I completely understand your reasoning and your position. Now I’m going to give you a peek at the tog’s point of view.
You have to remember custom portrait photography is a luxury. Why? Because you are paying someone with an expertise, to give you a beautiful product. It takes time, money and effort to deliver that product to you. Consumers save for their portraiture, and they pay for it because they understand the value of it. Portrait artist prices are not high because they think they are all that, and they need a slap of reality from potential clients “You charge too much!”
When I figure out what I need to charge per session while photographing only part time, just to insure that I make minimum wage after all of my expenses of being in business, I need to charge $200 per session and/or make $200 in print sales per session, and average 2 sessions per week. This is just to make minimum wage mind you. This is just my newbee starting point. I could make more working at McDonalds.
This means I either need to not be full service (no editing/touch ups/CD only/no packaging less time spent with the client etc), and take on a higher volume to accommodate the average to lower income clients, or it means I need to market to them differently so they understand the value of what I do. The latter seems more feasible to me because it’s important to me to give a finished product and offer full service. but when you have literally thousands of new photographers that don’t understand the value of what they do, or possibly don’t care if they make money or if go in debt shooting because they do it all for their passion and their spouse or their other full time employment supports the family… How do you think I am going to do, regardless of how good I am?
What’s happening is these togs all want to cater to your demographic, and at the same time offer a custom portraiture experience and products. This is like a walk in only salon that charges only $10.00 a haircut, and gives their customers a full service salon experience. A shampoo, a blown dry style, coffee, tea, and spends at least an hour or more with you, to ensure you are completely satisfied with your new style and you know how to care for it at home. It won’t work. They will lose money, no matter how happy their customers are. They will be out of business very shortly. There is a constant cycle of fauxtogs and photogs alike that crop up and disappear with in a couple years, all because they dont understand the business end, and are marketed to so ferociously (there’s more money to be made off of new togs than there is actually being one) while being told exactly what they want to hear, by well meaning strangers, friends, family, and the not so well meaning people that sell to them. They are constantly told that they can eventually accomplish this impossible feat, no matter their skill level. Just price yourself according to your skill level, and keep buying and investing in your business and eventually you get there. As if it all happens by magic
If she wants to be a custom portrait photographer (which is the direction she is pointing towards). She first needs to learn good photography techniques, then learn editing, develop her style, hone in on her specialty/expertise until she gets reliable consistent results and she needs to charge what she needs to run her business successfully.
If she wants to be a high volume family tog. She needs to first learn how to accomplish good photography, quickly and efficiently, and reliably SOOC with minimal editing, and then charge what she needs to to make a profit.
There really is no middle ground here like we’d all like to think. With as saturated as this industry is, absolutely EVERY new tog has to learn first before going into business if they want a fighting chance, whatever the business model they use.