Why Do Professional Photographers Charge So Much?
Wondering why professional photographers charge so much? There are a lot of misconceptions around what a professional family photographer actually does and how much time and money it takes to do it.
So let's try and clear up some of that confusion by taking a look at exactly why professional photographers charge so much.
You're only at your session for an hour, sometimes less, so how on earth can a photographer justify charging you hundreds of pounds for that one hour?
The truth is that the actual session itself takes up only small fragment of the time your family photographer will spend on you as their client.
There is sooooo much that goes on behind the scenes.
Client communication, session prep, travel to and from the photoshoot, transfer and backup of images, culling and editing, uploading and publishing galleries, ordering prints and delivering them.
I typically spend between 18 - 24 hours on each client.
And this doesn't include all the time spent on education, marketing and admin which are all essential for running a photography business.
It is a common misconception that the price charged for family photoshoots is pure profit. All a photographer needs is a camera right? Not quite.
Investment in professional full frame cameras and lenses alone runs into thousands of pounds. Add on an extra couple of thousand for a fast laptop or computer and monitor for editing. They also need a calibration device, and some edit using a special tablet.
Plus, with ever improving technology, these all need upgrading every few years.
But that's not all. There are also monthly subscriptions for editing software, a CRM solution, website hosting, an email provider, accounting software, indemnity insurance, advertising costs and costs of branded packaging for print orders to name a few.
We haven't even gotten to the ever-increasing cost of petrol or diesel in getting to the session, wear and tear on the car, phone bills, internet providers, back up storage and of course tax and national insurance. Some photographers also have studio rent and bills to cover as well.
These are all vital components of running a family photography business and they really mount up. Your family photographer needs to charge prices that cover these costs.
Once all those costs of doing business are taken care of, a family photographer also needs to build into their pricing a living wage for themselves so they can pay their own bills and support their families.
If your photographer offers prints or frames or albums you might find yourself recoiling at the prices.
I've written a whole other post on this but in short, photographers use professional labs.
These offer high quality, professional products. Paper that is heirloom quality and bespoke frames that are handmade, albums that are lovingly designed and bound by hand.
The time involved in editing, ordering, checking and delivering is significant, and the cost of ordering these items is higher than cheap online printers simply because they are so much better. Because they will last for generations.
If you are splashing out on professional photography, then you should do that investment justice and pay for professional printing.
Experience and Education
Taking a photo is easy. But taking a great photo is not. Even with a high end professional camera, you need to know what you are doing. It takes years of education and practice.
As does editing. How a photographer edits is a massive part of what they do. Developing their own unique, consistent editing style takes time and perseverance.
A good photographer also needs to understand how to help clients prepare for their photoshoot, what to wear, how to pose them, make them relax in front of the camera. Because these factors don't just make it a more enjoyable experience for the client, they also make the photographs better.
As a photographer transitions from photography being a hobby on the side to a full time job, they will invariably continue to invest in education and their business, to provide a sleek and streamlined experience for their clients from start to finish. And this goes far beyond just clicking the shutter button.
People pay more for a higher quality product and higher level of service for all sorts of things in life. Clothes, restaurants, cars. Photography is no different
Some photographers will show up to the session, click away, do a bit of post processing and email the images to you. And that's a very valid business model. They offer a no frills service and charge accordingly.
Others offer a bespoke service from start to finish. Which will obviously have a higher investment in terms of time and money, and therefore a higher price.
Ultimately, family photography is a luxury. It's not something you need, it's something you want. And in the same way that one photographers cost of doing business will differ from another, the amount people are willing or able to spend on their family photos will also differ.
But those really 'expensive' photographers? They aren't trying to fleece you. They are simply charging what they need to charge to cover the costs of their business and pay themselves a decent living wage.
The more experienced and educated they are, the more they invest in their business and service, then the more they will charge.