Wow! It's hard to believe the Class of 2020 finished my first official year of photography. I don't think anyone could have ever anticipated it finishing it like it did. My heart goes out to high school and college seniors who have lost out on some things. But along those same lines, I hope someday they will look back at how the schools, the teachers, the community went way out of their way in showing these graduating seniors that we have their back and say,

"Things didn't turn out as planned, but it ended up pretty cool!"

And, hopefully, they have learned some valuable lessons through weathering this storm...because I know I have!

My journey into the photography business (all the cool cats call us "photogs") I had two goals:

  1. To provide professional quality photos at an affordable price.
  2. To earn some extra income to help pay off the ole' Debt Snowball (thanks a lot, Dave Ramsey!)

I understood going into this that both of these goals were more processes. They were going to take time to achieve, and for goal #1, I knew this was going to be a learning curve...both for taking the highest quality pics possible, but especially finding ways to make my services affordable while still bringing in enough income to offset the cost of doing business while still being able to make a dent in goal #2. 

What I've Been Doing

This past year I was what the photography world called "shoot and burn photographer," and apparently real "photogs" don't care too much for shoot and burn photographers. My process was book a session and charge a session fee of $125 or $250 depending on the number of edited photos. I would then send proofs digitally for the client to pick their favorite for me to edit. I would edit them and provide a folder with high resolution photos with a print release so they could print from wherever they would like (Walgreens, Shutterfly, Walmart, etc).

There have been a few problems with this approach. First, editing 30-40 photos take a lot of time. I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours on each photo (so 30 pics could take up to 15 hours). Add that on to the 2 hour shoot, the travel time, and exporting the proofs of each photo and the time commitment alone approaches 20 hours. After I do those calculations on top of the actual business costs (camera gear, lighting, online services, etc), I realize I'm not really meeting goal #2.

The second problem with this "shoot and burn" methodology is that photos printed from these photo labs just don't look good. I spend a lot of time and care developing a certain look on a photo and these commercial labs aren't able to handle it. Professional color labs are so much better. I want my clients to look on the wall at their prints and be wowed. Commercial labs just don't have the wow factor.

The third problem is that we are all busy people. It is very difficult for families to sit down and pick the photos they want edited. Then families get them back with the print release but never get around ordering them.

My New Process

It is for these reasons that, starting now, I am no longer offering these "shoot and burn" sessions. I am moving to a Collection-Based system. Each collection will still include some digitals with a print release, but only for the photos that have been ordered. There is also a digital collection that will include digitals plus an album and one large canvas (or metal) print.

Here's how this new pricing model will work:

  • You can book your session on here. On-location and studio sessions are available. 1-hour ($125) and 2-hour sessions ($250) are available.
  • The day of your session
    • The session fee will be due. The session fee is taken out of the total cost of the collection. Payment options include cash, check, credit card, PayPal or Venmo.
    • I will provide you with a pricing guide outlining each collection. The pricing guide will also include a la carte print options.
    • We will book your "In-Person Consultation" to review your photos. These sessions will normally be one or two weeks from the session date.
  • At your In-Person Consultation
    • Consultations can be done wherever you would like (your home, my home or a public location like a coffee shop) 
    • You can expect a special surprise to start your consultation, but I'm not telling you what it is :-)
    • We will go through two review processes where we will narrow down the photos.
    • After the photos have been narrowed down, we will review which collection you would like.
    • Using the photos from the final review we will set up your order.
    • Your final payment will be due at the end of the consultation. The session fee will be subtracted from the final collection cost.
  • Order pickup. Your order will then be available for pickup within 4-6 weeks of the consultation.

Final Thoughts

My hope is that this is not too confusing. If it is, please feel free to text me or message me any questions you may have. I am excited to start this new journey with the Class of 2021! Don't forget, you can make your appointment here.

Sponsors Available

I actually have a 3rd goal that I didn't mention above. I want to make sure every single high school senior has the opportunity to get senior photos done. I have sponsors available to provide assistance for those that simply cannot afford a session. Please let me know if you need assistance. Also, if you would like to help and sponsor a senior shoot, please contact me.