"I just need one photo!"
"It's just a few shots with your fancy camera."
"Why can't I have all of the photos?"
I have heard questions and comments like these many, many, many times. And, I understand why. There is a big lack of information about what goes into a photography business. It's easy to see all of the camera gear and think it's as simple as the right camera and lens to do the job. Often photography get's put into the hourly wage category of work. So, when you see that a photo session costs $175 for an hour or $565 for an hour, you naturally wonder why.
I want to help educate and inform you about why pricing is so confusing for photography services. And, first I have to share that I am not an expert. I have business experience and have seen a variety of other photographers struggle with these same questions from potential clients...
What goes into the photo? Yes, photography requires a camera, lens and knowledge on how to use them. It also includes many things behind the scenes that you will never see:
- Education - not everyone picks up photography and produces great work right away. Many photographers take years to grow their skills like any other craft or artist. They often work for others or learn through internships as well as workshops and classes. And, yes you can get a four-year or masters degree in photography! Learning the art and science of photography can add up quickly.
- Business costs - to be in business requires more than the camera and gear. You have the costs of a business license, taxes, insurance, other photography equipment, storage space, editing software, website hosting, website maintenance, marketing, book-keeping or accountant services and those are just the basics! There are many more hidden costs of being a professional photographer. Basically, it comes down to the costs of doing business are often hidden from what clients see and experience.
Knowing that photography is more than using a camera for one hour is important, and may help you understand why photography is priced seemingly high. Another factor is the market value. This is the main reason photography services vary to widely. The market value is part of the process for pricing too. For example, if you're in a city where photography is highly valued and the costs of doing business are high, then paying a photographer for one headshot may cost $500, but in another smaller town, one headshot may only cost $75.
When folks ask me about why they can't get one photo for less, these are the things I try to kindly explain. I see the frequent questions as a lack of understanding about how photography works as a business compared to a hobby. If you're a hobby photographer you can charge nothing or far less than local professionals, because you don't have the costs of doing business. Hopefully this helps bring more understanding about why it's never just a photo!