Ever wonder why Photography is costly?
I admit, a few years back I never understood why photographers charged so much, then I became one. Even then, I still didn't really get it, and that's because I was not investing a lot of time/money into my business. Last year, everything changed. I was stuck in a rut and not feeling as passionate about photography like I once did. I wanted to offer more, I wanted to learn and improve. I did want my work to just look like everyone else's. My goal is for someone to see a photo and automatically knew who took it. More than that, I want to be proud of the work that I offer and I want to make a difference in peoples lives, even if it is to give them a smile and wall art they can have hanging on the walls of their homes for years to come. That gives you a little back story but still doesn't really let you in on why its definitely an investment when you hire a photographer, let me explain.
We will start with the most obvious, gear. You will not believe how expensive professional equipment cost. Now I am not telling you all of this to brag or be boastful. I am telling you so that you can have actual numbers and maybe understand what I mean. One of the camera bodies in this photo below is a Canon R6. It is my main camera body. It retails for $2,799 and that is for the body alone, no lens. The lenses are actually sometimes more important than the body and sometimes they are as much or more than the body itself. The Canon RF 85mm lens below retails for $2,699. The RF 50mm retails for $2,299 and the Canon RF 35mm retails for $499. But wait, if you are a professional photographer, you can not only have one camera body. What if you are at a shoot and your camera fails? What if you are booked solid for the next month and you have to send it in for repair? My back up camera which is a Canon EOS R retails for $1,799. I actually use it almost as much as my main body. At family sessions, I liked to have both on me so I don't waste any of your time switching lenses. I can get a lot more variety of shots by doing this. Then of course you need a computer/lap top. You can't just get the basic laptop, you will need it to be able to handle all of your programs and have enough memory for all your photos. What is not pictured is my iMac desktop, again you always need a back up. A few months ago my laptop crashed and I was in the middle of editing many sessions. I had to take it to Apple for repair and if I didn't have my desk top, My clients would have been waiting for a long time to get their photos. Now do you HAVE to have all of this gear? No. Could you get by with a cheaper camera? A cheaper lens? Yes. However, if you saw side by side comparisons, you would understand and I want my clients to have the best experience and the absolute best quality photos as possible. If you are investing with me, I am not taking any short cuts.
Next up, props! This is especially true with newborn photographers. You need a whole trunk full of things at the very least to do newborn photography. If you do studio newborns, You probably have rent and utilities you have to pay for monthly. You will also need studio lighting. I use an Einstein which is $499 by itself not including all of the umbrellas, etc. that you have to have with it. Then you need tables or beanbags, lots of variety of buckets, baskets, posing pillows. You need a good variety of backdrops and swaddles because every parent is different and not everyone loves the same colors or patterns. You need things to keep baby comfy while they are there such as heaters and white noise. You need accessories such as headbands, bonnets, stuffies and outfits. Once you buy all of these things, you will still need to update what you have periodocally because they get worn and I want nothing but the best for my clients. On top of all of this though and really the most important, you need to have training in newborn safety. You only want someone who really knows what they are doing when you hand over your previous baby.
Now for my favorite, EDUCATION! When I started out, I was self taught. I watched an endless amount of YouTube videos on shooting and editing. I played around with everything and practiced A LOT. It taught me quite a bit and I ran my business with that knowledge for a while. I wasn't over the moon happy with my work but it was alright. Then. decided that I really want to love it. I really wanted to see a difference. I started mentorships and invested into education and it was probably the best thing that I have done for my business. I am still learning so much in my mentorships, its really amazing. But guess what? Education is not cheap, buts its worth it. I will be going to Oregon in July for a photography retreat with a mentor and I know that you will see an even bigger difference in my work when I return. I never want to stop learning!
Now we have come to the boring but costly things once they add up. Taxes, Internet, website fees, gallery fees, editing soft wares. Other equipment such as hard drives, sd cards, camera bags and straps Business materials such as business cards, hand outs, studio samples.. All of these things are needed and add up quickly.
The last thing that you need to consider is TIME. Every time that I do a session, that is time away from my family. It doesn't stop there though, editing takes a lot more time than you think. We do not just throw a filter on images. I also offer consultations with all of my clients to plan their session and ordering appointments after their sessions. Now, the average McDonalds employee's yearly salary is $21,000. I will let you do the math but you can see how much you would have to charge to even make the same as a McDonald employee (no hate on them btw) when taking all of this into consideration.
I didn't write this to complain or whine about pricing, I just wanted to really explain why photography is a luxury and why it may be an investment for you. Like I said before, I don't take any sort cuts and want nothing but the best for my clients. These photos will be memories and images of time that you will never get back. Photos of your newborn baby that will never be that small again, photos of your loved ones that may be the last photos you have of them. It most defiantly is an investment but an investment that is totally worth every penny!