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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why Should I Pay for a Professional Photographer When I Can Go to Walmart or JC Penney? -- AZ Photographer

{ Walmart vs. The Professional }

My friend Beth of Lizzie Bee Photography and I were discussing this very question tonight. I've been asked it by others a lot and want to answer it. Why should people pay more for a professional when they can just go to the mall or a local chain and get lots more for a lot less?

Here's confession time. I actually used to work at a mall photo shop a long time ago and know first hand that they don't always necessarily have the same experience as a professional photographer has. I will be honest--I was hired back then when I had zero experience. I had some raw talent, but had never shot before. That's not to say that the pictures are going to come out horrible, but they might not be to the same caliber as a professional's are.

The key is where people place their value on things. We all value something different in life. Some people value their home and are regularly buying things to spruce up their home. Others value their cars and you can always see them out on a weekend detailing the finest detail of their cars. Others value fine dining or are wine conneseurs....others, book or music lovers, jewelry lovers or technology gurus. We all have something that we lean more to than other things. We are hobbyists and all unique in what we love.

My value is on photography. It's what I'm passionate about. I would and still do sit for hours pouring over old photo albums of my grandparents, aunts and uncles who have passed away. At Christmastime, I want to pull out the albums and pour over old Christmas memories and how different things are now than they were back then. I want to see how much I've changed, my loved ones have changed, how life is segemented out and stored in each photo.

Because I value photography so deeply, my argument is for it's value. I wouldn't take my car to a mechanic or to someone who had never worked on a car before, even if they had some natural talent at it. I pay for the experience and level of expertise accordingly. Yet a lot of people will not place value on their memories and are okay with just okay. But do we underestimate the true value of photography and our photos? When a fire happens, the first thing that people usually grab after their family and pets is their photos. Why? They're just pieces of paper with images on them, right? Well, maybe to some. But for those that value them, they are like little time capsules that hold the treasures to the past. The are like little stepping stones that built the life of the holder. They are memories--cherished ones.

Well, what about the difference of cost? People often ask me, "Why should I go to you and not to JC Penny or Walmart? Because really, it's true--they're right. You can get so much more materially at mall or local places than you can with a professional photographer.

You get more materially, but less substantially.

You'll be getting a photographer with less experience and a product that's not quite as high in caliber. I make sure to hand touch and hand edit every one of my photos. I bring artistic touches to them. You're not going to get that with Wal Mart, JCPenny, Sears, Picture People or Portrait Innovations. Clients pay for the art that goes into a professional's work and not just the photos--the pieces of paper with images--themselves. They pay for the hours that go into making sure that photos are beautiful and capture your family in an artistic way. That's where your price comes from. And for those that value that artistic representation of them and their loved ones--those are the ones that hire me as a photographer.

I feel confident in charging my clients what I do because I believe in the price itself--I know the time that is invested into each one to make sure that they are artistic and lovely and I know the value I'm giving my clients in memories of their loved ones. The second a person passes away, the value of the photos I took multiply 100 fold.

We value memories so much--why *not* invest into them? ♥

I believe in their power and for those of you who value the preciousness of memories, I know that you do too.


  1. One other thing that a professional photographer can give you that a mall photographer can't is a scene. At the mall, you're given a choice of backgrounds and maybe props, but a professional will actually do it on location. It could be a field, a barn, a city block, etc. That's another reason why professionals are better and why people who cherish their memories will go to a professional.

    Just my 2 cents on a great post :)

  2. So, so very true!! A professional can add a variety that's more toucheable, more REAL. : ) Thanks for your input James!