[photo by jonathan canlas]
this year i hired two of my favorite professional photographers to shoot my family and me. (yes, two was perhaps overkill – but neither is based in brooklyn and both happened to be visiting this fall.) i love all the pictures i got – each photographer gave me exactly what i wanted from that artist. that’s what sets a true artistic professional apart – consistent delivery of the same product, so that you know what you’re buying and what your photos will look like before you even hear the click of the shutter. but anyway. here’s the thing: there was one major difference between the two photographers (i mean, besides the photos. obviously.). one photographer charged the way i have historically charged my own clients – an up-front shoot fee to book the date, and then everything else purchased separately. the other photographer charged a flat fee and included all the files. now, i understand the purpose of the shoot fee / separate purchase method – i totally get it in fact, because i’ve always used it myself. the point is (1) to give the customer flexibility to buy what he wants when he wants it and (2) to guide the customer toward purchasing prints. why prints? because that is the ultimate expression of this medium. you don’t spend hundreds of dollars to get professional photographs that you then keep on a hard drive in the cloud somewhere and never look at again. you spend that money to get beautiful tangible products to hang on your wall or to page through, and enjoy again and again. i believe that with an evangelical fervor. BUT – when i actually lived the customer experience this past year, i found that the pay-up-front-and-be-done method was SO MUCH NICER. i loved getting all my files as soon as the images were ready, and know that I now had the leisure to choose which images i might want to turn into tangible prints. with the shoot fee method, i felt like when i received my album the spending was only beginning. i knew that i wanted the files, but they were really expensive, and i hesitated for a while. in the end i bought them of course, during a sale, but i didn’t buy anything tangible along with them and i still haven’t. i felt like i was being forced to make difficult decisions about what to get and how much money to spend. but with the files-included photographer, i reacted totally differently – it all felt good, like we had executed a good, fair exchange, and i came out of it feeling great about the value I got. and here’s the thing – in the end, i spent EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY with both photographers, and got exactly the same thing – all the files. after the first $1350 exchange, i felt hustled, and after the second $1350 exchange, i felt great.
so – long story short – i am switching from being the first kind of photographer to being the second kind of photographer, because i want my clients to feel like i felt coming out of the files-included transaction. and definitely do NOT want them to feel like i felt coming out of the shoot-fee-separate-purchase transaction. i strongly believe that the kind of clients i attract value the tangible as much as i do, and therefore will still buy prints and albums to display their photos even though they have all the digital files. you guys know that digital files are for archiving, and of course you want them for safekeeping – so now you get them.
here’s a link to the updated 2016 client guide with all the details.