Really, I look better in person!
November 3, 2007 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Would you pay someone to take a couple of good photos for your profile? If so how much?

In my weaving around various social networking sites, discussion fora, online dating sites etc. I have seen so many profile photos that are just not good at all. I don't mean to judge the person in the photo for not living up to some ideal of beauty, rather I keep wishing I could see the person as they see themselves, in focus, without their arm holding the camera, and have the thumbnail tell almost as much as the full-sized photo etc. I am guilty of having such photos so I wonder if people would pay a decent photographer who could take photos that would fit the above requirements. Would you pay for such photos? If so how much?

Specifically, what would you pay for a 15-20 min. session with a photographer who will return to you three different and good photos, these photos shot either indoors with lights and a backdrop, or something outdoors, and a little bit of Photoshopping of the images to color correct and get rid of pimples etc.? Would you be willing to pay extra (and how much) for someone to do basic makeup that keeps you looking natural but emphasizes your good points and reduces shine etc.?
posted by kenzi23 to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I occasionally do makeup for folks for this very reason, and I charge $25. I'm not a photographer, so I have no opinion about how much that part should cost, but I'd probably pay the same $25 or so for the pictures, assuming this is digital we're talking about. And then maybe extra for retouching.
posted by astruc at 3:04 PM on November 3, 2007

Try MeFi mailing DaShiv. He is a photographer and can give you a reliable estimate.
posted by spec80 at 3:06 PM on November 3, 2007

Not only would I not pay for such a service but I would ridicule anyone I knew who involved themselves in it. Thats not to say that you cant find vain enough people to take advantage of and make this a profitable idea... But since your asking opinions, it makes me want to puke.
posted by pwally at 3:08 PM on November 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

Not in a million years.
posted by meerkatty at 3:11 PM on November 3, 2007

I wouldn't want to have a polished, professional photo on any of the social networking sites I use. On Facebook, for example, people use photos of themselves with friends or photos from the Halloween party or candid photos from some other interesting activity. It would look really odd to me if someone used a professional photo on that site. I can see this working for dating sites, however.
posted by null terminated at 3:12 PM on November 3, 2007

People have been doing this for a number of years:

I could swear there was a New York Times piece on the phenomenon a few years ago, but I can't seem to find it in their archives.
posted by lia at 3:16 PM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it depends how you use social networking sites - ie, for what. A lot of my Facebook friends are work contacts - people I've written for, or coded for, or run projects for or whatever - and I'm certainly not going to put up a photo of me in my Halloween costume in that context.

For people like me who don't want or can't pay for a full $600 - $1500 photo session and just want something acceptable to put in their profile, I think its a great service. I'd pay... $50?

Just to be clear, I am not talking about vanity shots or anything that would strike my Facebook friends as being up my own arse, "pro" and/or out of context. I'm talking about a decent photo.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:21 PM on November 3, 2007

I don't think this is a ridiculous idea as some have stated or implied. Lots of people use social networking sites to showcase their professional skills, or just wish to look less casual then all the other greasy teenagers in front of their webcams. In which case, I bet you could find an amateur photographer or hobbyist who would take these shots for $30-$50. At least, that's what I would charge as a hobbyist with a good SLR setup as a non-favor to a non-acquaintance.
posted by dendrite at 3:21 PM on November 3, 2007

The company I work for has an internal directory, with a full professional profile - phone numbers, email addresses, office locations, projects, education, and skills, and a photograph.

A lot of people have professionally-taken photographs on there - typically a head-and-shoulders shot taken with an appropriately-colored backdrop. In fact, the company arranges for a photographer to come in a couple of times a year to take pictures for this very purpose.

I guess if it's appropriate for a corporate phonebook (which essentially, this is) it would also be appropriate for other online profiles.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:28 PM on November 3, 2007

I can't see there being much of a market for a social network–specific photographer, though dating sites might be different. You could include social networks as one in a list of uses, though (photos of yourself for grandma! headshots! social networks! etc!), and might see a bit of interest there.

If this was a word-of mouth, friends and beyond thing only ... maybe. I could definitely imagine spending a bit of money ($30 maybe) or buying some beer for someone to come over, hang out, and shoot some nice pics.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:33 PM on November 3, 2007

This is a recent NYTimes article about dating coaches; it does mention how some will help with photos, as well.
posted by Forktine at 3:37 PM on November 3, 2007

I would pay up to $100 for this, if it were well-done and professionally retouched.

I currently pay $500/day (7 hours) plus $10 per photo for a photographer to come in and photograph our staff. He does about 5-10 minute sessions with each person. There is no retouching.
posted by MeetMegan at 3:38 PM on November 3, 2007

I would not do this/pay. It's fairly simple for me to talk some of my friends or my mum into taking photos for me, whenever I decide I need new ones (which isn't honestly that often anyway). I can do my own touch-ups.
posted by anaelith at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2007

I would pay for this, maybe like $25 or so. Just because all the pictures I have of me aren't good. Most people don't know how to take pictures. I wouldn't want it too polished, just an ordinary photo of me in my house or something, except by someone who knows how to make someone look good. And I don't think it would be a vanity thing either. Sometimes you just want a decent photo of yourself for posterity.
posted by amethysts at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2007

If you're talking just pictures, I would consider paying up to $50. I'm assuming that you are a hobbyist, and not a full-time professional, because I imagine a professional would want to charge more than that. This price may vary depending on where we are and what competition is like. This price would probably go up 50-100% if you were to do my makeup as well, and that would be a real selling point for me.

Backdrops are making me think of school pictures or Glamor Shots (which certainly have their place, although I wouldn't want to use one for this purpose), but taking pictures outside can make for lighting difficulties and busy backgrounds. I'd personally prefer something naturally posed at a real location (e.g., home, outside etc.) I know that setup isn't always ideal, so I would certainly consider a backdrop, but I imagine lugging that equipment around and having to do setup would shoot up the time spent and therefore the price.

Right now, I probably wouldn't pay for this service because I use my social networking accounts to keep in touch with friends that already know I look like a goofball (which tends to come through in most of my pictures). I'm happily married, so I'm not out to impress a potential partner. I do have some professional contacts on Facebook (mostly friends made through work). However, we don't use Facebook to connect about work, so I don't mind not having this kind of picture there. If I wanted to put a picture on my LinkedIn page, I would consider this kind of service, but it seems to go against the rule of "don't put your picture on your resume" so I'm not sure if I would go through with it.

I totally get what you're saying about people's profile pictures, and I do think there are people that would take advantage of this service. Maybe you could offer a "lite" version of this service by offering to crop and touch up photos people already want to use. Cropping makes such a difference in profile photos and so few people have the tools/skills/patience to do it.

This is a long answer, but I hope it helps.
posted by melissa at 4:01 PM on November 3, 2007

Never had anyone inquire about photos for social networking sites - tons of headshots though. 15 minutes in my studio would cost a person $150. That's my minimum fee, and given that little time to shoot, they'd get 5 fully retouched images on cd. Makeup artist is an additional fee, and negotiated between the client and the MUA.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:25 PM on November 3, 2007

If you were a friend with a talent for taking flattering photos, I would totally take you out to dinner or buy the beers in exchange for some good shots.

Pay a stranger? Uhh, not so much. The folks with touched-up looking photos in their profiles say "trying too hard" to me.
posted by desuetude at 5:19 PM on November 3, 2007

I am a student photographer who does this on occassion. I charge 60 dollars an hour which includes the photoshop work. Even if we don't go an hour I charge 60 dollars. I usually take about 40 pictures in a park or somewhere else that seems natural. Less than an hour for less than 60 dollars would be a waste of the photographers time.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 6:04 PM on November 3, 2007

Thanks, but I can Photoshop my own photographs of myself. If I wanted professional pics done, I'd go to a studio, or Glamour Shots.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:09 PM on November 3, 2007

I think anyone who would need a professional photo on facebook for work related reasons will probably have other needs for work related photos and use the same ones they already have.

I wouldn't pay someone to take personal photos of me. Usually if I want a good photo I have someone take a bunch of pictures of me with my own camera, on a day I feel that I look good. Even if they are taken by a horrible photographer, if you get enough there are bound to be some good ones there.
posted by yohko at 6:44 PM on November 3, 2007

This idea could take internet disease to a whole new level of professionalism.
posted by jayder at 6:46 PM on November 3, 2007

I'm assuming that on an online dating site, there are a lot of people to choose from. If someone is serious about finding a mate through the site, it seems reasonable to do whatever you can to stand out from the competition. If you were going out on a first date or to meet someone at a bar, you'd want to make a good impression by dressing nicely and looking attractive. Your profile is the first impression you'll leave on someone in a cyber dating environment. In that situation, I'd say it's not too terribly wasteful or vain. It's all part of attracting a mate.

For online fora and MeFi-type sites, it would be totally lame to get a professional photo for your profile. Laughable. Especially since people on those sites never meet. Who cares if you're photo is unflattering?
posted by HotPatatta at 7:29 PM on November 3, 2007

Oh, forgot to contribute my $.02 on the price. I'd pay a good $50 for the photo if I was really going to give internet dating a serious try.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:31 PM on November 3, 2007

And don't take a photo that looks like it was done in a studio or has that glamor shot/senior picture look. Look natural, un-posed, and relaxed.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:33 PM on November 3, 2007

I would almost (but not really) pay for some goofy high school senior-esq picture of myself - maybe posed with a brown leather bomber jacket, with my hand on my chin, or whatever they used to make me do for class photos. Big-rimmed 80s glasses. Oh yeah!

That said I came across a friend's "glamor shot" the other day while rummaging through her belongings. She had it done a few years ago when she was thinking about pursuing an acting career. By pursuing I mean that in her head she thought, "To be an actress, first I need a head shot... everything else will fall into place after that." Hehe... had a good laff at that one.
posted by wfrgms at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2007

I wouldn't pay for photos for a social networking site, though I could see paying for them in other circumstances (dust jacket of a book comes to mind). I think part of the charm of my friends' facebook photos is their casualness/candidness.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:51 AM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: Just for clarification, these would not be glamour shots, but photos that almost look like you took them yourself or had a good friend help you out. And any retouching would be really minor. Also, any makeup would be just to even out skin tone, highlight eyes, lips, cheeks...nothing glam here either. The plan is to take the photos indoors with good lights, but I also have outdoor areas that would make good backdrops (people will come to me for the photos).

Thanks hivers!
posted by kenzi23 at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2007

Some social networking sites have already tried this, and the service, while used in some metropolitan areas, ended up ultimately bombing because people feel they are already paying to use a site, why pay for anything else?

That being said, I put up an ad on Craigslist myself offering to do this service (take photos, write people's profiles) and I never got a single email. I was offering to do photos for $25 and I live in a major metropolitan area.

I would suggest you try something like this, and post the highest price you think is fair. Each week, drop the price until you get bites, if any. Of course you'll have the pain in the ass of setting up a business ID, taxes, etc. unless you only let people pay you in cash... something to think about.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:45 AM on November 4, 2007

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