I have decided to answer the question I get the most. “Why do photographers cost so much?”
This is a fair question. When I get my hair done, I like to know the reason behind the price tag. There is one big area that will help you understand” why”; the behind the scenes of what we do. Often when you see the price tag you directly relate it to the physical product you are getting. But, there’s more to it than that. So, let’s break it down:
Consultation: Before booking and usually again after booking there is a consultation. This is where the photographer and you discuss what you are looking for in your session. This helps photographer be prepared and know how to help you prepare.
Location scouting: Light is a tricky girl, so there is a lot of time spent looking for the perfect spots. Especially if you have an out of the box idea, which we love, we like to find the best location for your session vision. I, personally, have spent hours driving around to look for spots, and driving to the same spots at different times of day to check.
Shooting time: This will seem obvious, but photographers will charge for the time they actually spend on the shoot with you! Surely, you don’t expect them to work for free. Need I say more?
Experience: Now, this is very subjective and often why you find some photographers charging very little. Maybe they don’t have much experience, and that’s okay, we all start with no experience. But, you do get what you pay for, not bad, just the truth. That being said, I knew from the time I was a little girl I wanted to be a photographer. So, at 13 I took my first photography class. From there I studied every kind of photography I could. From film in both high school and college to journalism at George Washington University and finally Fine Art at Eckerd College. I am now 26, so yes I studied and practiced the art for over a decade before asking to be paid. Many of you may think it’s my expensive camera that creates great photos, but really it’s because I studied the science of a photograph; how light and color work together.
Sending Files, Emails, Follow Ups: You probably don’t know that only 20% of my time working is actually spent taking images for you. The other time I am preparing your galleries, sending you emails to help you prepare, sending reminders, follow ups, and so on. That’s all work.
Equipment costs: We all know that a good camera costs good money. But, that’s not the only thing we have in our toolbox. We have memory cards, which if you want the ones that work properly, don’t corrupt your images, or freeze…you guessed it…they cost more. Hard drives to keep your images safe. Editing software so that you can get your images quick. A website, batteries, lenses, safety straps, a secure bag, computers, etc. You get the point.
License Fees, permits, venue cost: As a professional I like to follow the rules. Some parks, public places, and venues will not allow you to shoot for free. There is also a cost for business license each year, so that you know I am legal.
Education: As my pastor says, never be a smartest in the room. I like to learn, I am not the best out there and there is always more to learn. I gotta keep learning so I can give you my A-Game.
Accountants: Not every photographer will have an accountant, but I do! Why? Because taxes people. Taxes.
Business Coach: I don’t know about you, but I have never run a business before. I had no idea what I was doing. So, I paid someone to teach me.
Images/Products: It takes all of the above to produce the highest quality images. If you don’t care about quality, I am not your gal. And yes, that’s okay. Why do we charge $50 for an 8 x 10 you can get at Walgreens for $1.50? Well, the printer calibrations at Walgreens can often make your images look bad and the paper quality often degrades over time. But, most importantly you hired an artist. Yes, I am an artist. I consider your photos to be my masterpiece. My desire is to create images that evoke emotion and memories for years go come.
I know I am expensive, but I have run the numbers for what it takes to run a profitable business and I am darn good at what I do. This information is meant not meant to scream “PAY ME”, but give you insight into details of the industry many are scared to talk about. Hopefully the next time you look for a photographer and think “wow, that’s a lot” you remember all the goes into the little price tag you see on their website. I also am a customer for photography as well, so I budget for it. Plan for what you value.