At some point, every professional photographer has had a response like the ones below when clients ask about their pricing.
You charge how much !?!?!
I have a friend who can do my pictures for $50!
I can get photos printed at Walmart for $5.00!
But, you just push a button all day!
When a photographer quotes you $250.00 (or more) for a one hour session, which does not mean they make $250.00 an hour.
There are a lot of hidden costs that you, as the client, will never see.
Photographers also sacrifice their evenings and weekends away from their own families to take photos of yours.
When you hire a photographer, you are hiring an artist. We spend years perfecting our craft, and the industry is constantly changing…. And it costs money for us to keep up with the changes.
I am going to walk you through a typical session of mine…..
First, a client gets in touch with me, and there can be HOURS of phone calls and emails that go back and forth. So, conservatively, let’s say that’s 2 hours of work for me, the photographer.
Then we sign an agreement, and I collect a retainer fee. (Had to hire a lawyer to assist with drafting the agreement, and I spend an average of 1 hour customizing it for every single session I do.)
Then, I often do what I refer to as “location scouting”. I take a drive (sometimes a long one) to peek at different outdoor locations that we can use for the photo session. I personally do this at least once a month. So conservatively, let’s say 1 hour of driving per session, which equals 1 tank of gas.
If we decide to do an indoor studio session, that may seem like it doesn’t cost anything because my studio is in my home…. But keep in mind, renovating my space and purchasing lighting, equipment and props gets pretty spendy. I spend about ½ an hour preparing the studio space for a session.
The day of the session, I drive to the location, arriving ahead of my clients to set up my equipment, which takes about ½ an hour – 1 hour, depending on the type of session.
Then we spend about an hour taking photos, but more often than not, I spend 2-3 hours at my sessions…. So let’s take the average and say 2 hours of shooting. Then I pack up my gear and travel home….. add another ½ hour.
Next step, is I sit down at my computer, take the photos off my memory card, backup to two separate hard drives, and cull my images. This process can take up to 3 hours….
Then the editing begins! For a 2 hour session, I usually spend about 10 hours editing at a minimum. All my sessions include every single image, fully edited, in color and black and white. Then I back up the files again…. Then I create a password protected online gallery and upload the files, which I usually do overnight, because the file sizes are so large, it can take HOURS to get the files uploaded. Fingers crossed that there is no interruption to my internet service, otherwise, I have to start over. So, let’s just add an hour for the creation of your personalized website.
Finally, I send you an email so that you can view, download and print your images.
If you run into technical difficulties, I will spend a couple of hours helping you access your photos.
So, let’s review:
Emails/calls/contract: 3 hours
Location scouting: 1 hour
Session day: 3 hours
Backup and culling: 3 hours
Editing: 10 hours
Online gallery/technical assistance: 3 hours
So, on the conservative side, I have spent approximately 23 hours for a session. I have charged you $250.00 for the session. That means that I made $10.86 an hour.
Notice that I didn’t include any costs of my gear, fuel, or computer programs? If we factor in my camera body, lenses, lighting, my Photoshop subscription, memory cards, filters, camera bag, taxes, insurance, classes and workshops, vehicle maintenance and fuel…. That hourly wage drops significantly. Without boring you to death with all the costs of doing business, I will say that all the additional expenses means that it costs me approximately $150.00 per session if I can manage to do 50 sessions a year….
Now, my hourly wage works out to $4.35 an hour for the time I spent on your session.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do.....
Just some food for thought the next time you are contacting a professional photographer.