You may wonder why a professional photographer charges the prices that we charge for custom photography, when digital photo equipment is so accessible that almost anyone can take a decent photo these days.
Well, hiring a professional in any industry costs more, and in general, you get what you pay for. So if you want a good lawyer, accountant, plumber, exterminator – you are going to pay for it. Why? Because they have the knowledge and you don’t. The same holds true for photography.
But to give you the full picture and a better explanation, I’ve broken down the costs that go into pricing.
1) Cost of Time
Let’s say you book an hour family session. In general, you pay the photographer a session fee. In my case, sessions are all inclusive, but I’ve factored the session fee into the total cost. So the session fee covers my work for an hour, right? WRONG! So much more goes into a session. Here’s a breakdown:
- 30-60 min. booking time –a potential client contacts me, we chat on the phone, we email to answer questions, I get to know you, I send contracts, we finalize details
- 30-60 min. session prep – this includes possibly scouting out the locations; checking, charging, cleaning and packing equipment; planning poses and special shots requested
- up to 60 min – round trip travel time to the location
- 60 min – YOUR ACTUAL SESSION
- 2-3 hours – editing and creating your gallery – I probably shot well over 150 images during your session. Now I have to find the keepers. After I cull the session down to the keepers, I edit – correcting skin tones, adjusting exposure, cropping images, adding my own personal adjustments to make the images pop. It’s a lot of work.
So that’s over 5-8 hours of work for a one hour session!!
If you read a bit about me, I have a master’s degree in photography. Certainly, a degree isn’t necessary in this industry, but it does guarantee that you are getting a professional, fully trained photographer creating your images. I spent 2 years in school working exclusively in photography. I’ve taken classes on lighting, Photoshop, storytelling and finding my style and voice. I know how to make photographs. At this point, it’s pretty instinctual. You can trust that your images will be good.
There is a knowledge set that has been acquired over years of learning, practice and education and these are things that your photographer should understand (or you should not hire him or her) …
- How my equipment works (exposure, focus, etc)- Your photographer should be fully capable of using their camera in manual mode.
- Lighting – This is what will make your images good. Bad lighting will make bad photos, no matter how great the location or subject. Look at a photographer’s portfolio – if there are a lot of harsh shadows, bright spots – they don’t understand light.
- Editing – This can be simple things, like cropping a photo in a pleasing way, to more advanced actions, like color correction so your skin tone looks correct.
- Unique style: All good photographers have developed a style and vision. When you book a custom photo session, you should choose your photographer based on their portfolio. Find someone whose style seems to mesh with what you are looking for.
3) Equipment and Costs
As a professional, I have good equipment – a pro camera, a wide variety of lenses, computer equipment and editing software, online gallery hosting, a website, cost of goods (like a beautifully printed canvas) and on and on. There is a cost to all of that, as in any business. You can pay an amateur to do your photos, but you will not get the same quality or level of service. Plain and simple.
4) It’s a Custom Experience!
A custom session will provide you with beautiful keepsake photos – the type of images you’ll want in an album or hanging as a large canvas on your wall. Remember that this is your special moment. A professional is going to spend the time to do it right for you. We are spending 1:1 time just with you to make the memories that you want to preserve.
I am not going to shoot only 8 photos and call it a day (see my experience with a mall studio). I’m also not going to charge a minimal fee and burn a CD of all the images without editing and retouching (called shoot and burn photographers). I will take the time that’s needed to create images that your family will treasure.
Here’s an image from a custom studio mini session. This family asked me to create a photo of their girls in black and white with a black background. Sounds like a pretty simple request yet requires strong knowledge of studio lighting and editing to pull it off successfully.
So what is it that you want from your session? Call me today to discuss your custom session, (845) 803-1806