Knowing the Value in Custom Photography

Photography is more than just taking a few pictures.

Okay...yes, nephew is absolutely ADORABLE!! Anyways, it’s owning and running a business. We have to pay for insurance, taxes, thousands in gear (editing software, camera, lens, lighting) props, outfits, the list goes on. Sometimes my time is spent location scouting, trying to find beautiful locations to shoot at for you and your family, and believe me I always find a beautiful new location! (Don’t forget about all the gas I just used aimlessly driving around, but totally worth the adventure!) I also spend every free second I have bettering my art. Studying my lighting techniques, my camera, business, marketing, accounting, Photoshop, Lightroom and not to mention the time and money that goes into education and workshops. Let me give you a small breakdown of what I have spent just in my first year to create all these beautiful images:

  • Canon Rebel Xsi $300 (My first camera body, now retired!)

  • Canon 6d $1600 (Two bodies are recommended in case of 911 times)

  • Sigma 35mm Art 1.4 Lens $850

  • Canon 1.8 50mm Lens $100

  • Paul C. Bluff Alien Bee 400 Flash Unit and PLM System $385

  • iMac 27" Retina $1,920

  • Random Props, studio organization, material, flooring, etc. to date $1,720

All of this doesn't even include business cards, reflectors, studio and office equipment, LLC fees, attorney fees, business insurance, workshops, mentoring, marketing materials, advertising, contracts, website costs, domain and renewal costs, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, other lens, flashes, props, outfits, backdrops, flooring, studio rent, utilities, internet, flashes, product samples, backup hard drives....have I made my (expensive!) point yet?

Portrait Photography business can range from $9,000-$13,000.

Wedding photography can range from $13,000-$17,00.

SO typically clients (you!) only see me for about an hour, but what you don't see...

Over an hour of planning the shoot (Outfits, location, expectations) + time traveling to the shoot + half an hour to set up the equipment + the actual hour at the shoot + time traveling back + about an hour to load and choose the best images + another two hours minimum to edit the images + an hour to load the images online + backup images + post sneak peek(s) + an hour to blog the session + post to other #socialmedia

Typically, I will spend a minimum of 8 hours per session

SO...that $250 session quickly became $31.25/hr NOT including expenses. After expenses this quickly drops down to $15 per hour...and that is IF you are charging correctly based on personal Cost of Doing Business, Cost of goods, Cost of Labor, etc...could you image if I charged less than $250? Think about this when you are asking for a "discount." You are taking food off the photographers table. One less bill they can pay to help support their family.

How much do you pay your hair dresser? Mechanic? Attorney? Tax guy? It feels better to justify these prices because you can see the amount of time and work that goes into it. When you hire a professional photographer you only see a small amount of what goes into an image.

Sure, you have seen chain department store locations and let me be REAL honest here...I used to work for one. Often times these locations have high turn over rates AND do NOT even require any experience. They are usually hiring for marketing experience. Its all about Sale, sales, sales! Get in...get out....girl, bye! These companies usually hire people with excellent sales experience and these studios will bring you in with a $3.99 per sheet deal leaving you spending $250 on prints and extras. Up sale for the win here!

When you hire me, you are hiring an artist. You are sharing a piece of my experience...and my "eye" for the right shot! A close relationship and maybe a few cheesy jokes! My stride for perfection and my wiliness to go above and beyond.

So next time you talk to a photographer, please don’t mention that they’re expensive, not worth it, or that you’d never spend that much on photographs, etc. Think about all the time and effort they put into their business.

Photography is my passion, my art, my release, my love, my escape, my dream!! Think about all the time and effort I put right back into my business to provide everyone who hires me with beautiful memories that will last a lifetime, for each generation to see and build from. Time that could be spent with my family, my son.

We understand that not many can afford CUSTOM photography but do me a favor don’t think about the price...don't even look at it. Photography should NOT be about the price. Photography is an investment into our legacy, and really its the only thing we leave behind.

Look for a photographer whose style you love. Look for a photographer you vibe with. One that gets you...can relate to you on so many levels. Find a photographer that understands the importance in creating lasting memories, for which someday these photos will be all you have left of them. If you love her (or him!) for them, know that they are worth it! Your memories are worth it!! At the end of the day…its not even about the price, its about the memories.