Are there any NYC photographers who will do family portraits for a reasonable price?
October 23, 2009 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I don't know why photographers' websites are all so terrible, but I am having difficulty looking for a good photographer in New York City who will display a general idea of rates. I want to get some family portraits done (6 adults, one baby), and I want something better than Sears, but something less than $1,000.

Google and aren't providing me too many options - it seems most want to do just headshots or weddings. I give up on websites that make me click through several pages without letting me easily find contact info or rates.

I would love any specific recommendations for photographers who will do family portraits in New York?

posted by eggplantia5 to Shopping (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure that any art student with a good camera could do a bang-up job of this, and would be overwhelmed with joy to make 1/4 your estimate in a weekend. Post a flyer on a nearby campus?
posted by debbie_ann at 6:59 PM on October 23, 2009

My cousin is a photographer in New York City. He does really great portraits. I don't know if he does family portraits, but you can ask him. His site is here and this is his email.
posted by qmechanic at 7:01 PM on October 23, 2009

The reason that many photographers don't post rates is because they don't want to compete on price. If they posted prices, then everyone would just hire the cheapest photographers and the overall market rates would hit the bucket. Photographers need to earn money like everyone else.

You're not going to find rates by looking at websites. You're going to actually have to contact and talk to the photographers. Don't bring up rates right away. Ask them about their studio, style of photography, etc. Some photographers really hate people who just want to shop for the lowest rate.

Unfortunately, I'm not a photographer and have never gotten family portraits done in NYC so I can't give you a quote on the general price range.
posted by qmechanic at 7:07 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

please don't give the job of family portraits with 6 adults and 1 baby to an art student. it is not an easy sitting. i worked at sears portrait for a decade (but don't anymore) and that's the type of sitting we would have a manager or an assistant manager do. an art student will likely be very under qualified to deal with shooting, posing, and keeping a group like that happy.

(fwiw - when was the last time you were in a sears portrait studio? they do really nice full length, floor shot pictures, with a very nice digital camera - this isn't the sears from the 80s)
posted by nadawi at 7:10 PM on October 23, 2009

I would imagine there are any number of out of work fashion photographers in DUMBO who would do this kind of work. Wish I could remember the name of a guy I met several years ago....

That said I'm pretty sure that there are art students in NYC who could pull this off.
posted by dfriedman at 7:25 PM on October 23, 2009

A terrible website is a professional prerequisite for photographers these days - not just those of us in NYC! :) Depending upon what you need, I might be able to do the job within your budget - feel free to visit my website, if you dare....

As for not displaying rates on websites, its partially a competition issue as qmechanic mentions but also many (myself included) quote rates based specifically on what a client needs rather than offering fixed packages which may or may not really fit what the client needs/wants.

Also, I'm not sure what sort of searches you've done, but wedding photographers are going to be skilled at shooting that sort of group photo. Might be worth looking into.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:30 PM on October 23, 2009

I'll be happy to do it for you. I just emailed you some pics.
posted by avex at 7:57 PM on October 23, 2009

check out photogs on , there are a ton, from amateur to professional. many post their rates, and if they don't provide a contact or website, you can join the site for free and you don't have to post any pics to send messages.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 8:28 PM on October 23, 2009

You should try calling my friend Zack Brown. He's primarily a theatre photographer (and he's done a bunch of lovely work for me) but he's also done portrait work for a number of clients though he doesn't necessarily publicize it since he's a theatrical lighting designer as well. His prices are very reasonable, he's has a great eye for composition, and he's really friendly and professional.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 9:20 PM on October 23, 2009

I'm pretty sure that any art student with a good camera could do a bang-up job of this, and would be overwhelmed with joy to make 1/4 your estimate in a weekend. Post a flyer on a nearby campus?

Echoing others, please don't do this. I've written elsewhere on metafilter about why student photographers shouldn't be paid less than anyone else to do the job. I won't reiterate that here.

The real reason you don't want to do this, as nadawi said above, is that paying a cut rate for photos will get you cut rate photos. You'll have a photographer who doesn't know how to handle a large group, who doesn't have enough lights or know how to handle them, who hasn't photographed babies before, who doesn't have a proper location for the shoot, who doesn't have a backup camera in case the first one fails, who doesn't backup his pictures and loses all the pictures when his laptop is stolen, who doesn't have insurance in case a light falls onto your baby, who won't deliver the pictures on time if at all (there've been previous mefi comments about people getting a cut-rate photographer for their wedding and never receiving the pictures), and so on. While payment for a photographer can be thought of as payment for talent, realize that what you're also paying for is professionalism and the wherewithal to see the shoot through to completion from when you call them to when you receive the picture, regardless of anything that could go wrong.
posted by msbrauer at 10:37 PM on October 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

Getting a student to do this is a sure fire recipe for disaster.

I agree with blaneyphoto in that you should be looking at wedding photographers in the course of your search.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:45 AM on October 24, 2009

Just to add, depending on the style you're looking for, you may want to include the term "lifestyle" in your searches.

To continue the discussion, the value of professional photography in an age of decent low-effort digital snaps is increasingly a bespoke quality and intrinsic artistic intent. While any photographer will likely have a standard base rate, I'd certainly charge more for a full family portrait than I would for a couple or a solo portrait session, and push the boat out in a different way entirely. That's why rates aren't often displayed, though I'd agree that photographers often need to communicate that bespoke element better.
posted by Magnakai at 7:37 AM on October 24, 2009

This has pretty much already been touched on but the reason photographers don't post rates is also because every job is different (unless it's some kind of assembly line Sears portrait studio type thing). It's impossible to give a quote without knowing more details. I hate it when people call me up and the first thing out of their mouth is, "What's your rate?". It depends on the project and what you need done.
posted by bradbane at 11:46 AM on October 24, 2009

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