What it Means to be a Full-Service Photographer

Sweet Snaps Photography - Northern Indiana Cake Smash Photographer.jpg

In today’s family portrait photography market, clients typically have to decide between two options. Do you choose A.) a “shoot-and-burn” photographer or B.) a full-service photographer. If you don’t know the difference (or if you never knew there was an option), don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Allow me to explain:

“Shoot-and-Burn” Photographer

The term “shoot-and-burn” photographer typically refers to new photographers or hobbyist photographers that charge one set session fee and deliver the minimally edited digital files from the session. The playful term initially derived from the ease at which a photographer could capture the images then go home and burn them to a disk. Although we have moved beyond discs into thumb drives, digital sharing, and other photo storage solutions, the terminology has not wavered.

Although this genre of photographer gets a semi-bad reputation, the truth of the matter is that they are forced to remain cost-competitive, which typically does not pay them nearly enough for their editing and photography talents. Because of this, they usually shoot their images in JPEG format, which does not allow them full editing capabilities.

These photographers typically do not spend a significant amount of time with the client and prefer to deliver the images without much more communication (except to book another session).

“Shoot-and-burn” photographers do just that; they take the images and deliver the files.

Full-Service Photographer

A full-service photographer takes a much more customer-centered approach to their business. A full-service photographer aims to offer a luxury photography experience. They believe in excellent customer service, educating their clients on their options, fulfilling their needs, and delivering beautiful finished products, rather than images on a disk.

The process you can expect from a high-quality family portrait photographer looks like this:

  1. There is a pre-session meeting to discuss the wants and needs of the upcoming session;

  2. There is a closet or wardrobe for you to borrow from so you do not need to find an outfit;

  3. Images are in RAW format (huge, uncompressed files that require processing);

  4. Images are transferred to editing software;

  5. Photographer edits the image to make it “pop,” which may include changes in exposure, contrast, temperature, fill, highlights/shadows, clarity, sharpness, vibrancy, saturation, and calibration! (This step often takes up to 3 times longer than the actual shoot, but is the pillar of wall-worthy images.)

  6. Images are displayed for the full enjoyment of the client;

  7. Photographer assists the client in brainstorming and creating framed final products, as well as the edited digital files from the session.

Experience the Difference

When your family is young and just beginning, you want to capture every moment, from the baby bump to the birth and through graduation. New parents often do not have the time to go back through the images to edit and create frames or photo books. All too often, the disks sit in a drawer for years, and when it comes time to finally complete that project, the files are corrupt.

Your photo session should be more than just a check on your long “to-do” list. It should be an experience you should look forward to, filled with laughter and excitement. It should be with a photographer you can trust to capture the emotions and personalities and also deliver high-quality heirloom masterpieces that will last a lifetime. Experience the difference for yourself by contacting Northwest Indiana’s premier full-service family photographer, Sweet Snaps Photography.


Shutter Magazine, Ten2Ten Photography