What I am Paying for?
Money is tight these days I completely get that. Price is a hott button issue among photographers and especially our beloved clients. I used to be one of those clients that saw prices on a photographers website and would go "Holy crap! 700, 500,300 dollars for a session! That is outrageous! I refuse to spend that much I will just go find someone with a nice camera to take our pictures." At this point I still was far from deciding to pursue photography nor had I any clue what it took to be a true professional photographer.
When my husband was deployed I befriended one of my most cherished friends to date, Britney from Birdies Eye View Photography and Boudoir by Birdie. I won a photography session from her that she did for a charity cause that I got for an amazing deal. Now most people are all about a good deal but the closer of friends we became and the more of her photography skills I saw her do I realized just how much work it was.
My husband came back from deployment and insisted that I finally find some kind of hobby. I was hesitant, but I knew deep down I had a sparked passion for photography. I started out with a cheap 500 dollar nikon d60 with my kit lens. It killed me slightly inside to spend that kind of money because I wasn't used to spending money on myself. I grew up in a family where we were pumped to get socks for Christmas let alone spend 500 dollars on a camera.
Any who I spent hours upon hours everyday learning all that I could about this wonderful camera. I was doing sessions to build my portfolio for anywhere from 30-60 dollars a session. The more I learned the more I realized I needed to buy to be a technically successful photographer. When I said technically this wasn't even scratching the surface on actually learning to run a proper business.
Now I was spending a crazy amount of time on each session and still do. In order to get the beautiful customized sharp photos that we all know and love that we see all over the internet and the cool editing it takes quite a bit of time depending on a photographer's editing style. I was probably spending 4 hours per session in just editing, 1-2 hours shooting, and about 1 hour scouting out the location prior and brainstorming how the session was going to go down. So all in all about 6 hours or more making less than minimum wage. Not only that it wasn't going towards the cost of my equipment at all as well. I was still learning though so I wasn't too hurt but I knew why photographers charged 300 for a session or more easy especially studio photographers.
The end of last year I decided that I needed to do photography on a completely legit level. So I now am Miss Lyss Photography LLC. And oh boy the costs to run a business is just something you wouldn't believe. Now I have over $1,200 in equipment and in order to run more efficiently I need to purchase about 4,000 dollars more to be the best I can be. Websites can cost $100-250 a year, a website designer can be anywhere from $100-1,000, online advertising can be $40 a month to thousands there's not really a cap on that but $40 won't do a whole lot, business insurance pricing varies per area, when I shoot a wedding I have to pay a second shooter around $30-50 an hour, album samples usually cost $200-500, canvas samples can be $50-200, learning workshops, photography classes and seminars can be $150-2,000 just per one and hiring an accountant prices depend on your area. That is just the tip of the ice burg if I owned a studio the list would just go on and on. The unspoken priceless thing you are also paying for is expertise. The hours a photographer spends learning their craft and how to be a professional business owner.
I am not telling you this to give you a guilt trip that is not my purpose in this blog. I writing to my past self to get her to understand that hey that is why photographers charge what they do not because they are money hungry but because they have to cover their costs, pay their bills, and be able to give their clients all the love and attention they deserve without getting burnt out because they are getting paid less than minimum wage and just loosing money. The mistake I think a lot of us photographers make is that we don't tell out clients what they are paying for. When you go to a doctor you know you aren't paying just for the doctors whole 1hr they talk to you and make sure you are ok you are paying for the education, the building, the instruments, and their overall experience. We trust doctors with our lives.
Photography is something that captures your memories forever and there are no take backs. You should trust photographer in a way with your life. Your life legacy will live on through photos. My dad passed away when I was 13 and he was 30 from colon cancer. I have maybe 1 or 2 good pictures of my dad and I. I wish I could go back in time and some great photos of my dad but at the time good photos were not a priority.
How beautiful and how many photos depends on the investment you want to make in them. Hopefully this opened your eyes to a different perspective :) and I think my past self would understand that photography is priceless.