The inputs and efforts, from the standpoint of the professional photographer, go far beyond the 30 minute or one hour session itself.
Let’s take a look at what a photographer has to consider when thinking about price or cost of doing business.
- Education - Just like everyone else, a real professional photographer (not someone who buys an expensive camera and calls it a business). Goes to school or takes numerous expensive classes to learn not only the aesthetics of the equipment that they use but also classes to learn proper editing techniques, business classes, accounting classes, marketing courses and more. Just like anyone else these classes have to be paid back and are a cost of doing business.
- Marketing & Advertising- Like all businesses, photographers pay for advertising (postcards, business cards, on line advertising (Google, etc.), Groupon, Amazon, and others who take half of the deal before the photographer gets paid (you pay $90 on a deal for a package that normally runs $400 and the photographer makes $45 of that after the company takes their portion). Then if they do any magazine ads or low cost deals on their sites it is a reduction via marking than what they would normally have received).
- Websites- Normally hundreds of dollars of year, not to mention the upkeep time.
- Edits- With every 30 min session I spend a minimum of 4 to 8 hours in edits and with an hour double that. So when you look at the shear cost per hour the cost is not the $300 or $400 you may initial see as a consumer thinking you’re paying this for a 30 minute or one hour service. We as pro photographers are spending 30 minutes in travel to and from the session minimum, then the 30 or 60 minutes to complete the session, then another 8 to 12 hours in edits and post processing, another 2 hours in phone calls and emails and then another hour or so to process orders for you. So that $300 to $500 session is for (not an hour) but a minimum of 16 to 20 hours of hard work and talent.
- Equipment - Being a professional in any field is expensive. As a photographer, we sometimes feel as though we are looked at as the guy or girl that just went out and got a nice camera! But to be in business as a photographer you have to invest in not only a decent professional camera with lenses to fit every scenario but also tripods, timers, flashes (hundreds of dollars), computers with lots of ram and space and back up space, offices, studios, studio customer systems, lighting, software and so much more. (Just another cost of doing business).
- Time and Talent- Everyone wants and deserves to be paid for their time and talent. No one goes to school, gets a degree in medicine, law, business or anything else with the assumption they will work for a less than livable wage.
So, when you take all of these expenses and making a livable (not extravagant) wage, what would you say is a reasonable charge to have professional quality photos of your family, photo's you will cherish for years to come. We all need to take a step back and not under value ourselves!