Snapshots vs Portraits: What Do Your Customers Really Want?
A while back on the MCP Facebook Wall, I asked photographers if they prefer portraits or snapshot for their own pictures. Many answered that they prefer portraits so they have works of art for their walls and pictures that are timeless. Surprisingly though, a much greater percentage of photographers picked snapshots. Granted, I am sure they meant quality snapshots, well thought out documentation of life events and happenings. But regardless, more photographers at that very moment of my survey on Facebook, said they would prefer have good snapshots of their families, parents, children, etc, than portraits.
So why did I ask? Why am I bring this up now? I was heading on vacation at that time, and wondered if I was the only one who feels torn between the two.
- Portraits: wanting my children to wear certain clothing and find the perfect setting to fill an artistic vision
- Snapshots: Just document life happening – whenever and wherever and in whatever
My twins are 8 and quickly approaching 9. I have very very little say in what they wear. To be honest, no real say. They have strong opinions on what they like and do not like to wear. So strike 1 for the portraits, I allowed them to pack whatever they desired, and though I would have loved more dresses and portrait-like things in their suitcases, that is not where they are at right now. As silly as clothing choices may seem, wearing sports team shirts or “Justice” clothing does not make any photo, no matter how planned out, look like a true portrait. But I know, for my sanity and for the well-being of my children, I need to let go. I am proud to say that I did.
Another thing that is hard to control, especially on vacation, is timing. If I want to document what is going on, and my kids just being kids, I cannot always pick time of day. I may need to shoot in full sun. I may only want to carry one lens. And gasp, it may occasionally be a zoom instead of my beloved prime lenses.
I decided that rather than call my photography “Snapshots” or “Portraits” that maybe I am a new and different category. Maybe some of you are too. How about:
“Life Happens Portraiture” or “Lifestyle Snapshot” or… You get the idea.
I am referring to images captured to document life as it happens, but through the eyes of someone keeping in mind lighting, composition, etc… Some call this a photojournalist approach. But I guess whether labeled or not, I am for it! I probably always have been, but resisted. I love the photos that document what my family was doing; I love how real they are. And while I do like an occasional portrait, for me, these photos are always more cherished.
Now for the more controversial part…
- Do you offer this style to your clients? Do you let them wear what they want to the shoot? Do you allow them to guide the locations – going to places that make for real life scenarios? And take really good pictures of them in their comfort zone?
- Do quality snapshots sell?
- Do you feel that a skilled photographer takes better snapshots than a person without those skills and experience?
- Are professional photographers no longer needed for this type of work?
- Does it actually take skill to take quality lifestyle snapshots?
- Do you feel you can differentiate talent in this market place?
And now for the BIG question: Do your customers want this style of pictures or do they prefer that more traditional studio setting or outdoor posed portrait? I assume just as with photographers, the answer is “some like one, some another, and some both…”
Just some questions to ponder. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section on my blog or on Facebook.