"I love your work and I would love to work with you!" This was such a lovely, uplifting message to receive. After years and years of working my arse off to get a portfolio I am proud of. I've spent years wondering if I will ever make it as a photographer and the nearly $10K worth of equipment I bought to "follow my passion" was worth it. There have been so many times I was ready to give up and sell all of my equipment. To receive this message "I love your work and I want to work with you!" WOO HOO! Someone has recognised my hard work over the past years.
So after I receive this message I start thinking about prices. How much do I charge. I get a quote together, tell my partner that someone loves my work and wants me to photograph them.
I send them my price...............................[insert Cricket chirping sound]
Actually I will share with you some common questions all photographers get asked.
"Oh I love your work and would love you to take my photo, I'm happy to volunteer for you anytime you need a model." ----- Hmmmmm! I spent hundreds of hours perfecting my portfolio and doing hundreds of TFP shoots to get my style to the level that you love!
"It must be really easy to take good photos when you have an expensive camera!" ----- Let me reveal a huge secret, the more expensive the camera, the more difficult it is to use! True story!
From an agent "I have a model who told me she loves your work and would like to you take her photo for her port folio", so I sent my prices, the response "Oh, no, she is wanting you to do it TFP (free)!" ----- could you imagine asking a builder to build you a house because you love their work, BUT, you don't want to pay them.
"I would love you to take photos at our event, it would be really good exposure for you and we will recommend you to everyone we know!" Great, here are my prices. "Oh it really isn't in our budget, but it would be really good exposure for your business and you can hand out your business cards." ---- try walking into a restaurant and asking the chef to prepare a meal for 10 people, then telling him/her that we are going to tell EVERYONE how great you are, BUT we aren't going to pay you.
"How in the world do Professional Photographers charge so much for prints, when I can print them for only 9 cents?" In this digital age where everyone has digital cameras, scanners and home “photo printers”, when people upload their photos to a Big W or Harvey Norman store website and pick them up a few hours later, we hear this all the time. I will explain this in detail below.
"I don't want any prints, I just want the images on a USB." ----- Copyright, Copyright, Copyright!!! I will explain more below.
"OMG you are so talented, why aren't you doing this full time?" and here lies the ultimate question.
"How much do you charge for a wedding?" Lots of emails back and forth, then it finally ends with "oh I don't want prints, I am just wanting to pay you for an hourly rate and just get the unedited images on a USB" -----
So.......this is why I don't work for free
Firstly, this is my business, I have kids to feed, rent and bills to pay, just like everyone else. While I LOVE being a photographer, I can't live off love. Sadly!
Simply put, you’re not just paying for a photograph, you’re paying for time and expertise in creating the image itself. First, let’s look at the actual time involved. If you don’t read this entire page, at least read this first part.
For a one hour shoot:
– half an hour to an hour of travel to and from the session or the same amount of time to setup if it is in my studio
– one to two hours of shooting (usually I go over time)
– 30 minutes to load the photos onto a computer (2 – 4 Gb of data)
– 30 minutes to back up the files on external drives plus DVD’s
– 3 – 4 hours of Photoshop time including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, saving a copy for print and a copy for the internet and backing up the edited photographs
– 2 - 3 hours of conversations before and after the shoot with client organising the shoot location and details. Organising hair and makeup artists if required. Uploading images to be viewed, ordering prints etc.
You can see how a one/two hour session easily turns into more than ten hours of work from start to finish. So when you see a Photographer charging a $220 session fee for a one or two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $100 / hour.
For an eight hour wedding:
– I won’t bore you with the details, but I do get asked constantly for my prices on weddings. An eight hour wedding typically amounts to at least one full 40 hour work weeks worth of time, this does not include the expenses that the photographer has to pay their suppliers for prints, canvases, albums etc. Again, if they are charging you $4,000 for an eight hour wedding, you are not paying them $500 / hour. The album, the proofing, the prints, the parent albums, are not only expensive for the photographer to buy, but also require a lot of time by the studio to handle and produce. And to ask a photographer for their prices and then say we only want to pay you by the hour, you would be better off choosing one of their packages in the first place.
Now for what it costs me to take a photo ........
Shooting professional photography is a skill, acquired through years of experience. Making people feel completely comfortable in front of my lens and being able to produce images that show the real person I am shooting, is my art form.
I have 3 camera bodies which are worth around $4,000-$5,000 ...... for just the bodies!!!! Most of my lenses are worth from $500 - $2000 each. My laptop was $2000, my desktop was $3500. This doesn't include courses, software, SD/CF memory cards, backdrops, lighting equipment, website fees, advertising and insurance.
Think of it this way – How much do you spend to get your hair done? Cut and colour? Depending on the salon anywhere from $150 - $300. You are there for up to 3 hours. Yet half the time you sit in the chair waiting for the colour to develop. And you do this every 6 - 8 weeks. Why would you spend that much money when you could come over to my house and I could get a pair of scissors and a packet colour from the supermarket and do your hair for you?
If you have read this to the end, thank you. I hope you will have a better understanding of why professional photographs cost more than the ones that you get for 9 cents per images. I haven't even touched on the Calibration of our screens with our suppliers or the copyright issues with only providing digital images.