Looking for a portrait photographer can be a daunting task. There are thousands of photographers out there, so picking just one can be a challenge. When searching for a photographer online, you may even come across the term boutique photographer. But what is a boutique photographer?
Generally, there are 2 types of portrait photographers: digital photographers and boutique photographers. Digital photographers charge a flat fee for their services; in return, the client receives a link to high-resolution digital images from their session. Boutique photographers, on the other hand, charge a session fee and give clients the opportunity to purchase beautiful artwork pieces featuring photos from their session. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between digital photographers and boutique photographers.
1. How the Client is Charged
One of the biggest differences between digital photographers and boutique photographers is how the client is charged. Digital photographers charge a flat fee for their time. Depending on the location and the photographer’s experience, hourly rates may vary. However, most people should expect to pay about $200 an hour when hiring a digital photographer. Some digital photographers may also charge additional fees for travel, extra people, and even having pets present during the photo session.
Boutique photographers, on the other hand, charge a flat fee for the photography session. Again, the session fee will vary depending on the photographer but you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 - $500 for a boutique photography session fee. A flat photo session fee is beneficial for several reasons. First, it gives the photographer the flexibility to spend more time with the client if needed. It also allows the photographer to travel wherever the client would like the session to take place, within reason of course. And finally, having a flat session fee encourages the client to bring additional friends, family members, and even pets to the session at no additional charge.
2. The Services Provided by the Photographer
Another differentiating factor between digital photographers and boutique photographers are the services offered. Digital photographers provide their photography services to clients, which usually also includes editing high-resolution digital files. Some digital file photographers put up an online gallery and give clients the option to purchase products online. In most cases, however, the business transaction is completed when the photographer hands over the digital files to the client.
Contrary to digital photographers, boutique photographers spend more time with their clients and hold their hand through the entire process. A boutique photographer provides their clients with additional services beyond the photography session and photo editing. They help the client with everything from planning the session and picking out poses to placing an order and hanging beautiful artwork up at a client’s home.
3. The Length of the Process
In addition to the factors mentioned above, another difference between digital and boutique photographers is the length of the process. When someone hires a digital photographer, they can expect a quick turnaround. Most digital photographers meet with their clients once on the day of the session. After the session is complete, they will follow up with the client to hand over the digital files. From start to finish, the entire process usually takes less than 2 weeks.
Boutique photographers, however, intentionally spend more time with their clients. They meet with the client on several occasions to plan the session, have the session, and help the client order beautiful artwork featuring the photos from their session. The entire process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.
4. How the Photography Session is Run
Another factor that separates digital photographers from boutique photographers is how the photography session is run. Digital photographers don’t plan a photography session with their clients. Instead, they first meet with the client on the day of the session. The photographer spends an hour or so with the client, taking several hundred pictures. Once time is up, the session is over and the photographer and client go their separate ways.
A boutique photography session is run very differently. At the time of the photo session, the photographer and client have already met in person at the planning session. They’ve developed a personal relationship and have had the opportunity to get to know each other better. During the planning session, the photographer went over poses and artwork with the client to develop a clear plan for the photography session. On the day of the session, the photographer takes photos of the client in the poses already picked out. This helps guide the photographer during the session so time isn’t wasted taking pictures that the client won’t want or use. Because boutique photographers charge a flat fee, they have the flexibility to spend as much time with the client as needed in order to get the photos required to create the artwork.
5. What Happens to the High-Resolution Digital Files
And finally, the biggest difference between digital photographers and boutique photographers is what happens to the high-resolution digital files. Digital photographers take photos and edit the high-resolution digital files. Once editing is complete, the photographer hands over the digital files to the client.
Boutique photographers know they aren’t serving their clients if they provide them with high-resolution digital files. Therefore, they don’t give them to the client. Instead, they hold the client’s hand through every step of the process. They present the client with the digital images from their session and allow the client to pick out the images they’d like to order. Once the client places the order, the photographer may then provide the client with low-resolution files of all images purchased for the client to share on social media. This helps guide the client into picking out what they want to order so they aren’t stuck with hundreds of digital files on their computer that never get dealt with.
Should You Hire a Boutique Photographer?
To summarize, there are many differences between digital photographers and boutique photographers. The biggest differentiating factor is what happens to the high-resolution digital files from the photo session. Digital photographers hand the high-resolution images over to the client, while boutique photographers do not. A boutique photographer’s main goal is to serve the client and they know that if they hand over the digital files they aren’t serving them. Instead, they hold their client's hand and walk them through every step of the process. They help the client with everything from planning the session to ordering beautiful artwork featuring images from the photo session.
If you’re looking to hire a photographer, you might be wondering which type of photographer is right for you. Do you want to have an unexciting experience and receive digital files that you’re responsible for turning into beautiful artwork? Or do you want to have a one-of-a-kind experience and have someone hold your hand through every step of the process?
If you answered yes to the second question, then you’re probably interested in hiring a boutique photographer. As a Colorado boutique portrait photographer myself, my mission is to take the photos from your photography session and turn them into beautiful pieces of artwork that you can cherish forever. For more information about the services I offer, click the button below to set up your complimentary photography consultation.