The problem with the photography industry (Part One)

I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d won a free photoshoot. I never win anything! To be honest, I couldn’t actually remember entering the competition but me forgetting something isn’t exactly unheard of. The prize was a photoshoot with free print and I was really excited to use this as an opportunity to get a photograph of me, my husband and our new baby together. I’m a photographer so I was happy that I could get photos of my new baby, but getting ones with me in them too? Not impossible, but certainly not easy. (The image at the top of this post was a selfie. I love it but it looks like Oliver’s got a giant hand and I can’t unsee it!!)

We headed to the photo studio and had our photoshoot which was fine. There were things I’d do differently, but hey, we all do things our own way. Things did, however, go downhill at the viewing session. We were shown our photographs on a slideshow and given a demonstration of the products that were available for purchase along with a lengthy explanation of how they were handmade by themselves. I’ve got to be honest, at this point I’m thinking I don’t really care because I’m just here for my freebie. I genuinely thought I’d won a prize. It turns out I’d just been naive – or was still very much in the new baby fog and hadn’t realised that everyone wins (duh). There was no competition. It was just an offer that they give everyone who registers their details with them in the hope that they’ll love their photos so much that they’ll buy more. OK fine. It’s a business strategy that clearly works for them. I can deal with that.

BUT what I CANNOT abide is the pressure selling that took place next. The photographer became very pushy about trying to sell my husband and I a multi-aperture frame (the ones which have several photographs mounted in one frame) to show off our photos. But the problem was that all of the photos were essentially the same, with minor variations on the way we had our hands or where we were looking. Why on earth would I want a frame with a bunch of photos that look the same?! Not to mention the fact that lots of them had easily-fixable problems that I’d pointed out on the day (I get self conscious like the best of us and I hate my hair being behind my ears in photos as they stick out and look massive). And I’m not going to lie, the cost of the frame came as a shock. I had come in to choose my free prize and was now being pressure sold a frame that I couldn’t afford just on a whim – and I really didn’t want. Despite my husband playing all innocent and non-confrontational (cheers for the support, love) I said we would very much like to upgrade to a larger print size of our chosen photo but we wouldn’t be buying anything else. All might have been fine at this point if the photographer hadn’t appeared to be so obviously put out. They were downright unprofessional and I left the studio feeling angry at how we’d just been treated.

It turns out this wasn’t an isolated incident. I know far too many people who have come out of circumstances like these having spent far more than they wanted – or could afford – and, in some cases, on photographs that they didn’t actually love. I’m just thankful I was strong enough to say no on that day.

This experience happened before the seeds of having my own portrait photography business had been sowed so, in a way, I am thankful to them for showing me how NOT to treat my clients.

So here’s a vow from me to you:

  • I will never use pressure selling tactics. Not only is it irresponsible to pressurise someone into spending money that they might not have, but it makes people feel uncomfortable – and if my clients are made to feel that way, I know that they’ll go and find someone else next time they need a photographer. So please trust me when I say I will do my utmost best to make sure you never feel pressured into buying.
  • My prices will always be transparent. I know if I’m looking for a product or service online, there’s nothing more frustrating that not being able to find pricing online. Forgetting for a moment the extra hassle involved in trying to find out how much a company charges, it just makes me wonder what they’ve got to hide? I want to make life as easy as possible for clients – and not wasting their time if they can’t afford my services is an important part of that. I never want clients to come to my studio for their viewing and feel shocked at the figures in front of them. My prices are clear for all to see on my website and I always ensure that clients are comfortable with them before we move forward with booking.
  • If you win a competition, you can take your prize and leave with no further expectations. Although a review is always appreciated ;-).

PS, if you’re self conscious about something, please let me know and I’ll do my best to avoid taking photos that accentuate the issue. Unfortunately if that happens to be your entire face and body, I’m not going to Photoshop Kelly Brook into your place. (Well.. I might if you pay me enough *jokes*.)

If you’d like to talk about anything discussed here or to book a session, please contact me.

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Fantastic experience! I took my family for a shoot with Katie & she was amazing from start to finish. My toddler was a terror and my daughter a diva but some how she worked her magic and we have beautiful digital photos, prints and a lovely big frame for the wall. We had a lovely viewing where we were able to select the photos we wanted, we couldn’t possibly chose from them so we bought them all! 🙂 She made us all feel very welcome and my children and even my husband enjoyed the experience. Highly recommend! I will be back for more photos as my family grow. Thank you Katie

Natalie