Monday, September 22, 2008

Why Does Photography Cost So Much?


It's the question that everyone secretly wants to ask, but rarely does: why does professional photography cost so much? We all know that you can buy an 8x10 at the drug store for less than $5, so why do professionals charge $20 or more?


When you purchase a print, you are not just paying for the actual photograph, you are also paying for the time it took to produce the product. Just like any other consumer product on the market, photographers have to calculate expenses and overhead into our prices. To help you better understand, here's a list of a few things that I personally have to take into account when determining prices:

*TIME: A typical portrait session with young children or high school seniors lasts around two hours. Living in western Oklahoma means that I usually spend an hour or more driving to and from the photo shoot location. Then, depending on the number of images taken, editing, blogging, order preparation and delivery can easily take at least ten hours (weddings can take up to 50+ hours). So, an average portrait session usually equals about 13-15 hours of work.

*EQUIPMENT: A huge portion of my budget goes to maintaining and upgrading equipment. A professional grade SLR camera alone costs around $2,000+ and professionals always have to have a back-up camera. Lenses can be outrageous (I have one that cost $1500 alone) and most photographers need a bag of them for various photographic situations. There's also a constant need for computer and software upgrades, of course, and a while host of things that are needed to keep up with sweeping changes in technology.

*BUSINESS EXPENSES: There's postage, office supplies, insurance and banking fees and all kinds of boring-but-necessary costs that everyone has when operating a business. Plus, since I work on-location, I use a lot of gasoline. Unless you've been living in a cave, you probably realize that gas is a little insanely high these days, so no explanation needed there. :)

*EXPERTISE: While many good photographers are self-taught, they still have to been actively learning in order to continually perfect their craft. I was enrolled in an educational/mentor program before I began my business and have been involved in workshops and classes through the years. I am also a member of a professional photography organization that has yearly dues. None of these things are inexpensive and they must be taken into consideration when determining prices.

Consider this: most of us gladly pay hair stylists for a trim. Scissors only cost a couple of dollars, but most people would rather have someone who knows what they are doing cut their hair. The same applies for professional photography: you are paying for expertise. Fortunately, photo sessions aren't as frequent as hair cuts...and the results last much longer! :)

4 comments:

Bethany said...

Amen girl!

Kellee Smith said...

EDUCATION - everyone wants a deal...

Julie at Creative Genius Art Gallery & Studio said...

THis is so true...there are so many folks out there who just don't get it...

Julie at Creative Genius Art Gallery & Studio said...

So true and very well put!