Why Photographers charge so much, or what meets the eyes of a client, and what's behind the scene!
I get that question a lot! I’d say it all comes down to the true value - skills, experience, uniqueness, quality, gear, premium services and dedication! That’s what yields in a quality results and great photo-memories!
Why are you looking for a photographer? Can’t you just take those pictures with a cell phone all by yourself? Most likely - yes! Hold on a second! Isn’t there something else you really expect to happen? I hope you know - it should be some sort of Magic, creating that perfect picture which years down the road will brings memories to flood all right and wrong emotions in your heart!
Now if you have a professional skills, training and experience in photography than you are fine! Go ahead and snap away those pictures with your phone because even those will come out just right! If you are not a photographer, than well, please, find one, explore his or her portfolio, decide how comfortable you are, what you feel about working together on creating those special, one of a kind photo-memories
Even one year later from your wedding day, or baby’s first steps you will most likely forget what was on your menu or what color where napkins on the table! You will left with with only to type of memories - either great ones and pictures to back it up, or devastating, because there pictures weren’t that great, or key people didn’t get to be photographed, or even worst - no pictures at all. Believe it or not, but I was recently approached by a newlywed bride who was inquiring about post-wedding emergency photoshoot! The person who was supposed to take pictures of the most important day of their lives, and who was referred by friend of a friend - just didn’t show up! Well, for any future events that couple will make sure to hire real, experienced photographer, who would be pricier than an amature!
What professional photographer needs? To say the least - Skills, Experience, Unique vision is about seeing beyond what’s in front of your eyes versus snapping the picture of what’s in your viewfinder.
Well, the process of creating a photograph is not just snapping a picture - anybody can do that! It's about vision, passion, hand and eye coordination. When we see "the Moment" in a viewfinder it takes milliseconds to press the shutter at a precisely right moment and freeze it forever! With digital photography we can do over as many times, but that one special moment will be gone by then forever! So it does takes time, passion and precise hand/eye coordination!
That's it? Nope, it’s just a beginning!
Than phase two begins - download batch of pictures onto computer, open them up in a photoshop. Then we've got to delete blurry ones, or those pictures where eyes are closed, or face looks tense, stiff, nervous angry, or just not right. Let’s not forget bad hair! Phases three - optimizing or correcting images, and that includes adjusting color, temperature, exposure, shadows and highlights, levels, sharpness, brightness, contrast, cropping and resizing. Next phase is what I call - beauty and glamour! Who likes to have wrinkles and doubles chins preserved on their pictures? No one - that's what I though! So wrinkles, blemishes, double chins, scars and moles in most instances must go! Don't forget, some ladies want their digital tummy tucks! Oh yes, that's possible too!
Please do not compare us to a chain stores - Back in a day I had experience to work for one of them - I won't mention their name here, but… all camera settings were locked in and could be changed only from Headquarters located in a remote state, so customers with lighter or darker skin were photographed with the same camera setting, plus we weren’t allowed to spend too much time talking to customers because again - we were timed for each setting. Than process of pushing products would start. What the chain stores bet on is that you’ll come in for some quick and cheap photos, and while you’re there, you’ll also spend $200 on other preset collages photo magnets and frames. They are there just to get you in the door.
If you must to compare us to chain store, consider all of the time and work that we put into our photographs, compared to what they do. Good luck getting a two hour photo shoot at a chain store. Not to mention they won’t come to your location! And of course, look at our work compared to theirs. You get what you pay for.
Who doesn’t love gorgeous photo memories to display on their walls, right?
Let me share what two hour portrait session includes. In a different words - what meets the eyes of a client, and what's behind the scene!
Before Photo Shoot:
– up to 3 hours of pre-shooting consultations, including emailing back and forth to a client, arranging day and time and sometimes location;
– up to 1 hour - meeting in person, or phone call on Skype/Viber/WhatsAPp/Google-Hangout/Zoom etc. to get to know one another, discuss ideas, give suggestions on wardrobe choices and preferable poses.
– 2 t0 4 hours scouting for location if needed
– up to 1 hour customizing and emailing price proposal and later on photoshoot agreement to client
On a day of a Photo-shoot:
– 1 to 2 hours or more of travel to the session.
– 30 minutes of setup and then pack-away: load and unload photography gear, light stands and lights, backdrop with holders. All photography gear ranges about 10 - 20 pounds
– 30 minutes talking to a client - making sure to calm down any anxieties, since most of client are not professional models and do not feel free and spontaneous in front of a professional camera; checking wardrobe, hair and makeup. If photo session includes children than preparation and shooting times usually TRIPLES, especially if it is a newborn baby photoshoot.
– 2 to 4 hours of shooting (or more depending on situation). Each hour of a photoshoot produces approximately 500 to 600 raw pictures
– 1 to 2 hours or more of travel from the photoshoot.
– 30 minutes to load up pictures onto a computer (2 – 4 Gb of data)
– 1 to 2 hours or more to backup photo files on multiple external drives and on the Cloud based servers.
– 1 to 3 hours just to comb through hundreds of raw photos to choose twenty to forty photos that are completely terrific (eyes open, not squinting closed, no stray hairs or strange angles, lovely smile, the right vibe and attitude, right pose, good composition, everything coming together to express just what it is we were aiming for).
– 4 to 6 hours of Photoshop time including resizing, renaming, cropping, correcting contrast, color, sharpening, temperature, shadows, highlights, masking, saving a copy for print and a copy for the internet and backing up the edited photographs
– 2 to 6 or more hours to create and then place orders for special collages, posters or album pages, or create special orders like calendars, mugs, magnets, canvas prints etc - that if they want hand-held productions in addition to their digital one.
– 2 to 3 hours to upload all images to a secure online gallery for a client to watch, order additional prints and share on social media with friends
– 2 to 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive their order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment and drop package off at a post office.
– 1 to 2 hours for local customers, we may meet them at our studio to review their photos and place order. Meeting and travel time averages about 2 hours.
All together we are looking at about 40 or more hours of production work with just 2 to 4 hours of time when customers actually see a photographer in front of their eyes.
So when you see a Photographer charging a $300 session fee for a two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $150 / hour. I'll help you here with a little math. Remember, I said it's about 38 hours behind the scene, and just 2 in front of the customer? Yep, let's divide 40 hours by $300? Here is your answer! $7.50 per hour! Way below the minimum wage...
By the way, when a clients think there is no need for a photoshoot because they want only few pictures, it is a photographer’s duty to explain to a customer what entails into creating a photo memory to last a lifetime, or just produce few snapshots which hopefully won’t be out of space, out of shape, or out of context
How much would you pay to get your hair done? Sometimes the price is close to a $100 while a pair of chip scissors only costs under $5.00. But you gladly pay way more to hire a Professional who you would trust to actually do the job and make you look beautiful! Right? Of course, because you clearly see the value! So it is up to us, photographers, to show you, the customer, benefits and value and what hides underneath that tip of an Iceberg - two hours of photoshoot and seeing a photographer in front of your eyes. As you know now - there is about 38 or more hours, hidden under water, but those hours are the key to creating that photo memory which you and your loved ones will cherish for a very long time. After all, the color of napkins, or taste of specific dish at some sit down event is important now but will be indefinitely forgotten years to some, Can you imagine the disappointment later, when napkins and flowers were right but photographer didn’t deliver what was expected of him and the vent is already in the past?
True story: recently I was approached by a client, who was asking me to do an emergency post-wedding photoshoot!!!! Friend-of-a-neighbours-uncle’s-ex-wife-best-someone… (the chain here can be long) was hired to do the job almost for free and never showed up for that wedding! Wow!!!
Professional photographer has training and skills acquired through years of experience. Google your photographer, check him or her on Yelp! What kind of reviews are there? Is there a website and portfolio? What about Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr? Be comfortable not with the price but with value!
A photographer’s price is going to be your first clue as to their experience, education and talent level. Don’t looks at the price as expense, it’s quite opposite - it’s your investment!
Don’t afraid to invest money, be afraid of not getting what you are dreaming about!
Every semi professional photo camera has a dial for different functions which are coded with letters. There is a letter “P” which stand for “Portrait Orientation” of a picture, this letter “P” does not stand for “Professional”