Let me start by saying by how much Photographers love being your photographer. We chose this profession to capture the precious memories, the snuggles, the kisses, the families, the growth, the chaos, and LIFE. It is one of the most rewarding jobs there is…and that is straight from my heart. But with that said, there are so many things that we, as Photographers, wish you knew. It’s easy from our side to get frustrated, irritated, hurt, and worried…..this is also a hard job. The world we live in is so very different from the one that most of us grew up in. Since the onset of social media, the world has become an instant gratification driven, sometimes selfish, and stressful place to live. Also, with the price of entry level cameras coming down, and the market being so saturated with photographers pretty much everywhere…..that just makes it that much more difficult for us. BUT, we persevere. :) I am a member of several photographer groups on Facebook, we share our images, we give each other critique, we answer questions, we help with problems, and we use it as a safe place to vent. So, I polled my friends to figure out what would be some things that they wished their clients knew….both about photography as a whole, and also about sessions/what to expect during them and after them. These are some of the things. Not all of these have happened to me, but a lot of them have, and some of my personal experiences. SO, please hear me out, take my words with a grain of salt, know that I am NOT trying to step on any toes, but I AM trying to educate people who may just not know the ins and outs. Buckle up kids….it might get a little bumpy…..
First and foremost, I want to express just exactly how expensive it is to be a Photography Business Owner. Notice I said Business….not hobby. When you are a legal business, you must be registered. You must pay your taxes. You must pay for your business licenses. Photography equipment is borderline outrageous. I am not talking about a entry level dSLR. I am talking about professional level equipment. And, it always needs to be upgraded. Serviced. Cleaned. Calibrated. Then, there are computers that are powerful enough to run the programs that we need to run, the programs themselves, backup hard drives, off camera flashes, modifiers, wardrobes if you keep them, gas to and from sessions, I could go on and on. That doesn’t even begin to start to cover the cost of education. There is a very, very big difference from your friend down the street who is “getting into photography” and a professional photographer. It is so much more than just “pushing a button.” We spend so much time learning and evolving our craft constantly. So when you say, “Oh man, your camera is SO NICE and it takes SUCH NICE pictures!” That is like me coming to your house and eating your food and saying, “This is SO good, you must have SUCH a good oven!” Tools sure can help, but they aren’t everything.
We can’t control the weather. We know that you have been looking forward to your day for pictures for a long time. We know that you took off for this. We know that your husband leaves back out for work in two days. We know that it throws a kink in your plans. We really do. But, the weather, especially in Texas, isn’t predictable. Sometimes, it rains. And as much as we would love to be able to have a quick conversation with God about turning it off and bringing back the sun….he doesn’t normally care about our plans. Also, please understand that we cannot shoot in the rain. Our very expensive camera equipment isn’t water proof. Mist/rain/water no matter how hard can ruin our gear. Not to mention, rain does NOTHING for your hair. Please don’t ask us to shoot in it anyway, and please don’t get angry AT us when we have to reschedule. There is really nothing we can do about it, and even if we were to shoot in it, it would not be our best work. So it’s a rock and a hard place for us….if we make the decision to call it, KNOW that we have talked and talked and talked to ourselves about it. We have checked the weather 4738978937492 times hoping it will change. And, we might have pulled out all our hair in the process. We don’t cancel lightly.
Pinterest. How we have a love/hate relationship with it. We love to pin and get inspiration as much as the next girl. But, here’s the thing. Photography on Pinterest is a collection. A collection of a whole bunch of amazing photographer’s very BEST shots. It may be that particular photographer’s best shot of their entire career. You will hardly find two shots from the same session on there. Photographers are artists. Each one is different from the next. Copying is not something to be proud of in our world. But, more than that, when you bring us printed out shots from Pinterest that you want to try to replicate, you take all the artistic liberty out of it. Also, if you really look at most of those images, the locations are things that might be impossible to find in your area. Not the style of your photographer, the light might not be the exact same…etc. When you are picking a photographer, look through their work, their Facebook, their website…..then, pick someone who blows you away with THEIR work. Their style. And leave the Pinterest for recipes and wedding planning. Bringing 54 Pinterest shots to a session is really, really setting yourself up for disappointment. Pick a photographer that you trust to make amazing images. Photography is art.
Be on Time. Please, please, please be on time to your session. While we understand that things happen and they might be out of control, please try your best to arrive at the time arranged. We schedule sessions according to light, and the later you are, the less we have to work with light wise. This is even more important if you are attending a Mini day. Minis are usually around 15 minutes long, and are back to back. So, when you are late, you cut your time short, and also possibly cut into someone else’s time that was on time. If you ARE going to be late, let us know as soon as you realize, so we can plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to try to be a tad early, to give yourself some extra time.
Come with and Open Mind and Realistic Expectations. You know your kids better than we do. No matter if they are a camera show off, a runner, a crier, what have you….more often than not, you will know how they will be before we get started. Don’t get me wrong, my very favorite kids are the wild ones. Anyone will tell you that! But, if you know your kiddo is iffy with new people, they don’t like strangers, or they take a while to warm up-know what type of session to book. More than likely if you book a Mini Session with a kiddo who hates new people, they will cry the whole time, you will be frustrated, and the photographer will be left feeling like they failed you even though there is nothing that we can do if a baby doesn’t like like them. 15 minutes is a really short time. And sometimes, they cry anyway. It just happens. To be honest, I love crying pictures. Because one day, they will be big, and you will be left loving to look at those crying pictures and remembering how small your baby was. But, make sure to let you photographer know ahead of time that you little one isn’t sure of new people, so we can prepare ourselves.
Wardrobe Matters. And it really can make or break a session. If you are having trouble, reach out to us, we LOVE to help you style the perfect outfits for your session! As a rule, try to stay away from busy patterns, matchy-matchy colors, and neon. Try to coordinate your colors as best as you can. Try to stay away from wrinkly clothes and clothes with stains on them when possible.
Which brings me right into my next point….don’t come into a session with something that you KNOW you will be expecting to be photoshopped out. The phrase that probably makes me cringe the most ever is, “You can just photoshop that right??” or “Okay, now make me 30 pounds lighter!”. Literally, cringe. Because right there I already feel like I am not going to be able to meet your expectations if you don’t like the way you look. Believe it or not, I am not a photoshop wiz. I know some things, and I have learned a lot over the last year-but as far as REALLY manipulating the way something looks- I can’t really make it work. Or, it takes me a really long time. Basically, everything is not a super easy fix in photoshop believe it or not. Some things are, but some things just aren’t. Me personally, I try to fix anything in the shot I need to to prevent me from having to fix it in photoshop, most of my images come out of my camera pretty much looking like I want them to. Photoshop is for enhancement, not to fix things, as a rule. So, just keep that in mind.
Guys, this one is right at you. We know you don’t want to be there. Your wife knows you don’t want to be there. I am pretty sure everyone in three counties can hear you griping about being there. But, a little secret? The quicker you cooperate and do what we are asking, the quicker the session is over and the happier your wife is. Follow instructions with no griping and I promise I will treat you like a King and get you home in front of the ballgame on TV before you can say, “I don’t wanna be here.”
Under no circumstances is any real professional photographer going to give you “All the Unedited Files”. The RAW files. It’s not gonna happen. Each image that we make is a work of art. Would you go to a restaurant and tell them to just give you the raw ingredients and you would just go home and cook a gourmet meal for yourself? NO! You are paying for the final product. The same goes here. We market ourselves as a finished product. An experience. A piece of art where you are the star. So, please don’t ask us. It’s hurtful, and makes us feel like you don’t trust us as your photographer. And if you don’t trust us, you need to find and hire someone that you DO trust to capture your memories. That person is out there, even if it isn’t me. Or whoever you go to. On the same note, no, you can’t go through all the unedited photos and pick which ones you want us to edit. I know some people work this way, HOWEVER, this is not the norm. So, please don’t expect it. Trust me, we are not hoarding beautiful images from you to keep for ourselves. We aren’t keeping anything. I hear it all the time, “But there might be one that you think is trash, that I will love!” Not true. If I even remotely think you might like it, it’s going in the gallery. The only ones that aren’t included are not properly exposed, they are blurry, eyes are closed, etc. There are no secret hoard of images. I promise. Pinky swear.
Don’t compare us with other photographers. But, also don’t badmouth other photographers to us either. Surprisingly, not a lot of people realize that most of the photographers in an area know each other. Most of them are friends. They all talk. So, more than likely, you are talking about their friend to them. Each photographer is different, has a different way of doing things, has a different price point, and so on and so forth. There is so much variety you can pick from. But, don’t go to one photographer and expect them to do things exactly like your last photographer. I promise they don’t do the same thing. It’s a tough business to be in without all of that. There is enough cut throat-ness, cattiness, and ugliness without pitting us against each other. We all try to band together as best as we can, so its a weird place for us.
For a LOT of us, this is our second job. Some of us do it full time, or get to be stay at home Moms…but a big majority of us, we still work Monday-Friday. Just because we are a business doesn’t mean that we are available 24 hours a day. Not even 7 days a week. We are one person shows. Be patient with us, because we have work and kids and activities and places we have to be just like you do. We wear a lot of hats, and juggle a lot of things. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. And just because you see us posting on Facebook doesn’t mean we are available. Especially, really late at night. There is nothing worse about getting a message about pictures when you already can’t sleep because you’re stressed out and are mindlessly scrolling at 3 am.
Respect our Editing timeline. Most of us will give you a round about time that it will take to get your images back. If your photographer doesn’t, ask them. They know what their turnaround time is running then. Don’t start messaging before that time is up asking about them. I promise, if they were done, you would have them, Me, for one, I love to get if sent off as soon as I finish it. I like checking it off of my to do list. So, if they aren’t in your inbox, they aren’t done yet. As soon as they are, you will have them. Editing is a process, it’s not the same as slapping an Instagram filter on it. And speaking of filters, DONT ADD THEM OVER OUR IMAGES. We spend hours getting them just right, and when we see a Instagram filter thrown on there, it’s like a slap in the face. It feels like a lot of work for nothing. I wish I had a good example to make you understand, but I can’t off the top of my head. It just hurts our feelings, so just don’t do it.
Don’t just NOT show up for your session. If you need to cancel, please let us know as soon as you know you won’t be able to make it. If you wait too late, we won’t have time to fill that spot, and that is literally the worst. For some, that is taking money directly off of their table. We understand that things happen, because they happen to us as well, but it doesn’t take very long to shoot us an email or a text to let us know. And even more, PLEASE don’t sign up for a Mini Session spot unless you are 10000% you want to go, and are able to. Having a day of Minis planned and then having 5 people drop out 2 days before is a super bummer and there is no time to fill those spots in two days. We want you to be there, but just make sure you can before you commit and take that time spot from someone who might really want it.
Don’t try to talk us down on pricing. I know that there are a lot of photographers that advertise 100 pictures for $25. I know. I see them too. I also see the quality of work they are putting out. Which is fine. Everyone starts somewhere. I get it. But, real businesses(you know, those legal ones we talked about at the beginning?), cannot make a profit off of that type of session. Photography is a business. And to be a successful business, you must be making money off your sessions. You can do all the free sessions you want, and be an artist. That’s fine. But, this is a business for me as well. I also feel very strongly that those said photographers have made people as a whole expect photography to be “cheap”. It’s not cheap. Good photography isn’t. You 100% get what you pay for. That all aside, don’t go to a photographer and ask for their pricing then tell them they are too expensive. Just because they are for you, doesn’t mean they are for the next person. Its okay for you to not want to pay what they are charging, but just tell them Thank You and move on. Don’t try to tell them “Well, so and so down the street will do it for $xyz…” If that is the price you want to pay, you answered your own question. So and so is the photographer for you….. You have to decide quality over quantity. And trust me, there are umpteen photographers around of all price points and all skill levels. You can always find someone for you. But, don’t ask someone to lower their prices. They are priced the way they are for a reason, based on their cost of doing business. Don’t expect your friends to give you a discount just because you are friends. Please. We love you, but if we gave all of our friends a discount, we would be back to making no money.
We are human. Just like you. We get sick. Our kids get sick. Our cars break down. We have deaths in our family. Please don’t take it as a personal attack if we have to reschedule for things that happen to everyone. I know it’s not convenient. Trust me, It’s not convenient for us either. But, stuff happens. And it’s out of our control. Sometimes we go over our timeline for editing by a couple of days. Sometimes we forget to message or text or email you back. Sometimes we don’t post your sneak peek quick enough. Sometimes we fall short. But, I do ask that you extend some grace our way. Because I promise that Photographers put every bit of their heart and their soul into their job. This is why it is so hard. This is why we get hurt so easily. This is why we are so defensive about certain things. This is why we get frustrated. Sometimes, all we ask is a little (or a lot) of Grace. We are doing the best we can.
Give us feedback! I can’t count how many times I send a gallery off and never hear a word back. Then I see them 6 months later and they tell me how much they love them. It is agony as a photographer to not know if you like your images or not. Even if it’s just a quick note back, give us feedback!
WE LOVE OUR CLIENTS. So much. Literally, without you, photography wouldn’t be possible for any of us. We are thankful for you. We love being with your family. We love loving on your kids. We love embarrassing your teenagers when we ask you to kiss their cheek, knowing they really secretly love it. We love capturing all the most special moments in your life. We really do. You mean the world to us.
So, if you have made it this far…..gold star for you.⭐️ I know it probably wasn’t easy to read. But, I have figured out over the last year that communication, transparency, and education are SO IMPORTANT. Some people do things and don’t even realize that they have done the “taboo” because they just don’t know. So, I decided that I was tired of seeing people just gripe about these things in Photographer groups, behind closed doors. So, per my norm, I am throwing it all out there. If you have questions, feel free to contact me directly, I would love to explain anything or talk with you.
I love y’all. You are the best. You are loved. You are magic.