Unless you have been living in a cave, you are aware of multiple methods your local (and not-so-local) professional photographers utilize to provide you with your images after your family/wedding/senior photos. You may not have a strong opinion on the subject, but some feel mighty big feelings about what a photographer does with images after a photo session. I intentionally create practices and policies based on my personal preferences and my client’s preferences. If you ever in your beautiful life might consider hiring a professional photographer, then I recommend being educated on these practices.
“Sitting Fee + Photo Print Package” Method
One practice many photographers use is charging a sitting fee. This fee will not include any images. You are paying for the actual sit-down-take-pictures time with your lovely photographer. After your session, you can order prints and occasionally a print release of your images. At this point, you need to be aware of any fine print before your session.
After a photo session, clients can become a tad unhappy. I have heard statements such as, “That photographer held our child’s pictures hostage.” Or, “I was totally bait and switched; we paid good money for our family session and we don’t even get any pictures.”
With proper communication, the whole unhappy situation can be avoided. Most photographers using a “sitting fee” method are wonderful, kind, and honest professionals. Typically, clients are aware there is a $600 minimum print order, they will pay an additional $400 for a copyright release, or getting their ACTUAL photos will be an additional cost in some other way. Photographers do this for many reasons.
Many of said reasons are completely valid. An obvious reason being, you might be more likely to book with them, because you see a smaller number upfront. The rationale of the photographer could very well be marketing and to just get your stunning family in front of their camera. Another reason for this method could be the photographer might be attempting to accommodate the preferences of a wide range of clients. With this method, each client can choose to purchase the digital files of your photos, high-quality prints, or a combination (depending on the photographer). As a photographer, we see a huge range of “ideal packages” clients are looking to purchase. These are both valid reasons for business owners to “hold your pictures hostage,” but they are not the reason I would ever consider using the method.
I would consider offering a sitting fee and print package for one reason – the printer. Darling Clients, do you have any idea the time, equipment, and effort put into achieving a correct white balance (how the color white, and therefore all colors, look in your photos), skin tone, sharpness, and overall quality of your images? A sub-par printer can throw all of that out the window. When you hire a photographer for lifestyle photography, you are hiring his or her equipment, experience, creative eye, and technical skills. After investing in a quality photo session to document your life, it kills a photographer a little to see images printed at the grocery store. (Especially newborns. With skin already a tad wonky, a standard drug-store printer will make newborns orange, or green, or even blue.) Despite the minor heartache I experience when photos are poorly printed, I still offer digital releases.
Why I Offer Digital Files
First, I would never book a photo session for myself or my family without the inclusion of digital file and a print release. Personally, I want to be able to print/use my family photos for the rest of my livelong life. My images are printed and backed up an obsessive amount, and I like it that way. If my photographer moves, goes out of business, loses my images, I would not be able to get my photos anymore, if I had not purchased a session including digital files. And in ten years, I might want that one maternity photo and heaven only know what my past photographer will be doing at that time. Because I have such strong feelings, I make the assumption many of my clients do as well. As a lifestyle photographer, I provide photography packages I believe I would purchase. Intentionally, I designed photo sessions based on my client’s and my own preferences, and that includes a copyright release and digital files of all final images.
My client’s happiness is my favorite motivation for every session. I LOVE hearing reactions when I first deliver photos to each family and parent. For a bit, my goal was to bring tears to each mom's eyes (I succeeded in this for a weirdly long time). Knowing my clients get ALL their images just makes us all a jolly 'lil bunch of people. I don’t have to tell a family “no” when they see so many photos they love. I get to say, “YES! TAKE THEM ALL! YOUR KID IS SO COMPLETELY ADORABLE!” Additionally, there is no confusion. I take your pictures, I select the prettiest ones, I edit the photos, and they are yours! That’s it. No miscommunication. No bait and switches.
Finally, I still get to offer stunning professional photo prints. I offer professional prints on the cheap, because OHMYWORD I worked so hard on these and they better look dang good when you put them on your wall or show them off to your curious and loving family. As much as I want all clients to utilize this option, I understand not all families will professionally print their photos. And with a glass of wine or two, I’ve accepted the fact.
Before you book a newborn or family photo session anywhere, think about what you are looking for in a session. Think beyond just finding a style you love (*cough* *lifestyle photography* *cough*) and consider how you are getting your photos. Each method has its pros and cons. Neither option is right or wrong. Just be aware of what you are getting when you book your family photo session.
And shoot DanielleGeriPhotography@gmail.com an email if you are looking for a lifestyle session in Minnesota, because we always have a delightfully fun time picture-taking with you.
In-Home Lifestyle Photography | Minneapolis, MN
Looking for a Lifestyle or In-Home Photographer in Minnesota?
Contact Danielle Geri Photography at 763-670-7657 or DanielleGeriPhotography@gmail.com.
As a premier Lifestyle and In-Home Photographer in Minnesota and based outside Buffalo, MN, Danielle Geri Long picture-takes all over perfect state of MN. Specializing in Lifestyle and In-Home photography and providing documentary Newborn, Maternity, Child, Family, Senior, and Wedding photography to the Twin Cities, Central MN, Minnesota’s Metro and West Metro. Areas served include, but are not limited to, Buffalo, Maple Lake, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Monticello, Woodbury, Andover, Plymouth, Wayzeta, Otsego, and Maple Grove, MN.