What do professional photographers charge? Every professional photographer has heard at least one of these responses to their price list:
- But I can have my friend take pictures on her iPhone for free.
- I was hoping to spend $100 since all you have to do is press a button.
- Wow, I wish I made $600 for something as easy as this.
- What exactly do I get for that?
- Maybe I should quit my job and be a photographer!
Good photography can seem expensive—but it’s actually an investment on both sides.
Professional photographers spend thousands on expenses and gear. They also spend many more hours than the time you see them shooting. It can be easy to look at a photography price sheet and imagine photographers tucking themselves into Egyptian cotton sheets inside mansions. But, in reality, most of that cost is going towards expenses.
Plus, just like working with a professional in any other field, you get what you pay for!
With experience comes demand, and with demand comes a price increase. Our work has been featured in over seven different magazines at SHE Photography, and often on the cover.
Professional photographers don’t earn big money for simply pressing a button. Plus, when you factor in the hidden time and monetary investments, most photographers don’t make much more than your hairdresser or accountant.
Today’s market is becoming saturated with “photographers”, ones that charge as little as $50 for an hour session with 35 digital photos. Are you kidding me?!? One may ask themselves, why hire SHE Photography for significantly more, rather than having someone else do it for $50, maybe $100?
Here’s what you’re actually getting when you pay for a professional photographer (and what you miss out on when you don’t).
Photography is Far More Than Pressing a Button
You can probably get photos for less by walking into a chain studio, like the ones located in department stores. But here’s the catch—have you ever seen the help wanted ads for these types of businesses? They say no photography experience necessary.
These $50 studios don’t hire professional photographers. They’re actually just looking for people with sales experience. That ensures that you walk in the door for a $50 special and walk out spending $600 in prints and extras with an upsell.
With SHE Photography, the cost is always what I quote the client up front. No “it’s $150 for 60 min w 30 images.” or “Oh you mean I don’t actually get those 30 images, those costs more?” Unfortunately, sales gimmicks often end up costing the client far more than what they “charge.”
When you hire a professional photographer, you really hire an artist. They’ve spent years perfecting their craft. They’ve also invested a lot of money and time into learning how to take beautiful images. When you meet, they’re going to put time and effort into helping you relax and smile. They won’t rush you through a session and then spend twice as much time convincing you to buy the add-ons. At SHE photography, we do the leg work, we tell you the up front price, and we guide you on what to wear and where to shoot. In our sessions we bring 11 plus years of knowledge to help make your experience fun and comfortable and the quality of the images beyond what you expect. Do me a favor and click the link to some of these photographers on FB claiming to be “professional”, you will wish you had done your research, you get what you pay for.
Photography is Expensive—But Not Hiring a Professional Costs More
I firmly believe that everyone should take photos, whether it’s of their kids growing up or the places they travel. However, there’s a big difference between a casual smartphone shot and a professional photograph.
When you hire a professional, you’re getting an artist who knows just how to light the shot, how to pose you, and how to set up the photo. You’re getting a photograph that can be reprinted onto a large canvas because it was shot with a professional camera and not your smartphone. (Plus, since you hired an artist, you’ll find that you might want to!)
If you’re hiring a professional product photographer, for instance, you end up with high-end images that increase your sales with no other changes. This is especially true for shoppers who are buying something online that they can’t touch. In cases like these, professional photographs go a long way! When you choose not to hire a professional, or a cheap photographer claiming to be professional, you get images that are clearly DIY. Unfortunately, this means you will lose sales as a result. Are you going to be the Bloomingdales or Dollar Store? You’re marketing and your photos will send a message to the end consumer, think about the message you want to send.
Likewise, when you hire a professional portrait photographer, you receive images that make you feel confident about yourself. On the other hand, when you go to a walk-in chain store, you feel rushed and often leave paying more because of an upsell.
You are Paying for Quality, Experience, Creativity, and Professionalism
Most photographers have heard something like this: “We hired our friend/family member to take our photos, but to be honest, we hate them! We’ve already spent so much time coordinating those. Now we know we have to go through it all again…”
This is why it pays to save your money, do your research, and pay for a professional. You might end up spending more money in the long run by hiring a pro to make up for the first mishap.
Professional photographers have done everything they can to make sure your images are stunning. They know how to direct you during sessions to make sure everything looks natural. Professionals know how to pose you. They know the right angles, the perfect lighting, the proper exposure, the correct aperture, and the right settings to use. Professionals won’t give you images that are out-of-focus or blurry.
We do our best to make sure you get the best because YOU DESERVE IT!
At SHE Photography, we have contracts in place, we ask you questions, and we ensure the process is smooth for you from beginning to end. Likewise, if you have any questions or concerns about your shoot, we’re always here to talk things out with you.
Always ask questions before you book to make sure you’re a good match with your photographer. You should check out their website and their blog, in addition to checking what other people are saying about them in their reviews.
On a similar note, make sure they are a legitimate business before you put money down on them! I have seen “professional” photographers scam several people over the years, so I encourage you to do your research before choosing a photographer.
With experience comes demand, and with demand comes a price increase. At SHE Photography, our work has been published in a wide variety of publications, often on the front cover, and we have years of professional experience and know-how.
Our pricing ensures that we get clients who value their own work and who know they are. Remember, everyone is at different levels in their own business, and finding the right fit is essential!
Photography Sessions are Filled with “Hidden Hours.”
If a photographer charges $600 for a 60 minute session, they’re not really charging $600 an hour. At the very least, professional photographers spend at least 3x that on a single session.
While a client may only see their photographer for one hour, there was likely:
- Over an hour of planning the shoot
- Time spent traveling to the shoot location
- 30 minutes to set up the equipment
- The one hour at the shoot
- Time spent traveling back
- One hour to load and choose the best images
- Two hours minimum to edit the images
- One hour to load the images online
- One hour to order and deliver prints
So, your one-hour session? Your photographer probably spent two full eight hour days working on it!
That $600 session becomes roughly $15 an hour, not including expenses.
How much do you pay your hairdresser, or tax guy, or mechanic? Sometimes it feels more comfortable to justify those expenses since you see how much work went into the project yourself.
However, when you hire a professional photographer, you only see a fraction of what it took to produce those final images.
Professional Photographers Run a Legal Small Business
If someone you know is offering photoshoots for under $100, they likely aren’t running a legal photography business, or they are just starting and don’t realize the costs of business yet.
For instance, when I first started as a photographer, I did it all as a hobby and helped a few friends out for free. After that, more people came to me asking for gigs and I started to raise my pricing to help get my business started and purchase new gear, which at the time totaled around $6,000.
All three of my camera bodies alone are valued at $3,000 each, plus lenses ranging in price from $1000-$3000, and then there’s lighting equipment. When you add it all up, I’m insured for $20,000 of gear. That doesn’t even include my desktop, laptop, and software!
When I received the paperwork for starting my business, I learned that I would have to pay yearly to renew that. I also learned about paying taxes, hiring an accountant, memberships and software, sales tax for physical goods…and the list of finances grew.
To be safe, most small business owners put 30% of whatever they make into a tax account that they don’t touch to ensure that they have the proper amount set aside when tax season rolls around.
Self-employed taxes, health insurance, liability insurance, gear insurance (typically over $500 a year), utilities (including a faster-than-average internet speed for uploading huge image files), and marketing expenses all factor in as well.
What Do Professional Photographers Charge? Getting Started with a Pro
Remember, the images you create with your photographer will be the first thing someone notices about your business, so it’s worth taking the time to capture who you are as a business owner at this moment in time by working with the right photographer for you.
The best way to get to know someone is by meeting them! A meeting is a completely different experience to having an email conversation. It’s much more personal, and it usually involves a nice cup of tea or coffee.
If you want to book some time to chat more about your questions and view some of my photos, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!