Why Hire a Custom Photographer

Before I started learning about photography, I had no idea what the difference was between a custom portrait session and a typical department store studio session. You may have asked yourself, “Why choose a custom photographer, when I can get so much for my money at a department store studio?” Well, I wanted to take a moment to provide you with some helpful information that I hope will aid you in your decision making when it comes to selecting the right photographer to take your family’s portraits. Let’s start by defining custom photography.


What is Custom Photography?

“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. Think Lexus vs. Hyundai, think Nordstrom vs. WalMart.

A custom photography experience should have you, the client and your experience in mind.”


Why Choose Custom Photography?

Hiring a custom photographer is about choosing a superior experience from start to finish. “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.” The client has the opportunity to take an active role in the creation of their family’s memories. Each is a completely personalized experience matching the client’s expectations with the photographer’s vision to create priceless heirloom images.  “The time invested at the session is only a small portion of time involved in this process”, which leads me to the next question.


Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?

There are a lot of factors to consider when talking about the cost of custom photography and much of it varies from photographer to photographer depending on the type of photography they specialize in, the amount of experience they have, as well as the type of service and products that they offer. I will do my best to give you a brief summary, but I encourage you to visit The Consumer Guide to Custom Photography for a detailed post on this subject.

The first cost that you typically see or discuss is the creative/session fee. We can refer to this as the cost of the photographer’s time and talent. When you think about the cost of the photographer’s time, it is not just the 60 to 90 minutes of time spent actually shooting a session. It is the time it takes from initial inquiry to the delivery of your prints, including drive time, editing, ordering, prepping, and consultations. {Please refer to the link mentioned above for an example of a time breakdown.}

The next cost to consider in the pricing of custom photography is the cost of doing business. For a photographer,  one of the biggest costs that we incur is the cost of our equipment. This not only includes the obvious {our camera & lenses}, but also our computer, hardware, software, props, etc.  Then there are the costs of actually running a business: taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

Finally, there are the lab costs for all of the specialty print products that are offered by a photographer. “A good photographer knows their professional lab is an integral part of their success.  These labs often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for the discerning client.” I will discuss the difference between professional printing companies versus Wal-mart and drug store printers, in detail, at a later date.


As you can see, hiring a custom photographer is about Choice & Experience. Remember, you are paying for your photographer’s time and talent. Your photographer should be able to answer any questions and concerns you may have to make you feel at ease during the decision making process, and excited about the experience you will receive creating fun, beautiful memories for your family to share. “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 one who is right for your family’s most precious investment.”



*Excerpts written by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography
For More information visit: http://www.professionalchildphotographer.com
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