Don’t let Photoshopped images deny you the pleasure of a good meal this holiday season

IMG_2371

Here’s a quick 5 Minutes Of What The Media Actually Does To Women video,  I discovered on Upworthy, a great site I’ve recently stumbled upon that shares news worth sharing. As a photographer I often spend more time than I want to toiling away in Photoshop making people look like the enhanced versions of themselves. I’m usually working on images of regular working people for their corporate portraits, family portraits or LinkedIn headshots. These are not models with body images but even still, there is the latent desire to see oneself perfected, to have a few lines removed here, a slight restructuring of the jaw there. I admit my guilt in doing these digital cosmetic surgeries, but share the opinion voiced in this video that unrealistic images, particularly of women, are damaging to women themselves, promote self-loathing and create a space where violence against women can happen by dehumanizing and objectifying women. I’m a father of a young girl and I feel a personal responsibility in making sure she grows up with a healthy self-image. She sometimes sits with me as I work in Photoshop where I show her how images are created and hopefully she learns a little bit about the difference between images and reality. She may still love Princesses and Hello Kitty, but when it comes time to eat, she’s fed a good wholesome meal which she devours with pleasure. So this holiday season my wish is that the women of the world reject the notion of false beauty projected through dehumanized, over-Photoshopped images of women, and dig in to their holiday meals with gusto!

 

 

Best sizes for your online profile pictures in all social media

Thanks to my friend Ray Hiltz, who sent me a link to this article on How to Optimize Your Profile Photos Across Social Media, the highlights of which I’ve summarized here below. Worth checking out the full article if you are a professional photographer and/or just looking to have your profile photo looks its best on the most popular social media platforms.

One big happy family
One big happy family

Facebook:

  • Profile pics are displayed at 160 x 160 pixels, but the image you upload must have minimum measurements of 180 x 180 pixels.
  • Cover photos should be 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100KB

Twitter:

  • Maximum file size for a Twitter avatar is 2MB, though it will show only as 73 x 73 pixels on your profile page and a very small 48 x 48 pixels in tweets
  • Header photos can be up to 5MB in size; the recommended dimensions for these images are 1252 x 626 pixels

Google+:

  • consider what kind of image will work in a round format as the default form in Google+ circles is well, a circle
  • avatar displays 120 x 120 pixels on your profile, but not all of that will show up due to the round crop
  • Post images will be as small as 48 x 48 pixels and just 28 x 28 in comments

You Tube:

  • Since Google owns You Tube, the same image requirements for Google+ apply, however unique to the You Tube platform is cover photo You Tube calls “channel art” for which the recommendation is to upload a 2560 x 1440 pixel image

LinkedIn:

  • Max file size of 4MB
  • Upload a square JPG, GIF or PNG (default size for a LinkedIn avatar on your profile page is 200 x 200 pixels, but users can click to enlarge the image up to 450 x 450 pixels).
  • Company logos on company pages display on LinkedIn pages at 100 x 60 pixels, and the square logo is 50 by 50 pixels. You can also upload a homepage cover photo-style image to a company page. The minimum recommended size is 646 x 220 pixels.

As mentioned above, this summary is taken from an article on Mashable, worth checking out for more ample detail on the content quoted above.

The art of smiling for the camera

childsmiles Children smile on average 400 times a day. I just learned this while watching a great short TED talk by Ron Gutman called The hidden power of smiling (and if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth the eight minutes it takes to watch when you have time)

I was researching the subject of smiling for this blog post, trying to find tips I can share with my corporate portrait clients, many of whom seem to have difficulty smiling easily for the camera. As a corporate portrait photographer, I encounter this challenge often. Almost everyone can produce a kind of smile on demand – the public kind of smile they brandish when giving presentations or meeting strangers, but rare is the individual who can smile with genuine ease, grinning widely and happily for the camera.

smilecycle

One of my other projects is an experiment in happiness, and I think the dis-ease most working people have with smiling today is symptomatic of a larger and deeper malaise. How did so many of us forget how to smile? You don’t need to see Ron Gutman’s TED talk to know that nearly all children everywhere can smile at the drop of a hat. It’s one of the reasons children are so much fun to be around. They smile a lot. And maybe even in spite of ourselves, because smiling is contagious, we smile more when we are around them too. And all this smiling just makes us feel good. While children may not always choose to smile for photographers (there are a few tricks for that), they really do spend much of their waking (and sleeping) time laughing, smiling and playing. For a child not to smile, there must be something serious going on. But when we become adults, our smile rates drop off dramatically. 14% of people smile fewer than 5 times a day. It seems many of us adults live in an upside down world where unsmiling is normal and almost seen as a kind of virtue. As if the ability to retain a stern, serious look is tantamount to actually being a supra-human invested with above average power and strength.

It is in fact, the opposite. People who smile are generally considered more competent. And better liked. And a few other things too as this graph shows (again thanks to Ron Gutman’s TED Talk video). Smiling creates a kind of virtuous cycle whereby the act of smiling makes you feel good, makes the people who see you smile feel good and smile too, which reinforces your smile and pretty soon everyone is smiling all over the place.

So why don’t we smile more often? And why is it so hard?

Some people greet each day with a smile. Literally. They wake up and smile. And this apparently helps set the tone for the day in a much more positive light. A smile truly lights up a face. It is the sign we look for in strangers when we want to evaluate their trustworthiness (there is a reason salespeople everywhere are skilled in the art of smiling). It makes people like us. A smile turns a grey day a little bluer. It gives us attractive wrinkling patterns on our faces as we age. And because smiles are contagious it is almost impossible not to smile back at someone who smiles at you. Imagine your next metro ride where everyone looks up from their handheld screens, unplugs their earphones and just smile at each other. What a difference that would make in anyone’s day. So to get you started and prepared for your next portrait session, here are a few tips I’ve collected on how to re-learn the art of smiling.

smiles-flat2

  1. Think of something funny: while I often do manage to elicit at least a faint chuckle from even the sternest of subjects, if you are posing for a self-portrait or for someone with whom you just aren’t feeling the humour vibe, make yourself laugh. Think of something -anything- you find really funny. While you don’t need to (or even want to) break out into a gale of laughter when you’re posing for your portrait, if you can use your powers of imagination (another lost art) to conjure up in your mind something you find genuinely funny, give in to your natural impulse and you will naturally start to smile
  2. Ignore the camera between shots: It’s okay, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to look at the camera all the time. In fact it’s better and easier to smile naturally if you take breaks between the shots so you can relax. Chat a bit with your photographer or a colleague or assistant who may be in the room with you. While most corporate portrait sessions are relatively quick, you don’t need to run through it so quickly your face gets tired from holding a smile.
  3. Wait to the last minute: as in so many things in life, you can get great results from the last minute (teachers don’t hate me please). Smiles get stale fast, particularly ones pasted onto your face. You don’t need to have a constant smile for your photo session, just one timed for the shutter which will be less than a second. Wait for it, then go! That first flash of a smile is usually the one that is most genuine.
  4. “Fake it to make it”: Of course, if you can’t make it real, then fake it. You don’t have to feel happy to smile. In fact, smiling can help make you feel happy. So fake it at first and if possible, do it a few times in front of a mirror before or during your shoot to practice and get used to how it feels. Pull a few silly looking faces first and you’ll end up laughing at yourself.
  5. Lean towards the lens: Try to tuck your chin down but don’t back away from the camera as people tend to do. Leaning into the camera has the same effect as it does on someone whom you are talking to and listening to. It encourages them to continue and makes you look like you are interested in them – which makes you more interesting.
  6. Smile as widely as you can: you may find some photography sites arguing against wide smiles for reasons like “it bunches up your eyes” but if your aim is to have a real, beautiful smile and feel good doing it, then don’t worry about it and let that grin rip!
  7. Aim your eyes on the rim of the lens, not dead on into it: This will take the pressure off you and the camera will still register you as looking right out of your photo.

If you have any other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. Now take two minutes, go somewhere private and practice smiling like an insane person in front of a mirror. You’ll end up laughing, you’ll feel better and you’ll have begun your mastery of the art of the smile.

 

Instant gratification is key to successful event photography

You looking at me?
You looking at me?

Being in the business of event photography is like being in the business of making bread, in that the most highly valued component of an event photo is its freshness. Whether the shots are a series of candids taken throughout the night, or derived from a more party focused photobooth experience, the appetite for seeing the resulting images is highest immediately after the event. Let a few days go by, or even a week, and the photos are already stale.

This craving for immediacy, aside from being one of the underpinning pillars of modern society (for better, or worse) can be satisfied in a number of ways by an event photographer. The top methods I’ve adopted and offer to clients are:

  1. Onsite prints: while everyone has a camera in their pockets these days built into their phones, and there are petabytes ( unit of information equal to 1000 terabytes or 10^15 bytes) of digital images out there, people still love to get a fresh print in their hands the night of the event. I’ve written more about this subject here and here, and expect to see more people asking for immediate onsite prints in 2013.
  2. Immediate posting of select key photos to password protected website for media use and instant client access. Many events are hosted by PR consultants and agencies using the event to draw attention to a product launch, store/restaurant/club opening or to generate excitement around a brand in association with some larger event, like Subaru did with its new BRZ launch during Grand Prix week in Montreal. These pictures have their greatest impact and are most valued by clients if they can be placed in the hands of media outlets that will be able to use them right away, ideally published immediately on the web and no later than in the next morning’s news. Having a system to capture, edit and deliver these professional quality, high-res and media-ready photos for clients is critical when dealing with some PR agencies and highly valued by most event photography clients.
  3. Live streaming images to overhead projection screen: most event spaces, particularly company hosted parties for employees or award ceremonies, come equipped with at least one or several screens where slideshows are projected. These screens can be accessed and used to show photos from the evening right back at the guests who are featured in them. (We do this often with our sister company lePartybooth). This kind of instant use of imagery is highly popular at events where event planners are concerned with showing guests the best time possible. Employee oriented events aimed at boosting morale, celebrating company victories or simply acknowledging the value and importance of what employees contribute to a company’s bottom line are all great candidates for providing this kind of added value service.

 

Staying safe when shooting on site in industrial locations

Earlier this summer I went on a fun shoot for a stevedoring company (the guys who load and unload ships) and I had a chance to get a shot of one of Montreal’s iconic buildings from an angle rarely seen.

Shooting in the shipping yards was hectic and felt a bit like being in a war zone. Actually it felt like being an ant in a land of giants as mega-forklifts whizzed past hoisting up containers and stacking them one on top of the other in a life-sized game of Tetris.

I was wearing safety gear – a reflective vest and helmet and had to pass through strict security on the way in, accompanied by my client.  Once on the ground, I realized how important it was to follow all the safety regulations and literally stay within the lines. My client is the only company in the Port of Montreal with a huge loading crane that looked to me like one of the spaceships in Tron. I was able to climb up to the main walkway, a few hundred feet above the ground and take aerial shots of all the activitiy in the facility, as well as grab this unique shot of the Five Roses building from an angle most Montreal photographers will never have a chance to get.

I like shooting onsite for clients with big industrial facilities. One of the advantages of being a professional freelance photographer in a great port city like Montreal is the chance to visit factories, plants and places where the GDP is actually being made. I’ve been lucky to have many such opportunities and having been in many industrial locations as a facilities photographer, I never take any chances with safety.  I always keep safety foremost in mind when shooting on location and know that it is especially important in industrial sites where there is a lot of activity and you are an out of the ordinary appearance.

 

 

It’s okay to fail

I recently attended a lighting workshop with Joe McNally (The Joe McNally One Light, Two Light seminar tour) which I cannot recommend more highly. Joe was affable, informative and gave an excellent full day overview of using small and big flash equipment in a way that made the experience fun and educational. He also wove into his tales of lighting, anecdotes from his storied career working as a photo journalist and National Geographic photographer.

Improvised spit for roasting chicken...three minutes before it collapsed on the rocks

Aside from the great technical advice he gave, one of the more human messages he shared that I think is worth retelling, was this: it’s okay to fail. All photographers will experience that sinking feeling when a shoot isn’t going well, and while few will want to talk about it, just hearing a world class top photographer share his own stories of times things went wrong was a great relief. He also then used the problems to teach how you can avoid them and/or work around them.

I think the message is a good one for anyone who suffers from the feeling that every time they do every single thing they do they have to get it right.  He reminded me, and us, that learning is part of the process and that failure can sometimes be your greatest teacher.

Thanks Joe.

Street Fawker

With hot summer days fully arrived in Montreal, the streets are stages for all kinds of photographically interesting parades. I spent the weekend at the St. Laurent street sale, and had fun photographing an impromptu dance troupe that set up shop across the street from an event I was covering. This performer wearing a Guy Fawkes mask caught my eye.

You can see more shots on my photo portfolio site.

Tips on taking portraits of young children

You want me to sit still? Seriously?

Photographers will often be invited to take portraits of families with young children, as this tends to be the time when most people are interested in having a portrait done of their family.  Most of the time, I prefer to shoot family portraits in Montreal in the family’s home, backyard or a nearby park because the natural settings are both more interesting than studio backdrops and allow for more natural interaction with the subjects. However, from time to tome, I am asked to take studio portraits of families with young children and here’s a few shots and tips I can share on the experience.

  1. Keep it quick: while the time you spend setting up your lighting and gear can be unhurried, when your subject(s) have arrived, as quickly as possible you want to start shooting. The younger the child, the shorter the attention span will be and the more difficult it will be to get good shots with the child looking into the camera’s lens.

    Ta da!
  2. Keep parents on cue: that means, while the temptation is incredibly strong and very natural for one or both parents to be looking at the child (who will be invariably not looking where you want he or she to look) you need to be ready for that split second when the child’s flitting gaze crosses your lens so you can get the shot. If the parents are at that instant looking sternly at their misbehaving child, the opportunity is lost. Tell the parents to look at you and keep smiling, and let you worry about the child. Eventually no matter how hyperactive the child, curiosity will get the best of him or her and he or she will want to look at the camera. If the parents are ready, you’ll get the shot.
  3. Take breaks: young children (1.5 yrs to 3 yrs old) will want to move around. A lot. It’s important to give them a little break between poses so they can burn off a little energy. Use a break to shoot just the parents, together (if you have someone else in studio to take care of the child) and then add the child back in. Sometimes seeing the parents get photographed will interest the child in doing the same and he or she will want to be back in the shot. You can also use a break to get some unposed impromptu shots of the child who just may cooperate by playing around right where you want them too (as happened this weekend for my recent photo shoot).

    Happy to be here!

Tricks for a great group photo

Whether you are a professional portrait or event photographer, or managing a public relations or communications project, you will at some point require a good group photo. Having worked for more than a decade taking hundreds of group photos of corporate management teams, wedding parties, graduating classes and countless ad hoc groupings of people having a good time at an event, I’ve learned a few tricks on how to make sure the group photos come out well.

  1. Take control: whether it’s a grouping of just two starry eyed newlyeds, or a mass of 75 recent graduates, the moment when you are setting up to take that photo is when you need to step up and take control. Make sure everyone in that photo is listening to your instructions and doing what you tell them to do. If there are other cameras getting in on your set up, that’s fine, but be clear to your subjects that they need to look into your lens at all times until you are done. Most of the time, the people in group photos want to get the photo over with as soon as possible and they will value your leadership and professionalism in helping that happen while still getting the best possible shot.
  2. Use common sense & stay cool: Putting tall people in the back and shorter people up front seems like an obvious suggestion but if the group is large enough to need two rows, it can also be large enough to be difficult to manage and in the heat of the moment a photographer may be tempted to just snap away at any configuration. Resist that temptation and make sure everyone is organized as well as you can according to height so that no one is blocking the view of anyone else. In many groups there is someone or some smaller grouping that is more important – place them centrally.
  3. Keep all eyes on you: make sure you can see everyone’s face in your lens and tell everyone in the shot to make sure they can look straight into your lens. If they are looking at the back of someone’s head, you need to reposition people until everyone has as clear a view of you as needed to make sure they get their smiling faces in the shot.
  4. Take more than one shot: while this is true for nearly all important photos, it is especially true for the group photo. No matter how charming, organized and clear you are in communicating what’s required to get the perfect group photo, inevitably someone will blink, or turn their head or otherwise be the person who ruins the shot. It’s your job to catch it when it happens, take another shot, and then another to be sure that your final deliverable is what everyone is expecting. A great group photo with everyone in focus, looking happy and with their eyes wide open (see images 1 and 2 below).

I’m sure there are other tricks of the trade out there and I’d be happy to hear about them from anyone else working as a Montreal portrait or event photographer. Add your comments or send me an email with your tips on getting the best group photo you can get.

Musical chairs

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the winning shot. When I was invited to photograph Jonathan Crow and fellow musicians, the New Orford String Quartet, as they rehearsed at the Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur for an upcoming performance in Montreal, I was thrilled. I’d photographed Jonathan a few years ago (the images from that shoot had been published) and I was confident I would be able to produce something even better this time around. Maybe it was just an off day, but it took a lot of maneuvering and repositioning both of myself, the lights and the quartet until I found a few shots I was happy with. 

Jonathan Crow, a world renowned violinist, is currently Assistant Professor of Violin at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University where he has been teaching since 2005 and past Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) (the youngest Concertmaster to lead a major North American orchestra) a position he held from 2002 until 2006.

It was a rare pleasure to do what I love (photographing people in action) while my subjects were doing what they love (making gorgeous music) in an historic and beautiful theatre with great acoustics. This shoot, however, was not without its challenges as the goal was to produce photos that looked spontaneous but were also usable, promotional images. Trying for spontaneity, I took a ream of shots of the musicians playing.  I captured great action and their passion as players, but there was often one of the four players who moved out of focus as the shutter snapped shot, or whose facial expression morphed into something unpredictable in response to the emotions triggered by the music they were creating.  I had to ask them to take up different positions and I fiddled (no pun intended) with my lighting, camera settings and my own position (on a chair, off the chair, on one side of the room, then the other – even lying flat on the ground at one point) until finally I had everyone set up in front of the velvet black curtain at the back of the stage for some unplanned posed photos. While this was something none of them really wanted to do, ultimately, the single shot everyone agreed on came from the posed series.

The lesson for me on this shoot was that even if your subjects think they know what they want, it is up to you as the professional photographer, to provide guidance on posing and positioning, and if one type of shot isn’t working, keep trying until you find one that is.

Why hire an event photographer?

What are some of the reasons why people hire an event photographer? As an active Montreal event photographer I’ve had many opportunities to consider this question as I am photographing events for different clients. I think people hire event photographers for at least the following three (+ one) reasons:

  1. To document the event for a client (i.e. if you are running the event as a brand marketing, communications, or PR firm and are providing photographs as part of your contract)
  2. To generate visual content for a range of media (internal newsletters and websites, external publications, annual reports, etc.)
  3. To provide photos as gifts to your guests (usually this entails a meet-and-greet set-up where the guests enter and are photographed in singles, couples or groups in front of a branded backdrop)
  4. I would add a fourth, perhaps less explicit reason as well: an event photograph adds excitement to your event and if done well by a professional event photographer, can serve to create moments and not simply document those that naturally arise in the heady mix of well dressed beautiful people, alcohol, luxurious settings in high-end restaurants or boutique hotel event spaces and music.

If you are running an event for a client you are very likely considering at least these reasons as you plan out your event schedule (please feel free to suggest more).  This also means, that you are very likely most interested in getting great shots quickly when the event is complete. In addition to talent and experience, you will want to query your prospective event photographers on their process and how they will get the images of the event to you (and how quickly). If you are not leaving the night with a DVD of your high-resolution images in hand (or won’t be downloading them the following day from a password protected website) then you may not be dealing with a professional event photographer.  

As an experienced event photographer, I shoot an average of 100 shots per hour, and factor in time at the end of the evening to transfer these images to a DVD which I burn and leave with my client before the night is over. This provides the client with the assurance that should they get any media requests for images they can respond immediately with visuals, and allows the client to begin using the images for their intended purposes right away rather than waiting a week or two for a series of images to be released by the photographer, at which point much of the punch and usefulness of these transient event photos may have evaporated. 

It is for this same reason – to quickly provide clients with images as the event transpires – that I do not edit my images unless requested. This saves an enormous amount of time for the event photographer and gives the client complete control of the images they have purchased by hiring an event photographer in the first place. I always include with every event photography contract I am hired for a reasonable number of edited images. I use the word “reasonable” because it is hard to predict exactly how many images a client may or may not want edited in post-production for very specific purposes, but my experience as an event photographer has taught me that 99.9% of all clients are reasonable. Most people do not want a deluge of images edited. They may come back and ask for a few to be edited for lighting here, a detail there, but by and large, the output of a professional event photographer direct from the camera to DVD meets the needs and expectations of clients who hire event photographers. This also ensures maximum convenience to the client who knows that once their event is done, they will have all the images they paid for in their hands before the lights go on and the clean up begins.

If you are an event planner, a public relations professional, wedding planner, event space manager, branding or communications professional and have been tasked with hiring an event photographer for an upcoming event (particularly in a city not your own, i.e. a Toronto-based firm looking for a good event photographer in Montreal), consider the reasons why you are hiring your event photographer and put into your requirements what you expect from the contract. A professional event photographer should have no problem providing you with full coverage and all your images delivered to you within (latest) 24 hrs of your event.  You’re paying for the service, so make sure you get what you need and want. In event photography, the client is ALWAYS right.

What’s in a photographer’s price?

Pricing one’s work is often one of the trickiest things to do as a photographer (or any artist for that matter). As a Montreal photographer who shoots events, weddings, portraits and real estate – four very different markets with four different types of clients, I have learned that the key to getting to a price both parties are comfortable with, is to clearly understand your client’s expectations and make sure they understand what they are getting from you in return for the price you are asking.

But what does it all mean???

While some event planners or wedding planners are familiar with contracting photographers, for most people finding, choosing and hiring a photographer is not an easy task. For one thing, there are countless photographers out there, many of whom have their own websites or blogs with different ways of packaging and selling their skills and their work. The sheer abundance of choice can be overwhelming, even to a skilled buyer like an event planner or wedding planner. What accounts for the difference between one photographer and another? There are many factors that I have observed, which I will share here with you to help you choose an event, wedding, portrait or real estate photographer the next time you need one:

  1. Who owns the final images?: In the pre-digital days and through the industry transition as older photographers held onto their film cameras and film-based pricing structures, a price was bounded by and built upon a monopolistic control of the negative. The photographer took your picture, but her or she held onto the negative. They would make you a print and charge you for it, but keep the negative in order to charge you more each time you wanted a new image or an image in a different size.  In my opinion this business model is dead and does not serve either the customer or the photographer’s best interest. It certainly makes no sense in the digital era yet still I am surprised at how many photographers cling to the notion that they somehow retain some implicit right over a client’s images. It is even more astounding when the client has already paid you for your time and effort if you are charging an hourly rate or session fee. It pays to ask up front if you will be given a copy of all the images taken during your shoot or if you will only be allowed to select the ones you want and then pay for prints. If the photographer retains the digital images and only lets you have prints you will be guaranteed to pay more.
  2. Hourly or fixed fee?: As a Montreal wedding photographer and Montreal event photographer I charge by the hour for my work. My price is based on a few things. Firstly, I will be providing full coverage of your event, usually non-stop. The only point in an event where one can safely take a 15 or 20 minute break in my experience is during meals as no one wants a picture of themselves with their mouth open shoveling food into it, no matter how pretty the face. Unless you are documenting some kind of food related event, eating shots are unnecessary and provide a built-in break. Otherwise, you cannot afford to be unavailable and so you will be out and on the move and ready with your camera for when the moments happen.  I tend to take a lot of photos (roughly 100-125 per hour) which provides clients with security knowing they will have their event fully covered.  A fixed fee, on the other hand, makes sense for small groups or individual portraits and real estate listings photography where the agent is more concerned with getting good results than the time you spend inside – in fact, most agents would prefer you spend as little time as possible shooting as they are not getting paid for the time they spend waiting for you.
  3. Is your price negotiable?: From time to time I get asked this question and my answer is always the same: no. But I don’t stop there. In the case of wedding photography or event photography I explain to my prospective client that my rate is based on  the time I will spend working and providing live continuous coverage of the event + the time I will spend uploading and preparing viewing galleries for the client + the time I will spend responding to emails and queries from the client + the time I will spend editing the photos the client selects for final post-production + the time I will spend burning a final DVD of the images + the costs of delivering the DVD to the client + an allocation of the cost of my investment in professional photographic equipment, computers and the latest versions of professional photo editing software which is expensive. Once a client sees all the many inputs that go into a price, it is much easier for them to understand that my price is actually more than reasonable. I then ask them to consider the costs of the food they will be serving, or perhaps the venue rental fee or some other fee attached to the event against any one of which I am certain I will be one of the least expensive. And my work yields lasting images that document the event or wedding and forever retain the beauty or significance of the event – the food will be eaten and gone tomorrow, the lights turned off, the flowers wilted and composted while my photos will be looked at, shared, posted across Facebook accounts, websites and sent by email around the world. Finally, if the client is really looking for a discount I recommend them to other, younger and less exeperienced photographers who will work for the experience.
  4. Quality matters: This one is simple but needs saying nonetheless. Yes the ubiquity of digital cameras has made it seem much, much simpler to take photos of anything and everything you want. Yes, even the most inexperienced photographer can come up with a few good lucky shots. But can you – or your sister’s younger cousin who just started taking photos – consistently set up, find, capture and produce quality images time and again? Does your photographer know how to shoot in different or changing light conditions? Are they prepared with backup gear, batteries, storage cards and chargers should something happen? Do they know how to interact with you and your guests to elicit real smiles and laughter without overdoing it and taking up more space than they should as someone who works for you.  There is ALWAYS a cheaper alternative. But quality is hard to fake. If your photographer comes with great references, a portfolio you admire, a personality you like and a professional, client-focused attitude, then he or she is worth the price being asked. Quality counts because photographers, just like other professionals who put their name to what they do, live and die by their work. A professional cares about his or her reputation – and so do you if you have chosen to talk to them about their price. They get it from producing quality work clients love.

Educating your client about what goes into producing quality photography is key.  Even if all it looks like you are doing is pointing your camera and clicking a button, you should now know that there is much more work involved in producing a gorgeous image. Whether your charge by the hour as I do for event photography and wedding photography, or work for a fixed fee as I do for portraits and real estate listings photography a photographer’s price is based on the effort before, during and after the shoot that goes into producing an image that will exceed the expectations of you, the client. Clearly explaining how photography is priced helps both photographer and client appreciate each other.  Having achieved understanding, you will both be happier and better prepared to discuss a photography contract.