your priorities and how important they are to you will determine how you go about attaining them.
So while custom professional photography may be expensive, if it is important to you, treat it as a luxury. Not something you do every week or month. But maybe on those special occasions. Like you know, the birth of your baby, or their first birthday. And lets not forget that the value of these photographs is intangible. Moments frozen in time. So while the flavor of that delicious lemon napoleon fades by the time you’ve paid the check, you’ll have those photographs to look back on for a lifetime and they are exactly how you hoped they would be which is totally worth it.