What exactly do you mean when you say 'Luxury Experience'?
"So what *exactly* is a 'luxury experience'? My friend down the street takes pictures of my sister's kids every year for $150. What is the difference between that photographer and you?"
I think this is a pretty common question - the photography industry is one that has all levels of prices, experience, and service. It can be so hard to figure out what all of the differences are, so I put this article together to hopefully shed a little light onto the subject (get it? light the subject? photographer's pun! ok, moving on....).
Imagine a linear scale that has the 'shoot and burn' photographer on one side (i.e., a generic term for a new photographer who takes pictures, may or may not edit the photos, and gives the client a hugely overwhelming number of photos on a disc without guidance or follow-up), and the high-end, luxury boutique photographer on the other.
What do you imagine the differences to be? Price, obviously, but beyond that there might be factors like the photographer's skill level, the branding and customer experience, the final products that are delivered, and so on. My goal in this article is to help provide some clarity about those differences so that you can be an informed consumer and make the choice that is best for you.
That said, consider this to be a GENERALIZATION. There are always exceptions!
If you know what you are looking for as you begin to research photographers for your next shoot, it will help you determine the best type of photographer for you to work with. The graphic below illustrates some of the pros and cons of each business model.
As you can tell, the boutique photographer puts emphasis on the customer experience and helping to create artwork for his or her clients. The shoot and burn photographer tends to be happy just to be taking pictures. Clearly, the goals and purposes behind the two business models are very different.
Shoot & burn photographer:
- Enjoys photography, taking photos for fun
- Learning the skill and trying to build a portfolio
- Doing photography on the side, may have income either from a full-time job or a spouse
- Happy for the opportunity to take photos and earn a little cash to help pay for his/her gear, and the client is happy just to have some photos to share online!
- Goal is to help clients have beautiful, timeless artwork hanging in their homes for years to come
- Has built a career and earns a full-time living doing what he or she loves!
- Years of experience, high quality work
- May have a team, studio management system, etc. to help the business run more smoothly
- Complies with all government regulations (registered business, taxes, insurance, etc.)
- May have a studio location
- Happy to collaborate with clients to create a tangible family heirloom (i.e., something that won't be lost when a hard drive dies 10 years from now and computers don't come with USB ports anymore)
Since the goal for a boutique photographer is to help clients create artwork for their homes, initial conversations, questionnaires, and planning sessions prior to the shoot date may address the following information:
- What are your goals for the shoot?
- How would you like to display your photos?
- Which room or area of your home are you planning to hang them?
- Send us a snapshot of that space so we can make sure that our aesthetic for the shoot and the finished artwork aligns with the look and feel of your home
- Guidance about how to pick out outfits that are both flattering and have a color palette that will complement the room where the photos will be hung
- Guidance about picking the location for the shoot - hopefully in a place that is meaningful for you!
- Gathering information about your family so we can be sure to create photographs that tell the story of who you are as individuals and as a family
- May conduct a visit to your home or with your family to get to know everyone and advise on ideal locations for photos
- Asking about any other items the client might need: Announcements or holiday cards? Gift prints for family members? A keepsake box of prints or an album? Provides an estimate for the completed project.
All of this information helps to ensure that we are on the same page going into the shoot. We have a plan, we have a vision, and we can anticipate what the outcome will be. Additionally, the client has a clear idea of what the costs and total spend will be upon completion of the project and will be able to plan accordingly.
When the photos are ready after the shoot, we invite our clients back into the studio to see their photos, pick out their favorites, and together we design artwork for their homes, holiday cards, and choose gift prints for their families. In that appointment, we can drop the snapshot that was sent over prior to the session into software that allows us to simulate what the finished artwork would look like in the home. We have similar software for card designs and albums as well. Of course, we always give our clients digital copies of anything they purchase, and all of the digitals from the session are included in the package after a minimum spend.
The result is beautiful artwork that fits perfectly into the client's home. We want our clients to LOVE their photos so they will be displayed for years to come.
We recognize that this field in particular has such a huge range of options for consumers, so our intention was to help clarify some of the differences in order to help potential clients can get the information they need in order to decide what is best for their families!
One quick disclaimer from Kristin: my intention is NOT to belittle shoot and burn photographers, nor to say that no one should work with them. This is the way that most of us start out, and I absolutely started in the same way! I wouldn't have been able to build my business into the boutique business that it is today without starting as a shoot and burn photographer and working with clients who were happy with exactly that approach. In fact, I have a group that meets every other month to help new photographers grow their businesses - supporting each other is the best thing we can do for our community, don't you think? Shoot me a note at email@example.com if you're interested in learning more!
If you found this article helpful, please let us know! Are there other questions you have about photography, artwork, or business that you'd like us to address?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read!