Or I’m at least ready for what often comes up this time of year.
Soon, I’ll likely be approached and asked to volunteer my time to photograph some kind of a customer appreciation event. Or to take pictures of kids with Santa.
But I’m sorry — it’s not my thing, and it’s actually a bit of a problematic request. So today I’d like to talk about why that is (and no, it’s not because I’m a holiday-hating monster.)
Understanding my reason requires taking a deeper dive into a general misunderstanding of professional photography. Put simply — it’s not my specialty, and I won’t do a good job.
1. It’s Not My Specialty
I am a real estate and architectural photographer. I exclusively photograph and work with real estate agents, designers and builders. I have a particular niche within my specialty for interiors and architecture. That IS my thing. That’s what I do.
This is common in the photography industry. Wedding photographers typically only shoot weddings and associated engagement sessions. They know how to pose a happy couple, wrangle a buzzed wedding party, and handle a Momzilla.
The same goes for other types of photographers, such as landscape, headshots, family portraits, food, pets, and so on. There are so many different specialties within photography, perhaps more so than many other industries. But there seems to be a misconception that a professional photographer has complete mastery of all things photography and is capable in any scenario requiring professional images.
While there are indeed some one-stop-shop, master of none photographers out there who can do it all, more often you’ll find photographers who specialize in a certain area, like me. Consider your own industry: you likely hire specialists for certain jobs, correct?
So while yes, I am a professional photographer and confident in my ability to use my camera, I can not do it all. You put a baby in front of me, and I’m at a loss. I don’t know what to do. It’s not my specialty. And keep in mind, I’m a mother!
2. I Don’t Have The Proper Equipment
Since portrait photography is not my specialty, I straight-up don’t have the proper equipment. Because of this, I won’t do the job justice and give you the images that you want.
To capture group portraits or pictures with Santa properly, I would have to invest in $1,000-worth of gear that I’m never going to use.
That’s because each of the specialties I mentioned above requires not just its own set of skills and expertise, but also the appropriate equipment for what they do. This goes well beyond the camera and lens, you also have to factor in lighting, props, staging, and post-editing technology/techniques.
So I’ll pose a counter-question: Is it fair to ask that I volunteer my time to do something that isn’t my specialty?
And herein lies an even bigger problem. Because the response is often “Oh, it doesn’t matter. We just need someone to take some pictures.”
3. It Devalues My Work & The Photography Industry As a Whole
Professional real estate photography is my business and livelihood. When I enter a partnership with a client, it is an exchange of services for pay. I’m hired to take beautiful, professional images to help with the sale of a listing.
Often, this leads to more opportunities to work together on other listings throughout the year because I’m good at what I do! This long-term relationship is always the goal but sometimes leads to these requests for volunteer sessions, because by investing in me long-term, it seems that there is a belief that I should do something for them.
This is frustrating because I am running a business, a business to support my family. Clients should not think they are doing me a favor by working with me. They are hiring me for the value of my work.
This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate my clients, I really do! That’s what my Loyalty Rewards program is for. I give my loyal real estate clients a free shoot and a place on my website as a Preferred Agent.
But asking me to do a photography session that isn’t within my realm is a bit disrespectful. Hopefully, this helps clear up why.
I’m sorry, that’s just not what I do. But here’s who I recommend.
Here’s What You Should Do
This holiday season, I humbly ask that you hire me for what I am, not what I am not. While holiday work parties and portraits with Santa are not my specialty, they are indeed for other photographers.
For example, scroll to the bottom of my agent referral page and you’ll find Brand Headshots & Events photographer, Samantha Levi. She’s the gal you should consider when planning those holiday parties! While she is not a Santa photographer, events ARE her specialty and I highly recommend you reach out to her.
Really, you don’t even want me near your Santa portraits. There are some amazing Santa photographers in Kansas City that come with a variety of incredible Santa’s and props.
Remember how I said I was a mother?
No matter how hard I try, my two-and-a-half-year-old son, Winslow, won’t sit still quite like a bay window or a set of french doors. He just won’t!
When I need great images of Winslow, I’ll leave it to the professionals and hire a child and family portrait photographer, like my dear friend Jesse Salter Photography. (Check out this stunner she did after Winslow’s second birthday!)
However, I would never ask her, “Hey, can you also take some pictures of the best features in my house?”
It’s just not their thing either.
For more referrals on the best pros for each part of your business, click here.