Senior Portraits and Inside Edition

posted in: Business | 9

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Inside Edition. They had read an article about me and my senior portraits in the Austin American Statesmen. What intrigued them was the fact that I’ve had clients pay as much as up to $5,000 for senior portraits in the past. Keep in mind, senior portraits are still not as widespread on the West Coast as it is here in Austin, TX. So I understood why this would be a story for them.

After much going back and forth, I received an email this morning that read:

Hey Dustin,

Thank you so much for your help with all this. We are still looking for someone that would be spending close to $4-5000. So, I don’t think we will be coming to the shoot this Saturday. But thanks again for your and McKenna’s family’s help. If any other clients come up in the near future….please let me know!

Best,

Inside Edition

This austin senior portrait was captured by Dustin Meyer Photography

Of course, I was a little perturbed. Not only was my senior portrait client excited about the prospect of being on national television. I was also disappointed that Inside Edition was clearly out to just run a story on the price of my portraits, not the value of them. So here was my reply:

Hi Inside Edition,

Thank you for informing me. However, it’s important that I mention something. Here’s my original quote from the Austin American Statesmen:

“Our average sale for a senior is $1,200 to $1,500, but some parents have spent up to $5,000,” Meyer said.

As I also mentioned over the phone, I can’t predict what our clients will spend after the initial purchase of a portrait package. Frankly, it’s also rude to contact my clients and ask them how much they plan on spending for one of our portrait sessions. Inside Edition has been so hung up on this price of $5,000 that you’re missing the bigger picture.

I know that senior portraits are still rather new on the west coast, however it’s been a long-running tradition in our area. Rather than sensationalizing how much people are willing to spend on for portraits of their graduate, your story should be about our services that help seniors realize the true beauty of their individuality in a society that pushes false beauty during a crucial changing point in their lives. We provide a service that boosts their confidence, gives them a personalized experience, and produces exceptional imagery. You can’t put a price on that.

When I teach other photographers at national conventions and photography workshops, I tell them the same thing every time: “There are those people who will only see the price and then there are those who will see the value in your services.”

That being said, there’s a missed opportunity here on your part to do a story on something bigger than just pricing. Celebrating the individual teenager in a time when there’s so much pressure to conform to an unattainable standard of beauty and popularity. We do something much bigger here than just getting our clients to spend their money. However, I understand that in broadcast media, it’s easier to tell a story about the numbers rather than the bigger picture.

We would love to work with you, but I understand where you’re coming from. The door is always open if you change your mind.

All the best,

Dustin Meyer

Needless to say, I was disappointed. However, I felt it was important to educate someone, especially a national news and entertainment show, the difference between price and value. So when it comes to pricing, how are you presenting your products and services. Do your customers only see the price, or have you shown them the value of you?

This post is sponsored by Kubota Image Tools.

POST YOUR QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS BELOW:

9 Responses

  1. Matthias Vohwinkel
    | Reply

    Dustin,

    Great response. Also realize that for every story aired by them 10 more get pursued, worked and abandoned in the process.

    Don’t take it personal even though it is a disappointment none the less.

  2. Matthias Vohwinkel
    | Reply

    I can’t even type my own website – :)

  3. Catherine Hall
    | Reply

    Hello Dustin, your response was incredible! Professional (despite being perturbed), informative, and crafted in a manner that will help the industry (vs cheapen it by emphasizing bottom price vs value). Well done.

    • dustinmeyer
      | Reply

      Thank you, Catherine. I really appreciate your point of view. I feel like it’s extremely important when a misunderstood concept has the potential to do so much damage due to short sightedness and misunderstanding. As a community, it’s so important that we continue to stand up for our passions and inspirations to bring an appreciation to our talents.

  4. Christie Stockstill
    | Reply

    What a thoughtful response.

    • dustinmeyer
      | Reply

      Thank you, Christie. I really appreciate that :)

  5. [...] don’t know what else to say, Rhonda, other than thank you from the bottom of my heart. I work hard to make our seniors feel exceptional, beautiful, and unique. Thank you so much [...]

  6. teri mason
    | Reply

    Great response, Dustin! Inside edition, though, is all about sensationalizing anyway, so they very possibly would have made the entire process seem tawdry and put a spin you or your client wouldn’t have liked. Just like the untoward comments on the statesman page. Keep doing great work, and helping keep the bar raised on portraits and service in our industry!

    • dustinmeyer
      | Reply

      Thank you, Teri. That means a lot coming from you :)

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