What is a Good Photo Shoot, Anyway?

I made a mistake. It was a high-paying shoot, at least, for my employer’s business. I’m too much of a perfectionist, perhaps, but it was a shoot I’m not so happy about.

A couple, maybe engaged, maybe together for a long time. Fairly reserved people, they didn’t have an appointment but managed to catch me at a slow time — even still, having no “mental prep” throws me off — and they were in a hurry.

An Aside: Rudeness and Frustration

Not to mention every drop-in looking for document photos, and I should be at there beck and call regardless of whether I have other customers. They stew and fret in the seats we foolishely provide, glaring impatiently into the studio room, upsetting my clients. What would I do if I owned the place? Raise prices on ID photos. Emblazon them at the front of the store with a glowing neon statement: “Yes, they are very expensive here,” and get rid of the waiting chairs.

They were very pleasant to work with, but I don’t think the shoot was worth what they paid. Sure, digital copies aren’t cheap anywhere: if a photographer is giving everything away, they should ask for everything in return. We only really got one angle, though. I mean, we took many different poses, from a few different angles, but we didn’t get past the “money shot.”

An Aside: The Money Shot

“Smile. Make it real. Look at the camera, all at once. *Snap* No one blinked? Good.” Kah-ching!

That’s only really good for a $20 – $30 single pose pack. Well, in my opinion. I feel like I’m going to cause an argument every time I suggest that the subject doesn’t have to be staring directly into the camera to make it a good photo. That thought is so limiting! People who come every month and pay for multiple poses and only want the money shot: I want to slap them. Some people just want the 3/4 headshot of their grandchild in an 8×10 of every milestone. Fine, I get that, but when I think “Full, Professional Photo Shoot” I imagine a more full range of expressions and interactions and eye directions and actual emotions to go home with, not a bag full of headshots from the exact same day.

“See all these different photos in which your faces all look the same? Really, just pick your favourite one and get a load of sizes, it’s less expensive.”

If you are there for business photos, that’s a different story. Something to update your Linked In profile is going to have a very specific look, and it can take working through multiple poses before we get one that is right. Though, often in that sense, one is all you need.

I feel like I’m judging my clients, that feels all wrong. Thing is, I don’t like selling work that I’m not happy with, and I’m not happy with a lot of my work. Perfectionism or an intermediate’s lack of confidence. Who knows.

I feel these people were not looking at the industry of photography accurately, and therefore spent money they should not have. In a more private environment, a more carefully planned event and with less ticking clocks we may have done better. If I had all the time in the world for them we may have reached a few intimate levels, I may have photographed real interaction between the two of them. They wouldn’t be going home with a mundane collection of “money shots.” 
That’s just my opinion, that’s just my style. I hope they’re happy with what they got, I don’t mean to poop on their parade.

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