I have a confession to make. Not long after we moved to San Antonio, I took my kids (it was just the boys then) to an upscale portrait store ( I won’t say which one) for some Christmas photos. This was before I decided to turn my love of photography into my own business. Anyway, we waited for what seemed like forever….really, it was probably just an hour, but to my then three year old it was an eternity. There was crying, complaining, and whining and that was from the parents…the kids weren’t handling it much better either though. I sat in my chair (thankful I didn’t have to stand) and watched each family go through the “process” of getting their picture taken. After waiting for an hour, some of them were so tired and frustrated that they had little patience with their children who were completely over the picture taking idea. Have you heard a parent tell their kids in an irritable tone of voice ” just smile!!!”? Guess what the outcome of that was…yup, that’s right…smirks, eye rolls, whining, sobbing, two year olds exercising their right to say no, and temper tantrums. Red eyes and attitude didn’t paint the picture these parents were hoping for on their Christmas cards. Are we having fun yet?? Parents proceeded to coerce their loving offspring into smiling pretty for the camera through threats, bribery, and finally begging. It was somewhat depressing to watch this unfold over and over again.
Once they finally called our number, we went to the first photo stop where each family was posed in front of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with large boxes wrapped as gifts. Each child posed in front of the tree, on top of a gift box, and then pretended to read a book to a brother or sister who would have rather gone to the dentist instead of to take pictures. (At least you get a free toothbrush at the dentist office.) Thankfully, my kids played along, but Joshua was on the verge of a four alarm meltdown at any moment so I was praying the photographer would click faster and keep the ball rolling. Anyway, once the Christmas scene was completed, each family was then herded (I mean escorted) to the next room for some pictures in front of a white backdrop. This didn’t turn out to be any better experience than the last scene…whether the kids were looking in the right direction or not, smiled, or sat still the shots were taken and the next family was ushered in for the next white backdrop experience. For our experience, Joshua wouldn’t look at the camera to save my life and was in the mood to make funny faces which the photographer was so kind to capture for me.
With the picture taking over with, it was time to sit down in front of the computer and pick out images, products, etc. This took place immediately after the last picture was snapped…guess that meant no editing. Even though the session wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, it was still my babies on the screen and I picked out images that only a mom could appreciate…I really mean it when I say ONLY. A. MOM…dad was not so “appreciative”. With my order placed, I waited another hour for the images to print before paying the bill. Did I mention at the beginning of this story that I had come in for the $29.95 Christmas special?…and you know what I left with??? Drum roll please….$300+ of images that only a mother could love.
So what is the moral of this story? Or better yet the point…okay, the point of this story is that you CAN afford custom photography. I am willing to bet the farm that you have done the exact same thing I did…went in for the advertised special…$9.95, $13.95, $29.95….and left spending $300+. For that amount of money or maybe a little more, you could have had a custom photography session. No cattle herding…no blah backgrounds…no back room printers…no waiting and waiting…no images that look like the other thousand people’s images that hit the same place you did for some photos. You could have had a session taylored to your family, a professional photographer, photos professionally edited, photos printed from a profesesional lab, a unique one-of-a kind experience, and products created based on your session. You could have had photos that captured your children and family and shown them as they truly are instead of getting the same picture that 2000 other people got.
Photography is an investment. If you are reading this, then you value photography and I know you value your family. You CAN afford custom photography and some day when those kids are 10 years older, you will look back at your images and remember them-being-them and the day we took those photos. Custom photography captures the personality of people; not just their physical appearance. A photograph should evoke a warm, positive emotion from you each time you see it. Does your heart melt when you see your little one’s picture? If it doesn’t, it should. Custom photography provides that experience, that emotion, that personality capture unlike the chain stores. I consider my clients friends and care about what is going on in their life…a good photographer should…a good photographer is capturing a little snippet of someone’s life at a certain moment in time. Don’t settle…
Oh…want to know where those photos are that I bought from the chain store?…most are in the envelope they came in originally. I didn’t even frame most of them and the ones I did frame didn’t even make it on the wall…ouch!