Do you want to know the one question I fear the most?
“How much is it for just a disc of the images?”
Don’t think you are alone in asking me this question. I get it all the time.
Now, I have tried as hard as I can to come up with some manner to politely say “I don’t offer that”, but in spite of my best efforts, I seem to have failed to find one. If I had one, you would probably walk away and then I know you are going to suffer disappointment, even though you might think you are getting a “good deal” someplace else.
When you come to me and ask me to photograph your family, your newborn, take your Senior portraits, or photograph your wedding, there is a ton of love and work in every image you see. It starts from the very moment we first meet or have a talk on the phone. I start by getting to know more about you and what it is you really want me to do. I’ll ask you a lot of questions to make sure I understand exactly what you are saying so that the product I deliver is as perfect as I can humanly make it.
Now once I have those images in my camera there is even more love and care that goes into the perfecting of each and every one. Some you may absolutely love. Others you might only “like”. But each one gets all the attention I can give it, and every client gets exactly the same treatment. I put those images together for you to see and perhaps you might love them so much you even shed a tear when you first see them. When that happens, I know I did a good job for you.
Every image has every thing thoroughly examined and made as perfectly presentable as possible so that when you see them, you know that a lot of work was done from the beginning- the lighting, the arrangement of subjects, to the final image you get to see. I’ll even show you what it will look like on that special place in your home.
So when you ask me the question, “Can we just get a disc of images” I have to politely tell you “no, you can’t”. Not because I am being mean, cruel or nasty, but because I want you to have something that “the guy down the street” can’t (or doesn’t know how) to give you. I want you to have something that in 10 years from now has as much meaning, if not more, than it does today. Handing you that disc of images is about as meaningless as it comes. I have yet to see someone display that framed disc on a wall someplace, or on a bookcase, so that every time you see it, it brings back memories or perhaps a tear or two. But I can show you a lot of printed images that stir the emotions and bring back the memories of that day.
You see, I offer you a printed image that is also as perfect as possible. Once you tell me you love an image and want that one for your home, then there is even more work to do. Every image that is scheduled for printing has to be retouched and prepared in order for you to get what you are paying me for. There is no such thing as a “universal” image that will print perfectly on every paper or canvas you can get and in whatever size you want. If someone has done that for you in the past, then honestly, they didn’t care much about you. They were more interested in the money than they were you having perfection that you are proud to show to everyone you know and to the ones you love. Not only that, they pretty much left the preparation part up to you to figure out.
Now, if all you want is a “disc of images”, then honestly, you can find that from 1,000 other “picture takers” out there. For that fact, you can get that with any camera in a phone. And in some cases, you might even get better quality if you do print a few of them. But ask yourself, how many times have you taken a picture with anything you own and actually had it printed? Once? Twice? Maybe a few times? So where are the rest of them? Rarely do those digital images people carry around with them get the same treatment I give to the ones I take of you.
I hope you see that when you decide to hire me, everything I do is geared to give you MORE than that paper and ink you get down at Walmart or the 1 hour Kiosk. They really don’t know what the images I take and produce are supposed to look like. And that $8.76 an hour guy running the machine, he doesn’t care either. If something goes wrong, he doesn’t know how to help you and really doesn’t care much about doing that either. He just knows how to make the machine spit out pictures and put them in an envelope.
When I order the prints you purchase, those are cared for and processed at a Professional photography lab who produces prints I know will last you forever. And if something goes wrong, they DO care and will help me make it look 100% of what it’s supposed to look like. If there is a problem, they will also help me find the problem so that you get exactly what you see on the screen. That means no matter how many times it takes to get it right, I get it right and don’t “settle” for anything less.
When you get what I offer, you know that a lot of love and care went into producing it too. You will have never seen anything like it and I promise you that. It doesn’t matter if it is a wall portrait, or an album, or a set of folio boxed images- you are going to know that they are as perfect as they can be. Your skin will look great and the lighting will accent your best parts and minimize the ones you don’t like so much. Do you know how I know this? Because I started out by asking you about those things. I have spent years learning how to make use of the tools of my craft so there is no “guessing” as to how to accomplish this for you.
Now you are not buying “expensive paper” when you get your images from me. You are buying all the love and care and perfection I can give you. If you aren’t really wanting that, then save your money and buy your own camera. I don’t mean that to be ugly or curt either, but you will get results that will meet your needs better than hiring someone- anyone for that matter- just to “take your pictures”. But if you want photographs that are uniquely you, and ones you love more 10 years from now, then we really need to talk more.
If you really have to have that “disc of images” because you want to share them with family and friends, then consider that “digitals are for sharing. Prints are for loving”. Way to many “digitals” are shared and in about 3 minutes there is little love given to them. They are forgotten and only the next batch you share seems important- for about 3 minutes.
But when you hand your Mom or Dad a photograph that was printed, I can assure you that love is there every single time they view it. And not only that, it’s going to be put in a special place in their home so that the love is there all the time. There is no “machine” needed to see it, it doesn’t get “erased” by mistake or subject to “technical” issues like a crashed drive or accidentally getting corrupt. That print won’t get lost in a drawer somewhere either. And the technology won’t outpace it like it will with that disc where you can’t even view it someday in the near future.
Now if you insist on a “disc of images” for sharing with friends and family, I can offer you those so you can show everyone those photographs you are having made with all the love and care I have to offer. I know you would LOVE to share what you are displaying on your wall and you get to “brag” a bit about how much you love it once you have it displayed in your special, reserved place in your home. And I can bet Grandma will also want to share that image too when you send her that print, or “Grandma’s Brag Book” as a gift too! But I won’t give you images that you can print by leaving that task up to you so there is no disappointment if you did. When you hire me, you deserve better than that “disc of images” where there is no possible way I can say “I gave you my best’, when as someone who knows better, you are getting only a half-hearted effort.
“But your prints are so expensive” is what you might say.
Actually, they are probably the best deal going. They are not just “paper and ink” you get someplace else. They are a slice of your life and ones I poured every ounce of myself, my time, my equipment and knowledge into. You can’t put a price on that. Whereas when someone who hands you a disc of images, well, I can’t speak for them, but I know that the chances are, they didn’t give your images every single part of themselves they had available. They couldn’t possibly do that since you really don’t have a finished product. You basically bought a 2-legged stool. There are a lot of “photographers” out there that sell those.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t keep this post short. A lot of things I wanted to tell you I left out and someday, perhaps, I will put those things into another post. Every person I speak with, I really do care about and offer something you can’t get “someplace else”. Please, don’t ask me to give you something I know in my heart is just half done and half-hearted in effort. You’re not paying me to “push a button on a camera”. You are asking me to do something special that you will cherish forever.
Let me give you that.
It doesn’t come on a “disc of images”.