Custom Photography Vs Chain Studios | Tara Starr Photography

February 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I have had several discussions lately on this topic.  What is custom photography?  And of course pricing always comes into the discussion.  First, let me say that  before I started doing this I had NO CLUE what went into running a portrait business.  None.  And why would I have?  I don't know what goes into running most businesses and unless you are doing the work yourself you just have no clue.  Zero.  Even if you think you do, you don't.  I do however know exactly what goes into running my portrait business now after learning every single thing the hard way.  But finally, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears I have a good idea of what needs to be done if you want to be in business and STAY in business.

Custom photography- Now, I am not bashing the high volume chain studios.  There is something for everyone and you get what you pay for.  MY kids pictures were taken at them when they were little!  

Think of it like this, there is McDonalds and there is that fancy stake house that takes months to get reservations.  There are purses you buy at Target and there  are COACH bags.  There is Supercuts and there is that stylist on Newbury Street who books a year in advance.  People spend money on the things that they value.  They save (or charge) what they value and want.  I mean everyone has $500 cell phone these days.  They don't NEED it, they want it.  10 year olds have them.  (And you have to replace them every 2 years or so.)

So with the bigger price tag, you get more.  The service, atmosphere, 1 on 1 attention is what you should be getting when you pay more right?  A higher quality item and a better experience.  I mean no one is grabbing lunch at BK and raving about the experience.  But they aren't going out of business anytime soon right?  Because you got what you paid for, what you expected.  

So back to this pertaining to custom photography.  If you want a custom experience from start to finish you shouldn't expect that at Target Portrait studios.  You should expect cute snapshots of your kids, an in and out visit where they shoot, you pick and they print them.  Boom done.  Easy and cheap, or not so easy and maybe your kids was screaming and it was 500000 degrees in there and it was rush rush rush and you hop you wound up with something.  That sounds more like my experiences there anyway.  But it was what I paid for. 

So compare that to a custom portrait session.  Step one, you talk to the portrait artist on the phone or even go to an in person consultation.  You really get to know their personality before you are in front of their camera.  You plan every single part of the session.  The portrait artist should know exatly what you want to end up with in the end.  Maybe a beautiful album, or a gallery wall to fill a spot in your home.  You plan out gifts for other family members.  You plan the wardrobe and the shooting location.  You go back and forth on emails sending pictures of the outfits you have been trying to finalize.  Or the portrait artist might even supply the perfect clothes for you, so they make time for you to come by and try stuff on.

Then the day of the session comes.  You spend as much time as needed to get everything done that you want.  There is no rush, no one is coming in after you after 20 minutes and you get whatever you get, this session is custmm just for you!  After the session the portrait artist goes to work exporting, uploading, hand editing each image for your gallery.  This could be up to 25 hours of work just editing alone.  Then creating a slideshow for you, uploading them to a final gallery.  Then there is a scheduled reveal session.  You go to their studio or they travel to your home and set up a beautiful slideshow.  Tears are almost always shed.  You see your beautiful family in a way you might not ever have seen them before, or certainly in a way you don't often see each other.  Then time is spent creating a custom art collection for you to have forever and then be passed down for generations.  Not cheap prints that will yellow or fade in 10 years, I know because sadly mine have.  These are archival quality art pieces for your walls.  Finished items that will be hand delivered to you by the portrait artist.  Possibly even hung up/installed by them as well (I don't do this as I don't trust myself with a hammer)   So do you see the difference?  Someone at one of those inexpensive chains is not putting in even close to the man hours or care that your custom portrait artist did, not to mention the training and talent you are also getting.


This is honestly just the tip of the iceberg of why custom photography is different and considered a luxury service.  One that should be priced as such.  I could really go on and on about it.  But this gives you a little idea, something you may not have thought about before.  I know I hadn't.  

Tara Starr Photography is a custom organic portrait artist specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, child and family photography.  

Contact us today to start planning your custom portrait session or to learn about our Baby's First Year Portrait Collective .  




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