Frequently Asked Questions
In no particular order.
1. How much experience do you have?
I have been shooting since I was about ten years old on 110 cameras, in high school I learned to shoot on a 35 MM camera. Professionally I accepted my first paid shoot in 1996, a boudoir shoot for the wife of a friend deploying overseas with the Army. I earned $50 and a six pack of beer for a one hour session on a Canon AE1 35 MM film camera I bought at a yard sale.
2. What equipment do you use?
I shoot exclusively on Canon equipment with the exception of one Sigma lens I happen to love. Currently I use a Canon 7D, I prefer it over the more expensive 5D Mark III due to its faster shutter speed, high pixel count, and versatility in shooting. Off of the camera I use Wescott, Rogue, and Magmod products whenever possible, their quality has proven them unparalleled in every aspect.
3. Why is photography so expensive?
While I am hardly a spokesman for the entire industry as a general rule it comes down to cost, marketing, and quality. Camera equipment is terribly expensive, a quality camera can cost upwards of $1200, a high quality lens anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand, a computer with software for editing several thousand more. Each shoot shortens the life of equipment that costs increasingly more to replace. Marketing, finding customers, can cost from little to nothing for a hobbyist to hundreds of dollars each month. I routinely get approached to run ads on sites that charge from $120 for six months to $300-$500 per month. Quality photos require a combination of good photography equipment, a good computer and software for post processing (editing), and strong skills and experience shooting in different situations. The combined cost to a photographer can be mind boggling when you look at a typical shoot. Typically, for a photographer to shoot can cost between $25 and $200 per hour depending whether they are shooting on location or in studio, their equipment list, and their overhead such as the cost of the studio they shoot in.
4. Do you require a deposit and if so how much?
Yes deposits are required, for weddings it is half; however for smaller shoots (less than $200) I typically will accept $50 or waive the deposit all together. A shoot is not considered booked until a deposit is received or specifically waived; holds will be entered for a few days in most situations to allow time for payment to be received. The balance is due prior to shooting beginning on the day of the shoot. Deposits are non-refundable and are outlined in our contract that you’re free to review at www.matthewchambersphotography.com/contract.pdf before you book.
5. Why are your prices so much lower than many of the other offers I get?
I have done photography for some 20 years. I also work a full time job in criminal justice which I have for nearly 16 years. I am equally proud of both. Since I don't rely solely on my income from photography for my survival, don't have a brick and mortar studio to pay rent on, and limit my marketing costs to word of mouth, Craigslist, and a few select sites, I have the ability to charge less due to having less overhead costs. I prefer to invest my income smartly into quality equipment requiring less replacement and thus lower long term costs. In short I keep my costs low, allowing me to pass my savings on to you.
6. Why don't many of your packages include prints, or photo books?
When you pay for a photo book you’re paying for a photographer or his/her staff to organize your photos and order the book, that costs manpower hours and printing as well as shipping costs. Every package I shoot includes a CD/DVD of your original and edited images which allows you to create photo books and prints wherever you choose. This allows you to do prints and photo books at a fraction of the cost by using local labs, and doing the organizing yourself. That being said, I do offer print ordering off my site with a limited markup, print sales merely fund the cost of the site, thus 8X10 images are around $10 each versus $20 - $159 apiece charged by some photographers. (That is not a misprint, I can show you where some photographers charge $159 for one 8x10 print.) Photo books are available with prices from $50 to $350 depending on the type of book, leather bound books are the most expensive, with paperback books being the least.
7. Do you travel?
Yes, I travel anywhere, however travel fees (typically the cost of gas, lodging if needed, and $10 per meal) may apply. I have shot from Wyoming to the Dakotas and Louisiana in just the past 5 years, however typically shoot in the central Texas area, Victoria, Corpus Christi, and along the Highway 35 corridor.
8. Do you have a specialty?
I shoot portraits of any kind from weddings, family, individual, modeling, events, and boudoir particularly well. I also shoot real estate, product photography, and animals though I have less experience in those areas. I do offer discounts on areas I cannot say I have shot routinely for more than 10 years.
9. Are there any restrictions on what you will shoot?
A rare question overall, but fair. I do have some very limited restrictions on sessions. I will not shoot anything that is knowingly illegal, anything that advocates violence against anyone, or anything that promotes hate of any kind. I pride myself on being a diverse person and would rather not have your business than degrade the name of my business by accepting shoots that violate my personal creed. Matthew Chambers Photography does not discriminate based on age, religion, sex, race, national origin, or sexual orientation. If you’re in doubt, just ask.
10. Are you LGBT friendly?
Yes, I also happen to be straight friendly, I really don't care, and don’t see where any reputable photographer should.
11. Do you negotiate your prices or accept barter?
Yes, I will negotiate prices so long as I can make a profit and will consider barter on a case by case basis.
12. Do you shoot men’s Boudoir sessions?
Yes, there are few samples of it because most men don’t want their boudoir sessions shared regardless how good they are.
13. Do you shoot on film?
In 2006 we began shooting digital as an option; in 2010 it became our sole form. If you require film shooting it can be arranged with enough notice.
14. Can I bring a friend or escort to my shoot?
Yes, you can bring the entire UT football team if you like, so long as they respect my equipment and don't make you uncomfortable.
15. Do you offer discounts for the military? (Updated March 2017)
Yes, the same discount I give for law enforcement or first responders.
***Update*** After some confusion as to what constitutes military (the Peace Corps is not the same as the Marine Corp), law enforcement, and first responders are and what discounts are I am amending this for clarity.
Military is any military branch retired or current, first responders include police, parole, corrections, and probation officers, jailers, deputies, EMS, firefighters or substantially similar.
As the father of a new Marine, and as the son and grandson of service members as well as a proud member of the criminal justice community for nearly two decades I deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by these amazing individuals and their families. I keep my prices as low as I can so I do not offer a percentage discount, discounts are in the form of additional edits, or extra copies of your CD. I keep my prices reasonable and prefer to thank you for your service with additional services at no cost.
Here is my system:
Portrait, maternity, bridal, and boudoir sessions - 5 additional edits for every two hours of service ($25 to $35 value).
Weddings, second set of your CD/DVD's ($20 to $100 value depending on wedding size).
Budget saver packages no discount,
Touched up event photography 2nd set of your CD/DVD's.
If you have a request you are welcome to ask.
16. Where are your prices?
I truly prefer to custom bid each opportunity. I have a standard session price list I use, however many shoots are outside of my normal area and the cost of hotels local to the venue vary, if I have family in the area I can stay with, and the current cost of gas, and the distance being traveled all factor into the cost of a shoot. If I can lower the travel cost in any way I do, my package prices can also be modified to meet budgets. I would hate for someone to think I am out of their price range rather than asking! I am rarely underbid by a reputable photographer, if it happens call me, I'm not above undercutting my competition or at least making them work at a loss. That being said my basic price list is at www.matthewchambersphotography.com/pricing.pdf