It’s a question I hear quite regularly, a client rings up for a price on a family portrait session or maybe a pre-engagement shoot, and then after informing them of the cost, there is a sharp intake of breath and the words “why are you so expensive, xyz photographer can do it for £x”
There is more to being a “Professional Photographer” than just having a £600 DSLR and being able to take “nice pictures” the skill needs to be honed over many years. In fact, running a successful photography business these days requires more than just good photography skills, you need a sound business head, with good marketing and sales skills, and above all you need to be a “people person”
Coupled with this the fact that a “Professional Photographer” may also have a studio to run, with all those associated costs, not least the photographic accessories like backgrounds, props, lights, stands and all the other paraphernalia that makes up a photographers studio space. Even without the studio space, there are still computers with enough storage space for the ever increasing size of image files, software programmes for editing, a website to be managed and kept up to date, and don’t forget Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance.
Breaking this down even further, lets say I charge £250 for a 1 hour photo shoot. Many clients see that as me charging £250 per hour, more than the cost of their lawyer in some instances. But lets take a look at the work involved.
1hr Photo session (Studio Shoot)
- Telephone/email discussions with client (30 minutes)
- Studio Prep (30mins to 1 hour)
- Photo Shoot (1 hour)
- Load images onto computer (30 minutes)
- Back up images to external media (30 minutes)
- Catalogue, key word, and grade images 30-60 minutes)
- Editing of images (2-3 hours depending on level of retouching)
- Backing up of edited images (30 minutes)
- Arrange viewing session with client (1 hour)
If the shoot is on location then there is additional prep time, load/unload vehicles, travel to/from location.
Clearly from this we can see that I am not charging £250 per hour!
But lets get back to the question, why can xyz photographer down the road shoot the session cheaper than me? Well, there are many reasons for this, they may be “weekend warriors” a slightly disparaging term for Photographers who during the week are at work in their chosen profession but at weekends they shoot weddings or portraits for money, either as a hobby or genuinely because they are just starting out in the business.
They may have a different business model than me, i.e. low price, high turnover or they may not offer any additional services i.e. they don’t do any retouching. Their overheads maybe considerably less too. And one very important thing to ask yourself is, do they have the proper insurance in place.
I often say this to my clients. Buying the services of a pro photographer is no different to buying the services of a lawyer, plumber, electrician or dentist. You wouldn’t hire a lawyer because he was the cheapest, so why hire a photographer because he is the cheapest?
Remember, in life, you get what you pay for.
Best – Colin