Why does Pofessional Photography cost so much?
This is the age of digital cameras, scanners, and home photo printers, I get this all the time: Why do you charge £XX.00 for an 8x10 when they only cost me £2.00 at Jessops? Well, Jessops don't pay for my time and expertise. You're just paying to have an image printed by a machine (the print doesn't cost £2.00 to produce from the machine, but Jessops also have to cover their running costs).
Let's take a look at the actual work involved:
Average 2 hour Photoshoot
- Travel to the session.
- Setup, preparation, talking to the client, etc.
- Shoot the photos.
- Travel from the session.
- Load images onto a computer.
- Back up the files on an external drive & DVD.
- Culling the photos to select the best ones.
- 2-4 hours of re-touching time, which includes colour correction, removing blemishes and spots, and backing up edited photographs.
- 2-3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment, and ship.
- Possibly meet clients to review photos and place order. Meeting and travel time average 2 hours.
You can see how a two hour session easily turns into an eight hour or more day from start to finish. So when you see a professional photographer charging a £260 session fee for a two hour photoshoot, the client is not actually paying them £130 per hour.
The eight hour wedding
A wedding photographer will typically meet with the bride and groom several times before and after a wedding. It’s not uncommon to end up with 1-2,000 of photos, much more than a portrait session. Many photographers spend between 20-30 hours working just on one wedding, if you look at the time that is truly involved. Again, when a wedding photographer charges £2,000 for eight hours of coverage, clients are NOT paying them £250 an hour!
(Don’t forget that the photographer runs the wedding day to some extent. A comfortable, confident wedding photographer can make a wedding day go more smoothly.)
The expertise and cost of doing business
Professional photography is a skill acquired over years of experience. Even though a Digital SLR now costs under £500, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.
Most personal photographers take years to go from buying their first camera to making money with photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera, there is a mountain of other equipment and software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website, etc. And don’t forget backdrops, props, rent, utilities, insurance, etc!
Professional photographers also need to have people skills to make subjects comfortable in front of the camera. Posing people to look their best is a skill in itself..
The in-shop photo studio
Shop photo studios do have their place. For a very cheap price you can run in, shoot some quick photos, and be done with it. But you get what you pay for.
Consider the time and effort that a personal photographer puts into photographs, compared to a shop studio. Shop sessions last just a few minutes, while a personal photographer takes the time to get to know the people, makes them comfortable, makes them laugh. If a baby is crying at a chain store, they often don’t have the time (or the patience) to wait because everyone is in a hurry.
Many chain store studios lose money. The shops count on a client coming in for quick, cheap photos.. and while you are there, spending £200 extra on other things. They are there to get you in the door.
The real deal
Professional photographers are just that — professionals. No different than a car mechanic, dentist, doctor, or an electrician. But a personal photographer often becomes a friend, someone who documents a family for generations with professional, personal photographs of cherished memories.
Here's another way to look at it: A pair of scissors costs £2.00 at Boots. Still, majority of people will gladly pay a lot more to go to the hairdresser and have a trained professional cut their hair.
The added attention and quality that a personal photographer gives is worth every penny.
Hopefully those who have taken the time to read this page will have a better understanding of why photographs, created by a professional photographer cost more.