“Uber for photography,” that’s how the Spokesman Review journalist referred to a new photography service offered here in Spokane. The idea behind the business, which began in Australia, is that anyone in need of photography services can contact the company, describe the photography services they require, and have a photographer on-location within hours for a fraction of the price of an individual professional photographer. The goal is to “make professional photography affordable for customers while reducing administrative work for photographers” by minimizing travel fees and marketing efforts for photographers and their business.
Sort of sounds like a solid plan right? Sure, maybe for real estate or food photography. Or maybe for a last-minute required headshot to meet a newsletter deadline that your company told you about last month but you procrastinated and you now have less than 24 hours to submit. I think this can be beneficial for any photo shoot that does not require a personal relationship with your photographer. It could also work if you’re willing to trust the professionalism and work of any photographer that you haven’t researched. Your house doesn’t necessarily need to interact with a charismatic and kind photographer…but it does require that the photographer knows how to show its good side. Your restaurant’s menu doesn’t require a photographer who knows how to get natural smiles by engaging in candid conversation, but your business does need a professional who has fantastic interpersonal communication skills to understand your vision and gets your style.
When you research photographers, what do you look for? First, you look for style. Does it match your vision? Does their quality meet your standards? Does their website or portfolio represent consistency? Next, you should be researching the person behind the camera. Their professionalism and their personality. Does it match with yours? Can you trust this person to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera to capture your dynamic personality? Does this professional possess the ability to showcase what you have to offer your clients through a photograph? Has this photographer consistently proven that they can create an emotional setting and deliver passionate keepsakes?
Photography is an investment, as it should be. We have milestones in our lives that deserve to be artistically photographed and you should spend a significant amount of time researching and hand-selecting the photographer that will best help you preserve these memories. A relationship should be built and it should organically bloom and blossom through emails, phone calls, text messages and face-to-face meetings.
I tell prospective clients and aspiring photographers “I truly believe I am a better people-person than a photographer. And I’m a pretty good photographer, so when you put those two pieces together magic is made.” I know without a doubt that my business is successful because I build relationships with my clients. I genuinely care for their happiness and satisfaction, and they can feel that from the moment they meet me at the studio for a consultation. I want them to invest 100% trust in me. I want them knowing that I will take care of them. That I will not miss a shot. That I will use flattering poses that show off their best side. That I will help them feel at ease to capture their natural smile. That I will deliver quality images every single time they hire me. This is what boutique photography is and why those who can afford to, hire their most cherished photographer over and over again. It isn’t just a job, this is my dream job and it’s my way of life. I treat my clients as I do my family and friends: with kindness, love, understanding and patience.
You can probably tell that when I read this article, I got a little heated with passion. I’m used to competition. I don’t feel threatened often because I know I take care of my clients. This one got to me a bit for two reasons. 1) If the general public is not educated on why they should seek quality photographers, this “uber” service sounds like a great solution, especially if you’re in a bind. They don’t know that they’re missing out on an important relationship that needs to be built to achieve the best images possible. 2) Hungry and aspiring photographers will jump at the chance to work for this company to make a quick buck which waters down the industry by lowering prices. This company charges quite a bit less than most Spokane photographers, which means the hired photographer will make even less. Yes, the photographer does not need to spend money on marketing their own business and generating leads, they may not even spend time on editing (I didn’t do enough research to address that concern), so it seems like a great gig to pick up a job here and there and make an easy $40-$300. And that will probably work for a good number of photographers who don’t have a great number of shoots. But it hurts the industry as a whole. I won’t turn this post into why photographers charge so much, but I will touch on the fact that our gear, technology, and insurance alone is a hell of a lot more than you can imagine. Throw in our love and sweat to achieve our current level of skill and talent, and you have a justifiable price tag that we are proud of.
Our industry is saturated and will always have new competitors arriving and exiting daily. Those photographers that learn to build relationships will thrive, while those that are here to make a quick buck will do just that, then most likely burn out.
In summary, hug your trusted photographer next time you see them. We work hard for you because we love and appreciate you. We are supporting our families while creating timeless art for you and yours to enjoy for eternity.
Photographer in Spokane