June 17, 2020

Why So Expensive?

$$$ For One Hour

Good morning!! So, this topic has been on my mind for a while now so I thought I would finally talk about it. You would be surprised at the number of potential new clients that ghost me once I inform them of their investment fee for photo sessions. Main reason why; I'm too expensive. They either do not reply, or say that my investment fee is too expensive for just a few minutes. I get it. It DOES sound expensive. I mean, who among us has an awesome job making $150.00-$300.00 or more for thirty to sixty minutes? No one I know. So what makes me special thinking I can charge that much? Let's put it into perspective.

When you start a new job, most everything you need is supplied for you by your employer, correct? Your computer or laptop, software, supplies, a desk, a chair, tools, uniforms (if necessary), etc. When a photographer starts a new businesses, none of that is supplied by their employer because they are their own employer. Let's break this down, shall we?

First up is taxes. If your photographer is running a legal business, which I am, we put back 25-30% of every session to save it for taxes because the government wants their money even though we are self employed. We do not escape paying taxes.

On average a photographer will spend $5,000-$10,000 in the first year in equipment alone. Meaning a primary camera, a back up camera, lenses, backdrops and lighting. That does not include any upgrades or replacement costs, when necessary, over the years.

Then we have accessories. What are these? Memory cards, extra batteries, removable hard drives for storage, flashes, tripods, etc. Depending on what we purchase, that could be up to another $1,000.

After that comes a computer and/or laptop. Because we have to be able to review your amazing photos and have a way to get them to you. Boom, $500-$2,000.

Oh, and then there are monthly subscriptions. You know, a website, a photo gallery/sharing website, and editing software to name a few. Depending on what we use, another $500-$1,000 a year. Every year. Not to mention the fee to register our business with the State, which I have, and the fees for the various licenses such as a Vendor's License, which I also have, enabling us to legally sell prints and other tangible items. Then there are various permits allowing us to photograph on certain properties. For example, I recently had to obtain one for a local park and the fee was $250. Per year.

And that is all before I talk about our vehicles and our time. The extra mileage and gas to get to your photo sessions, especially if they are a bit away from our homes. Parking, if we need to park in a paid lot. Wear and tear on our car.

Our time. The time it takes to prepare for your session. Choosing the perfect location for you, your children, your family. Poses. It's rare a client can pose themselves. Photographing your session. Coming home and loading your photos, reviewing them, editing them, and making them as perfect as possible for you so you will absolutely love them. Doing sneak peeks. Loading them into the gallery and then letting you know they are available. All of that takes time. Longer than just an hour or two, for sure.

Oh, I almost forgot continuing education. Continually learning, taking classes, and making sure that we are up to date on all of the latest and greatest for you. Not to mention, the time away from our families on evenings and weekends. Don't get me wrong, we absolutely love what we do and wouldn't do it if we didn't, but we sacrifice time spent with our families so we can capture your special moments.

And last, but not least, a studio. I am not fortunate enough to be able to have a studio. However, for those that do, there is the rent/mortgage on the studio, utilities, insurance, etc.

I am sure there are items I am forgetting. The above are just the things I scribbled down on a post it note in a late night post-editing haze.

Now that I have "spoken" for photographers everywhere~sorry guys~allow me to talk about my business:

As of right now, my lowest package starts at $150.00 for a 30-60 minute session. Yes, that sounds expensive but in all honesty, it doesn't even begin to cover my cost of doing business; especially for these first few years. Once I put back $45.00 of the session for the IRS, that leaves me with $105.00 to apply to all of the things I listed above. Plus charitable donations. I don't advertise it on my page, but I donated a family session to the Teays Valley Educational Foundation for their auction. I donated a session for another fundraiser. I recently wrote a check to the Ashville Food Pantry after a special I ran for Cap and Gown sessions. I also donate Senior sessions to families I know that are struggling to afford that little bit of extra for their child. And I know that I am not the only photographer in the area quietly donating to worthy causes, believing we should give back to a community we love so much and is helping us follow our dreams of owning our own photography business.

Not only am I not charging enough to cover my cost of doing businesses with extra left over, I am not charging my worth. I have been told by many that my photos are beautiful and I don't charge enough. But here's the thing, readers. I'm a new photographer to the area. I may have lived here all my life but I just recently started my business. There are so many amazingly wonderful photographers around here that I need to be competitively priced without completely undervaluing the industry. One of these days I will get where I want to be, but in the meantime, I just have to be patient. Have I mentioned how much I love what I do? Because if not, I do. I love being behind the camera and one day hope to go full time. Some day.

I didn't write this to chastise you, my friends. I wrote this so you would know exactly what you are paying for when you hire me or any other professional photographer to capture those very special, precious moments to be remembered for lifetimes to come.

And for my clients that have told me my work is impeccable, and insisted on paying the full investment fee~Thank You! You give me, and photographers everywhere, hope. All kinds of hope.