Someone asked me the other day why people will want to come and have their portraits taken by me instead of at a chain studio somewhere (think JC Penney or Portrait Innovations). My first response was surprise, because I'm thinking "isn't it obvious, seeing my work?" But once over the initial prideful response, I realized that he had a very valid question. Why should someone pay a trained professional a good bit more than what they could probably spend in a chain?
Well, time for one thing. I spend much more time with my clients than is typical in a chain. Back when I was working at the Picture People, we had 20 minutes and nine frames of film. Granted, I got very good at getting excellent shots within those constraints, but it's not at all conducive to actually building a relationship with anyone. Getting to know a client takes time and patience, and I believe it's vital to a successful portrait session. I typically spend at least an hour working with everyone that walks in front of my camera. As a result, I am able to overcome shyness and nervousness to get shots that show each person's personality as well as the dynamic between family groups.
Another great reason to come to me instead of a chain is value. Yes, I will not argue that you are going to spend more money with me. But you aren't locked in to certain packages or poses. I do have a package deal that I do, but trading things out is still allowed, and you can mix and match your poses as much as you want. Or you can just buy things a la carte, or take advantage of my custom package which gives you a print credit to use however you see fit. The quality of both the images and the final product is much higher than you are going to get somewhere else.
A third reason is that all the money you spend with me is going straight back into the local economy. I shop at local stores. I buy food from local farmers. My photo lab is a locally owned and operated business. My child goes to a local school, and I support her PTA there. I try to buy as exclusively as possible from locally owned and operated businesses, because I want my dollars to stay local. I believe that it is important to all of us to have a strong community economy that is as self sufficient as possible, and I back that up with my dollars.
I'll stop there. If my words and the strength of my portfolio haven't convinced you yet, nothing will. But if you don't like my work, then I urge you to check out some other local folks before you head to the mall.