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Saturday, October 27, 2007

I need your help! Please?

I took these pictures last week, for a friend from church. Please check them out, and read the text below... I need your help!

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This is my favorite!

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Isn't she a doll? I did not edit the color of her eyes, I just made the rest of the picture black & white.

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The whole family

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I've been taking pictures for awhile now. No professional training, (unless you want to consider one adult-ed class professional training, ha!) just a hobby. I love taking pictures of my family, and have close to a dozen scrapbooks on the shelf, showcasing our memories.

I've been asked many times to take pictures for friends and other family members. I've done a couple weddings, some senior portraits, and a family reunion. I've never charged for this, as I'm certainly not a professional, and have done it as a favor to whoever has asked. Over time, my pictures have improved. I'm at the point where I think I want to turn my hobby into a bit more. Am I ready to get a degree in photography? - Nah... While I'd love to learn more and take better pictures, I don't have the time or desire to make it a full-blown career, at least not right now.

What I'd like to do is create a brochure with a sampling of my work, and promote it locally. Not a big expense or a big deal, but to start charging something. Obviously, I could not and would not charge what the pros are getting, their work is in a different class. I don't have a studio set up, I take all my pictures outside and use natural lighting. I'd like to get some lights and filters like a studio would have, and play around to figure out how to set them for the best results. Good thing I've got some models around here to be my guinea pigs!

I went to Barnes & Noble the other night, and looked at some photography books. 'How to take Senior Pictures', 'How to photograph children'... as I browsed through them I suddenly got intimidated. All the tricks for lighting (which I know NOTHING about), and the pictures were so gorgeous in the book! 'What am I thinking?' I totally doubted myself. Then I realized, that there is a market for a 'good' photographer, that is reasonably priced. Not to mention that if you look at my pictures (and you're not a trained professional - ha ha!) you'll likely think it's a 'good' picture. No one is going to be putting my pictures right next to a professional's pictures, and picking them apart.

I want to make a little something, but I also want to provide a good picture at a reasonable price for people that can't afford to hire the professionals in the area. Not every family has $800 or more to spend on Senior Portraits. I know I need to really check out the prices in the area, and go from there.

I also want to offer something different. Whoever I take pictures for will get the CD of all the pictures taken, to do what they want to with. They can take it to Walmart (or hopefully a better photo printing place,) and can print their own 8 x 10's for $2 rather than paying one of the pros $50 for the same picture. I guess I would also offer to print the photos for people (at a more reasonable price) if they would like that option. Photo editing would be additional too, as it can be time consuming. Can you tell I'm having such a hard time trying to figure out what my services are worth??? Any comments, suggestions or advice would be appreciated! Let me ask you this: What would you expect to pay, or be willing to pay (realistically) for a sitting with your family, if you could take the cd of edited pictures when it's all done? What about 'senior pictures' for your teen?


Mom2fur said...

Well, I don't know about pricing. But I'll tell you something. I have 4 kids, and 3 have already graduated. We missed "Senior Picture Day" at school for my first and had to take him to the studio. I bet I paid (ouch) well over $100 for the photos. But they were far superior to the ones taken at school. So after that, we've taken all of our kids to the studio.
What you could bring out in your brochure is how you will pay individual attention to each person, bringing out the best in him/her that could not be achieved in a group session. I think that's why the pictures of my kids came out so well...instead of rushing through the pictures to get to the next student, the photographer had plenty of time to do it 'right.' (In fact, my daughter told me all her friends were jealous of her picture!)
Good luck with your venture!

Bridget (fellow photo addict) said...

OK... first off. You could not have chosen a better little subject than that little beautiful girl. She is Lilli's absolute favorite little girl at the moment, and was SO excited to see the pictures. She saw the one titled "awwww" and said "oh, I just want to take her home with me!" haha She is SO cute!!!!
Now, being one of the people who have "hired" you (and for the record, "50th anniversay" was not listed! hehe)-- I have to say that you are AWESOME!! And you have the best focus... to serve others in a way that is affordable and realistic, but also using it as a way to make some money for yourself and your time! It'll work great for all involved!
As for prices... I'd have to think on that one. I just know that when I've gone to a professional, I've almost passed out to see how much even a simple 5X7 would cost! UGH. Just unbelievable!! I am WAY to cheap for that, and know that a good digital camera can get some incredible pictures without a degree in photography!
I am with ya 100% and hopefully someday will be seeking you out for advice on doing the same! My brother has a professional photographer friend, and let me tell you, she is a "professional" that does NOT have a degree. She just learned about digital cameras, got some good lighting and lenses, and said that is all she did! Troy has actually talked to her in detail because of both of our desire to someday have a little photography business. I'll have to pick his brain as to what some of her other ideas were!
Keep in touch with me! This is exciting!!! Love, Bridge

Lauren and Ed said...

I think you are on to something. First of all, you are very qualified! You take amazing pictures...give it a shot. I agree too that there needs to be a market for people that lies between going the professional route and just going to Sears at the mall. I am anxious to see what develops for you!

moosh in indy. said...

My mom and my BFF are both professional photographers and both have an insanely hard time trying to decide what their "services" are worth, because there's always going to be someone better but they still need to pay the bills somehow. So be at peace there.
I'd say just go around to sites and base your rates off other going rates and do throw in sweet deals with copyright released CD's and what not.
Your time is very valuable, just don't sell yourself short is what I say.

moosh in indy. said... mom
and my BFF (my friend is Kim, her assistant is Leisha)

BrendaR said...

Well-those are some awesome photos. I love the family photo!
I was going to ask you if you could do some of Carolyn and Ben before it gets too cold! I haven't had new pics on the wall for a couple of years! (My bad!)
You SHOULD be charging something for your time - even for friends and relatives!!!! When I went to Sears in Feb., I had a coupon for a free sitting fee, but all I got was (1) 11x14, (1) 8x10 and I think a page of the 4x6 photos and it cost about $60.00! I did like how they came out, but it was a bit pricey for 3 pages of photos.
You should be at LEAST charging a sitting fee, and a fee for the CD even if you don't have to do the actual developing.

mommy24treasures said...

I will think about it a little over the weekend. You HAVE to use the pic of daddy and Sophia, the one I love that you use for a profile sometimes for your brochure. said...

Boy I would have no idea. BUT, I would hire you. Would "you-know-who" be your assistant?!?! lol.

nikki said...

OK Christine, I have no advice...I'll just say:

I think it's a fabulous can figure it all out as you go along, right?

Mommy Spice said...

Ok, the first picture is my favorite as well....yet all of them are great. As much as I love pictures, I'm always looking for the best bargain. I won't even pay what The Picture People charge...not that their pics are worth it. But if I had someone more personal to take time outdoors with my family, and offer what you do, I'd be willing to pay more.

2China4Ayla said...

I think you should go for it - get some price rates from other places and just discount those prices? I have no idea really??? Just what I would do.

Steffie B. said...

I think you did a great job! ;)

Abby's Mom said...

I wish you luck. Your pictures are beautiful :)

Hopingforsix said...

That is how I got hooked on your site--it was that school bus picture. You should definitely give it a try. Your photos are fabulous. Take a look at others in your area--it's amazing what some people charge.

kerri said...

I think your work is gorgeous, a lot of talent behind your lense. I think you should go for it!!
Follow your instincts.....

Anne said...

I think you would be a great professional photographer. My dad was a professional photographer... he never took any classes, he just had talent and taught himself. It really is an art. As for prices, I'd call around to other photographers in your area and see what their prices are and what they offer. I know the CD will be a huge selling point for you. I hate how expensive professional photos are. Good luck! Can't wait to see what happens for you!

Ladybug Hugs 4 U said...

I have followed your blog for a long time and I have some comments if you are interested and want to invest in a phone chat. I used to be in the business and I was did high end work. I think that you have a great eye and could be quite successful, but there are little things that I see that could tweak these images to the next level. Let me know if you want help.

Ladybug hugs,

Amy said...

Hey those are great pictures! Who's that great looking family??? :)

TimandKim said...

I used a photographer to take pictures of our daughter last year. She met us at a local park sort of area. She charged me $25 for one hour. She took well over 100 photos, more than usual she said. I opted to buy the CD instead of having her print them. I paid $75 for the CD. So total $75 for her time and CD. Some pictures were cropped, but they were not edited as she said they would. K had a ponytail thing on her wrist in some and she said she could edit it out, but didn't.
I thought the prices were reasonable. You have to figure out how much time you spend not only taking pictures, but setting up appts and editing.
I do like pictures out in the open better. My daughter does better in the open than in a studio!

A Special Family said...

Sounds like a great idea! You're right people deserve reasonable, good photos!
How about something like 8 x 10's $10
5 x 7's - $5
The sitting fee $50
CD $50
that way even if all people do is get a CD, you still aren't out money.