Answer A: $29.95 ?, $49.95 ?, $79.95 ?
Answer B: Priceless ?
We all get the question, the only question most customers know to ask, “How much?” The problem comes when we fail to educate our clients on the fact that we really aren’t dealing with a commodity like a pair of Adidas tennis shoes or a North Face jacket. Even though it may be printed on a sheet of 8×10 Kodak paper, the sheet of paper is not what we are selling. It’s the image on the piece of paper that has all the value. Forget about size or what medium the image is printed on. That should really be irrelevant (to a point). Take for example an attorney who drafts a will for a client. He charges what the value of his time and expertise is worth. He doesn’t charge a different fee to print it out on a smaller sheet of paper than he would if the paper was bigger, and his client would never expect him to. What they might expect is that his fee could be higher than another attorney because of the level of service they received, or his firm has more prestige or he came highly recommended by people the client respects. But that same client, when they come to our studio, expects that our 8X10 has no business being more expensive than the studio across town. “I mean, it’s the same size picture for goodness sake”.”Why isn’t it the same price?”
We often find ourselves trapped in a conversation where we are defending our price against another studio or photo finisher based on the physical characteristics of the portrait, what it’s mounted on, how it’s lacquer protected or given a texture etc.
We need to educate our clients on the emotional value of the image. What emotions the image will evoke every time they see the portrait, the kinds of memories that will be captured for all time, and how valuable this moment in time is that we captured are just a few of the things that transcend the commodity of a sheet of Kodak paper and present you as a true artist.
The following is a little parable comparing and contrasting two artists and the paths their artistic abilities take them.
A Tale Of Two Painters
Two guys walk into an art store and each buys a canvas and some oil paint. One of them is a master artisan with a lifetime of experience and talent. The other one is just a guy who fancies himself handy with a paintbrush. They each spend $10.00 and go off to create a painting.
When finished, the master artisan had created a masterpiece. His composition was beautiful , his use of light and shadow was subtle and brilliant at the same time and his use of color and it’s harmony was perfect. He is able to sell his masterpiece for $2,000.00.
Try as he might, the guy with a brush can’t get anyone to buy his painting. It could be that his use of light and shadow was non existent and his work looked very flat. Possibly it was that there was no flow to the composition, or it may have been his total disregard for proper color harmony. Whatever the reason, he had painted to the best of his ability and didn’t know how to do it any better. So there he sat with no buyers. That is until he lowered his price to $20.00. He finally finds his customer and at $20.00, figures that he is doubling his cost for supplies so he is satisfied.
The new owner of the artisan’s painting is excited and proud to show his purchase to all his family and friends. He knows that the investment he made will only gain in value to him as he enjoys it for decades to come.
The new owner of the $20.00 painting really sees no great value in his purchase. He never frames it and after a short while, the painting disappears as he forgets about it and it’s lost.
The moral of this story is that when selecting a portrait photographer, look for that master artisan quality in his work. When you purchase a portrait from him keep in mind that you are not paying for his materials, rather a lifetime of experience and talent that he used to create your image. You will most definitely invest more than you would if you went to the photographer with little experience but is “handy with a camera”. But what is the outcome? Would you want to have an inexpensive picture that you will ultimately have little or no regard for and probably store in a drawer, or would you rather invest in a beautiful work of art that you will be proud to display and show off to all your family and friends.
James V. (Jim) Schoonover, M.Photog.Cr.
Jim Schoonover, as well as working as a photographer at all of the Carroll Studios, heads up the studio’s photographic staff as Director of Photography.
Jim received his first formal education in photography while at MATC. After the completion of his studies, he started working for the Carroll Studios as a custom color printer and wedding photographer.
After several years he was ready to venture out on his own and established the Van James Photography Studios in nearby Waukesha, Wisconsin. While developing a unique style of portraiture, Jim earned the degrees of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman.
Continuing to maintain a close relationship with the Carroll Studios throughout the years, when the opportunity arose to head up their entire photography department, Jim rejoined the Carroll Studios to better serve their combined clientele.
Presented the award of “Photographer of the Year” for 2012 by the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Photographers Association (SEWPPA), Jim continues to incorporate new stylish methods into his repertoire, including, dramatic and subtle lighting techniques, natural posing, and the ability to elicit the perfect expression. As always, he is curious to find a new angle or ‘way’ to give all his clients a fabulous look and incredible experience.