Frequently Asked Questions
What is your typical process for working with a new client?
Every client and situation is unique. That is especially true for outdoor, on location, concept shoots, shoots with multiple individuals, or other photo shoots where any number of elements are outside of our full control. However, all my photo shoots have the following characteristics:
1. They have a comprehensive plan. There will be advance consensus on what we are going to do, where and when we are going to do it, and the expected or hoped for results from our activities. To assist with that, depending on the nature of the shoot, I have developed various lists with a number of recommendations for clients including suggested wardrobe, accessories to wear (or not), personal grooming in advance of the shoot, and more.
2. They have a lot of photo activity. We are going to take a lot of photos, I repeat, a lot… as many as we want, need, have time for, the energy for, or the light for… and we are going to have a ton of fun doing it!
3. They have a lot of photo results. A typical individual portrait shoot will generate no less than 10, and as many as 50 or more, final edited and touched up photos depending on how many wardrobe and backdrop changes we make.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your services?
I have a range of fees depending on the nature of the shoot and whether you come to me or I come to you. All my pricing is fixed fee and unless there are unique circumstances or expenses, it includes all travel, set up, photo shoot, break down, photo edits, touch up, and digital delivery, including print ready formats if needed. There are no hidden costs or up sells. My clients and prospective clients have informed me that my pricing is more than reasonable and highly competitive. I also routinely discount from those fees, subject to a model release form, that allows me use of the final photos, generally for display on my website.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I've taken lots of photos in many different styles and circumstances and that is increasing all the time. Having said that, my portfolio has a predominant number of business portraits, including individuals, groups and events, which is not surprising as I have a rather large number of business contacts and all of my business to-date has been from referrals from those sources. Frankly, that's one of the reasons I joined Thumbtack, to broaden my experience and my portfolio to include other types of shoots. I'm not interested in nude, boudoir or wedding photography… as my wife would not approve of the first two, and I don't think I could handle all the drama associated with the third, but otherwise I'd love to take on your project!
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have been an avid and active student of photography for many many years, initially with 35mm cameras and film, and I still am. Reading books, viewing other artists' works, watching tutorials, attending workshops, and experimenting with those styles and techniques is what I do on a daily basis. Admittedly, my formal education resulted in an accounting degree from the University of North Texas. I also completed some post graduate management studies at Southern Methodist University. I have been the CEO, COO, and CFO of publicly traded, privately held, and non-profit organizations. But in my defense (Hah!), I have also been a performing musician and majored at various times in art, music, history, philosophy, and psychology. Frankly, not since my first job in public accounting has anyone hired me for my college degree, they hired me for what I've accomplished. I approach my photography the same way I approached all my efforts in the corporate world: plan it thoroughly, do it right, and do it well!
How did you get started doing this type of work?
A business associate and I were discussing "millennials" during a coffee meeting a number of years ago. Her stated (and subjective) complaint was that millennials don't take ownership and were generally averse to providing leadership and direction. Her example was a young photographer who, during the concept and planning stages for their corporate photo shoot, responded to her ideas with comments like, "sure," "okay," and, "whatever" when in fact she wanted those ideas to come from him.
I informed her that photography was a long-time hobby of mine and I showed her samples of my work to which she said, "Oh, that's exactly what we want! Do you want to propose on our photo shoot?" I politely laughed…
Two days later I called her and asked, "When do you want to start?"
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
This may sound trite but the project I am routinely "most fond of" is the project I am currently working on. As I type, it is a vintage clothing shoot that involves no less than 6 models, male and female, and two entirely different backdrops with the models moving between them simultaneously. I'm bringing in a second shooter and a make-up artist and have already spent the last two days on Craigslist purchasing furniture and other props ca. 1940's for the shoot. I suspect when it's all over I will have spent at least a week on the total effort, and I know for a fact I will lose money on this one, BUT it will be a lot of fun and one heck of a shoot for the portfolio!
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a photographer?
I heard this from another photographer and I think he was dead on solid perfect here: Don't just look at the one photo the photographer submits to you, or the one photo you see on their website, look at the whole project.
On my website I have a portfolio section entitled "Session Samples" which includes multiple images that we took during the session. I think you get a much better idea of the results you can expect by viewing all of them, and not just "the best" one.
What questions should clients think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I think prospective clients should spend some time thinking about the end results they want and perhaps come up with examples to demonstrate those desires to the photographer in advance of the shoot. Otherwise, you get whatever we have in mind (which may be great mind you!).
I was never more horrified (as in confused and scared to death) than the time a female client showed up at my door, with a trunk full of clothes and a fist full of magazine photos, depicting a myriad number of formal and casual portrait and full body poses she wanted, indoors and outdoors, with multiple backdrops and backgrounds, for a photo shoot that I had thought was only going to be a handful of business headshots.
We spent the entire afternoon working on that project and those photos ultimately turned out great, but if she hadn't done her homework I suspect it would have been a very frustrating experience for both of us, and it likely would not have turned out the way she wanted!