What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
Nothing complicated at all! I have simple hourly rates in exchange for photos delivered via a client gallery on my website as well as a CD with the digital files (CD only if requested at no additional charge). Prints are available at an extra cost depending on your needs and can be ordered through your private gallery.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
Typically we start by discussing what exactly it is you need me to deliver, when, and where. I have worked with hundreds of people over the last 6-7 years and I use that experience to give you tips to make the most of your session. Once the details of the session are planned out I collect a 50% deposit to finalize your booking. We confirm the day before your session and then we shoot!
After the session it takes about 3-5 days for me to deliver your proofs from which you make your final selections for retouching. You access your proofs by entering a client code on my website. From this gallery you may either share your photos with friends and family to help you decide on your favorites, or you can download the entire session to your computer. For headshot sessions, once you make your selections for retouching I deliver the final product within another 5-7 days. Depending on my current workload, express processing may be available at an additional cost. This cuts the turnaround time down to 24 hours.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
I grew up around photography my entire life. My father is a photographer and used to photograph weddings and other events. He passed down my first film SLR camera to me at the age of 8 when his main focus became running a photo developing lab. A bit later in life when I switched to digital I started to learn more about the technical aspects of photography and once I mustered up the courage to take on my first headshot client the rest is history. It took one happy customer to make me realize this is my life's passion. I take pride in creating images that make people look their best and often hold myself to higher standards than my clients do so you can rest assured your satisfaction is guaranteed.
What types of customers have you worked with?
My market is evenly divided among two niches: headshots sessions for models, actors, and corporate clients as well as engagement sessions and weddings. On-location sessions seem to be most popular, each giving the photos a unique look. Studio sessions are available if requested (includes some of the best lighting equipment available on the market - Profoto). I also offer the option of coming to you with a portable studio.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Photographers in NYC are a dime a dozen. What separates the best from the rest is a balance of technical knowledge, years of experience, professional attitude, and the way they interact with their clients before, during, and after a session to ensure your session goes according to your expectations. Remember that you're spending your money on a service because you expect professional results, not something your best friend's cousin can do with his or her new camera they picked up last week and edited with Instagram filters. You want your photos to make an impression on hiring managers, recruiters, casting directors, or anyone else that will be seeing them whether it be when you share them on social media, hang prints on your walls, or when you show off a beautiful album (must-have for engagement sessions and weddings!) to your friends and family.
To achieve the best results you need a photographer that knows how to interact with you to help you relax and naturally bring out your best expressions. Your level of comfort (or discomfort!) is the first thing viewers notice when looking at your photo, making communication during the session vital to capturing the split second when you look your best.
My biggest advice is to do your homework. You wouldn't buy a new TV without reading reviews online, why would you hire someone you knew nothing about? I invite you to read over not only my Thumbtack reviews, but also the testimonial section on my website as well as look me up on Yelp to see I have many satisfied customers. Finally, every photographer has their own style they have developed over the years; make sure you go through their portfolio and decide whether or not it suits your needs. If you're not sure if the photographer can create a specific type of look - reach out and ask!
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I put a great deal of thought into what I deliver to my client for the rates I charge. You work hard for your money, and you deserve to receive its worth with no hidden fees or strings attached. In order to come up with what exactly I decide to include, I put myself into the customer's shoes. What would I expect from a photographer, and what would I find annoying?
After doing my due diligence and researching the packages of my competition, I was quick to conclude that what many other photographers actually deliver for their prices is severely overvalued. A common practice is to limit the amount of looks included in a package down to 2-3 for example. A look can be something as quick as changing your blouse, putting on a jacket, or it can be something more dramatic like shaving your facial hair (for guys, obviously) or completely redoing your hair and/or makeup. Quite honestly, I don't see the logic in putting a limit on this; let me explain... Shooting various looks during a session gives the client a much greater variety of proofs to choose from after the session and costs me nothing but time while he or she changes an outfit. I find it a lot fairer to simply charge by the hour that way my time between looks is still compensated for. You can bring 10 different shirts if you like and the price of your session will remain the same. I suggest asking your photographer if he or she has any limits on the number of included looks. If they do, ask them why. If they imply it adds any sort of work for them, call their bluff ;)
Another common practice I disagree with is charging clients extra for delivering more than a certain amount of images. On one side, it seems logical since this means the photographer needs to spend more time on editing. On the other, if editing (do note that standard editing processes differ drastically to extensive retouching) a few more images is so time consuming that additional payment is requested it tells me the photographer is not experienced enough to properly pace themselves and focus on quality rather than quantity. Remember, I am working one on one with you and carefully composing each shot, adjusting your face, your body, and/or your soon to be spouse that you are posing with (during engagement sessions and weddings). I do not take photos that I know will be throw-aways. This saves us time during the session, saves me time during post-production, and saves you time when you're reviewing your photos. There is no reason to "spray and pray" as they call it in this industry, a term originally coined by video gamers that lack enough skill to properly aim and then shoot. On average I deliver 90% of the photos I take and only delete unflattering images where you may have blinked or the inevitable misfire. Ask your photographer how many photos you can expect to receive before you decide to book him or her. If the number is higher than 120-150 per hour, something is not right and I would look elsewhere.
One more thing that comes to mind which I've witnessed is when photographers purposely deliver photos in low resolution to prevent you from printing them yourself. The goal here is to have you return to the photographer for prints for life, or otherwise pay an absurd fee for the full resolution photos. This practice is protected by US copyright law, however in my eyes it is extremely unfair as it is often not made clear ahead of time. Putting myself in the client's shoes, if I am hiring a photographer I expect to receive photos that I will be able print and share for personal use without having to rely on the photographer. All my clients receive full resolution digital images along with printing rights. I do provide printing services which will ensure your photos have accurate colors, however if you choose to use a third party for prints you are free to do so.
Finally I highly suggest you find out ahead of time how long it will take for you to receive your images. Time and time again I hear how photographers take weeks or even months to return the finished product to their clients. That is unacceptable. If their schedule is too busy to take a day to edit your session, they need to reevaluate their business. On average it takes 3 days to receive your headshot proofs and another 3-5 days to receive your chosen extensively retouched images. Engagement sessions take an average of 5-7 days. Weddings are on a case by case basis depending on how long the wedding is, whether an album was requested, and other deciding factors. Make sure you are clear on how many days after your session you can expect to receive your photos when consulting with photographers.
Everyone's needs are different and experienced photographers realize that. I do my absolute best to be as flexible as possible and leave you with nothing less than a satisfying experience. I look forward to answering any of your questions not listed here.