Chain Store Photography And You

“Why would I pay $199 when Chain Store Photography will give me 20 photos for $19.99?”

Cait Under Lamp Light

Any photographer who has been around long has heard this question a dozen times. Friends, families, and complete strangers all trying to convince them that they are too expensive. Some are trying to convince you that you will never make it unless you can compete with Chain Store Photography. Others are hoping you will give up on the price you quoted, and give them a deal on custom portraiture.

The Chain Store

Let me begin by saying I have nothing against the chain stores. They service a population who appreciates what they provide. Solid, consistent images are their hallmark.

There is a certain routine about using the chain store. You schedule an appointment, show up, and get your photos taken for a low price. After reviewing your images, and making your selections, you run the add-on sales gauntlet. Customized gift cards, framed portraits, and a multitude of other items are yours for the choosing. They need you to choose more than just your 20 photos.

Chain Store Photography Math

For $20, you get a photographer for one hour who is being paid an average of about $10/hr. The remaining $10 does not all go to printing 20+ images on the spot. The chain store is also paying for a number of other things:

  • Rent for the location
  • Utilities to keep that location comfortable
  • Equipment maintenance (cameras, computers, props, backdrops, etc)
  • At least one other employee greeting guests during your session

The list goes on, but the math should be pretty obvious. Much like school yearbook photos, the chain store has two goals: Photograph quickly and increase the sale. To be successful, the chain store needs to fill the seats as quickly as possible and convince you to add more items to your purchase. According to multiple sources, the employee needs to find a way to take that $20 sale and bump it up to an average of $125 just to maintain their job.

Custom Portraiture

At $199, you are not getting the number of images you get with Chain Store Photography and, assuming you can deal with the sales pitch, you can do it for only $20. What does the extra $179 for custom portraiture get you?

  • Mobility – I can leave the studio. I can even come to you!
  • Diversity – I can use a wide variety of lighting styles within the same session.
  • Creativity – The sky is the limit. Really! I can shoot inside, outside, natural light, studio lights. Let your imagination run free!
  • Selection – I can provide any product you see at the chain store with greater customization and quality thanks to amazing vendors. There are also products I can offer that you will likely never find at the Chain Store.
  • No sales gauntlet – That $199 covers all of the hidden costs necessary for my business to be survive. My survival is not contingent upon increasing my initial sale by 525%. My success is contingent upon delivering quality service every time. I want you to love working with me so much that you return year after year and are recommending me to everyone you see.

To be completely honest, I would shoot portraits all day, every day for free if there were no cost to doing so. Things fall apart in this world, including people, so making enough money to support my photography is not an option. There are only three reasons I charge for my photography:

  1. I owe it to my family to provide for their needs.
  2. I want to focus on my clients, not on what I can do to increase the sale beyond providing amazing photographs.
  3. My work has value as witnessed by the fact that clients do return.

Don’t forget my current $45 special! Good until I either hit 172 pounds or January 31, 2017. Book today, schedule for anytime next year!