Navigating Your Photography Options | Danielle Jackson Hampton Roads Family Photographer

November 16, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Navigating Your Photography Options

A good choice today will lead to a better tomorrow. We each have the power to choose, use it wisely.

I recently had a client ask me an excellent question that caused me to pause and genuinely think through a few things.  She asked me, "What's the difference between hiring you and someone who charges a lot less for family pictures?" I thought right away that this is a great opportunity for me to share my thoughts.

This same question comes up in many facets of life. Daily, as consumers we consider the price, quality, and services that a company or a product offer and the importance or value that item can bring to our lives. After we decide on the trade-offs we either make a purchase or move on to the next thing we would like to invest in. A very simple and easily relatable comparison comes up when choosing a place to purchase a cup of coffee. 

At one end of the price spectrum, you can buy coffee grounds and make a cup of coffee at home. In the middle, you can purchase a cup of coffee from 7-11. At the far end of the spectrum, you can buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks. 

Brewing a cup of coffee at home is probably the least expensive option. So, why do people get coffee elsewhere? Here are a couple of things to think about with this option. First, there's the work. You have to do it yourself. I realize that making coffee isn't a huge chore but it does involve some effort. Second, the results can be inconsistent and are all your responsibility. Consistency is dependent on factors such as the quality of your coffee maker, the ingredients, and the process. If it's a great cup then you can pat yourself on the back and enjoy your coffee. If it's not... well, depending on how much that morning cup sets the mood for the rest of your day, you can just move on with your day, or lock yourself in your bedroom and sob. Third, the experience is in question. You might be able to snuggle on your couch or on the back porch and achieve coffee induced Zen. But, if you are like most of us, you are probably dodging kids, folding laundry, or answering email while you are "enjoying" your coffee. Finally, there are options to consider. Do you have the ingredients to make a double tall mocha with soy milk? Most of us have the basics but are not able to create many variations.

So, instead of DIY, you choose to grab a cup at 7-11. It's not terribly expensive and you don't have to make it yourself but what kind of experience are you in for? Can you go in every day and get that awesome cup, or does it sometimes taste a little over brewed? Sure you can grab a pack of gum or refill your tank, but that doesn't likely contribute to the enjoyment of your coffee. Finally, your options are limited. While, you can choose between Irish Cream or vanilla creamer, beyond that there isn't much choice. And coffee, well it's not really their specialty. It's more like something they also offer.

Alright, now consider Starbucks. You don't have to make it yourself, but you're going to pay. What do you get for this price? You get a trained staff, clean, well-maintained equipment, and a process that lets them deliver a consistently delicious product. You also get an environment where you can relax and be comfortable and take your time to enjoy the experience of a perfect cup of joe. Finally, you get a huge variety of options... I mean a chile mocha??? Really, who would have thought it would be so yummy? Starbucks! Coffee is their thing. They are master baristas. Most people I know like and trust the Starbucks brand and have positive things to say about their experiences and about their product.

Using this same thought process, let's take a look at three options for photography. Consider these three methods when doing photography: 1. DIY, 2. Discount Providers, 3. Professional Photography.

With DIY photography, you can save a lot of money. Phones have great cameras and many people buy decent cameras to take better photos of daily life. Unfortunately, you can't be in the photo if you are doing the work of taking it. Even if you manage to setup a shot with a timer, you have to rush into the group before the shutter releases. Even with some decent options, it can be difficult to maintain a good consistency. Most people don't have many of the tools, training, or experience required to take great pictures. A kit camera, like those you can buy from most electronics stores, is nice but don't offer much in the way of lens quality. Good editing software can be expensive and sometimes comes with an overwhelming number of options. And, let's talk about the experience. Photographing family can be a chore. Kids, spouses, and relatives aren't always the most cooperative bunch when you break out your camera. It can be difficult and stressful to pose everyone. Finally, what options do you have? You could probably take your best digital images to the local drug store or upload your images to an online service and get a variety of products created from them, but you won't get any help with that process. You won't get archival quality prints or any kind of guarantee. You won't get help designing a wall of coordinating images and the service of getting the images ordered and delivered directly to you.

Next, consider discount providers. By this, I mean those big-box photography studios like The Picture People or those inside of department stores. The big-box photography studios are cheaper by mass production and using low salary workers. With these studios, you get in, snap a couple of pics with a background and then get out. Photos are printed while you wait and you are pressured to make purchases. You get a few options as long as they don't deviate from pre-made packages. This process is fast and efficient but the product is consistently mediocre and not personalized. The experience is hurried and, as soon as you buy your photos, you're out the door with no follow-up. If you want pictures at the place where your husband proposed to you or an authentic joyful family moment ... well, good luck.

Finally, consider the professional photographer.  I consider this the individual who makes his or her living off photography. They've dedicated themselves to the craft and have a legitimate business. In this arena, there can be A LOT of variabilities. What you should expect to gain from hiring a professional photographer is a well-trained professional that consistently offers high-quality images, a great experience, and options for the end product that suit your needs. Finding your family photographer can take some work to discover and, in addition to prices, you should consider some other factors. Photographers who consistently offer very low prices can give you some advice and provide you with on-location photography and sometimes a myriad of other options. When an individual photographer offers very low prices, however, you should probably ask yourself why. They don't have the advantage of scale like a big-box provider so they are probably cutting corners elsewhere. They may be taking shortcuts with equipment, service, or experience. Before you buy that Groupon, take a look at their website (if they have one). Do they guarantee their products? How are their reviews (if any)? What do their other images look like? In general, there is probably a reason they are cheap. 

There are some promises I can make when you use Danielle Jackson Photography. I will use my creativity and experience to give you a unique and personalized session. I encourage you to read my reviews here to see just what people are saying. With each session there are genuine moments of joy that then become beautifully captured lifelong memories for your family. I also encourage all my clients to review my portfolio of work. You can see I have the tools, training, and the experience to capture your family in a way you will always enjoy seeing. I guarantee you will love your gallery, as we have taken the time to create these portraits together and they will be exactly what your heart desired to have captured. I also guarantee all of my final products as I require the same high standards of my vendors, as I do my own work and customer service. You see, photography is my thing. It's my joy and my passion to pursue. I want my clients to have the best experience and memories that I can possibly offer and it is my pleasure to do so.

If you value your photography experience and are interested in creating fun loving lasting family memories, give me a call and let's get your session booked! 

With Love,


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