Q: What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

A: 1. What are included in your packages and what cost extra? Will all of these be detailed in the contract?

2. What are your lead times and is this included in the contract? Is there an extra fee to have it rushed, if at all possible?

3. Can you refer other vendors (videographers, DJs, coordinators, florists, venues)?

4. What happens in the event that you can't make it? Do you have backup personnel? Are they as competent as you and would this be defined in detail in the contract?

5. What is your refund policy? How early can I cancel to get the full refund?

6. Would you be performing the service yourself? Can you handle it all by yourself?

Q:If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A: 1. You can ask for freebies like a few minutes of extended coverage without charge.

2. Make sure you are clear about the refund/cancellation policy before making the deposit.

3. Make sure you are clear about the lead times and that it doesn't take too long before you get the finished product.

4. We welcome any and all input the client can give us. You can be very specific and even give us sample photos so we have a clear grasp of your preferred style and basically what you want and what you're going for. Tell us about angles you're not too comfortable with. This is true for any photographer who genuinely cares about producing excellent documentation of an event.

Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A: Pick the person you feel most comfortable with. Weddings are said to be one of the most stressful events in one's life but it doesn't have to be. Vendors are "more or less" capable of doing the same thing. What it boils down to is going with someone you can trust and feel comfortable with. On the day of your wedding, you'll be confident that that person is in charge and is on top of things. One less thing to worry about. Of course, you also have to consider your budget or what you are willing to spend. I assure you though that whatever your budget is, there is an outstanding photographer out there who's a perfect match for you and your needs.

Q: Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A: I am a purple cow. A purple what? In a pasture, a purple cow would stand out from the rest, you would immediately notice it. A purple cow garners attention. The term was popularized by author Seth Godin in his book, Purple Cow, that lists ideas on presenting yourself to clients in a more remarkable way, thus grabbing their attention and separating yourself from others in your field.

I stand out among the vast sea of photographers in the bay area and I get picked by my clients because of quality plus I offer more within a price range that we could all agree is reasonable. Let's say for example, for less than $1.5K, you can get a full day's coverage, rights to the photos, 3 disc copies (original, edited in color AND edited black & white), an online gallery and photo account, a 5x7 photo book (magazine-style and easy to carry around), a photo storybook slideshow on YouTube (to share with friends and family) and photos on our Facebook fan page where you'll have the opportunity to tag up the photos, that way your guests can laugh and enjoy the memories the night created. All this?! Seriously?, you may ask. Yes, seriously.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I still get giddy with excitement with every new event I'm working on. I get pumped up brainstorming with couples on how we can make their day extra special. I treat you not as a business connection but as a friend. I am always thankful for you allowing me, someone you have never met before, to be a part of your special day.

It all boils down to this. I love what I do! From meeting my clients, brainstorming for new ideas, preparing my gear the night before, posing my subjects, finding the 'in-between' moments, the interesting conversations I have with you, your friends and family, the atmosphere of happy celebration, updating my website and portfolio with new ideas and photos, making props, editing photos, creating photo books, receiving heart warming testimonials from you to writing thank you cards.

Q: How did you decide to get in your line of work?

A: It started with taking photos for leisure and sanity. Documenting moments of my life with friends and family. Enthusiasm turned to passion and passion led to a discovery of what makes me truly happy. When you love something, it doesn't take a lot of effort to be good at it. I enjoy taking images and making them better with some basic post processing. When you do good work, people will notice. Not yet pro, friends and family would comment on how my images were better than those of the photographer they hired. In 2009, I mustered enough guts to post an ad as a wedding photographer. I was paid $600 for a 6 hour wedding if I remember correctly and the rest as they say is history.

Q: What are your most common types of jobs?

A: Weddings. And I love them. I haven't tired of it yet as each event is unique and different from the next. Even if I do it at a familiar venue. I do a lot of San Francisco City Hall weddings on weekdays and it's never the same. I may take them to the same familiar spots with good lighting and background but the shoot is as diverse as the couples I work with. Some may take more directions with posing and words of comfort for confidence and some just know what to do. I basically just point to where I want them to stand and they would come up with various angles and poses even I didn't think of. It's the people who makes it different each time.

Q: What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?

A: It is not as simple as clicking a camera. You're basically hiring us for our creative eye, our ability to connect with you, take care of you and make you feel as comfortable as possible so you would look your most fabulous on your special day. Years from now, you can look back to how happy that day was and how radiant you looked. Another thing, our per hour or per project rates may seem expensive but our work doesn't end when we leave your event. It actually just kind of started. Think of it this way, when we're taking photos at your wedding or your party or your cousin's bar mitzvah, we're like collecting our raw material and we go home and do the tedious work. Some people think being a photographer is a glamorous job and all fun. Getting paid hundreds or thousands of dollars taking pictures here and there. Ummm, not exactly. Stretch those $$$ into hours, days, even weeks of post processing, poring over every detail on every photo to come up with a tight set to present to you.

Q: What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?

A: First and foremost, make sure you have the time, date and venue all squared away before you book a photographer. You cannot move in this direction with a tentative time, date and venue. Make sure you have a clear idea of how much you are willing to spend. Have a draft of your program and make sure you don't have the photographer start too early or stay too late. You can only have so much time spent on covering bridal preparations and people dancing towards the end of the night. Make sure though that they have ample time to cover all the important parts of the event. A great photo coverage looks much like a storybook from beginning to end.

Q: If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?

A: Be honest with yourself. You are your worst and best critic and you can use that to your advantage. Just because you bought a DSLR last year and have noticed you now come up with "decent" photos compared with your old compact camera doesn't cut it. It is supposed to produce better images. Do you know anything about post processing? Did you just start learning it or are you pretty much good at it? Do you know how to convert photos to 300dpi? Do you batch edit or pore through details of each photo? Take a real good look at your work. Then take a good look at the work of other photographers. Compare. If you feel confident about your work and feel you have the chops for it, go ahead, put yourself out there and hustle. Just offer yourself to the world and start learning from experience. You don't have to start by working for free. I didn't and I was self taught. I started two years and 8 months ago and I've covered about 90 events since. If you already got the talent in the bag, a few things to consider:

- Be genuine. Be straight up with potential clients and transparent with your skills and portfolio. If you were confident enough to put yourself out there, your portfolio should speak for itself. No need to make up references to build trust with your clients. People aren't stupid. They can smell a flake from miles away.

- Be nice. You don't have to be a kiss ass. Just be nice and pleasant. 70% of the reason a client will hire you is based on how you connect with them. 15% is based on their budget and the rest is based on your work.

- Be consistent in making yourself better. This doesn't only involve being up to date with the latest gear (in fact, this isn't even on top of your priorities) but more of learning to develop good rapport with your clients and other vendors, learning flexibility and being calmly in control during seemingly stressful events, honing your creative skills with angles, poses, little details and post processing and regularly evaluating your progress and readjusting your packages and pricing.

Q: What is your greatest strength?

A: My greatest strength is my passion. I work ridiculous amounts of time and my thoughts are constantly consumed with ideas, projects, things that revolve around what I do. The best thing is it doesn't seem like work and it's not stressful nor does it drive me crazy since I enjoy every moment of it. I love what I do and this naturally drives me to be better at it. At the end of every year I evaluate my work and adjust my rates with a level of confidence that I deserve it. I've even come across clients who tell me I should charge more (but after their event! =)). Nothing can go wrong if you live and breathe your passion. Things only get better and better.

Q: If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details.

A: I actually don't. I have 4 simple hour based packages and they all include:

- Unlimited digital photos (disc of all original photos will be provided).

- Post processing using Photoshop (disc of all edited photos will be provided in color AND black & white).

- Online gallery to share with friends & family.

- Online photo account for ordering prints directly.

- Online product account for ordering souvenirs with wedding prints directly.

- Rights to photos.

- Storybook photo slideshow with background music on DVD and uploaded on YouTube to share with friends and family.

- Posting of the edited images on our Facebook fan page. You’ll have the opportunity to tag up the photos, that way you and your guests can enjoy the memories you created.

- Event article with selected photos featured in blog.

- Souvenir 5" x 7" magazine-style paperback pocket photo book.

- Souvenir Marge Maghoney Photography fridge magnet for reference for future events.

1 hour - $200

4 hours - $650

6 hours - $950

8 hours - $1,250

Extra hour - $150

If they only want basic photo coverage, no editing and all the raw images straight to a disc, it would be $100 per hour.

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