Most people don't really know what they are looking for when they look for a photographer!
You go to a bunch of different websites looking for someone who fits the bill, but all you can find are a bunch of photographers who don't have any pricing on their website. You're not quite at the stage where you are wanting to book, and so you think, I don't want to email and ask- the fact that they aren't listed probably means they are too expensive for me anyway! Amirite??? I know that's me when I go looking, and many of my "mum friends" tell me the same.
Here's a secret...
The reason someone generally doesn't have their prices on their website is because if you contact them, they have an opportunity to interact with you, and if they have an opportunity to interact with you they have the ability to form some kind of a relationship with you. When you have a relationship with someone the choice seems easy doesn't it...you want to support people you know, people you like. It might be a cheap trick but it is effective. Here's the thing though...
If you're not ready to book, you're not ready, and I'm not about forcing anyone to do anything! I also believe very strongly in making informed choices and wouldn't want to manipulate anyone. So I am going to do the radical and put my prices up online so you can make that choice for yourself.
There are a couple of things you need to know first.
The first and most important is that a photographers prices are only a part of the puzzle. When you're looking to hire a photographer you want to make sure you love their style, that you are comfortable with them, and that they can deliver what you want, so despite my words above, you should still have a chat to them. But I still think finding someone in your budget can help you before you find someone you love only to find you can't afford them. So make sure you do meet up or have a phone conversation, but its okay to look at prices first as long as you understand that there are these other things that are important too.
The second thing is you should always understand what goes into someones prices. In my case, I don't have a day job, although I do a very small amount of casual work for the local polytechnic. Even though I may only spend 30 minutes to an hour with you in person, I spent on average 10 hours on admin, planning, marketing, and advertising to get you here to this point. After the shoot I spend another 5-10 hours on cutting the best photos from the rest, editing, preparing for printing or download and all that other stuff. And that right there is why you may think I'm expensive but when you break it down I and most other photographers are undercharging.
So, let's move on to those prices!
Why I do not charge a Photo-session fee 99% of the time
That's A bit counter-intuitive I hear you thinking, why would a photographer not be charging a session fee. Well, it's like this: I know that you have doubts about how you might look in your photos, it's a scary experience and a lot of money, Before I changed to this format I was charging $450 a session and with that you got 3 prints and the opportunity to buy more. To the uninitiated that sounds like a pretty hefty price tag, but just like cars you pay for luxury.
Photography is a luxury service based industry, and most of the photographers I know do charge a session fee ranging anywhere from $50-650, so here is why I don't. I believe that a photographers work should speak for itself, if I as a photographer do a good job you as the client will love the work and need to have them right? I believe that photography should be a results based industry and it has always worked for me. Over the past couple of years I have tried many different models of business from the $50 shoots to the $450 shoots and here is the secret, when you have to pay me a fee for my time you stop focussing on the beautiful images I have captured for you and you start to focus on all the money you just spent. That is not a good place to start any relationship from let alone one where my end goal is to send you home with as many of the gorgeous images of yourself as I can.
So the way I do things is I don't charge you a session fee for portraits unless there is a very specific reason to do so which I will cover in more detail below. The most important thing is to create some amazing images, and then if you like them, you can purchase them. I think it's fair, it rewards me on a job well done and you don't have to pay a fee, just for my time and on the plus side it means you are spending money specifically on the images you want and that there is more money for them. Does this mean you will go through this amazing experience spending time, money and effort on clothes and makeup to come out the other side and have sticker shock at the cost of buying anything?
NO! Here is why: All of my pricing is on this website. General product info is at the bottom of this page. There are times I make special packages like when I am holding an Event, but those prices will be on the event page and are different to my regular product prices. When you take part in a mini session you can purchase one of the specially formulated packages for that session type, or it may be built into a session fee (see below). You are always welcome to purchase additional products and prints or digital files, but it is all up to you. I can help you whittle down your choices, and am well known for asking if you really need those 4 images that are exactly the same with a slightly different expression.
Being a Masters Student, a Parent, and a Business Owner is time consuming. My time is precious and so I only have about 7-8 sessions available a month in Dunedin, and if you postpone there is often a 3-4 month waiting list before you can get back in. Because the bar is set so high I need to make sure that everyone who is interested in working with me knows exactly what it entails, and that involves letting you know my prices upfront. There is nothing worse than sticker shock and I want people to be happy and to enjoy themselves, and obviously to love what I create for them!
When do I charge a session fee?
That's easy, when you don't show up and waste the time I could have spent with another client with no explanation, no forewarning and no consideration I will charge you for my time, that is part of every contract and my terms of service. Are there exceptions? Yes of course I will always listen because I understand that sometimes things cannot be avoided, but it is at my discrepancy and all I ask for is some transparency and that you contact me asap to let me know you wont be there. Then I can figure out what we need to do from there. Of course If you do miss your appointment and pay the session fee you still get the opportunity to do your shoot, it's not money lost, it just makes sure that everyone's time is respected and losses are covered. This is especially important because I still need to pay for studio time, transport and other costs associated with the shoot whether you show up or not.
The only other time I charge for a session is if there is some cost involved like boudoir in a hotel where I have to cover the cost of the hotel or as another example where I have a theme day and hire a makeup artist etc as some kind of package deal. The only other time I charge a small session fee is when I have a mini session day, as spaces are limited and fill up very quickly.
note these should be digital packages- will fix this when I get the chance.