We as photographers hear statements from time to time, “How much does it cost to push a button?” or “I just need them for 6 hours, how could it cost that much for 6 hours of work?” or one of the best “anyone with a good camera can do it, why should we pay for someone to come do what my uncle can do?” The reasons are many, unless your uncle is a pro photographer.
For starters a photographer in most cases can get the job done. They know when to take a photo when to create a photo and if need be when to make a photo. It is so much more then pointing a camera at a subject or near one and pushing a button. They say timing is everything. That is so very true when it comes to photography. The way a persons faces looks as they have their head tilted to the side is very different when they are looking up or down. Know what looks good in the background or the foreground can also make a good photo an amazing one.
Now, I could talk about technique or style for days and days, but I think I will leave that for another post(s) yet to come. I would like to talk about the cost of the work that goes in to a photography business. What is the cost of doing business in this field? Well, it is much more then one must think. Just think for a minute about what it is that you do for work. Do you own your own business or are you in a management level job or one that affords you the privilege do seeing the cost to run that business? If so then you know that it takes some money to not only get the business up and running but takes a bit of money to keep the working coming in and going out. Like any business a good size percentage of the money charged for a sale or job goes right back into the business. For the sake of information I will give a small breakdown of what I feel are some of the biggest money hogs for a photographer and some of the smaller things that many people do not even think of when it comes to this line of work.
First off, as we all know, that big camera is not cheap and on top that a nice price can be had for even just one of the lenses used. Not to speak of the number of lenses needed to create a day of shooting for lets say a wedding or family portrait session. Just one nice lens can set a photographer back over $1000.00 and they have 3 more in their bag not only to create a different type of shot but as a backup. When you think about someone that might build houses for a living. You might not think past a few tools in a truck but for many of these people the tools they bring to a job site are just a small fraction of the tools they will need or may need to complete the job at hand. So we have covered the one essential item – the camera and lens and If I was to just toss a low number for a starting out photographer would easily reach over $3,000.00. (not including the back up camera and lens)
Now, lets talk lighting gear that may be needed in some venues and then we have gear bags, memory cards – lots of them! Then there is website hosting, prints ads, business cards, phone services to conduct the client calls. With all that said there is still more. What could be left you say? Well hours and hours of training that went into the skill of photography before they ever met the next client. In many cases schooling or hired training was paid for to gain the skills from others in the field. There is insurance to cover liabilities that could come up insurance on the camera gear too. Some maybe rent studio space and then have all that comes with running the space like electricity and heat. They have to have a working vehicle to get to venues in some cases these can be many miles form their home or studio. So you get the idea of all the ways your investment will be spent, but wait there is more? One of the biggest investments that a photographer has to make is in the computer and software that will be used to run the images through the editing and delivery process. Many have heard of photoshop. That one program alone can cost up to $600.00 now they do have newer more affordable ways of using photoshop but that comes with a monthly fee and needs to have a high speed internet connection to take full advantage of it. Now, even after they have a fast computer with in most cases two or three running monitors to speed up the work flow, the time to edit can take hours and hours if not days or even a week. Storage of multiple copy’s of the images alone can take a few hours to occur and then the added cost of needing multiple hard drives or online storage clouds to hold all of the images. Now the real time has to be put in. When we return from a wedding of a shoot we have hours of work to do. In most cases if not all it takes many more hours to edit then it did to create the photo that have now just be moved to the computer. Many passes over to pick the best set of images that can be provided. The more we work the better we are at not only this part of the trade but we are better at capturing the best images in the camera and will save time in the editing side. Now some might say well then the more experienced shooters are making even more on a event? Well maybe they are. Should they be? They sure should be. I would expect to pay more for a builder with many more years of expertise on the subject then someone that has just bought their first hammer. I would hope that most would see this valuable trade as not only a skilled trade but something we work hard at and are passionate about. Whether is it working on getting that perfect photo of your children or the bouquet being torn to pieces by some hungry bridesmaids, we are there for the client, from start to delivery, 100% of the time.
Do you have a grasp on some of the cost that are associated with owning and running a photography business and the hours of time put in not only at the wedding or shoot, but after? I am not writing this from a place of I told you so, but a place of, now you know. Thanks for reading my blog and please follow me on Facebook. Share my page with your family and friends and I hope to hear form you soon to book your event or family photo shoot.
Have you had a similar experience? I would love to hear about it or what you had to say in reply to help them understand why a photographer charges for their service.
Thanks for your time.