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 8x10 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 (unless you’re way wealthier than I am I suppose). 

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 simply 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 photograpy, but it certainly helps if you know how to use it creatively…and it is NOT cheap.  I just bought the least expensive full-frame camera on the market today (that I’ve come across), and had to shell out $1700 for it.  That’s just for the body too, many lenses cost just as much and definitely more if they’re on the higher end like the Canon 85mm 1.2/f for example.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining… I just know that costs to the photographer like maintaining a online portfolios (in all different media avenues), editing software, and liability may not have crossed your mind.  The reason I know this is because they certainly never crossed my mind before I got to this point in my business! The other kicker are the fact that anywhere from 9-20% of session fees goes toward taxes.  That can be a big surprise 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 Practice

·      Time spent before, during, and after the session

·      Cost of running a business

·      Equipment

·      Editing Software (including both programs and computers/accessories themselves)

·      Etc.