What to Expect

by shelbysawyer


Photo from a couple’s photoshoot

Everyone today (and for a long time actually) is trying to save a buck, myself included. Furthermore everyone is trying a make a buck too. Now here we are in this wonderful place of wanting to keep our money but expecting others to willfully hand theirs over. From my little experience in the world, I have learned that, alas, life does not work this way. You have to give a little to gain a little. Now when it comes to photography it seems like you have to give a lot to get…a little? I’ve been on both sides of the photography fence, and I’m here to tell you that this is not true!

There is a lot of work involved to

A.) Prepare for a portrait shoot,

B.) Have a successful portrait shoot,

C.) Follow up with the client in a timely manner with quality photographs.

This list did not include start-up fees for having a business, equipment fees that costs literally thousands of dollars, or time and money spent learning the skills to take quality pictures. Also what it takes to pull of a successful wedding is entirely different from what it takes to have a successful maternity shoot.

So here is a run down of what I personally do before, during, and after a general photoshoot:

Before- when someone contacts me for a photoshoot, I ask specific questions to get an idea of what the client wants. We then find a convenient time and place, like the local coffee shop or ice-cream parlor, to meet, and I prepare questions to ask from my pre-consultation phone call or email. I do not live very close to anything, so I drive to these locations using my gas, and I also pay for my clients and myself to have a latte or ice-cream cone from wherever we meet. Our meeting usually lasts around an hour. I ask multiple questions and show work samples, so my client can best see if I’m the correct photographer for her needs! If I am, then I either get a retainer down for the session date, or I give options of how to pay the retainer fee if the client needs more time to think. From there I research places, props, and poses to meet my client’s needs. Once I understand her appearance, clothes taste, picture-style taste, pose preferences, and location preferences then I start compiling an itinerary for her Shelby Sawyer experience into a visual photography timeline.

During- I either meet my client at a convenient location and chauffeur her to the chosen spots, or she drives her own vehicle if the chosen locations are easy to get to. I do charge a traveling fee that is included in the session price, so no one has to worry about extra fees! I do everything to make sure my client is happy and comfortable. I usually have some snacks and water if we get hungry or dehydrated. If there is an outfit change, then I will find a nice place for my client to change, and I will carry the bulk of the items too, so she won’t get tired. I am responsible for making sure I get the pictures the client wants while making sure she has a great time.

After- now this is the hard part. I go through EVERYTHING and weed out the pictures that cannot be helped. I process each photo and do minor lighting and color fixes and save the file as a JPEG. The processing step, alone, takes anywhere from 3 to 9 hours. Editing a picture takes some time, too. Very minimal editing takes me ten minutes, so 100 pictures at ten minutes a piece equates to 16.6 hours! That’s on top of the hours of research, photo processing, and the photo session! Plus most pictures take me much longer than ten minutes to edit.

From there I contact the client for a post-session consultation, so she can order what she needs. I bring around 30 4×6 samples, and we create a package perfect for the client. Here on out the client is in control of how she wants her pictures. She picks her photos, and then picks if she want a CD, prints, albums, or all of the above!

Once the pictures are ready to go then I have to get them to the client. This might be a drive or even using the postal service. I take care that every photo or product has been packaged correctly to ensure that it is safe for transit.

So there you have it! That is just the tip of the iceberg in what I do for my clients, but it is a good view into what it takes to be a photographer. Next time you’re a little confused on why photographers charge an arm and a leg for a session check out all the extra work they do so you have a positive experience.