“How much is your session?”
These two questions, or variations thereof, are really hard for me to hear on occasion.
They shouldn’t be; they’re straight-forward questions with straight-forward answers. However, once answered, it’s the replies that tend to make me cringe….
” Oh, I can’t afford that much.”
“Do you give discounts?”
Or the worst…they never call or email back.
It doesn’t matter that a large portion of the fee comes back to the client in studio credit to purchase prints/products.
The other day, a friend and client told me that it’s because people in my area don’t have a clue as to what a professional photographer is worth; they are so used to Olan Mills or Sears or the shoot-and-burn-fly-by-night photographers that give you the digital copies to print at Walmart.
So, I thought I would take some time and explain exactly what goes into my fees; because they’re actually on the low end in comparison to other photographers within my experience level.
First things first, I need to show you how a professional photographer spends their time. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all fun and fluff!
This is how many believe a photographer spends his/her time according to the ISPWP:
This is how photographers TRULY spend their time:
The above graph doesn’t even include the constant education that we put ourselves through to stay up-to-date on the newest technology and techniques!
With a better idea of how we actually spend our time, let me break down why my prices are what they are.
A standard 1-2 hour family session starts at $150.
- 1 Hour or more researching ideas and locations for your shoot.
- At least an hour of packing up gear, traveling to and from the location, and then unpacking gear.
- 30 Minutes of setup, preparing the client and going over paperwork, if any.
- Up to 2 Hours of composing and actual shooting.
- 30 Minutes or more to transfer images from my camera to my computer.
- 30 Minutes or more to backup the same images on my portable hard drive.
- 5 Hours or more editing time in Lightroom and Photoshop crop, check levels (contrast and color), provide any artistic techniques, sharpen, create watermarked social media copies, and backing-up all edited photos.
- 1 Hour or more to create your custom slideshow for your viewing session.
- 2 Hours or more to speak with you during your viewing session, answer any questions you may have, review your custom slideshow and edited images, choose images for albums and/or order your chosen prints/products.
- 30 Minutes or more to upload edited images to own online gallery for reorders and family/friends.
- 1 Hour or more to prepare and order your album if you ordered one.
- 1 Hour or more to receive/verify orders, package prints, and ship out orders on Fridays or meet with a client for pickup.
As you can see, you’re not paying me $75 an hour to shoot your family portrait. Newborns and weddings are on an even higher scale, but that’s another post.
“How much for digital copies?”
This is another question that worries me; but not for the reason you think.
Most clients figure they can just get digital copies and take them to the local Walmart, Walgreens or Costco and save money with 20-cent 4×6 prints.
Yes, you would be saving money in some regard BUT the quality and standard of prints drop drastically.
As a professional, I work very hard to make your images look their best, but by printing them at a sub-standard “printer” or printing them on your own, you are essentially devaluing my hard work and your hard-earned money.
Take this test, find some old photos that were printed at a chain portrait store or one from your own printer at home. How does it hold up to a professional portrait? Are they discolored? Faded?
Sub-standard portraits won’t stand the test of time. Professional portraits printed at professional labs are ARCHIVAL.
What does archival mean? In this case, it means that our paper will last at least 100 years; 200 years in dark storage. Walmart, Sears, Olan Mills, or any other chain or sub-standard printer can’t offer that to you.
The phrase “You get what you pay for.” says it all.
In the near future, I will have an in-hand print comparison for clients to view.
I hope this explains a bit more about why my pricing is what it is because photography is my passion and I truly want to use that passion to create memorable images that tell YOUR story.
Have a question? Ask me below in the comment section. 😀
Nicole – Owner of Cloud 9 Imagery
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