"Good Photography Isn't Cheap and Cheap Photography Isn't Good"
Some of you may have heard this before or have seen this E-Card floating around on FB or Pinterest. There is some truth to it, but I have also seen it the other way around. However, I want to touch on this topic and why photographers may charge the way they do. This is merely an informative post and will hopefully give you some insight.
Costs the Photographer Faces
When you come across a photographer and you fall in love with their work, but then see the investment you would have to make...it can scare you off. You may think, "Geeze, why so much? That could pay my car payment this month!", or "$350 for some pictures?!". Which are all legitimate thoughts. I've been there. Before I started in photography I contacted another local photographer about family photos - I about dropped my phone when she told me the price. I couldn't understand why in the world it would cost that much. Now that I am on the other side of that phone call... I totally get why! I'm going to loosely break it down for you. Owning a professional photography business is not just a one time camera purchase and throwing up a photography page on Facebook. There are lenses, back-up cameras, SD cards, computers, softwares, insurance, taxes, props and the list goes on and on. If you want to put a price tag on some of these items then google away. Take my word for it - it ain't cheap. Now you have a good idea where a chunk of your money is going when you pay for a photo session. Most photographers want to work towards a newer or more expensive camera body or lens, so we often put a lot of our "earned" money back into our business. Now, the single most important item that was not listed above is T.I.M.E. Photographers that mainly shoot weddings, families, and kiddos are held on the weekends. This means we work EVERY weekend. We miss out on birthday celebrations, girlfriend getaway trips, T-ball games, so on and so forth. In order to make sure it is *worth* our time to miss out on these events and be away from our family we have to charge accordingly. Yes, we can schedule ourselves off, but often photographers are booked several months in advance which means last minute events are off the table.
Everyone has to start somewhere. I completely get that! I started from the bottom and worked my way up and I am still not where I want to be. As a photographer, I will always have clients that shop and hop. They go for the cheapest deal or the mini session special. There are people that do that in any industry! Shop and hop auto insurance, grocery stores, etc. It's not the end of the world to me. If you are wanting cheap (and by cheap I do not mean poor quality, I simply mean they charge less due to inexperience) photos then find someone that is building their portfolio. I wouldn't be where I am today without people believing in me when I was starting out!
The Professional Experience
Professional photographers that have been around the block a time or two value their time and skills which is why they have higher prices. They have built a clientele base that sees the value in their work. Not only do photographers charge based on equipment, taxes and other overhead expenses, but they charge for the experience they give you as the client. They provide a smooth experience filled with laughter, confidence and connectedness. They know what raw emotion looks like and they know how to create it.
I want to provide you with images that pull at your heart strings and bring out some sort of emotion when you look at them. Sure, I can sit everyone down in a proper pose and tell you to look at me and say cheese, but so can your Aunt Pat with her camera phone. Hiring a professional photographer to capture small intimate moments between you and your loved ones is priceless and timeless. It is an investment that you have to be willing to make.
Find What Works For You
Every photographer charges differently based on their experience, clientele base, and skill set. I know some photographers that have been doing it for years and are UH-mazing, but only charge $100 because that is what their market demands. I also know of some photographers that charge $700 because they are fine with only shooting 5 sessions a month. Another thing to keep in mind is what you get out of the session (besides the emotional experience)! Every photographer has a different process in delivering the finished product.
- Photographer A charges $200 and you get 10 edited images to download
- Photographer B charges $350 and you get 20-25 edited images plus professional prints
- Photographer C charges $400 and you get a CD of 30-40 edited images
There are SO many different ways a photographer can run his/her business. These are just a few popular prices/processes I have seen around this area. Find a few photographers that you like and then do your research! What are people saying about them? Are they good with kids? Does the style match what you are wanting? Which investment makes more sense?
This blog post is meant for you, the reader, to understand that although we are running a business we really want our clients to view us as artists. Our business is our craft. It is our artwork. We work very hard to produce high quality images. I, personally, do not believe you should get your photos taken if you do not plan on printing them. The printed image or canvas hanging on your wall is the finished product. It is the beautiful image that hangs in your living room and when you walk by it makes you smile. THAT is our ultimate goal. They are images that your kids and grandkids will be able to look back on. I love looking at my moms old portraits that she had done in a studio back in the 70s or the family photos of me and my siblings all wearing matching floral outfits (yikes!)
I think I can speak for all photographers when I say... get your images printed!! If the photographer offers prints, DO IT! If they don't, then print the images as soon as you get the CD or digital gallery, but please do not use Wal-mart or Walgreens. Would you hand Van Gogh a piece of computer paper and ask him to paint something magnificent on it? Printing at Wal-mart and other big box stores is essentially the same thing. The images can come back blurry, over saturated, reddish in tint, etc., which can make others think we edited them to look like that. Those are all things that are out of our control when you choose to use a non-professional printing lab. Most photographers have their computer monitors calibrated to match their pro-printing company. I have mine to match xyz printing lab and they come out exactly, actually, even BETTER than what shows on my computer. I guess what I am trying to say is...it's beyond worth it to invest in high quality prints/canvases. It breaks my heart a little when I bust my butt to edit a photo session and the family only purchases the digital versions - no prints. Why? Because I know that means 90% of the time they are headed to good ol' Wal-Marts. If you insist on printing them yourself then I would recommend mpix.com which is still a consumer based printing lab, but they are one of the top consumer labs. Here is a link that shows another photographer doing a printing test with multiple companies. They may not seem like huge differences to the average eye, but to photographers there is a major difference and it can be frustrating when an image is printed differently than what we originally edited. Again, it is our artwork so it is like a baby to us.
To wrap it up, *most* of us do not charge a ton of money just so we can laugh all the way to the bank. We charge what we need to in order to keep it legal and put some money back in our business, all while still being able to take some money home just like every other working adult. If you want beautiful images and professional products then do your research. View it as an experience and someone just happens to be there to document it. Make sure you are ready to commit to the investment. If you can't or won't justify spending a couple hundred on photos then helping a newbie gain some experience is the route for you! Regardless, we ALL work very hard and love what we do.
Thank you all for investing in me and yourselves. Allowing me to capture memories for you is the best job in the world.