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Photography + Business Education

Understanding Photography Prices

The world is in a strange, limbo stage between the age of “say cheese” studio photography and what has become known as “shoot and share” photography. As I’m sure you know, the modernization of equipment has made creativity available to the general public as almost everyone now owns a camera of some sort. The classic, maybe ‘old fashioned’ way of running a photography business involves a very insignificant cost for the actual session, but prints (and even just single files) is where the price goes through the roof.  I was talking to an older studio owner just a couple days ago and he charges $25 for the session but, for example, an 8×10 print is $42.  FOURTY-TWO DOLLARS people!! It was all I could do to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor and squelch a laugh.  When I asked him about digital files he said the cost is the same. The photos he showed me and the ones I saw on the wall were fine…but there wasn’t anything special or different about them and they all looked like that super posed JC Penney sort of style.

Shoot and Share is the exact opposite of this.  The bulk of the cost comes from the session itself and then the photographer shares a certain amount of photos (or sometimes more if they have more good ones), specified in the session description of course.  Sure there will always be costs like travel, tax, etc., but there are way fewer hidden fees and you know exactly how much it will cost you up front rather than waiting to see the photos and seeing how much you can/have to fork over in order to get a measly 5-10 photos. 

So what are you paying for??

Well, the session and the photos of course.. but that’s not it! The reason good photography is more pricey isn’t solely because it’s an inconsistent industry and therefore has to be.  Good photographers have spent thousands of hours learning, reading, practicing, building websites and branding, etc. Then there’s the equipment.  Good equipment does not equal good photography, but it certainly helps create quality results if you know how to use it well…and it is NOT cheap.  Both of my cameras are worth $2,000 (was closer to $3,000 when they came out and I purchased them) and most of my lenses were between $1400-2200.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining… I just know that costs to the photographer like website and image gallery hosting fees, editing software, and insurance (for equipment & liability) may not have crossed your mind.  The other kicker is the fact that roughly 15% of session fees goes toward income tax (this is beyond what you might pay in sales tax at the session) and around 3% typically covers the fee for paying with a credit card.  Those can be big surprises if the time isn’t spent to stay on top of records and saving year round.

Basically what I’m trying to get across is that good photography is worth paying for, and the prices are probably not be as ridiculous as they may seem.  I would encourage you (especially for your wedding) to get a photographer that you can trust to do a good job and be reliable…that way you relax and it’s one less thing you have to worry about!

Understanding photography prices in short:

·      Education and Experience

·      Time spent before, during, and after the session

·      Operating Expenses (things like website fees, image gallery hosting, editing software subscriptions, client relationship management system, insurance, client gifts, etc.)

·      Equipment (cameras, lenses, lighting, computers, hard drives, sd cards, etc.)

                      ·      Taxes (typically around 15%) & credit card fees (typically around 3%)

·      Etc.

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