Why a Professional Photographer is an Investment
Have you ever asked yourself. “Why does a Professional Photographer cost so much?” Honestly, before I was a professional photographer I even asked myself the common question of “Why on Earth do you (Alicia Gines Photography or other pro photographers) charge $35.00 for an 8×10 when I can go to a local printer (Walgreens, Walmart, Etc) and spend roughly $2.84 for the SAME THING?!?!!”
Well, that’s were it all starts. Usually photographers just get completely irritated at their clients and storm off…(in their heads)… instead of educating you otherwise. The answer to that common question is pretty simple if you stop and really think about everything that your photographer does for you and your final product(s). The answer lies within all of the equipment costs, artistic vision of the photographer, reputation, expertise (knowledge), efforts/time, and the usual cost of running a legal business.
Let’s do a quick break down all of these things that I just listed and how much time and money the photographer puts into each one. Only then, will you truly see why professional photographers are an investment that you should decide on!
Time of a Professional Photographer:
*1-2hrs Personal Consultation and Answering Emails/Phone calls
*1-2hrs Researching/Scouting for special, unique locations and props
*30min-1hr Session prep time. (Checking equipment and back up equipment as well as a car check)
*30min-3hr Driving TO Event or Session Location
*30mins-1hr Prep time at client’s Event or session location
*60mins-2hr Actually photographing the client and finding that unique shot for each photo, for a portrait session.
*6hrs-12hrs Actually photographing the client and finding that unique shot for each photo, for an event.
*20mins-1hr Break down and check of equipment
*30min-3hr Driving FROM Event or Session Location
*sometimes having to book a hotel due to locations be too far away
*30-45mins Backing up all original images/files
*2-5hrs Editing portrait sessions
*up to a week of editing a wedding or other event
*30-60mins Uploading and creating Private Online Gallery
*2-3hr Ordering Consultation (Time spent with client deciding on what to order in person/email)
*1hr Sorting through and checking order for any mistakes
*30mins-1hr Prep time for order for printer
*30mins-1hr Getting order shipped
*Additional time aside for needed add on orders, shipment issues, or quality/printing issues. Some clients need more help and communication than others as well.
Costs of a Professional Photographer:
Without going into specific costs of equipment (cameras, lens, computers, storage, etc) I would like to touch on a rough estimate on how much it costs a professional photographer. Keep in mind that a photographer can buy consumer grade, prosumer grade, or professional grade. And professional grade photography has many different levels.
*Quality Camera $2,000-$20,000+ (good quality to best quality) and that is sadly JUST the camera!
*Quality Len(s) $500-$5,000 (a piece)
*Computer $1,000-$5,000 (includes monitor, calibration, etc)
*Editing Software $2,500-$8,000.
After all the “equipment” you have to consider the print lab costs, vendor costs (packaging, samples for clients, etc) website, hosting, storage, blog, professional attire, etc. On top of that, now you have to look at the costs of “business”. Running a legal business is a must for a photographer’s reputation and it isn’t cheap. This includes, taxes, licenses, clearances/permits, insurances, liabilities, etc.
After all of the obvious costs of being a professional photographer there are some hidden agendas as well; like making a reputation for themselves. Always providing the absolute best, going above and beyond, and excelling expectations of clients. To do this a photographer has to be consistent, professional, and likable to all clients. That takes of lot of heart and passion. A photographer has to tell stories, share stories, and make them relate-able for all the clients so that the client will want to come back and/or share with others.
Something that I have always done for my clients, aside from everything above, is be present during a portrait session or a wedding/event. During sessions I take time to become a trusted family friend. I go as far as singing to the kids, fixing mom’s dress, coaching dad on how to properly hold his brand new baby, and so much more. These things are what help everyone ease into such beautiful moments with grace and beauty. For weddings I go even more above and beyond, and it isn’t something that I even realize I am doing until the day is done and I find myself talking about the day and how I was not only photographing it, but how I was also a part of making their day so photographic! I’ve done it all when it comes to wedding day! I’ve been a shoulder to cry on for good and bad, fixed makeup and hair, cleaned unmistakable stains out of the bride’s maid’s dress, helped with a boo-boo or even ten, drive the bride and groom to and fro, drive family to and fro so they dont miss the wedding or reception, played with the little ones while the bride takes a minute to gather herself, and so so much more. I not only take amazingly great pride in all of the technical and business aspects of being a professional photographer, but I also take pride in being that photographer that has the expertise and compassion that you can not put a dollar on.
People often ask if being a photographer is my hobby, and I am always baffled when I am asked that. As a professional photographer I want people, especially my clients, to know that this is my passion, my life, our everything. Being a professional photographer means that I eat, breath and live for THIS. This is my bread, and without it we don’t have any other means. Many people don’t understand how I can, ‘just be a photographer’ but what we always say is that life is not about the money, it’s about the moments shared.
I hope that all of this has shed a little beautiful light on the matter, and that it helps you to make the right decision when it comes to choosing to invest in photography.