Professional Photography: The Cost, Explained.
Name Brand vs Generic
When choosing any product, people often look for the cheapest option. That is human nature. Hard earned money shouldn’t be spent on one item when there is an almost identical alternative sitting on the shelf right below it. Right? In the case of shopping at Walmart, this is true. In fact, when tested against one another, consumers can’t tell the difference between name brand and the value option. Unfortunately, this is also true in photography until it is too late.
When it comes to the service industry, however, people gain a different perspective. While, yes, we’d all be happy to pay the very lowest price and receive top of the line service, this is often not the reality. The lowest cost roofer is likely to be the one to litter your driveway with nails and give you a popped car tire at no extra charge. There’s a reason that the very best in the business are typically the one’s charging the big bucks. That reason? Quality.
What is quality?
In service, quality is not just in reference to the integrity of the final result. Quality is the satisfaction the consumer feels with the end result compared to the value of the service received. The satisfaction of the consumer is not determined solely by the end result of a transaction and performance of service. A professional, clean introduction to the service provider, whether in person or online, the ease of requesting service, and the responsiveness of the provider are just a few examples of displaying quality even before the client books service.
What does quality look like in photography?
Quality in photography comes in many forms. The look and intuitiveness of the studio website, communicating professionally, how well they represent their own brand, trade knowledge and experience, edit quality, turnaround time, and proof delivery are just a few pieces that fit into the large puzzle of a quality photography experience.
But why is it so expensive?
Quality photography can run anywhere from $100 – $600+ for a single shoot. Some don’t even include free, un-watermarked downloads with that price. Photoshoots are expensive because photography is expensive. As a consumer, have you researched the cost of even a professional camera manufactured in 2016? (Just for reference, a studio-grade Canon 5D MkIV from that year is $2,699. And that doesn’t even include a lens.). Quality camera lenses alone cost $500+.
You see where this is going?
Pretend cameras were free, and all that a photographer had to pay for was everything else required to book you, take your photos, edit them, and then deliver them to you. This is how the cost breaks down:
- $20/month – Website hosting, domain, SEO, etc.
- $50/month – Marketing. I am being extremely frugal with this one.
- $35/month – Editing software.
- $15/month – Photo storage & delivery.
Based on monthly cost alone, a photographer spends $120 just to keep the doors open. This does not include any other business expenses such as studio rent, equipment maintenance, insurance, etc, which can total up into the hundreds, thousands if including studio rent & utilities.
As you can see, the costs add up very quickly. The figures above do not include gas to get to the shoot, labor cost, lighting equipment, computers, etc.
Pay your photographer for doing photography.
Photography is expensive. If you want a great experience booking your photographer and viewing and receiving your photos, pay them for it.
If you want great looking edits with beautiful colors and gorgeously sharp, stunning images, pay your photographer for it.
I 100% understand that some people can’t afford to pay for great photos, but photographers need to pay for their great photos, too.
This may be a bit rant-y, but I felt that it was, and still is, an important subject to touch on. People take for granted the amount of time and capital invested into even something as simple as a senior photoshoot.
I pride myself on providing some of the best quality photos for the best possible price to my small town of DeMotte and it’s neighbors. I only hope to continue to be able to grow my business and invest in bigger and better equipment. Then I’ll have to raise my prices.
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