It’s a topic that has been hot on social media lately and for months I have wanted to write on it to explain some things. The topic… why are some photographers “so expensive?” Well, I’m here to explain it a bit, especially to my lifelong clients that have seen my prices raise on them. The biggest thing to take from this is you get what you pay for, but let me explain.
If you have a good photographer that plans to deliver a great experience, do things legally, and deliver quality images that you will treasure for a lifetime, it’s going to be expensive, but here is why:
Photographers that are doing things right, means they pay for a yearly business license. This also means they pay taxes on each session, for me that is 6.75% from each session.
Photographers have to have a way to market themselves. The most professional way… a website. That means at minimum, paying for a domain name, paying a monthly hosting fee, and paying for a template design or having one designed for them. I pay $12 a year for my domain name, $29 a month for website hosting, and paid over $100 for my template design, that I still had to sit down and spend hours on adding photographs and text to make it just right.
A good photographer also wants you to have a good experience. One, because we love our clients and truly appreciate your business, and two, we want to be someone you would recommend to others. Our best form of advertising, especially in the state of Utah, is word of mouth! A few of the ways I do this is by providing clients with a quick turn around time and online gallery where all images can be downloaded as soon as I send you the email! This costs me at least $10 a month. I also like to send my clients thank you gifts at the end of each year. This ends up being over $200. For wedding clients, they get a custom USB with their images engraved with their name and wedding date, a gift from me, and a package that I send it in with some goodies. To help you have a smooth experience, some photographers also have a system that emails clients, keeps track of payments, etc. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I hope to. Since many clients pay me through PayPal, PayPal also takes a percentage of payment.
Can you see how quickly this all adds up, and I have yet to mention actually paying myself.
Next is equipment and software. My computer alone cost over $1500. Then you need Lightroom and Photoshop. I also use a program to size all my images to look good on my website. All three programs cost money. A top of the line camera to deliver top of the line images for you is over $2500. Then, you need lenses. A good photographer has at least two nice lenses. A really good photographer will even have a quality back up camera just in case in the middle of your session, like a wedding, one stops working (it happens). Last year I bought a new lens for over $900. Why? My clients are paying for quality images and I need to be able to deliver them. Then, it’s good to have your lenses and camera cleaned and calibrated each year, too. You also need extra batteries and cards. You need a camera bag, card holder, external hard drive(s), tripods, a reflector, a card reader, a flash (or two), internet (to get you your images quick and to keep up on blogging), and a phone (for all those texts and phone calls between you and your clients). All this nice stuff… also needs insurance. Photographers are smart if they have liability insurance and insurance on their equipment. Being self-employed, you can also hope that you have insurance through a significant other or you’ll also be paying for that.
And all those beautiful places we take pictures at? Often they are found as we scout for places and each session it takes gas and wear and tear on our vehicle to get there. And that studio that you want your pictures in, we usually have to rent by the hour.
Last, but not least, education. A good photographer will invest in education yearly. Online classes, styled shoots, workshops, and more! This is to make sure we are giving you the best images possible. Last year I attended a sleepover workshop with Kylee Ann Studios. It cost me $900, but was worth every penny. I have also attended styled shoots that cost to build my portfolio and have a flash workshop I am attending in February. You know how we make your images look consistent throughout your session despite changing spots… yeah I learned how to do that in a class on Lightroom that I paid for.
Whew, now I can finally pay myself for the time it took to shoot the session, but also the time it takes to edit your images to make sure they are absolutely beautiful and everything you had hoped they would be. Then we have to blog and post about them because we want you to know we love your images just as much as you do!
So, with the overhead costs associated with owning and executing a photography business, photographers aren’t making as much as you may think, but you will get what you paid for. Though my prices have increased due to most of these things, I am also a better photographer than I used to be. Though I know I won’t be in everyone’s price range, that is ok. It’s part of the business world. I hope this helps you all understand where myself and other photographers are coming from and appreciate the investment you are making in your photos that family will see for generations to come.