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I had started writing a similar article/rant about this very subject, but then I stumbled on this post which very perfectly summed it up.    Yes, there are many photographers who charge so much less than DCPG or other mid to high-end custom photographers, but price is just part of the consideration.    Please, please, please, read on:

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The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art.

We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

The cost of TIME

Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session.

Here is an example of a time break down:

  • session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
  • one hour travel time TO session
  • 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
  • 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
  • one hour travel time FROM session
  • 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
  • 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
  • 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
  • 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
  • 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
  • 1 hour sorting through and checking order
  • 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
  • 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
  • any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.

The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.

Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success. Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details. There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS:

Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. In February 2007 leased photography retail space by a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.

Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.

REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:

Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part. Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..

Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity. The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

content is inspired by discussions with other photographers, my own personal experiences and outline based on an article by San Diego Photographers Caught On Film Photography

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Couldn’t have said it better myself! I hope this helps you guys understand our industry…

First off, happy mother’s day to all the mama’s out there.  Hope you enjoyed your day!

Apologies for the lack of recent posts – we’ve been busy! In a good way, of course, but I’m sorry we don’t update the blog as often.   So what’s up w/ DCPG (or “the Peeg” as my sister likes to call it)?  Well, in sad news, we closed down our rental studio temporarily.  We really loved having it, however, it wasn’t quite fiscally responsible to keep it at the moment.  But I have a goal to reopen in another location by the end of the year, so definitely stay tuned for that.   On the plus side, the weather has been staying clear and warm enough to shoot outside , so we haven’t been lacking in sessions. I’ll definitely start posting recent work on here again, but keep tabs on our Facebook page – it has ALL our most recent work.  Become a fan if you haven’t already 🙂

Internally, we have a very welcome change coming up.  My sister Carrie will be moving to Virginia Beach and also joining DCPG as our new Office Manager.  I’m still in the process of training her, but you’ll talk to her via email or telephone very soon if you contact us and I’ll probably have her updating our Facebook and blog as well.   Since I picked up shooting portraits, I haven’t had much time and, frankly, desire to keep up on the back end office work, so I am super relieved to be handing it over to someone that I trust and is way more fastidious (in a good way) and organized than I!

Now on to the good stuff —

**NEW** Mother’s Day Makeover Special!

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re offering a summer-long portrait special (because you should honor the mom in your life more than once a year):

$200
Family, Solo or Maternity
1 hour On-location portrait session
Hair & makeup included for Mama
All Portrait Products 25% Off
Choice of:
5×7 Photobook w/ images from your session
–OR–
11×14 Canvas Wrap Portrait

Email us for rules and restrictions.  This special will expire on August 31, 2009.

Also…..Lower Wall Print Prices!!

We have decided to significantly lower our wall print prices.  Starting today, regular prints 11×14 and larger are now much more affordable.  Here are some popular sizes:

11×14 $65 (old price $100)
16×20 $150 (old price $250)
20×20 $180 (old price $300)
20×24 $215 (old price $325)

Please note we can make regular prints and canvas wraps in almost every size, including odd and panoramic sizes – just let us know and we’ll quote you!  If you have photos currently hosted on Collages.net, you should see the price changes immediately.  If your site has expired, but you are interested in purchasing a wall print, send me a message!

Weekend sunset sessions in May are pretty much booked up, so if you’re looking into a June shoot, it’s best to book now! Earlier sessions (between 9:30 and 2pm) are also available for both weekdays and weekends.   Also, DCPG will be “off” from May 27th to June 1st for Memorial Day weekend.

I will end this post with some of  DCPG’s favorite mom photos:
Audrey & Jaden
My mom 🙂
mom

Avigail & Sophia

IMG_0176-brande
Susie & Anna
IMG_1890 5x7
Pon & Alexandra
IMG_9788 copy
Liz & Magdalena_MG_5479-Edit
Happy Mother’s Day!!
– Cies & DCPG

Still looking for that last minute gift? DCPG has portrait session gift certificates for $100!

GC Sample

For a limited time, you can get an additional gift certificate for each one your purchase*! That saves you $100 or more! It’s our way of giving an instant THANK YOU for the honor of photographing your loved ones.

Contact us to purchase one today – we have lovely printed certificates or we can send an electronic version as well.

We have been so blessed over the last few years and we deeply appreciate the love and support we continue to get.  Thank you for sharing our passion and supporting local businesses!

Mendell, Ciesther & Lester
DCPG Photography + Design
web:     www.dc-pg.com
email:  dcphotographics@gmail.com

*Rules and restrictions apply;  contact DCPG for details!

We don’t feature our commercial work regularly on the blog, but Mendell and Lester actually specialize in architectural and interior photography.   Mendell photographs a lot of hotels, but one in particular was awesome.   If you need to stay in Chesapeake, or hell, if you just wanna hang out somewhere ultra-cool, check out the new hotel aLoft and its bar, wxyz.  Malcolm Venable of HamptonRoads.com recently did a write up on it and featured Mendell’s photos.

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/12/wxyz

[You can see larger photos here on LTD Management’s Flickr ]

Seriously, this hotel is like nothing you’ve seen in this area and thank God for that.  Definitely go check it out!

So we’re totally stoked because we FINALLY have a real website up and running with all our photography goodness. We will probably create a separate site for design and commercial work, but for now, go here:

http://www.dc-pg.com

Tell your friends!

Love, DCPG

We recently decided to separate DCPG into 3 distinct subdivisions, with each partner assigned as a Director. (Did I put enough “d’s” in that sentence?) So now, we are operating basically as 3 companies:

DCPG Photography, handled by Lester
DCPG Design, handled by Mendell
DCPG Paperie (Paperie = personalized paper products such as invitations, announcements and such.)

I am running the Paperie and my first order of business was to open up an Etsy.com store which will sell invitation and program samples, some fine art prints and more. So far we only have 2 products up, but I am slowly populating the store and plan on adding more samples plus personalized stationery products such as notecards, rubber stamps.

http://dcpg.etsy.com
http://www.dcpgpaperie.com

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!

– Ciesther

I know we rarely post design pieces, but we are particularly proud of Mendell’s rich, textured web design which helped promote Luminous’ brand of high-end Pan Asian cuisine.

http://www.luminousbaltimore.com/

Big ups to our html/css coder Jitu and flash guru Darius for the expertise and help!

I know we don’t give our design jobs much promotion on the blog and because of that, people either forget or have no clue that we are print and web designers.  Mendell recently created an awesome resume site which displays his best work.  Since he is the main designer for DCPG, this is a good place to go if you’re looking to see our web and print work.   He also built the entire site himself, doing all the coding as well as layout and design.

http://www.mendelldelacruz.com

While you’re at it, take a looksie at Lester’s portfolio site too.  It showcases a lot of his older portrait work, but also some shoots that we haven’t featured here such as product and car photography:

http://www.lesterdelacruz.com

I’m totally excited about the new business card Mendell designed for us. Knowing him and his crazy never ending (but always awesome) ideas, he may change this. We’re still working on an “official” tagline so ignore the placeholder tagline. But I thought the design was pretty sweet and this is just one of many changes we are implementing over the next few months. Check the new logo!

It’s 2am and I’m still up?? The life of an entrepreneur….

– Ciesther