Why are Professional Photographers so expensive?
In this digital age where everyone has digital cameras, scanners and home “photo printers”, when people upload their photos to a local drug store website and pick them up a few hours later, we hear this all the time – How in the world do Professional Photographers charge so for an 8×10 when they cost just $1.50 at the drug store?
Simply put, you’re not just paying for the actual paper photograph/portrait, you’re paying for time and expertise in creating the image itself. First, let’s look at the actual time involved.
For a two hour portrait session:
– one hour of travel to and from the session depending on location it could be more
– two hours of shooting
– 30 minutes of setup, preparation, talking to the client etc.
– 30 minutes to load the photos onto a computer (2 – 4 Gb of data)
– 30 minutes to back up the files on multiple external drives plus DVD’s
– 3 – 6 hours of Photoshop time including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, saving a copy for print and a copy for the internet and backing up the edited photographs, depending all on how extensive or creative the editing. If you were to wear white socks with black pants and they show in the photo, we have to either darken the socks, extend the pants, etc. Or if you wear too vivid of colors, we have to edit them in a way so that you can get prints made. Some colors don’t print well without special editing. Also if your hair is messy, we have to get rid of fly-a-ways. Teeth whitening is another editing step that may be done. Etc…..
– 2 – 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive their order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment and drop off.
– For local customers, we meet with them to review the photos and place their order. Meeting and travel time averages 2 hours.
You can see how one two hour session easily turns into ten + hours of work from start to finish. So when you see a Photographer charging a $300 session fee for a two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $100 / hour.
Now let’s look at the expertise in creating the image itself. Did you know that the average 3-4 day “workshop” in the photography world will cost the photographer an average of $1,700 for the workshop plus air fare, plus food, plus hotel, plus, plus, plus, easily adding up to $3,000.00. And this does not take into account the cost of the time spent away from the studio and most importantly the time spent away from my family. Make no mistake, getting “good” is not an accident, it takes a huge investment of time and money on the part of the photographer and it involves a lot of practicing and a WHOLE lot of dedication to be The Best. That why SO many photographer either do not partake in top level workshops or will only do “local” workshops that in my experience are only valuable to the brand new photographer. A photographer’s price is going to be your first clue as to their experience, education and talent level.
For an eight hour wedding:
– I won’t bore you with the details, but an eight hour wedding typically amounts to at least one full 40 hour work weeks worth of time. Again, if they are charging you $4,000 for an eight hour wedding, you are not paying them $500 / hour. The typical wedding will have 40 hours of work going into it after the wedding in post processing and editing time, upload time, back up time, album design time, revision on the album design time, etc., etc. In addition, all of the little “things” you want in the package, the album, the proofing, the prints, the parent albums, are not only expensive for the photographer to buy, but also require a lot of time to handle and produce. I've only shot 1 wedding & don't think I will ever shoot another because of the stress involved. You should get hazzard pay for that....tee hee
Now for the expertise.
Shooting professional photography is a skill, acquired through years of experience. Even though our camera bodies average $4,000-$5,000 for just a (brand new) body, and most of our lenses are in the $2,000 category, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera. Most Professional Photographers take years to go from buying their first decent camera to making money with their photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera itself, there is a mountain of other equipment involved, as well as numerous software programs used to edit a photograph, back up photos, run a website etc.
When we have your portraits printed for you, we have already made sure that our photographs will match exactly what comes out from our pro print labs. We have samples of paper available for you to touch, and to see the quality. If the prints come in and they look off in anyway, we get the lab to reprint them till they are correct. I even have a sample of a photo from my lab, compared to the same print from Walgreens, Target, Wal-Mart, and online retailer ShutterFly. None of the colors are exactly the same…and that will also depend on which exact store you go to as well. That is why it is better for us to control your prints.
And let’s not forget that you actually have to have people skills, be able to communicate, make people comfortable in front of the camera – and posing people to make them look their best, yet completely natural in a photograph is a skill all by itself. Think of it this way – the next time you pay $100 to get your hair done, a regular pair of scissors only costs $1.50. But you gladly pay a lot more to hire a Professional to actually do the job.
What about the cheap studios at the mall? Or the cheaper photographers on Craigslist? Or on your neighborhood “buy/sell” page? Please don’t compare us to those. That’s like comparing Apples to Oranges!!! But if you must, consider all of the time and work that we put into our photographs, compared to what they do. And of course, look at our work compared to theirs. Look closely….does it look cheap or tacky? Are the colors correct? Is anything important cut off? Are they posed well? Do they look fantastic or only OK?
Do you want to be proud of that portrait that hangs on the wall in your home...
You get what you pay for.... choose wisely....do your homework
Diana Kinkor : Author
I've always loved taking pictures. It's only been in the last few years that it's become a passion of mine. My husband teases me that I am always looking at my surroundings as if I was looking thru my viewfinder. He's right!