I've had a few phone calls this past week asking me, "Why am I finding some photographers in Galesburg who charge $75-$100 for a package that you are charging $200 for." Frankly, I am happy when someone asks me that question! There really is a difference! And it is a big one. Actually, several differences. It's kind of like standing in the road between car dealerships. On one side of the road, there is a Mercedes dealership and on the other side of the road there is a Kia dealership. Standing there looking at the cars from the road, you see bright shining cars in both lots and you might ask, "what's the difference?" If you knew nothing about cars, you might be tempting to think that the Mercedes dealership was trying to rip someone off. But if you actually left the road and went in and looked close at these cars, you would see the differences very quickly. One has vinyl or cloth seats, where the other has beautiful leather upholstery. One has cheaper components and parts that will breakdown soon, where the Mercedes is made of finely crafted parts and will still be on the road years from now, and still running at peak performance long after the Kia is scrap metal.
Yes, the difference is that drastic.
I read someone's advertising for their photography yesterday and it said describing theirself (and I quote) (I am a) "amateur photographer" "college student" "My prices are much lower than that of full-time professionals since this is just my part-time job." In other words, they are readily admitting that they are simply out to make a quick buck and do not care about their customers, nor the quality of product they are giving them, because when they are out of college, they will be off doing something else. So let's compare... photographers like this one (and there are many like this in our area) will take your picture and have them printed at Walmart for a couple of bucks or give you a CD and tell you to go print your own. If that is what you want, that's fine. Some people want a Kia, right? That's fine if that is what you are expecting, but if they are trying to give you a Kia and tell you it's a Mercedes, then you are being ripped off! You see, the professional photographer would NEVER think of having his or her work printed off at a department store. Their work is sent off to a professional color lab. There, you will not find anything like "one hour printing" because they individually color check each photo and make adjustments where necessary. They use quality professional ink that is not going to fade in a few months or a year, but will still look like new 5 years from now. They are printed on a heavier, professional grade paper that will not roll or tear easily. It's like the clothe seat vs fine leather. And another key component in the professional photographer is that they will be there when you need them down the road. No one wants to think of tragedy, but WHAT IF? Say a loved one dies and you'd like to have copies of those photos from 4 years ago. That amateur that was looking for a quick buck is going to be long gone, where as the pro will still be there and should have an archive. I back up all my photos and store them "just in case." Back in 1999, we had a house fire and lost almost everything. If I had done your photos and this happened to you, I could reprint them for you. What about that high school or college kid? And a pro is always looking out for their customers. Just recently my color lab offered me a great deal on extra large prints which was more than half off the normal price. I contacted all of my customers from the past year and made the offer to them to purchase 16x20's or larger and save big. A couple of my customers did in fact order, but the interesting thing is, some of those who did not order called to thank me for letting them know. That's a difference between a pro and an amateur.
I watch the competition in town closely. In the past three years, there have literally been a couple of dozen new photographers spring up in our area. In the past year, almost half of those have closed up and moved on. They made a buck or two and closed up shop. But the professionals in town? We've been here... and we will be.
So ask yourself; "Do I want a Kia or a Mercedes?" If you want a Kia, that is fine. But make an informed choice. They are not the same.