Casual Portraits

My portrait pricing is different
If you compare my portrait prices with other studios, make sure you're comparing apples and apples. My prices include things that other studios don't offer, or charge extra for.

Many photography studios use a different kind of pricing, and so you may initially think you're getting a better value with them. Many of them use low session fees and make up the difference by charging you an arm and a leg for prints. Their reasoning is that you'll be attracted by the seemingly low price, and then once you've seen a halfway decent photograph, you'll want a lot of prints to give to friends and relatives.

The pricing approach used by other studios is unfair to you as a customer


This pricing approach is unfair to you as a customer in two ways:

  1. It understates your true cost, and so you end up paying more than you ought to pay.
  2. It motivates the photographer in an inappropriate manner, since the studio is rewarded for selling lots of prints, not for giving you a quality photograph. Indeed, in many studios you'll spend more time with the sales agent after the fact than you did with the photographer in the session. See where your money is going? It's not going to the photographer.

In my own pricing, I believe in allocating the costs to reflect where I spend my time. First, there is a reasonable session fee that covers such things as:
  • Actual photographer time taking photos at your location
  • Setup of equipment prior to the session
  • Takedown of equipment after the session
  • Transportation time back and forth from your location
  • Interview time to discuss your needs prior to the session
  • Usage of thousands of dollars worth of equipment
  • Preparation time for proofs, including loading the proof photos on the Internet and/or creating a CD or DVD for proofing

Second, there is a small image fee that is associated with each photograph you want to print. This fee covers such things as:
  • Preparation of the image: color balancing and adjustment of brightness and contrast
  • Ordering the prints from the lab
  • Checking the prints when they arrive, and working with the lab on any corrections that might be needed
  • Preparing the print for delivery
Third, there is a optional portrait art charge that is associated with each photograph for which you want special editing. This fee covers such things as:
  • Retouching of the image: as much or as little as you want
  • Adding items from other images (like swapping a smiling face from another image)
  • Special effects like vignetting, selective blur or focus, soft focus, conversion to black & white, hand-tinting, digital paintings, etc.
Finally, there is a print charge. For unframed prints, this charge is very small, because we all know that it doesn't cost a lot to get a print made. My print charges are a bit higher than you might pay at a consumer lab like Ritz Camera, but there are a couple of reasons for that:
  • My prints are made by one of the best professional labs in the country, using extremely high quality print equipment
  • All of my prints are specially coated with a layer of extra protection to guard against fingerprints, smudges, and damage from certain kinds of light.
As you would expect, the price of my framed prints is higher than the price of unframed prints. That's because the price includes:
  • The cost of a high-quality wooden wall frame (not just a cheap plastic frame with a cardboard backing like some studios use). You can choose from more than twenty frame samples that I'll bring to your home, or from hundreds of choices in a catalog. The frames are available in various colors to match any decor.
  • Mat board, backing board, hardware, and glass or styrene as needed. Note: photos mounted without a mat do not have a glass or styrene cover. This is to prevent the photo from sticking to the glass or styrene.
  • All of the labor associated with archival framing of your print, including the mounting of the print on a backing board; the custom preparation of whatever mat is needed; the mounting of the print, mat, backing, and glass or styrene cover into the frame; the sealing of the frame back against dust; and the attachment of appropriate hangers.
  • Optionally, the mounting of the print on special art canvas to provide more of a painting effect
The price of the larger framed prints also includes the additional labor required to specially prepare a photo for major enlargement. Usually, very large prints require special retouching and adjustment to make you look your best when the image is enlarged.


Apples and apples, or apples and oranges?


My prices encourage you to give away large numbers of prints to friends and relatives because my print prices are so low


So when you compare my portrait prices with other photography studios, remember to:

  1. Think about how many prints you want in order to calculate the real price. My prices encourage you to give away large numbers of prints to friends and relatives because my print prices are so low. Other studios may cost less if you buy only a few prints.
  2. Look closely at how your photos will be framed. To get the equivalent quality that I provide, you'll probably have to take prints from the other studio to a custom framing shop. Make sure to add that custom framing cost to the price of the other studio's work.
  3. Consider how the studio is being compensated. Are you paying for a photograph, or for the salespeople?
  4. Think about the flexibility of the studio. For example, if you have a good image of your family except for one child, will they replace the face of the frowning child with the face from another image in which the child was smiling? For me, that's included in the portrait art charge. For most other studios, it's not an available option.
  5. Ask whether the other studio will sell you digital negatives after a certain period of time. Most studios won't, but I will.
  6. Think about the quality of what you get. Is it the kind of quality that you and your family will cherish for many years?
Make sure you're comparing apples and apples, not apples and oranges.
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