Why does your Photography cost more than....?

October 13, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Why does your Photography cost more than....?

     The one complaint many professional photographers get about their services, is pricing? Too often when people shop for photography, they compare the boutique photographer to a big name portrait studio like Sears, and wonder why there is such a difference in cost. Not only with the shoot itself, but also for product .The answer to this question is not that simple, and I am here to break down this complicated long drawn out answer to you reason by reason, as simply as I can. 

Number 1 - Time:

     All boutique photographers are in business for themselves and they do not collect a paycheck at the end of each pay period. Therefore, in order to make any money we need to price our services based on the time it will take to not only shoot the session, but additionally provide consultations, and process the final images. Depending on the photographer, their time can be broken down in various ways, however I will use myself as the example. Below is how I do a shoot from first contact to providing the product for a typical family session. 

Family Session Package 1: $195.00

  • First contact with the client to determine desired look, attire, time and location, potential product, needed props, and type of session. (15 min to 1 hour)
  • Follow up email reminding them of our conversation on what to wear, what props we'll be using, the location & time, and amount of time the shoot should take. (15 minutes)
  • Calendar invite to the shoot with location details (5 minutes)
  • If new location pre-scout the area to look at lighting and areas to shoot the photos ( 1 hour)
  • Day of shoot travel (1 hour)
  • Session time (1 to 2 hours)
  • Load and backup images (30-45 minutes)
  • Cull images (1 hour)
  • Retouch and edit images (3 to 10 hours)
  • Create session slideshow (1.5 hours)
  • Send final editing proofing images to client (10 minutes)
  • Order product from package (30 minutes)
  • Product Consultation (1 to 2 hours)

If we go to the lowest possible time for each of these steps  we are at 11 hours and 30 minutes. Break down my session fee of $195.00 and we are looking at $16.95 an hour. This may seem like a lot to some people but when you take into account that I pay my own taxes, have to purchase the package products, and pay for my liability, and equipment insurance, we are looking more at $12.50 an hour. If we add that up to years salary based on 40 hours, that's about $26,000.00 a year. This leads into the next part - cost. 

Number 2 - Cost:

     You know the old saying, "it cost's money to make money," it's true. However, if you spend more money than you make that defeats the purpose. Just as any business, a Photographer must pay their expenses to run their business. Below is some of the expenses a typical photographer has.

  • Website maintenance and hosting ($10.00 to 20.00 a month)
  • Liability and Equipment insurance ($80.00 to 150.00 a month) 
  • Props, Lens, Additional Equipment ($500.00 to $10,000.00 a year) Lenses break, equipment gets ruined, and we always need to have money just in case this happens.
  • Lab fees (05% to 15% of profits) Depending on the product and the quality of a lab photographers only make so much on the product you order. 
  • Travel ($500.00 to $15,000.00 a year) This of course varies due to location I may need to go to. Will I need to go out of state, stay somewhere multiple days, and of course this includes gas, and tolls.  
  • Vehicle Maintenance & Insurance  ($80.00 to $250.00 every month Because of the amount of travel Photographers do, our vehicles take a beating. We rack up miles quicker which means more frequent oil changes, new breaks, and general engine maintenance. Our Vehicle insurance is higher because we use it to work and store product in it.
  • Advertising ($150.00 to $550.00 a month) Between Social Media, promotional posts, web ads, flyers, cards, etc., photographers need to constantly market to keep business up. Most clients if provide repeat business only do so yearly. 
  • Quarterly Taxes (Based on income but average $1000.00 a quarter)
  • Business Tax Receipt and License ($125.00 a  year)
  • Workshops and Seminars ($500.00 to $5000.00 a year) To be good we constantly need to hone our craft and doing that involves continuing education. From participating in workshops or seminars, a photographer can enhance their artistry and skills which helps keep them relevant. No one wants a photographer that is still shooting like it's the 70s, 80s, 90s, or even the early 2000s. 

​Number 3 - Artistry & Skill

     Just as with any art form, artistry and skill is very important. First photographers have to be skilled in not only knowing composition and how to place their subjects within a image but they need to know how their equipment works. Many studios like Sears hire people at $7.00 to $10.00 an hour and basically have the lighting and camera equipment set to go. If they need to change something it may just be one or two settings. However, boutique photographers need to know their camera, lenses, and environment very well. We need to know which settings to use for different skin tones, lighting, effect, and color balance. Although we do retouch and edit photos, our goal is to get as close to perfect in the camera as possible. This is especially true when doing outdoor shoots. The sun can change in a second and if the photographer is not paying attention the pictures can be too washed out or too dark to save in any editing program. 

     Another aspect people look for in Boutique Photography is our artistry. Each photographer has his or her own way of creating beautiful images. Of course not every photographer's style will be the same or appeal to every client, so when looking at price you need to take that into consideration. Never pick a photographer based on price alone. If you don't like their images they most likely will not be able to get the look you saw in another photographer's portfolio.

 Here are some things to consider when looking for a photographer. 

  • Do I like the general look of their pictures?
  • Do they convey the emotion I want in my images?
  • Can I take a better picture?
  • Is the photographer open to my suggestions?
  • Do they know how to get a particular type of image?

     Additionally, keep in mind that pricing doesn't always guarantee you will get a great photographer. Sometimes a cheaper photographer may be better and are only cheaper because they are new to the market or don't need the money; while a expensive photographer is overcharging because they think they can make a quick buck. I have noticed that sometimes experience matters while other times it doesn't. Photography is not something that anyone can do but everyone can learn. The trick is to know why you are seeking out a particular photographer, and that reason should be because you like their work. 

 


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