First, let me just say...when i decided to turn my passion for photography into a business – my goal was to offer custom photography at affordable prices so that everyone could have beautiful images of their family. I based my pricing on what I would be willing to pay for [my style and quality of photos]. Now, whether or not that was the right way of setting prices...I don't know, but that's what I felt and still feel comfortable with. The more I developed my style, the more I have seen what is involved in creating beautiful images. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share an excerpt from an article so that you can get an idea of what goes on 'before and after' your photo shoot.
The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art.
We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”
The cost of TIME
Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session. Here is an example of a time break down:
* session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks vehicle checks)
* one hour travel time TO session
* 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
* 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
* one hour travel time FROM session
* 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
* 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
* 2-5 hours editing time (cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, and backing up edited photographs) to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images.
[unfortunately for me, the editing part still takes longer than 5 hrs, but I hope to be faster at it soon] :)
* 1-2 hours creating a seperate folder so that images are web ready and watermarked so that you can see your photos on the blog/facebook
* 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
* 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
* 1 hour sorting through and checking order
* 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
* 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
* any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues.
In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 14 hours to 20 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. So when the photographer charges $75-150 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 14-20 hours complete time for your session. And when you see a price of $25.00 for an 8×10 – you are paying for the editing of that photo – not the actual piece of paper it was printed on.
APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS:
Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. In February 2007 leased photography retail space by a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.
Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.
[courtesy of Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography]
Now, I'm going to share a couple of "before and after" images. I don't think I've share original images to clients before...but I thought it would be fitting to share some in this post :)