What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I absolutely do continuing education to stay current in my field. Photography changes all the time. I am a member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and take advantage of their excellent continuing education program. I follow the CreativeLive site and have access to all their amazing master classes. I routinely have my images critiqued in professional forums and attend seminars such as WPPI in Las Vegas.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your service? If so, please share the details here.
I actually don't have complicated pricing. My portraits are all $200 for one hour, and $350 for two hours, which includes digital images, an online gallery and a print credit. My weddings are offered in a series of packages, all of which have the same inclusions. The price for those is based on the amount of time at the wedding and the number of photographers (one or two) and the print credit increases as the time at the wedding gets longer. Wedding packages are completely customizable, though. I just like to have a really straightforward starting point. My per-hour commission rate for advertising work is a flat rate based on the commission in question. I try to keep as little pricing information on my site as possible because I want to sit down and talk with my clients. I also think that consumers frequently think that price is always an indicator of quality. With photography that is generally true, but most photographers (myself included) are more than willing to discuss your budget and do what they can to work with you.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
When I was in grade school, my father put a camera in my hands and said that he would teach me how to take pictures. He was a very, very good amateur photographer with his own darkroom and he knew I was obsessed with National Geographic because of the images. I was convinced all the way through school and university that I was supposed to do other things, but I returned to photography as an undergraduate while studying journalism. My professor said to me "You have to do this for a living. Promise me that." I wasn't able to right away, but as soon as I could, I did. I bring my journalism training to everything I do and I've never regretted being a professional photographer.
What types of customers have you worked with?
All my photography can best be described as documentary. The most common thing I am asked to do and that I definitely do is to tell a story through images. It doesn't matter what the type of shoot is: wedding, event, portrait, boudoir, advertising, my goal is to tell the story and to draw people into the images when they view them. My most common work is weddings, followed by portraits and boudoir, events, and advertising.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
A recent wedding required me to shoot for 12 hours across a variety of venues and it was a huge challenge and I loved it. This particular wedding really made me deal with everything: wildly varying lighting, weather, four different venues, and hundreds of people. I pride myself on not only my images but also my demeanor on a commission and the bride and groom, their family, and their guests are STILL raving about my work, my images, and my professionalism in dealing with everything the day brought with it. My first priority is to delight my clients. If my clients are happy, the image-making is really easy.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
My advice is to research all your options. Photography is a very personal art form, and the images are designed to capture who you are. You have to choose a photographer who not only has the style of image you want, but is also someone you want to spend time with. Professionalism is key, but if your personalities don't work well together, it will show up in the images.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I want customers to know that professional photography is a highly specialized skill. I know that right now, millions of people are taking millions of pictures every day and as a photographer, I am so excited about the sheer number of images out there. Having said that, professional photographers work very hard to learn their craft and never, ever stop educating themselves about trends and new technology and as a result will be able to get the images right "in camera" and not rely on editing software to fix them. Professional photography is an investment for sure, but by making that investment, you are hiring someone who not only takes pictures for you but also spends the time making sure they are perfect: perfectly photographed, perfectly edited if required, and perfectly presented.